How to Ice Cookies with a Piping Bag

I’m sharing tips on how to ice cookies with a piping bag. This post is full of tips and how to’s to help you make pretty iced cookies.   

how to ice cookies with a piping bag @createdbydiane


My top 3 things to know when piping cookies with a piping bag are

  • Practice makes perfect, for consistency of icing, drawing lines, and edging cookies.
  • Be sure the consistency of your icing is what you need it to be for the size hole you are piping. If the icing is too thin it will run off the edge of the cookies, if the icing is too thick it will be difficult to push it out the piping tip and it won’t look smooth.
  • Don’t move the cookies. That’s right don’t move the cookies as you ice them, you’re more likely to goof them up and then all your hard work will frustrate you to continue.

I’ve been icing cookies for many years now and wow have my cookie icing skills improved.

There are some things that I’ve learned that have made it so much easier.

Being prepared, not rushing, planning ahead are all important things to remember when icing cookies.

Cookies lovers really like this, this and this, cute, right!

wrap icing in plastic wrap before placing icing in piping bag to ice cookies easily and neatly @createdbydiane


Wrapping the icing in plastic wrap is neater especially with concentrated colors like red and black, and helps with clean up too. It’s best to secure the back of the piping bag with a rubber band, to be sure the icing doesn’t start coming out the back, having is wrapped in plastic wrap first often ensures no leaking too.

Place icing in the middle of a piece of plastic wrap and then fold over the edges of the long sides and twist the ends.

piping bag how to's


Place the “tube” (of icing wrapped in plastic wrap)  in a piping bag, then cut off the end of the plastic wrap, fit a tip on the end and you’re ready to pipe.

Quick Lemon Iced Cookies @createdbydiane


There is nothing wrong with drippy edges of cookies. Cookies are yummy, icing is yummy…. so imperfect cookies are still yummy!

CLICK here for how to ice cookies easily without a piping bag. 

And in that post, you’ll find the recipe I use for glaze icing as well.

But if you want to have cookies that are iced really neatly your best bet it to pipe with icing on with a piping bag.

There are many types of piping bags, I prefer disposable bags, which makes clean up easier than with canvas piping bags.

Piping tips: metal piping tips often come with numbers on them, indicating the size of the opening on round tips. 000 seems to be the smallest I’ve seen, which is a really small hole. I typically outline with a #2 tip and fill in the cookies with a #3 to #4 if I I don’t thin the icing. If the icing I use to “flood” in the cookie with is thinner than a larger tip is not always necessary as it will flow out more easily. (PME brand has small tips, like 000 for fine piping, they also make bottles, which are nice if you want to put the icing in them since piping tips fit on the end of them. I’ve used bags and bottles and find both helpful for different projects, try each and see what works best for you.

You’ll want the icing consistency to be thin enough for it to flow smoothly from the piping tip. I recall struggling in the beginning of piping icing and my hand would cramp because I would be three cookies in and pressing so hard on the piping bag. You want the icing to lay on the edge of the cookie nicely, the higher you hold the piping bag with smoother the icing will be. If you hold the tip too close to the cookie it won’t be as smooth.

Icing consistency video: I often use 10-second icing to outline and a little thinner to flood in the cookies.

Adjust consistency of icing by adding water or powdered sugar as needed in small amounts, if adding water, a drop at a time

more practice with a piping bag and piping tip will help with smoother edges @createdbydiane
Detailed icing… for this you’ll want a small tip and this is where you will hold the piping tip closer to the cookies.

piping details on cookies with a piping bag @createdbydiane


They now sell really thin piping bags that are considered TIPLESS, and you can cut a tiny hole in the tip and pipe detailed work. You can also use piping tips with them, and I find them easier and more flexible than some stiffer plastic piping bags. If you want to see what the tipless piping bags are, take a look here.


santa suit tree cookies with glaze icing


Practice with icing consistency.


HERE is my video on How to make glaze icing for cookies.  I used to only use glaze icing, but now I use both glaze icing and royal icing depending on what type of cookies and how I want them to look.

You’ll want to allow the first color or section of icing dry before you apply another or the icing will blend together.
Wet on wet icing is great if you want the icings to blend and be soft. But if you want the icings to stay separate, be sure to let each section dry first.


royal icing sugar cookie recipes

Royal Icing


Royal Icing: I never used to like how hard royal icing was or that it had such an odd taste. Well after much research and testing I found that the brand of Meringue Powder can really make a huge difference in the flavor of the icing and add in enough “flavor” or extracts really helps.

I use Americolor Meringue PowderI prefer the taste of it in royal icing and meringue cookies.

You can find the recipe I use for Royal Icing HERE.

Which brings me to the topic of Vanilla. I use CLEAR VANILLA when I want bright white icing, but for most other colors I use regular vanilla. Clear vanilla is an imitation vanilla, but I’m sure it’s not going to make the icing off-white or off color. 

The other way to ensure bright white icing and icing that is opaque is to use WHITE FOOD COLORING, Yes, they actually make white food coloring, it’s available online and in baking stores. I used to always use Americolor Food Coloring, but my local baking supply store started selling another brand, so I’m sure there are more on the market now.


icing, mixing color of icing for decorating cookies with a piping bag @createdbydiane


Icing can sit on the counter, so if you’re in the middle of a project or make the icing one day to use another it will be fine. You won’t need to bring it to room temperature and remix and projects can go a little quicker.

I find the larger the project (amount of cookies) or intricate design the earlier I plan out the baking of the cookies. Most projects I bake the cookies on day 1, put the icing on cookies day 2, and plan on plating, wrapping, and wrap and ship cookies on day 3. If I make more than 10 dozen cookies, I plan an extra day of icing.

decorating cookies with icing and sprinkles


SPRINKLES: sprinkles are always good to have around to help with cookies that don’t always go as planned 😉 Also pretty sprinkles really look nice on the edges of some of the cookies if you are decorating cookies all the same shape.

CLICK here for my post on star cookies that includes a large star template and full instructions on applying sprinkles.

Easy Tie Dye Cookies: post if you even after seeing this post you’re still not ready to put out the piping bags… this is a really fun way to make cookies.


Take a look HERE to see a VIDEO on piping with a piping bag.


LOTS of info on baking cookies here:

how to ice cookies with a piping bag, tips, tricks and recipes @createdbydiane


how to ice cookies with a piping bag with recipes for royal icing and glaze icing


  1. I have read this and can’t wait to make these iced cookies this year to give to everyone for the holidays. Thanks so much for all the tips and info.

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