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Painted Watercolor Cookies

Painted Watercolor Cookies feature several techniques for painting cookies. Use either royal icing or a simple egg free icing for an easier, faster alternative to royal icing with no piping required! Instructions for how to apply edible paint for cookies and how to paint with luster dust, including gold luster dust. Easily make edible rose gold paint with this method. Simple guide for how to add handwritten calligraphy to cookies.
Prep Time 15 mins
Dry Time: 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 15 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 2 dozen cookies (approx.)


  • toothpicks
  • plastic transfer pipette
  • food grade paintbrushes
  • small dishes or paint palette


  • 1 batch shortbread cookies or sugar cookies iced with untinted simple icing or royal icing (see note)
  • Everclear (high proof grain alcohol, see note)
  • food coloring liquid or gel
  • colored or gold luster dust
  • edible food coloring markers (optional)


For Colored Cookie Paint:

  • Pour a few tablespoons of alcohol into a small dish.
  • Place a small amount of food coloring gel into the well of a paint palette or small dish. Add a few drops of alcohol to the well and mix with a food grade paintbrush until the color is mixed evenly. Add more drops if the color is too intense, or more food gel if the color is not dark enough. The alcohol will evaporate quickly, so if the color is too dilute, you can wait a bit for the alcohol to evaporate and the volume of liquid to decrease.
    food coloring gel mixed with alcohol in a paint palette
  • Paint the surface of your icing as desired. You may paint the entire surface for a uniform look, do stripes, letters, designs or patterns. You can do an ombre effect by starting at one end of the cookie right after dipping the paintbrush in the coloring and then feather it out working your way across the cookie.
  • Rinse your brush in a small dish of water and dry off with a paper towel before using another color paint, or use a new paintbrush for each color.

For Rose Gold Cookie Paint:

  • Dilute pink food gel with the alcohol as described above and add some gold luster dust to the mixture.
  • Paint on cookie as desired. You may add any color luster dust to your colored liquid.

For Gold Luster Dust Paint:

  • To apply dry gold luster dust, simply tap out a small amount into a dish or paint palette. Use a food grade paintbrush to add the dust to the surface of the icing. This will give you a bit of shimmer but won't be as intense as a wet application of luster dust. You can do this with any color luster dust.
    gold luster dust in a painters palette
  • For the most intense gold color, dissolve the gold luster dust in a few drops of alcohol. Mix it well with a paintbrush. You may need to add more dust or alcohol to get a nice suspension. If your gold dust is too dilute, it won't transfer much color to your icing. If it's too concentrated, it will be dry and won't spread nicely on the icing. This method works for any color luster dust.
    gold luster dust in a paint palette mixed with alcohol
  • Paint entire surface of cookie, stripes, designs, or use the liquid gold to create gold splatters. 

For Gold Splattered Cookies:

  • You may want to add a few more drops of alcohol to your gold suspension to make it more fluid. Dip your paintbrush into the liquid, then press it on the side of the dish or palette well to allow the excess to run off.
  • Hold your paintbrush in one hand about 6 inches above the cookie, parallel to your work surface. Then, use the index finger on your other hand to tap on the paintbrush in strong, quick motions to create a splatter. Make sure to have your cookie away from the other cookies, as the splatter tends to travel.

For Calligraphy or Handwriting on Cookies:

  • Use an edible food coloring marker to write on the surface of the cookie after the paint or luster dust has completely dried.
  • For calligraphy, write in all lowercase in cursive.   
    cookie with "ava" written on it
  • On all of the downstroke motions you made when writing the first time, do another stroke next to it to make a small space between the two lines. Basically, any time you moved your pen in the downward motion, go back and add this second line.  
    "ava" on a cookie with lines drawn down for calligraphy
  • Color in those spaces created with the second line.   
    "ava" written on a cookie in calligraphy
  • You may splatter the cookie with a luster dust suspension after writing, if desired.

To Store the Cookies:

  • Allow cookies to dry completely. Store in a single layer in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
  • For longer storage, freeze in a single layer. Thaw by removing the cookies from the freezer and allowing them to come to room temperature.


Iced Shortbread Cookies recipe, Sugar Cookies recipe, royal icing recipe
I recommend using a high proof, clear grain alcohol, such as Everclear.  You may try plain vodka or clear vanilla extract, but if you experience pitting in your icing, you will need to switch to grain alcohol.
To purchase luster dusts in the St. Louis area, I recommend Karen Ann's. Otherwise, consider Truly Mad Plastics
You're Gonna Bake It After All
Keyword American, cookies, dessert, holiday, royal icing