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Royal Icing Flooding, know these tips about royal icing and glaze

Royal icing flooding is the first stage in decorating sugar cookies.

This stage also called the base coat, is the most important. You need to get the sugar cookie icing as perfect as possible to assure the decorating turns out splendid!

Royal Icing Flooding problems with questions and answers

Let’s troubleshoot some common problems with royal icing flooding…

·         Icing runs off the cookie

If your royal icing is too thin it will run off the edges, sometimes even with a piped dam around the edge.Too runny icing for sugar cookies

The royal icing (get the superior royal icing recipe here for free) or glaze (delicious recipe here) should be 12-15 second consistency.

12-second consistency means if you spoon up some icing and drop it back in, it takes 12 seconds for it to disappear. 15 seconds means the same, but it takes 15 seconds to disappear.

12 or 15-second flooding. Which one?

This depends if you plan on using the same consistency to pipe the border and flood the cookie (grab the best sugar cookie recipe here).

Some decorators prefer using only one consistency to outline and fill. This saves work but gives less control of the icing. Use 12 seconds if you plan on this technique.

If you like/would like to feel as though you have more control, use 2 piping bags, one with 12 seconds (outlining) and one with 15-second royal icing (flooding).

However, just starting, I recommend the 2 bag technique. It's easier.

***I'll interject while I'm thinking about it. If you are piping royal icing transfers onto a royal icing template sheet or transfer sheet, you'll want the sugar cookie icing to be as thick as possible and still be smooth (perhaps tickling it with the scribe to help). Otherwise it'll take forever to dry, or may never. You can get unique transfer sheets in my shop here: Shop Gotta-havs!

·         Air bubbles in the icing

Air bubbles trapped in royal icing image.Air bubbles trapped in royal icing

Ugh, those dreaded air bubbles. Where do they come from?

First, do not over-mix when making the sugar cookie icing. Mixing too long incorporates air into it and will compromise the puffiness when it's dried.

Make sure to use your whip attachment instead of the paddle. Always make sure it's on the lowest setting too. Refer to the Sugar Cookie Icing page on how to make the royal icing or glaze.

Second, after mixing the colors it should set for a while, preferably overnight. This allows the air bubbles to rise to the top.

Third, adding too much liquid can contribute to air bubbles, color bleeding, and extended drying time.

  • Icing turns out flat on the cookie...
Flat icing can look nice, but people like the look of it being puffy. There are ways to accommodate this. Follow these instructions.Strive for puffy, not flat sugar cookie icing

Want puffy icing on cookies?

This image shows a beautiful royal icing puffiness after they set overnight. This was piped on a half-dried royal icing base.

 Try to not over-mix the icing. Also, adding too much liquid will make them flat.

Note: it's faster to have the royal icing flooding thinner, but this gives more bubbles, color bleed, and a flatter top.

·         Cracks in the royal icing

There's a couple of reasons why your royal icing can develop cracks. Here's some answers to assist this problem.Cracks in icing

After flooding the sugar cookies, leave them to sit untouched overnight if possible.

Though they may look set up, only the tops are crusted. Underneath is still wet.

Side note…a common myth is to place them in a dehydrator and they will dry. Dehydrators are wonderful for sugar cookies. I wouldn’t want to live without mine as a sugar cookie artist. 

However, dehydrators only help the icing to dry on top. This enables the decorator to pop them in to add another color or layer faster.

This is the commercial food dehydrator I ended up with. It holds 10 racks. Each rack holds between 12 and 15 sugar cookies, about 3" in size.

Royal icing flooding is helped by using a dehydrator to crust the icing.VIVO Home commercial food dehydrator


Unfortunately, Amazon says they are out of stock on these bad boys, so I removed the link.


...my mother purchased the Cosori dehydrator and loves it! I see no difference between hers and mine. So here is the link to that one instead. The link is for the 6 shelf, but if you go over, they also have a 10 shelf one that costs more:

COSORI Food Dehydrator for Jerky, with 16.2ft² Drying Space, 1000W, 10 Stainless Steel Trays Dehydrated Machine (50 Recipes) with 48H Timer and Temp Control, for Herbs, Fruit, Meat, and Yogurt,Silver
9.5/10 WeCookier's Golden Cookie Award!
  • MORE ACCESSORIES: For additional Fruit Rolls or Mesh Screens, explore 'Add an Accessory' or search for 'CFD-MS102-WUS' and 'CFD-FR102-WUS' to enhance your product experience
  • LARGE CAPACITY & STAINLESS STEEL: 10 stainless steel trays (15.55" x 14.96") provide up to 16.2 square feet to make a variety of food at once, while the glass door lets you monitor food without letting the heat out
  • EVEN HEAT DISTRIBUTION: The rear-mounted fan dehydrates food more efficiently by evenly distributing heat, so you don't have to rotate trays
  • FOOD VERSATILITY: Precise temperature control lets you make beef jerky, fruit leather, breadcrumbs, yogurt, dog treats, dried herbs, dried flowers, and more for foods that have a longer shelf life without the additives
  • EASY TO USE: The digital control panel has 4 precise one-touch buttons to set time in 30-minute increments up to 48 hours and temperature using 1-degree increments
  • SUITABLE FOR EVERYONE: Whether you love long-lasting snacks for hiking and camping or just in your day-to-day life, everyone can benefit from delicious preservative-free food
  • EASY TO CLEAN: The stainless-steel trays can be cleaned in minutes with a soft brush and warm soapy water
  • QUIET & SAFE TO USE: With noise levels under 51dB, the dehydrator operates as quietly as a library and automatically shuts off when the timer ends. Built-in overheat protection also activates if the dehydrator overheats. The dehydrator is ETL-Listed & FDA-Compliant
  • FREE RECIPES & ACCESSORIES: Enjoy 50 recipes designed for beginners by COSORI chefs. A fruit roll sheet and mesh screen are included to make any kind of recipe
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases

