Cookie Flooding Decorating Technique with Sugar Cookie Cutouts


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I can’t contain my excitement about today’s subject. This method of cookie decorating is my favorite. If there’s an occasion where you really want to impress, and make beautiful and elegant cookies, try cookie flooding.

I’m not going to tell you that this is a super quick and fast cookie decorating technique. That would be a falsehood. I also don’t suggest you attempt this activity the day after a friend’s birthday bash when you’re a wee bit hungover from too much vino, but still drank 4 cups of coffee that morning anyway, so you’re also on a jittery caffeine high. Bad idea. In other words, don’t be like me.

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Also, don’t try doing this while simultaneously making toast in your regular oven because your toaster oven is broken. Eeeeesh. What was I thinking? Disasters abounded when I set out to decorate these cookies yesterday, but once I decided that Gatorade was a better beverage choice, and that a simple, old-fashioned peanut butter sandwich would suffice instead of being all fancy by making toast, I was ready to roll.

As long as the previously mentioned conditions aren’t met, this fun method of cookie decorating will be smooth sailing for you. Just… seriously, don’t be like me.

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It’s not hard at all to do cookie flooding. It’s really not at all. It is more time-consuming than regular frosted cookies, BUT, and it’s huge but, it’s reaaaaally, truly fun. It’s not difficult and it’s totally enjoyable. Plus, look at ’em!

The results will shock people. They won’t believe that these are actual cookies because they look like works of art. I mean, don’t mine look like miniature Van Goghs?? People will not believe they are even edible because they are so darn pretty! People, like S.O., will be astonished that such a method of decorating cookies even exists. The reactions are well worth the extra time commitment.

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If you’ve never tried cookie flooding, you need to. Let’s get to it, shall we?

A few notes before we get started: You’ll need sugar cookies (use any recipe you’d like, my favorite family recipe for cutouts is below), and two kinds of icing – buttercream and royal icing. If you’re anything like me, you probably always have leftover buttercream when you make it, so there’s extra sitting in your freezer. You don’t need much (about 1 cup), so it’s a great time to use up some leftover. It’s also very helpful to have a piping bag. I’ve substituted in the past with sandwich baggies by cutting a tiny hole in the corner, and that’s workable, but a piping bag is much easier.

I’m going to let the pictures do most of the talking here, because you can get a good gist just by viewing the photos, but the general process for the decorating component is as follows:

1. Mix up the buttercream frosting, and outline the cookie with it using a piping bag fit with a #3 tip. This serves as a ‘dam.’

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2. Mix up the royal icing and color it however you’d like (I used Americolor gel paste food colors in Copper, Gold, and Warm Brown). Use additional piping bags, squeeze bottles with small openings, or a small spoon to drizzle blobs of each royal icing color onto the outlined cookie. About 1-2 tbsp. total. Avoid too much or it can spillover your ‘dam’. Start with a less is more approach. Swirl with a toothpick to achieve desired patterns. Here’s a few before and afters.

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3. Shock the world with your decorating skills. Woohoo!

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5.0 from 3 reviews
Cookie Flooding - Sugar Cookie Cutouts
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Buttery and flaky sugar cookie cutouts decorated with the cookie flooding technique! Unique and beautifully decorated cookies.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 36 cookies
Sugar Cookie Cutouts:
  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • ¾ c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2½ c. flour (plus more for rolling)
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
Buttercream frosting:
  • 6 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 2-3 tbsp. water
  • 3 c. powdered sugar (approximately)
Royal icing:
  • ⅓ c. water
  • ⅓ c. corn syrup
  • 1 lb. powdered sugar
  • food coloring
For cutout cookies:
  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream sugar and butter.
  2. Add in egg and vanilla, and mix until incorporated.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Mix into sugar mixture until well-combined.
  5. Chill dough for 1-2 hours.
  6. On a generously floured surface, roll out dough and use cookie cutters to cut shapes.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees for 7-9 minutes on an ungreased baking sheet. Cool completely.
For buttercream frosting:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl, adjusting water and powdered sugar as needed to achieve desired consistency. Mix until fluffy.
  2. Fill a piping bag fitted with a #3 tip with buttercream frosting, and set aside.
For royal icing:
  1. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth. Consistency should be that of a thick syrup, similar to molasses. Adjust water and corn syrup accordingly.
  2. Separate royal icing into individual bowls, 1 for each color you'll be using, and mix in food coloring until it reaches desired color.
To flood cookies:
  1. Using the buttercream frosting in the piping bag, pipe an outline around the border of the cookie. Allow to set up for about 10-15 minutes before flooding.
  2. When ready to flood, use extra piping bags or a small spoon to drizzle different colors of royal icing onto each cookie.
  3. Use a toothpick to drag icing to the edges, without allowing it to spill over.
  4. Swirl with toothpick until you reach a desired pattern!
  5. Allow to dry for 2-4 hours.

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Voila. Art on a cookie!


  1. says

    These cookies look beautiful, Sarah! I am so impressed by your decorating skills. I’ve never actually heard of cookie flooding before, so now I’m intrigued! I love that you frosted these leaf cookies. Sounds like this would be great for Christmas cookies as well!

    • says

      Hi Gayle! Happy Monday to you! (Groooooan… Monday. Haha.) Thank you! Flooding cookies takes a little more effort, but they turn out so pretty! It’s really fun and the end result is worth it. :) You should try it sometime! I’m planning to different versions for Thanksgiving and Christmas… hopefully I get to it! Thanks for your kind comment!

      • Cat says

        I’m not usually excited about baking Christmas cookies, but these fall leaf masterpieces have me heading out the door for the ingredients I need. They are so “painterly” ! I’d love to see what you do with a Christmas theme. Thanks for sharing.

