Getting Started: Learn How to Decorate Buttercream Cookies for Any Party

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Buttercream Parties Learn How to Decorate Buttercream Cookies

How to Decorate Buttercream Cookies for Cookie Decorating Beginners

Here is my guide to learn how to decorate buttercream cookies for cookie decorating beginners. This guide includes:

  • the cookie decorating tools I use and recommend
  • what a coupler is and how to decide if you need one with two easy questions
  • how to use a coupler
  • how to use an icing bag without a coupler


Understanding the Basics to Decorating Too-Pretty-To-Eat Buttercream Sugar Cookies

If you’ve never decorated sugar cookies with buttercream icing before, please check out my beginner’s course! This course is designed for cookie decorating beginners who wants to learn my techniques for decorating the most delicious and too-pretty-to-eat buttercream sugar cookies. You will learn how to pipe beautiful lines onto your cookies and how to make your own cookie cutters. Check it out here:

Online Cookie Decorating Course

Insta-Worthy Birthday Party Cookies Mini Course


Learn How to Decorate Buttercream Cookies

What to Purchase:

The Basics

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.*

Of course, you will need to purchase some basic baking equipment.

I was blessed with a KitchenAid stand mixer as a wedding gift. However, if I had to purchase it on my own, I’d do it. This mixer is worth the money. Even if you don’t mix sugar cookies and buttercream frosting as often as me, you will likely use it for every day baking. I even use mine to shred my chicken! 

I recommend this best rated but cost efficient KitchenAid stand mixer. It has five star reviews and it’s worth it.

You will also need a rolling pin. This rolling pin is highly rated among the cookie community because you can roll even cookies to 3/8 of an inch or 1/4 of an inch, both perfect for sugar cookies. This is the rolling pin I personally use.

Make sure to purchase some baking sheets as well. I prefer to use sheet cake pans instead of smaller cookie baking sheets.

The Fun Tools Needed to Decorate Sugar Cookies

The easiest way to learn how to decorate buttercream cookies is to just start decorating cookies! You will want to purchase a few items to get started.

I definitely recommend purchasing a beginner’s kit. I purchased the beginner kit when I first started and have zero regrets. Wilton makes amazing quality products so I really got to start with the best.

The other kit I purchased once I knew I was loving cookie decorating was this nice set of decorating tips. Plus, this comes with two flower nails which are handy when piping roses. 

You can get away with purchasing just one of each size of tip. It may take you longer to do your cookies, though.

If you want to stick with just one of each size for now, make sure to invest in a set of couplers. Couplers allow you to change the tip on your icing bag so you don’t need to use as many icing bags and tips, saving you time and money.

I will say, the one thing I have found I like more than Wilton’s brand of couplers is this brand of couplers, only because I can use my PME 1.5 tips which I love for fine details and writing on buttercream sugar cookies. The Wilton standard sized couplers don’t seem to fit my PME tips well.

Below, I will explain how to use a coupler.

For icing bags, I prefer the Wilton brand. I have tried some of the off-market ones and didn’t enjoy them much. I also prefer to use the smaller, 12″ bags, so I’m not being wasteful. Here is a set of 25 12″ Wilton bags that I use and recommend.

A lot of people love the look of royal icing cookies but dislike how they taste. I am one of those people. To compromise, quite a few of my tutorials include how to smooth buttercream frosting.

You get a clean look that is tasty! To smooth buttercream, you will want an angled flat spatula or a palette knife. I love the 9″ size angled flat spatula for cookies; however, I prefer to use a palette knife when smoothing. You’ll figure out what you like best.

I prefer to use a silicone baking mat rather than spraying a cookie sheet. It is so much easier to clean and your cookies won’t have an oil flavor on the bottom.

I actually like to have two mats and two cookie sheets. This way, you can prepare all of your cookies at once, since most pans only fit six cookies at a time. Here is a two pack of silicone baking sheets I recommend. Do make sure to get the right size for your cookie sheet or be prepared to cut your silicone to size.

As far as food coloring goes, definitely go with a gel formula as opposed to liquid. These are much more potent, and, because they are thicker, they are less likely to mess up your icing consistency.

There are many brands of gel food dye that are popular among cookie decorators such as Americolor, Hobby Lobby, and Chefmaster. However, I purchased the Wilton brand due to the cheaper price and have loved them. Here is the link to purchase the same 12-pack that I have from Amazon.

There is an endless supply of cookie cutters out there. My favorite brands are Wilton and Ann Clark Cookie Cutters. If you don’t already own the “101 Cookie Cutters” by Wilton, you are missing out! I also love the Ann Clark Every Season cookie cutters.

Make sure to check out Ann Clark’s website for a bunch of fun cookie cutters, too!

If you aren’t confident on your piping skills or you just want to add some fun to your cookies, I highly recommend using sprinkles. To hide imperfections, coat either the whole cookie or part of the cookie with sprinkles.

Fancy SprinklesI’ve been loving the Foliay sprinkles lately, but there are many fun retailers out there with sprinkle mixes.


Setting up Your Icing Bags – How to Use a Piping Bag Without a Coupler & How to Use a Coupler

Setting up your icing bags is very simple. The two main things to keep in mind is knowing whether or not you will need a coupler and making sure you do not cut off too much of the icing bag.