*Here is a good video on dehydrators for cookies. It's about half an hour long, but so informative.

·         Color bleed

The head of this cute little sloth shows color bleed. This page teaches you how to avoid it with man tips and tricks.Poor little sloth!

The following list is only a part of a longer list. Click this image to go to Royal Icing Tips for a 2-page download you can print off. Grab it while it's free!

Image link for royal icing flooding tips and more hacks

Before you start with icing, make sure you have the perfect cookie recipe and make sure to click on How to Bake Sugar Cookies to make your life easier as a cookier.

What's my favorites baking sheets? You might be surprised. Check them out.

There are quite a few reasons for color bleed. This is a partial list of what I have learned through the years:

a. Use quality food gel--The only food gel I will use is Americolor. I've tried others, naturally, but these are high-quality and oh-so vibrant. I very much appreciate them. 

  •   Do not use too much water
  •   Possibly the quality of the water
  •  Allow icing to dry on the cookie before adding another color
  • Humidity wreaks havoc with royal icing
  • Add white food coloring when making icing, AmeriColor gels are my go-to, as noted above.
  • Do not cover cookies until completely dry
  • Never refrigerate iced cookies (humidity in the fridge)
  • Use high-quality confectioner’s sugar, like C&H
  • If you are using food color markers and you notice color bleed, certain markers aid in this. 

Go here to see a comparison I did of 7 different brands of food markers.

Click the picture for the Best Sugar Cookies link with a downloadable and printable recipe.

Click this image for my superior royal icing recipe for free

Here is also a link for a sugar cookie glaze recipe that's really nice!

Supplies you will need for royal icing flooding

Image of a horseshoe with royal icing flooding with brushed-on silver lustre dust and topped with a little pink rose.


1. blank cookies

2.  royal icing outline consistency in piping bag, #3 frosting tip

3.  royal icing flood consistency in piping bag, I like to use a #5 frosting tip

4. scribe or toothpick

5. paper towel or cookie turntable

6. wet paper towel or cloth

7. favorite music

Music clipart on Royal Icing Flooding page at WeCookiers.com

One thing to remember before we start the fun...

“Harmonious fingers make for competent hands.”—Pepper Blair

Focus on the work at hand. Be detailed oriented. It's when you pay attention to the fine details that it catapults you into a pro-level decorator. I can't say it enough:

Detail. Detail. Detail.

Royal Icing Flooding with video tutorials and tips

Keep in mind, that this is an A-Z sugar cookies site. Thus, we are starting at the very beginning. If you are more advanced, please be patient as this site is developing. You can click ahead to Cookie Decorating Techniques if you like.

Also, just because this is the way I decorate, does not mean it’s the best or only way. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.

With a piping bag in hand, take the thicker (outline) icing and draw a line around the shape of the cookie. This is called the dam or border.

Set the tip down on the cookie to start and raise the tip about ½” to 1" away from the surface. Whatever you are comfortable with.

Do not pull the icing, just let it fall in a straight line, letting gravity have its way.

You need to be aware of the steady squeeze of the bag as you move it along. Nice steady pressure.

As you come near meeting the starting point, let up on the squeezing so there isn’t a glob when you meet it. This is where your scribe or toothpick will come in handy.

The royal icing may need to be smoothed out a little when the two ends meet.

Now set it aside and pipe the borders on the rest of the cookies.


Take the first cookie you piped. With the other piping bag, the royal icing flooding, fill in the sugar cookie.

Keep going until you have finished royal icing flooding all the cookies. Preferably a dozen. This will give you lots of practice.

If you see bubbles rising to the top, just take your ‘bubble popper’ and pop them. There will be others that will pop on their own, so don’t worry too much.

Flood/base coat on sugar cookie. A-Z learning on Royal Icing Flooding page at https://www.wecookiers.com/royal-icing-flooding.htmlFlood coated sugar cookie

Great job!

Don't fret if yours don't turn out perfect. Royal icing flooding is like anything else...practice makes perfect.

You've now finished royal icing flooding.

Here is a link back to How to Make Professional Cookies.

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