How to Make Watercolor Cookies - Watercolor St. Patrick's Day Decorated Cookies

How to Make Watercolor Cookies - Watercolor St. Patrick's Day Cookies

Have you ever wanted to embrace your inner artist with watercolor cookies - using food coloring? Or maybe you'd like to decorate cookies but are a little intimidated by mixing icing colors and dealing with piping bags, couplers, and icing tips. Well, it's easy to make watercolor cookies! 


How to Make Watercolor Cookies

I really loved how these cookies for House of Colour Houston turned out last month and wanted to share more in more detail how to get that watercolor look. It seemed like making rainbows and shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day cookies was the perfect opportunity!

How to Make Watercolor Cookies - Watercolor St. Patrick's Day Cookies


How to make watercolor decorated cookies


You'll want to start with a great cut-out cookie. For these, I baked up my vanilla bean cut-out cookies. This is a perfect recipe if you're a vanilla lover and love to see those little flecks of vanilla bean in your baked goods. Those vanilla flecks make the cookies extra fancy. Yay for fancy! 


Next, you'll need royal icing. The good news is that you don't have to divide and tint it a million different colors. You may want to tint it with a bit of white food coloring. While not strictly necessary, the white food coloring will ensure that your icing stays bright white. 


How to make 10-15 second icing


Here's the cool thing, you really don't have to bust out the piping bags and make two separate icing consistencies here. Since the food coloring watercolor will be doing the heavy lifting of the design work, we don't need a precise and sharp cookie icing outline. 


Thin the royal icing with water, adding a bit at a time and stirring gently. The consistency you're looking for is generally referred to as 10 or 15-second icing. What does 15-second icing mean? Well, when you drag a knife through your icing (or drop a ribbon of it back into the bowl), the time it takes to become smooth again is your icing consistency. Fifteen-second icing takes 15 seconds to smooth out again. 

How to Make Watercolor Cookies - Watercolor St. Patrick's Day Cookies

For these cookies, somewhere between 10 and 15 seconds is perfect. Thin it, and let it sit for a few minutes covered with a damp dishtowel. Stir gently and pour into a piping bag or squeeze bottle. Use this icing to outline AND fill the cookies. Use a toothpick to guide the icing and pop any large air bubbles.


This is key: the icing must be COMPLETELY DRY (sorry to yell) before starting the watercolor part. Let the cookies dry uncovered for 6-8 hours or overnight. 


Supplies for making watercolor decorated cookies


How to Make Watercolor Cookies - supplies needed

Here's what you'll need:

  • gel paste food coloring, such as Americolor or Chefmaster
  • Everclear or vodka (don't worry - it evaporates!)
  • eyedropper, optional but fun
  • a palette of some sort or lots of tiny bowls
  • FOOD-ONLY paint brushes
  • paper towels
  • optional: black food coloring pen

Gosh, I really wish there was a "cookie decorator's card" for going to the liquor store and asking for the bottle of Everclear, usually behind the counter. Oof. I'm pretty sure they think I'm carrying it in my purse. 

How to Make Watercolor Cookies - Watercolor St. Patrick's Day Cookies

Start by adding one drop of food coloring to a palette section. Use the eyedropper to add Everclear or vodka. With a paintbrush, mix until the food coloring is dissolved. 


How to Make Watercolor Cookies tutorial

Sometimes, I like to use a second section on the palette to thin the color even more. I'll bring some of the already thinned "watercolor" into the second section and add more alcohol. 


How to Make Watercolor Cookies - Watercolor St. Patrick's Day Cookies

The colors are buildable and can be layered. For the shamrock cookies, I started with Leaf Green and then added a bit of Teal.


The alcohol will evaporate as you go, so be prepared to continuously monitor the watercolor and add as needed. The cool thing about watercolor is that the colors vary - it's a beautiful look and is even prettier when there's some variation of color from cookie to cookie and even in the same cookie.

How to Make Rainbow Watercolor Cookies

How to Make Watercolor Cookies - Watercolor St. Patrick's Day Cookies

Use one color at a time, let dry, then add another. The watercolor paint dries super quickly. 


How to Make Watercolor Cookies

I'll let you in on a little secret. I bought this palette years ago for this exact purpose - and I don't love it. The wells are too small, and the colors easily spill over. Start with small bowls or a palette with larger cavities. This palette with deeper wells looks nice, as does this simple palette.


How to Make Watercolor Cookies - Watercolor St. Patrick's Day Cookies

Use a black food coloring pen to add more detail. On the watercolor rainbows, I did this before I added the watercolor. Just be careful, as the watercolor will cause the food coloring to smudge. 


How to Make Watercolor Cookies - Watercolor St. Patrick's Day Cookies

I just love the little watercolor shamrocks. Don't ask me why I added the stars to this St. Patrick's Day cookie set. Is there something about "yellow stars" in the Lucky Charms commercial? Blue stars? Mr. E said they look like the 1970s/80s "The More You Know" stars. He's not wrong. 


Please take a gander at the exquisite watercolor cookies made by The Ginger Bites in Layfayette, Louisiana. I am in awe! 


How to Make Watercolor Cookies - Watercolor St. Patrick's Day Cookies

Have you tried watercolors on cookies? How do you like it? 


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1 comment

  1. great inspiration to unleash my inner artist! thank you, and the upside is that no matter how much of a mess I make out of any "art", I can still eat it!

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