One of the easiest ways to give your sugar cookies a colorful sparkle is by using sanding sugar, edible glitter, sugar pearls, or colorful sprinkles. You can add these additional pops of color either before the cookies go in the oven or when you are decorating them after they are dried. I'll go over some of the best ways to incorporate these decorative sugars.
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may get a small commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links at no cost to you.
Types of Decorative Sprinkles
- Sanding Sugar: A large crystal sugar that is often used for decorating because it will not dissolve in heat. It is in between the size of granulated sugar and coarse sugar. It also gives off a great shine and texture.
- Edible Glitter: Small edible flakes that come in various sizes and shapes that give off a shimmery shine (similar to that of traditional glitter)
- Sugar Pearls: Small round edible spheres that tend to be around the size of a peppercorn or a kernel. They have a soft shimmer, like a pearl.
- Colorful Sprinkles: Small edible sugar pieces that come in many colors and shapes, and you can even make your own!
Make sure when purchasing any glitter, sugars, or sprinkles, they are indeed edible. Read the ingredients! Many products will simply say non-toxic and are intended to be removed from any edible goods before consumption.
Adding Sugar or Sprinkles to Royal Icing
Sanding sugar is a great way to add a little bit of extra texture to your cut-out cookies. Whether it's adding a sugar rim to margarita-decorated cookies or some flare to your decorated Christmas Cookies, sanding sugar will be a great addition. To learn more about royal icing cookie decorating, check out my ultimate guide!
Depending on your design for the cookie, decorate the parts of the cookie you do NOT want sanding sugar added. Let these sections dry completely (which takes approximately 8 hours) or to the point where the top has crusted over and if you tough it gently, it will feel smooth and not at all sticky.
Once the first section of royal icing is dry, add flood icing to the remaining sections. Sprinkle the sanding sugar over the wet icing either pouring carefully or with a spoon. Do this over a small bowl and then pour the excess sugar back into the bottle.
Let dry and enjoy your shimmery cookies.
Adding Sanding Sugar to Classic Sugar Cookies
There are many sugar cookie recipes that do not require frosting or royal icing such as these soft and chewy sugar cookies. If this is the case for your recipe, yet you want to add a little extra sanding sugar flair, it's easy to do. Simply place the sugar in a small bowl, roll the ball of dough in the sugar, and bake. Some recipes will have you press down the cookie with the bottom of a glass before baking (choose one that is flat on the bottom).
You can buy sanding sugar at most craft stores or online. You can even make your own sanding sugar!
Applying Edible Glitter to Cookies
Just as with traditional glitter, edible glitter is very fine and will get everywhere if not applied carefully. My favorite way to do this is to lay your cookies on a cookie sheet or parchment paper to catch any extra glitter. Use a food-safe brush , dip the brush gently into the glitter, hold it over the cookies, and tap the handle of the brush to lightly sprinkle the glitter over the cookies. If using royal icing, it's best to do this step when they are still wet. With buttercream frosting, the sooner the better for application is best!
Pro Tip: Many edible glitters are non-toxic, but not technically food safe. Make sure to read the labels!
How to Add Sugar Pearls to Cookies
Sugar pearls are mainly used as an accent on decorated cookies for either buttercream or royal icing. They are best to apply before the frosting is dry. As they are rather large, I prefer to place them strategically over the cookie so the pearls don't glop together in one spot. I use a tweezer tool with a rubber tip to help spread them out! I really love using sugar pearls for beach-themed cookie sets!
Fun fact: Don't get sugar pearls confused with pearl sugar! While sugar pearls are edible sprinkles for decorating, pearl sugar is a large, chunky sugar, often used in Belgian waffles.
Adding Colorful Sprinkles to Cookies
I love adding sugar sprinkles to cookies! They are so easy to decorate with, they are beautiful, and you can find them in so many different colors and shapes. You can find sprinkles almost anywhere including your local grocery store or craft store, online, and I've even seen them at the dollar store. I love getting different seasonal colors for holiday cookies, valentine's day, etc.
To save some cleaning hassle, place cookies on a baking sheet when adding sprinkles to catch the ones that miss the cookies themselves. It's easiest to add sprinkles before the icing dries so they will stick to the cookies easier.
No matter which type of decorative sugar you decide to use, once you decorate your cookies, let them fully dry on a cooling rack at room temperature.
I hope you have a great time adding fun sprinkles and sugars to your cookie decorating techniques!
Looking for other decorating tutorials? Try these:
These are some of my favorite cookie recipes to decorate: