Have you ever decorated cookies with royal icing? Royal icing and butter icing are both naturally gluten free but they aren’t the same. Royal icing is stiff and hardens onto the cookie or acts as glue to hold cookie pieces together. It is used for special projects like decorating gingerbread houses, wedding cakes or fancy cookies.
I will admit right up front that iced sugar cookies are not my favourite kind of cookie to eat. I’m pretty sure I eat more than my share of cookies every year but I’d pick chocolate chip over a sugar cookie any day. (Fortunately I don’t need to limit my consumption to one cookie.) For me this cookie project was about decorating, a creative process and the kind of project I can get excited about.
The inspiration came when I saw some cookies on Instagram that were beautifully decorated for Chinese New Year. @ladybugnclover is someone I happen to know through my work as a health educator. What I did not know was that she is a passionate cake and cookie decorator. I immediately called her and we set up a cookie decorating date.
For this day I made two kinds of gluten free sugar cookies and my friend supplied the rest. This photo is from our afternoon of decorating. Later I wished I had put a little hole in the top of some of these cookies so I could hang them in my window and enjoy them.
This post contains affiliate links. When you purchase using these links your cost is the same, but I receive a few cents for every dollar spent. I appreciate your support for this website.
I have always made royal icing using egg whites and I also make some salad dressings using raw egg. Egg whites in a carton are pasteurized and will also work. Raw eggs have a small risk of infection from salmonella, especially for people with a weakened immune system, so some people prefer to avoid raw eggs.
Meringue powder is the modern solution and it is available in various sizes at specialty baking supply stores. Meringue powder is dried raw egg white but there is an ingredient list. Some labels include cornstarch, gums and even sugar but many sources confirm they are safe for a gluten free diet. Wilton brand is popular and they have a list of gluten free decorating supplies that includes meringue powder and gel food colouring.
Bake the sugar cookies in advance. Whether it is one day or one month you will be glad you did it. Cookie decorating is supposed to be a fun project and trying to bake on the same day might just take some of the fun out of it.
The icing can be made a day or two in advance as well but it’s not necessary. Making the icing, deciding what colours to make and putting them into piping bags gets the creative juices going so I prefer to do that just as I am about to decorate.
If you are serious about decorating there is no end to the variety of baking supplies you can acquire. If you just want to try it for fun this is a list of what you need to get started.
I like to challenge myself to learn to make something different each year during Celiac Awareness Month. One year I made a gluten free Angel Food Cake. If you like cookies you don’t need to wait for a specific month but you could challenge yourself to really dig in and master rolled and iced cookies. Be sure to include some kids or friends and I guarantee you will have a lot of fun. You could even host a Cookie Decorating Party. Pick a theme, book it and get creative.
Let me know in the comments below what you did.
|ROYAL ICING with egg whites|
|3 egg whites|
|4 cups icing sugar|
|water or lemon juice if desired|
|ROYAL ICING with meringue powder|
|3 Tbsp meringue powder|
|4 cups icing sugar|
|5 Tbsp water|
|COLOURING ICING - Gel paste food colouring gives vibrant colours but liquid works too.|
Join our community to get your free ebook and stay up to date with our latest recipes and blog posts.