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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I love the holidays!!!  And one of my favorite traditions is decorating Christmas cookies with holiday music blaring in the background.  When Hello Iowa asked if I’d do a segment on National Cookie Day, I thought it would be so fun to share some fun decorating ideas. 

As much as I love royal icing, unique piping tips and various tools for decorating, most people don’t have that type of stuff on hand.  Therefore I’m sharing three super easy, fuss-free ways to decorate cookies and I’m so excited to share them with you! 

3 easy ways to decorate cookies

Before you get started frosting, of course you’ll want some cookies to decorate!! My absolute FAVORITE recipe for cut-out cookies is this one. They turn out every time and don’t spread. Seriously, you’ve gotta try them!

Types of Frosting to Use

Each different style of decorating will list the preferred frostings to use below!

Homemade Buttercream – What’s not to love about a homemade buttercream frosting?!  So delicious and creamy!  Just note that although buttercream will form a bit of a crust on the top of the cookie, it won’t be super hard so you’ll have to be careful if stacking the cookies.

Royal Icing – I love royal icing, especially for a couple of these variations below.  What do I love about it?  It’s all about the texture when it dries.  The royal icing will harden and therefore the cookies are stackable once they’re dry.  The only “con” to royal icing is that you do need meringue powder, which most people don’t have on hand.

Store-Bought Frosting – As much as I love a good homemade buttercream, sometimes the convenience of store-bought is needed!  Store-bought frosting will be like buttercream in that it won’t set up as hard as royal icing.  If you use store-bought, you’ll want to leave the cookies out to dry for a couple hours.  (And still the frosting will be soft, but not as soft as before)

1. Marbled Frosting Cookies

I love this look and honestly, it’s the quickest method of frosting cookies!!  It gives off an abstract, mystical feel and no two cookies will look the same. 

Best frosting to use:  For these marbled cookies, you can use royal icing, buttercream or even store-bought frosting. 

Christmas tree cut-out cookie with green frosting

What You’ll Need: 

  • Cookies
  • Frosting (2+ colors)
  • Microwavable Bowls
  • Wire Rack
  • Butter Knife

How to Get the Look:

  1. Place a wire rack over a piece of waxed paper.
  2. Put 2 cups of vanilla frosting into a shallow microwavable bowl.  Microwave in 10-second intervals until the frosting is slightly runny. 
  3. Scoop some frosting into two (or more) smaller bowls, about 1/3 c frosting each and color these as desired.  (For example, for the trees, I like to use a light green and a darker green)
  4. Use a spoon to transfer a little bit of colored frosting into the white frosting and use a butter knife to swirl a bit.
  5. Grab a cookie by the edges and dip the top of the cookie into the marbled frosting, making sure to cover the entire face of the cookie.
  6. Pull the cookie out of the frosting and let a little excess run off.
  7. Place the cookie on the wire rack and top with sprinkles if desired.


  • I find that these cookies look best when just a little colored frosting is swirled into the white frosting.  In this case, less is more!
  • When the frosting cools, it’ll start to thicken.  Once it thickens, it won’t be as shiny and smooth on the top of the cookie.  There are two things you can do to “fix” this.  I like to put the bowl of frosting into a larger bowl with warm water, which slows the cooling process.  Or, when it cools off, simply pop it back in the microwave for a few seconds, stir and continue.

2. Dipped Sprinkle Cookies

This one is so fun, and once again, super easy.  I love the simplicity of a sprinkle-dipped cookie and the classy vibe it gives off! 

Best frosting to use:  For these cookies, you can use a homemade buttercream frosting or store-bought frosting.

Snowflake cut-out cookie with gold sprinkles

What You’ll Need: 

  • Cookies
  • Frosting
  • Resealable Bag (Quart or Gallon-Sized)
  • Scissors
  • Small Plate
  • Sprinkles

How to Get the Look:

  1. First, fill the resealable bag with frosting and cut one corner off the bottom of the bag.  (Be sure to make a very small cut at first – it’s like getting your hair cut – you can always cut off more, but can’t re-attach it! 😊
  2. Pour some sprinkles onto a small plate.  Be sure the plate it completely coated in sprinkles and is at least ¼” thick with sprinkles.
  3. Squeeze the frosting onto a cookie then dip it into the sprinkles. 
  4. Pull the cookie up from the sprinkles and shake off any excess sprinkles.


  • Small sprinkles work best for these cookies – either the little round nonpareils, sanding sugar or coarse sugar will work great!
  • I especially love this technique on snowflake-shaped cookies.  A simple white coarse sugar looks so pretty, simple and just a touch sparkly, like real snow!

3. Painted Cookies

I’ve always loved “crafting,” so this technique makes me a little giddy!  My 10-year old self is super jealous I didn’t think of this idea much, much sooner!

Best frosting to use:  For these cookies, you can use royal icing, homemade buttercream or store-bought vanilla frosting. 

Muffin tin with colored frosting in the cups

What you’ll need: 

  • Cookies
  • Frosting (2+ colors)
  • Muffin Tin (or lots of little bowls)
  • Whisk
  • Water
  • Wire Rack

How to Get the Look:

  1. Place a wire rack over a sheet of waxed paper.
  2. Add about 2 cups of frosting into a large bowl.  Whisk in enough water to make it a “paint-like” texture. (If you’re not sure, grab a brush and see if it’s paintable and if not, add some more water!)
  3. Split the frosting between the cups of the muffin tin and color each however you’d like.
  4. Use a clean paintbrush (or kitchen brush) to spread the frosting over the cookies.
  5. Add sprinkles, if desired then place the cookies on the wire rack to dry.

Easy, right?! Which one will you try first?? Let me know in the comments below. And remember….no matter what the cookies look like, at the end of the day, it’s all about the memories made!

Happy holidays to you and your loved ones!

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