Help! My cookies have streaks!!! (Works for Me Wednesday)

Has this happened to you?

You've spent hours mixing colors, outlining and flooding.  Your cookies look perfectly perfect. You decide to let them dry overnight and go to bed. You wake up the next morning to STREAKS in your royal icing.


Those white or light colored streaks are caused by.....water.  Yep.  Water.

Let me tell you how that water probably got there:
  1. Squeeze bottles used for flooding weren't *completely* dry.  Even a small drop of water clinging to the side of the bottle can wreak havoc on a cookie.  Solution: check all bottles before filling.  If there is a drop of water, dry with a paper towel.
  2. When thinning a bowl of icing, a drop of water goes unnoticed on the side of the bowl.  When the icing is poured into the squeeze bottle, the drop of water is poured in as well.  Solution: always add water with a measuring spoon into the bowl.  Never hold the bowl under running or dripping water.
  3. The icing in the bottle is too thick for flooding, so a drop or two of water is added and not properly mixed.  Solution: to add water, pour the icing back into a bowl and stir. Do not under any circumstances SHAKE the bottle.  This will fill your icing with air bubbles (another issue for another day.)
 squeeze bottle clear water Pictures, Images and Photos
If you happen to spot a drop of water when you're filling your cookies, use a paper towel to blot out the water and add more icing if needed. 

Have streaks ever happened to you?  Have you had other issues decorating cookies?  What are they?  Tell me, tell me!  I bet I've had them, too.

{In the meantime, check out this post from the archives on Troubleshooting.}

Preventing streaky for me!


  1. This is such a great post -- I've had those streaks before and it never occurred to me that water could be the culprit. Thanks so much! My other (and more frequent) Achilles heel in this area is grease spots showing up on my cookies after the royal icing has dried. I've started waiting at least a day after baking to decorate, which I think helps. But I still hold my breath every time I get ready to look at them after they've dried overnight!

  2. This has definitely happened to me. If flooding with a pastry bag and tip, your tip and coupler need to be bone dry too! Freshly washed = trouble for me :(

  3. Oh, streaks have happened...
    But thank you for diagnosing the problem, as I have successfully divorced from cookie decorating lately.
    I think I need to get my flood bottle out of retirement :)

  4. Like Emilie commented, I have the problem of grease spots showing up and darkening the dried icing. It doesn't always happen, but when it does it drives me crazy!

  5. I hate when streaks happen. Thanks for the post!

  6. Oh this is good to know!
    It's so nice to have a friend who knows these things!
    Usually I just glob on so much icing the streaks and things go un~noticed! ;)
    Hugs Girly!

  7. Honeycat CookiesJuly 11, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    If I've been working a long time with the icing, I take it out of the bag, remix and put it back, otherwise it starts to seperate slightly, and water pools, then streaks as it's piped out - not easily visible until it's dry, unless it's a stiff icing, when you can feel the difference in texture as you pipe.

    To make remixing easy, I put all my icing in a large piece of cling film in a bowl, gather up the sides so I've got a 'bulb' of icing at the bottom, with a long roll of cling film extending from it, which I thread through the bag and coupler, pulling the 'bulb' of icing into place after it. This also stops the icing squeezing backwards up the bag if it's not tightly tied, making a mess.

    Then you can just squeeze out the icing, and pull out the empty cling film (I think you call it saran wrap?) through the coupler and discard, leaving a clean piping bag for the freshly mixed icing.

  8. I get SO annoyed when the craters appear after I've iced really narrow or small spaces. I've tried running the toothpick through it to get the air bubbles out but that hasn't worked for me. I've tried UNDER-filling those spaces but then they just look really....well....under-filled. I can't tell if thicker icing or thinner icing works better to avoid the craters. Any tips or hints? I just LOVE your "Works for me Wednesdays!" Thanks!

  9. Honeycat CookiesJuly 12, 2012 at 4:26 AM

    I don't think it's air bubbles causing craters, I think it's because the smaller areas have a larger surface area to volume ratio and that affects the way it dries, particularly if there's dry icing around the area, drawing the moisture out too quickly, before the icing's hardened, causing it to collapse in on itself. I think, but am not sure, that thicker icing ought to be stronger, but I don't know why it sometimes happens and sometimes doesn't.

  10. Thanks Bridget! *knock on wood* I haven't had streaking yet, but I just started using a spray bottle to thin my icing and the little droplets on the side of the bowl have worried me. I've blotted with a paper towel to get rid of them.

    I've gotten splotches every now and again on darker colors. So annoying.

    But the worst for me is craters! I get them all the time. I agree with Honeycat - I think that thinner icing craters worse than thicker. Also filling in that small spot that has a dry outline seems to be worse. I have the best luck using 20-secondish icing with no outline.

    Honeycat's "bulb" technique is interesting! Similar to Karen's "bullet" technique. Honeycat's would work great for thinner icing.

  11. Thanks Bridget! I definitely get this streaking issue. I'll have to be more careful when I add my water!

    I agree with others that thicker icing helps prevent craters, along with running a toothpick along the edges to eliminate air pockets.

    Switching from Wilton to Henry and Henry meringue powder eliminated my splotching issues, but I know it hasn't worked for everyone. If you do get splotches, you can get them to even out by putting them in the oven overnight with the light on:

  12. Like Emilie, I get the grease splotches on darker colored cookies. And I also have to take a deep breath before looking at my cookies after they've dried, dreading the grease spots. I usually bake my cookies in the morning, let them cool completely then stack them in plastic freezer containers separated by layers of paper towels and freeze them for a day or so before I decorate them. Any thoughts on how to avoid the grease coming up through the icing while the cookies dry??

  13. Thanks Bridget for all of your tips and inspiring cookies!!

    I have had some streaking and I knew right away it was from the icing sitting too long and there was some separation of water and "other stuff." I have learned to pour the icing back into the main bowl and re-mix with my silicone spatula.

    I have a problem I have wanted to ask you about for some time but I had to do some experimenting to determine if my theory was indeed fact. I have much better luck with Domino brand powdered sugar than with Target or Walmart store brands. The store brands tend to stay sticky and won't dry as quickly, or sometimes, at all as the Domino (it's the only name brand one we have around here). I'm thinking that it's because the store brands may have more corn starch in them than the name brand one - any thoughts??


  14. Hello Bridget!
    I'm your fan, I love your blog and I follow all their guidelines, I love making cookies. I need your help, I made the cookies last spotted while they were drying, I would send you a picture for you to see what happened, as I have to do this? I'm desperate, what will be happened? I have more orders and I am afraid that the same happens, is not the first time it happens, will be the time that is too humid? Dorly

  15. You have very neat recipes and ideas!

  16. I know this is a very old post but I've been having a lot of trouble with my flood icing when it sits in the bottles for longer than an hour. It seperates and I notice that the water used for mixing rises to the top, leaving my icing ugly, and Noone likes ugly, iced cookies! :( I'm hoping someone here can help! I follow Sweet sugar belles blog, but I can't for the life of me, EVER get a response to a question on there! Any help would be so greatly appreciated!!

    1. Hi Mimi!

      The flood icing will separate eventually....mine takes several hours and the liquid generally sinks to the bottom, not the top for me. Interesting. Do NOT shake the bottle. Take off the lid, and gently stir with a chopstick or knife. :)


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