Sign up today & become a free member!

PYO cookies, the ever-popular show-stopper sugar cookies. 4 different ways...

Image of a pain-your-own (PYO) cookie with a palette made from a cookie with gel paint.

PYO cookies, which are paint your own cookies, are the ever-popular sugar cookies for parties. They started for kids’ birthday parties but quickly caught on for adult celebrations as well.

Admit it, we all like coloring! It’s the kid in us. It's relaxing. It allows you to be creative.

Surprisingly, many of our customers still do not know these babies exist. It’s our job to inform them. Give them a sample PYO cookie when they pick up orders. Their minds will start spinning on party possibilities. Truly it will.

Oftentimes people need inspired to start thinking. That's where you come in. This means more jingles in your pockets. You won't work nearly as hard for the money either. 

Methods to add images to PYO cookies

PYO cookies are quite easy to make. You just need the right consistency of royal icing when stenciling, if that’s the technique you decide on.

Here are some methods that decorators use to get the image on the cookie.

You'll first need your delicious cut-out cookies baked in the easy and least-amount-of-time process. Once iced and dried, you're good to go!

I’ve never seen anyone do the 4th way. I was just brainstorming for you:

Piping the lines with sugar cookie icing, otherwise known as royal icing is no problem. This works well actually. But there is a better way that saves oodles of time and no clean-up. Keep reading.

Unicorn PYO cookies image

Airbrushing the PYO cookies with a stencil looks great. However, since water is used, the airbrush color from the stencil will bleed. The lines disappear and make the artist's cookie messy. Though little ones often do not mind.

The best way, in my opinion of making PYO cookies, is by using an acetate (plastic) stencil or silk screen stencil to scrape over with royal icing. This method is called scraping. It leaves the lines slightly raised. It stops the colors from running together, not to mention they look strikingly amazing!

When stenciling, or piping if you prefer, make sure the flooded sugar cookie is completely dry. Especially if you are using a stencil to scrape the royal icing or glaze. You will be adding a bit of pressure. Therefore, you don’t want to damage the surface.

If you would like to learn more about making your own cookie stencils with a Cricut, does a great job doing just this.

By the way, pick up my free 2-page download on Royal Icing Tips. This is a great tool every professional cookier needs to combat color-bleed and so much more. It took me 10 years to learn all of the tricks: Royal Icing Tips.

For the life of you, can you just not seem to make stenciling work for you? Perhaps you are in such a rush and just don’t have the time for it.


Have you thought about edible images?

What? You don’t have an edible image copier? No problem! Just use food color markers to draw whatever lines you need. Just know a marker will bleed into the colors once wet (as explained above with airbrushing). However, you can pipe over your drawn lines to correct that.

Now if you would like a certain design, and do not have the time or edible imager, hit me up and I am happy to give you a quote to send the physical edible images to you. Let me know here: Contact Nita.

Just interrupting myself here...I'm thinking what a wonderful gift it would be to give a cookie bouquet of teddy bears, trucks, unicorns, etc. (whatever their favorites) to a child. Or even do a cookie cutter flip! How fun.

Don't you just love it when you're focused and get in the zone of creativity?

PYO cookies image

I promise to do a video using all 4 methods. As soon as I get time, I'll get that done for you!

Also, the page, Silk Screen Cookie Decorating shows you how to do a ‘mass production’ way that saves lots of time.

A couple of tips for PYO cookies

1. As far as what color to stencil or pipe with, many decorators go with black,  light gray, or white.

2. Make sure the flooded part has dried well. Why? Two reasons…

  • the black or gray outline can cause color bleed and can also smear if placed in cookie bags. 

*To make sure the black or gray does not color bleed in the bag, dust the cookie with cornstarch. Let it set for a couple of minutes, then take a new fluffy makeup brush to brush it off, then bag them.

You are now on track to make professional-looking cookies that your customers will adore. They will return to you over and again for even more sugar cookie decorating ideas.

DIY PYO cookie palettes with PYO cookies

There are many ways to make your palette for the PYO cookies…

This is the list I came up with. I wrote an exhaustive page on how to make PYO Cookie Palettes. I think you will find the 10-comparison video very informative and helpful to answer any questions you may have. There are also many photos of each palette.

Top of PYO Cookies

Lately, others have been enjoying these pages: