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Painted Sugar Cookies

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Adding a painted watercolor effect to cookies is an great way to make beautiful, decorated cookies without using more royal icing! These Painted Sugar Cookies are a unique and fun cookie decorating idea that is easy for beginners and everyone in between. Great as holiday cookies!


  • Cookies that have been flooded with white royal icing (completely dried and hard)
  • Small bowls or a ceramic egg holder to hold the paint colors in. I like the egg holder because it's so easy to move about and switch colors.
  • Assorted paint brushes; for this design, the tree branches look best using a squared tip brush
  • Clear grain alcohol (I use vodka, everclear is also recommended)
  • An eye dropper; this is the best tool to control the level of liquid to paint ratios
  • Food coloring
    • For this design, I used Americolors 'Moss' & 'Silver Spruce'
  • Paper towels to blot off excess "paint"


To make painted cookies

  1. Start with cookies that have been flooded with royal icing and the royal icing is completely hard & dry.
  2. Add a few drops vodka to a small bowl or dish and then add a drop or two of gel food coloring.
  3. Mix with your brush and blot off the excess paint. You're ready to start painting!
  4. Allow the cookies to dry for an hour or so after painting, before packaging.

To make this tree design

  1. Start by adding a few drops of the Moss Green food coloring into the dish and dilute it slightly with a few drops of vodka.
  2. Using a flat/wide brush, create several tree trunks. You want to try and make the color a bit deeper for the trunks to give the trees a sturdy center.
  3. Using the corners of the brush, lightly dab branches on either side of the center. If you repeat some dabs on top of the branches you already made, it gives the tree more depth. Be sure to blot your paintbrush on a paper towel along the way!
  4. With the darkest trees made, dilute the food coloring with a few more drops of vodka to lighten the color. Make a few more trees at different heights behind the darker ones.
  5. If you have other shades of green (the Silver Spruce color is gorgeous and works wonderfully for this design), add a drop to the green color you've already made or into a new bowl/cavity. It helps to mix up the shades/tones of greens to give the trees a more of a woodsy, forest look.
  6. Lastly, add a little dab of color to the bottom of the cookie and thin it out with a bit of pure vodka. Add a different shade of green and swirl it on top for contrast.
  7. Allow to dry before packaging (about 1 hour or so).

Remember - NEVER use water to paint cookies. It will dissolve the royal icing!


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