The Best and Easiest Way to Ice Sugar Cookies With Buttercream

The Best And Easiest Way To Flood Sugar Cookies With Buttercream

Last Updated on January 6, 2022

One of my favorite treats for any time of year is sugar cookies. They are classic and really easy and fast to bake. So whenever I am in a pinch, I can always whip up a batch in no time! The real issue is decorating because no sugar cookie is done without frosting. There are several ways to go about this. The most traditional is royal icing – a runnier mix that dries up hard and glossy. But I don’t really like its taste. I personally prefer buttercream. So today we are going to learn how to flood cookies with buttercream for them to look amazing!

How to Flood Cookies: Why Use Shortening in My Buttercream to Decorate Sugar Cookies?

It Makes the Cream Stiffer

This is a tricky question because it really depends on how you want to decorate them. In any case, I would recommend a stiffer mixture that will hold better in place once dry, especially if you are attempting some piping. If you are flooding them, you still want a hard cream, so that it dries in place.

How to Flood Cookies: Why Use Shortening in My Buttercream to Decorate Sugar Cookies?

To achieve this, I personally prefer a buttercream that is made with half butter, half shortening. It may seem icky the first time you hear about this, but shortening is your best friend when it comes to making a stiffer cream. 

As it has a higher melting point than butter. So, when butter only creams would get soft and melt, shortening and buttercreams are able to stay put better for longer.

It Keeps it White

Shortening is also white in color. This helps when it comes to decorating because it keeps the mix whiter. Butter has a yellowish hue and this can alter the resulting color.

Another vital tip is using clear vanilla essence. The regular one will leave a brownish tint on the final mixture and dull any color you add-in.

How to Flood Cookies: Why Use Shortening in My Buttercream to Decorate Sugar Cookies? Keep it White

Having a whiter base will allow your selected colors to pop! We recommend you use gel food coloring, that has lower water content so it will not affect the texture of the frosting.

How to Flood Cookies: What is “Flooding”?

“Flooding” is a technique used in decorating sugar cookies. It is best suited to create a base for other types of decoration, as it “paints” the cookie a certain color in sections, although there are other special ways to do this.

Basically, instead of pouring or spooning the frosting on top of the cookies, you create a barrier that will contain the frosting and prevent it from pouring over the sides. This will also allow the lines to be crisper and the overall finished appearance to be neater.

How to Flood Cookies: What is “Flooding”?

It is generally used with royal icing. This is a type of icing that, when made, is almost liquid, but dries down hard. So the barrier, made from a stiffer icing, acts like a cup that is filled by the runnier icing.

Once you fill out the cookie with color, a toothpick is used to level the icing, distributing it all over the cookie.

How to Flood Cookies: But, You May Ask, How Do We Do This With Buttercream?

Well, buttercream is not really royal icing, so in its natural form, it will not lend itself to this technique. However… I have found a way to use it!

Cookie Decorating Tools

Step 1

First, you need to make a butter and shortening cream. Once you have your favorite recipe whipped up -make sure that it is stiff in consistency- you can move forward to divide it in different containers and add the colors you are going to use.

The design you are going to use should be simple and geometrical at first. It should have clear sections that you can outline with a specific color.

How to Flood Cookies: But, You May Ask, How Do We Do This With Buttercream?

Step 2

Fill out a piping bag with the color that you need on the outline. Be sure to leave out enough of the buttercream out of the piping bag to actually do the flooding afterward. Remember this part will use just a small amount. 

The easiest thing to start with is by covering the whole cookie with the same color, so you would follow the cookie itself less than one-quarter of an inch toward the center.

How to Flood Cookies: But, You May Ask, How Do We Do This With Buttercream? Covering with Color

Step 3

Using a small round tip, proceed to draw the figure you need. That is your barrier! Now onto the “filling”.

Step 4

Grab the rest of the buttercream and, in a microwave-safe container, heat it up a few seconds at a time until it is a bit runny. Do not use it right away! Let it cool down a bit, so that it does not melt the barrier.