You will know if you need a coupler or not by first asking yourself if any of your tip sizes need to be shared among different colors. If yes, then you will either need a coupler or you will need more than one of that tip size. The other question you need to ask is whether or not one icing color will need multiple tip sizes. If the answer is yes, you will need either a coupler or multiple bags of frosting for that color.

For how to use a piping bag without a coupler, simply put your tip into the uncut bag and push it to the bottom.

Make your cut about halfway through your tip and you should be set! So easy!

For how to use a coupler, you will first need to put the coupler into the uncut bag. Make sure you unscrew the ring around it first.

Make your cut just below the area with the threading.

Take your tip and put it onto the end of the coupler. If you can, put the tip underneath the bag’s edges.

To secure the tip, you will screw the ring around the treads. I hold the bag in my hand and use my thumb to hold the tip in place while I am doing this. You can see that it’s not too difficult to learn how to use a coupler and it will save you money by using less icing tips. 


The Ingredients You Need to Decorate Buttercream Sugar Cookies

The Sugar Cookie Recipe

To decorate buttercream sugar cookies, you will need the sugar cookie recipe itself. I recommend the recipe that I use since it is no-chill and no-spread. This means that you can mix it up, roll it out, cut out the shapes, and bake it in the oven without needing to wait for the dough to chill. In addition, this means that your perfectly shaped hearts, circles, squares, you name it, will bake perfectly without spread.

The Buttercream Frosting Recipe

You will also need a buttercream frosting recipe that is designed for piping onto cookies. Buttercream frosting for sugar cookie decorating is called “crusting buttercream.”

What is a crusting buttercream?

A crusting buttercream means that it forms a slight crust on the outermost layer of frosting. This will allow your beautifully decorated sugar cookies to be a bit stronger. If you don’t use a crusting buttercream to decorate sugar cookies, you will need to treat your decorated cookies like cupcakes, very carefully.

Whipped Cream vs. Buttercream

Whipped cream is simply cream that has been whipped with sugar and possibly a flavoring like vanilla extract. Whipped cream is not appropriate for decorating sugar cookies, as it is not pipeable or stable enough to hold a shape very well. Whipped cream is also not shelf-stable. If you for some reason did decorate cookies with whipped cream, your cookies will likely become soggy, even in the refrigerator. 

Buttercream frosting is butter based. Rather than whipping cream, butter will be whipped in the stand mixer, along with powdered sugar. When using a crusting buttercream, there is a high ratio of sugar to fat, making it shelf-stable and thicker. Both of these qualities, with the addition of being delicious, makes a perfect frosting choice for decorating sugar cookies.

Is royal icing the best sugar cookie icing?

Royal icing on sugar cookies is popular for sure. It requires a small amount of ingredients, typically just meringue powder and powdered sugar. It hardens completely, making it easy to transport. Royal icing on sugar cookies also allows the cookies to be stored at room temperature.

But is it the best? I would say no. Royal icing, because it’s base is meringue powder compared to the buttercream base of butter, it is less superior in taste.

What is the best sugar cookie icing?

The best sugar cookie icing is crusting buttercream frosting in my opinion. This is a sugar cookie icing that hardens, still has a soft bite, and tastes delicious. Buttercream frosting is also the most kid-friendly, as many children do not prefer to eat royal icing. 

Buttercream frosting can also be packaged and transported, it just takes some extra thought and planning.

If you haven’t tried decorating sugar cookies with buttercream icing, I recommend you try it. You may be “team buttercream” after all.

How to Start Decorating Cookies as a Complete Beginner

If you want more information than the tips provided above, I encourage you to check out one of my beginner’s cookie decorating courses.

Course Option #1: Insta-Worthy Birthday Party Cookies

This course has about 90 minutes of instructional video showing you exactly how I make buttercream frosting, bake sugar cookies, and decorate cookies using tipless bags. 

Online Cookie Decorating Course

Check out the sales page here if you are interested in this fun hobby!

Course Option #2: Merry Cookies!

Merry Cookies Buttercream Sugar Cookie Online Class

Merry Cookies is an online 24/7 access class that teaches you OVER 25 Christmas sugar cookie tutorials in extreme detail. You will get a video tutorial, step-by-step photo series tutorial, and a printable eBook.

You’ll get all of your Christmas cookie classics: a Christmas tree, Santa, a reindeer, and more. You’ll also get some fun still-Christmas-but-more-unique tutorials: a buffalo check stocking (no projector or stencils needed!), a cup of hot cocoa, a gingerbread house scene, and more!

Seriously, this class is JAM-PACKED with Christmas sugar cookie goodies.

Most importantly, you will get an entire module of the course for beginners if you’re new to the hobby. Not to mention, if you have been doing this for a well, you’ll get some pro tips in this module too.

Check out Merry Cookies today & you won’t regret it.

Online Cookie Decorating Class Christmas Cookie Class

Do You Need to Individually Package Buttercream Cookies? Or Do You Need to Transport Buttercream Cookies to the Party Location?

Buttercream cookies can definitely be individually sealed as well as moved from one location to another. I probably wouldn’t ship them, but you do you. If you want tips on how to make your buttercream iced cookies less fragile while still remaining just as tasty, check out my blog post here: How to Package Buttercream Sugar Cookies 


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How to Decorate Buttercream Cookies

My 12 Tips & Tricks to Learn How to Decorate Buttercream Cookies

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