Want to know what you need to get started baking and decorating sugar cookies? You’ve come to the right place. I am posting links to help you find these items easier, but I am not guaranteeing by any means that the link is the cheapest or best bargain. Shop around, especially if you intend to start baking on a larger scale.
Also, this is not a complete list of things you need to bake sugar cookies, but rather the items I cannot live without. First up is my Kitchenaid stand mixer. I don’t really think it would be practical to make these with a hand mixer, especially the royal icing.
For rolling out cookies to an uniform thickness, you need a rolling pin with rings on it like this one. I found mine at Walmart for much cheaper than most.
I roll out my cookies on parchment paper. It can get expensive, so I bought mine in bulk online here.
I also find an offset spatula to be very handy in lifting cut out cookies off the parchment paper.
I bake my cookies on silicone mats on quality baking sheets. This results in even softer cookies, less spreading, and less wasted parchment paper.
The other thing you’ll want to have for baking is cooling racks. I have a small kitchen anyway, but losing my entire counter space for days at a time was just too much. I am so much happier now that I have these racks. And they’re collapsable, so they store easily.
And now a word about cookie cutters. Only you will be able to know what you are interested in when it comes to specific shapes. But I would recommend a few basics that you will use all the time. Plaque cookie cutters are extremely popular and versatile. They’re also rather expensive. I found this set early on and have been very happy with them. They weren’t terribly expensive, but they look just as nice as the expensive sets. This set of double sided cutters is another set you will get much use out of. I also recommend a double sided circle set, hearts, and other basic shapes.
Next for some icing essentials. If you need recipes, please see my recipe page. When you are mixing your icing, there are a few items you will need. This is where I cannot live without my Kitchenaid stand mixer. You will want a glass or pyrex measuring cup and one of these little strainers. A few tiny lumps will ruin an entire batch of icing. I know- I’ve thrown a few out in my time. That little strainer is extremely important to keep the icing perfectly smooth so it doesn’t clog your tips.
A little wire whisk also comes in handy. These are all the tools you need just to make the royal icing.
Here are my preferred decorating tools. Instead of icing bags, I started out using icing bottles. It took me a long time to get the hang of icing bags and the bottles seemed like a more natural writing tool. Sugar Belle’s icing bottles are fantastic and available at Michael’s
As far as tips go, I started with about six #2 tips for outlining cookies, six #1.5 tips for piping fine details, and a couple #3 and #4’s for flooding. I also use some decorative tips for flowers and leaves, but to get started, those are really all you need.
My best tip for using icing bottles is the way I fill them. You would not believe the ridiculous ways I tried to spoon thick icing into little bottles, losing at least half of it in the process. To fill them easily, take a ziplock sandwich bag, set it down in a short drinking glass, wrapping the edge up and over the edges of the glass so it’s held open and supported by the glass. Then pour your icing in the bag, seal it, cut a corner off, and squeeze it into your icing bottle. Like magic!
Now that I have a little more practice under my belt, I am more comfortable using piping bags. I use these tipless icing bags and ziplock sandwich bags for almost all of my decorating now. I love the tipless bags because you can tie a knot in them to keep the icing from squirting out the back. You can also cut the tip off to whatever opening you want- no tip necessary.
A few other small items you will need are toothpicks or this scribe tool to get icing into small spaces, pop any air bubbles, and unclog icing bottles that might clog up. I set my icing bottles upside down in a drinking glass with a damp paper towel at the bottom when I’m working to keep the tips from crusting over. You will also want a damp paper towel on hand at all times to clean off icing tips as you are working.
Finally, you will need icing colors. I find that most cookie decorators who work with royal icing use Americolor gels religiously. I love them.
if you’ve ever worked with royal icing, you know how fast it dries out if not stored properly. Cover any bowls on the counter with a damp towel to keep the icing from getting dry. I keep a large quantity of ziplock sandwich bags on hand and use them to store my icing in the refrigerator. Refrigerating the icing keeps it from separating as quickly. Knead the sandwich bag well when you are ready to use it.
I use a variety of other decorating items like luster dust, disco dust, petal dust, and sanding sugar. For a beginner decorator, I wouldn’t recommend going crazy and buying all of that. Buy it as you need it for projects. You’ll waste a lot less money that way.