The Best Icing for Decorating Cookies: Candy Melts

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

You can leave the powdered sugar, flavored extracts, milk, and food coloring where they are. There’s a much easier way to decorate your holiday cookies, and it only requires a single ingredient that comes in a rainbow of colors as diverse as a box of crayons.

Use Candy Melts for Easier Cookie Decorating

Use colored candy melts instead of royal or basic sugar icing for decorating cookies this holiday season. There’s no measuring, stirring, or attempting to blend just the right icing consistency or shade of blue to ice those snowflake cookies.

After the candy chips are melted in the microwave (or over very low heat on the stovetop), they’re transformed into a glossy icing that’s perfect for decorating cookies. It has a consistency that’s thick, but thin enough to be pushed through a piping bag or squeeze bottle.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

3 Ways to Decorate Cookies with Candy Melts

There are three methods for decorating cooking with candy melts: spreading the melted icing on cookies, using small squeeze bottles, or going for piping bags. You decide which method works best for you.

  • Spread it: Melt the candy chips into small bowls, and use a small offset spatula or knife to spread the icing over cookies.
  • Squeeze bottles: These little bottles offer more control, and are great when decorating a lot of cookies.
  • Piping bags: Zip-top bags with a small corner snipped off make a smart solution if you don’t have piping bags handy. This is helpful when decorating a smaller batch of cookies and when you’re working with many colors.

Unlike working with sugar icing, you won’t need to make a separate border icing and flood icing. Candy melts do the job of both, and it works the very same way as if you were using sugar icing.

Start by outlining each cookie with a border, then allow it five to ten minutes to firm up before flooding the cookie center with more of the melted candy chips. As with all decorated cookies, you’ll want to leave the cookies undisturbed for about 24 hours.

Just in Case You Need to Re-Soften the Candy Melts

Candy melts have a knack for staying soft for quite a while once melted, but they will firm up over time, so it’s still best not to dilly-dally when using this smart icing solution for cookie decorating. Have the cookies ready to go when you melt the candy pieces, and start by melting a small amount at a time.

If you’re using an offset spatula or knife, and the icing is in a bowl, just pop it back in the microwave for a few seconds to soften it up again. If your squeeze bottle or piping bag full of candy-melt icing does harden up, don’t worry — there is an easy fix.

  • Softening hardened candy melts in a squeeze bottle: Place the bottle in a tall container of hot water. Squeeze the bottle every couple minutes to help the candies soften, or remove the cap and stir with a skewer.
  • Softening hardened candy melts in a piping bag: Place a metal bowl inside a pot of water over low heat on the stovetop, and place the hardened piping bag in the bowl. Massage the piping bag every couple minutes to help the candies soften.

The Best Cookie Recipes for Decorating with Candy Melts