How to Flood Cookies: But, You May Ask, How Do We Do This With Buttercream? Heat-up

Step 5

We recommend the cookies to be cooled down for this. That way, the buttercream cools down a bit once it touches the cookie and starts to set quicker.

Then, with either a small spoon or a piping bag, carefully fill out the barrier you created before. Flood it, but do not overdo it! We do not want it spilling to the sides and ruining the design!

Step 6

Even out with a toothpick and leave to set. Remember that, as it is buttercream, it will not dry as hard as royal icing. It will have a crust, but they are more delicate than other types of decoration.

Before it completely dries out, you can add sprinkles, edible glitter, or anything else you want to stick onto the cookie. 

How to Flood Cookies: But, You May Ask, How Do We Do This With Buttercream? Add Sprinkles

How to Flood Cookies: Other Ideas

There are also other designs you can do with this technique. You can flood the cookie with stripes of two different colors and, while still runny, run the toothpick perpendicularly to create a design.

Using that same premise, you can come up with different ways of altering the colors so that they create interesting shapes, like with nail art! Get creative and combine different colors.

We believe they taste and look incredible, they are my absolute favorite! You can also play with different flavors for the buttercream that correlates with the colors you are using. There are so many possibilities!

Have you tried to flood sugar cookies with buttercream? Show us yours in the comments! 


What tools are needed to decorate sugar cookies?

Piping bags 

It depends on your preference if you want to use reusable or disposable piping bags. Utilize it to pipe a border around the edges of the sugar cookies. In addition to that, it will give you complete control over decorating with royal icing. 

Make sure to put the piping bag inside a tall glass. Afterward, fold the ends over the rim of the glass. Then, use a silicone spatula to spoon icing into the piping bag. Doing this when filling a piping bag will help you make less or no mess at all. 

Piping tips 

Piping tips are essential in piping the border around the edges of the sugar cookies. Ensure to stand filled piping bags upright in a glass. Also, make sure the tip is submerged in a little amount of water. 

For this reason, it will prevent the icing from clogging and drying out the piping tip. In addition to that, it will keep the icing from hardening.  

Food coloring gels 

Food coloring gels are the best choice when tinting royal icing. Moreover, it is best to choose concentrated gel paste, found in baking stores and craft stores. 

On the other hand, avoid using liquid food coloring since the extra liquid can thin out the icing. Additionally, make sure to incorporate it carefully into the icing. 


A toothpick is an appropriate tool for popping bubbles in the flood icing to achieve smooth results in your sugar cookies. Likewise, it incorporates little amounts of food coloring to obtain that perfect pastel color.

Squeeze bottles 

Commonly found in craft stores, it is the ideal tool to use when squeezing the flood icing onto the sugar cookies. This tool is essential since it is needed to fill the space with flood icing once the sugar cookies’ outlined border has dried. 

What tip to use for flooding cookies?

Use tips #3 or #4 for flooding cookies. Moreover, piping tip-sized #1 and #2 are the best to use when piping a thin line around the edges. 

How long does buttercream icing last on cookies?

At room temperature, cookies with buttercream icing will last for up to two days in an airtight container. Likewise, you can store it in the refrigerator for approximately five days. 

Do you have to refrigerate cookies with buttercream frosting?

No, though it has cream or milk and butter. Except for the cookies with buttercream frosting containing meringue powder, cream cheese, or eggs, which should be refrigerated. 

Will buttercream icing harden in the fridge?

Buttercream icing usually hardens in the fridge since it is cold. However, it will still be flavorful. Make sure to cover it properly with cling wrap or aluminum foil. 

Should you chill buttercream before piping?

No, bring it to room temperature then you can proceed to pipe. When making dark-colored buttercream, it is best to set it for at least three to four hours before using it. Doing this will allow the buttercream to deepen over time.

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