        • says

          I really meant to make Christmas cut-outs this year and to decorate them all fancy, but it just didn’t happen! It’s *definitely* on next year’s to-do list. I hope you tried these and that they turned out well for you! They’re laborious, but worth it! :) Happy holidays!

  2. says

    These turned out gorgeous! I love using royal icing too. They definitely make some impressive-looking cookies. Instead of outlining in buttercream, I usually set aside some of the royal icing and add extra powdered sugar to it to make it stiff enough to pipe. I do like the the buttercream idea though! Pinning! Thanks for sharing!
    -Michelle @ The Gracious Wife

  3. says

    That cookie flooding technique is one I’ve been meaning to try for years now but never have. These are beautiful Sarah! I think this may be the way we go for decorating sugar cookies this Christmas. Although mine won’t look like little van Gogh’s since I’ll have 3 sets of little hands “helping” by adding all the sprinkles in the house! :)

    • says

      Haha! Those will end up as Van Gogh’s in their own right too though!! Sprinkles are definitely the more kid-friendly way to go! :) You should try it sometime though! It’s more time-consuming, but it’s worth it. Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving!!

    • says

      Hi Kim! Thanks so much for the party invite! I’ll pop on over there, for sure. Thanks for your kind comment, and have a wonderful evening! :)

    • says

      Hi Frenchell! Sorry to hear that! I have had my share of kitchen nightmares! I had a disastrous recipe fail on Sunday that I’m still sad about. Haha. :) For me, this technique is more time-consuming than anything. Not terribly difficult, but does take a little more time than doing a regular icing! Hope you try it again some time! Thanks so much for stopping by! :)

    • says

      Oh cool! I didn’t realize it could be used in painting too. That’s awesome! Thanks so much for the party, Katherine! And thank you for the feature! I’ll be sure to check back! :)

  4. says

    These are so beautiful, I think it’s barbarian to just eat them 😉
    I would just look at them…. 😀 But I bet they are yummy too….. Such a dilemma !

    Inviting you to shareyour recipe with my fall themed party Big Autumn Bash

    • says

      Haha! We feel the same way! They’re so pretty and they do take some work – you almost hate to eat them. But they’re delicious too, so we still do it, of course! :)

  5. says

    Whoooaa…these cookies are seriously beautiful! This is the first time I’ve heard of cookie flooding – I definitely want to give it a try when I have some time. So cool. SO. COOL.

    • says

      Thank you so much!! You should definitely give it a go! It takes a little patience, but it’s fun and it’s worth it! :) Thanks for stopping by!!

    • says

      Awesome! I’m so glad you like them, and I’m excited you’re going to try them! Let me know how it goes. Thanks for stopping by, and for your kind comment! :)

  6. says

    Sarah, your leaf cookies are absolutely stunning! I’ve always wanted to try cookie flooding, but the thought of it seemed so intimidating. Your instructions make it seem like a possibility for me:) Thanks for sharing the many pictures!

    • says

      You should try it! It does take some time and a little patience, but it’s NOT hard! They have a fun, fancy look about them! Thanks, Heather! Hope you had a wonderful weekend! :)

  7. says

    When I posted the link to this post on Twitter and FB I labeled them “Stunning Works of Art”. Fantastic! Thanks for linking up for Scraptastic Saturdays. This post will be shared via FB/Twitter/Pinterest. Have a wonderful day. Hope to see you next Saturday.

  8. says

    Hi Sarah:)
    Just had to see your amazing cookies “in person” after seeing them over at Katerina’s. They sure are a work of art and I bet mighty tasty too.

    Thank you so much for sharing Sarah. This is my first time joining the Weekend Social Party and I plan on doing quite a bit of “tasting.”

    • says

      Hi Louise! Thanks so much for the compliment! That was so sweet! Yes, they are very pretty! It’s hard to eat them and feel like you’re ruining them, but it’s worth it because they’re mighty delicious! Happy Friday to you! :)

  9. says

    These are the most beautiful fall cookies i have ever seen! Thanks for linking up to DIY Inspired! You’re going to be featured tonight at Handmade in the Heartland so be sure to stop by!

    • says

      Oh, that’s great to hear! Thanks so much for the feature! I’ll be sure to stop by the party! Hope you have a wonderful weekend, Angela! :)

  10. Sami says

    Hi! I love these! They are so pretty and I am going to make them this weekend… They are perfect for kicking off what really feels like the start of fall! But I was wondering if the icing dries and hardens on these. They are so pretty and I don’t want the icing to get ruined in transit if it’s still liquids/soft! If I’m going to make something this beautiful and delicious, I obviously need to share the wealth. Thanks!!

    • says

      Hi Sami! I’m so glad you like them! Yes, the icing dries to a pretty durable finish. It does take several hours though and even overnight might be best. I meant to include vanilla or almond extract as flavor because, admittedly, Royal icing isn’t as tasty as buttercream, but obviously buttercream doesn’t work for cookie flooding. Add some kind of extract for flavor! Let me know how you do and if you have any questions along the way!

      • Sami says

        I will add some vanilla and let you know how it goes!!! Thank you so much! Do you recommend refrigerating them over night or leaving them out?

        • says

          I’m thinking if you refrigerate them, the icing could crack as it dries?? I’ve never tried it though! I let mine sit to dry at room temp, and I’ve never had a problem. Once the icing is dry, they refrigerate and freeze perfectly well, but I think I’d let it dry at room temp! Good luck! :)

    • says

      They look fantastic! I’m so glad you tried them! They turned out beautifully! It’s time-consuming, but not hard, right? Thanks so much for sharing yours! :)


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