How to Flood Royal Icing for Flawless Cookies

With one easy method, you can give your sugar cookies that smooth, unblemished look you see in bakeries. The secret is flooding, and it’s all about mastering your royal icing. Here’s how to get yours onto a cookie in a sleek, flawless style.

How to Flood a Cookie

Level: Easy

What You Need

  • Sugar cookies (get our recipe)
  • Royal icing in piping and flooding consistencies (get our recipe)
  • Small round piping tip
  • Piping bags
  • Toothpick or cocktail stick
  • Cookie icing bottle (optional)
  • Piping bag stand (optional)
  • Instructions

    1. Make Your Royal Icing

    Make royal icing in two consistencies: piping and flooding. Piping consistency (shown on the left in the photo above) is a slightly thicker icing that holds its shape and corrals the flooding. The flooding consistency (on the right) is softer and honey-like — it flows nicely, but should be stopped by the piping icing when the two collide. Both consistencies should be the same color.

    Good to Know: Some bakers like to use 15-second consistency for both outlining and flooding. That’s a great option, but if you’re a beginner it’s easier to make two different icings.

    2. Pipe the Outline

    Spoon the piping consistency royal icing into a piping bag fitted with a small round tip.

    Pro Tip: Before you begin, look inside the piping tip to see if it has a seam on the side. Seams in the tip can cause a crooked flow.

    Touch your piping tip down onto the cookie. Gently squeeze and lift the piping bag so the royal icing flows out — it should be suspended above the cookie before it rests down along the outline. This gives you better control and more fluid lines.

    Pro Tip: If you want a seamless look between the outline and flooding, move onto the flooding quickly. For a more visible outline, wait 30 minutes to an hour for the outline to set before flooding.

    3. Flood

    Fill a cookie icing bottle with your flooding consistency icing. If you don’t have an icing bottle, you can use a piping bag with a slightly larger round tip.

    Pipe within the outline of your cookie so it’s roughly filled in.

    4. Spread It Out

    Use a toothpick or cocktail stick and, in small circular motions, quickly spread the flooding icing over the entire cookie until it meets the piped outlines.

    When the cookie is completely filled in with icing, gently tap it against your work space to raise any air bubbles to the surface. Pop them with your toothpick.

    Good to Know: Some air bubbles hide halfway between the cookie and the icing surface. Look for slightly darker splotches in your icing.

    Let your cookies set for at least 20 hours.

    Use piping consistency icing to add any additional detail you want. Let dry and they’re ready to serve!

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