Decorating festive fall leaf sugar cookies is easy with this simple-to-follow cookie decorating tutorial. Using either royal icing or fondant as a base, learn how to paint sugar cookies to create vibrant and beautiful designs.
Shortly before I closed the bakery, I began this phase where I wanted to paint EVERYTHING! If there was a way I could work painting into a design, I would do it. I loved the look.
Naturally, this happened right as I stopped taking orders and became a food blog, so I play with this technique mostly in my “free time”.
I do use it for my cherry blossom cake tutorial which you can find here. So technically still “work”.
The funny thing is, it took two years to post an autumn sugar cookie tutorial using the technique and I’m not sure why. But it’s here now, and Fall is practically here, so let’s decorate cookies!
I’m explaining the technique in full below, but since I know some of you are visual learners, check out this quick little video first so you can see the process I used:
Painting on sugar cookies is a lot of fun, and a great way to make stunning cookies, even as a novice decorator.
I feel like the painting technique is perfect for fall leaves because each leaf is different, and each cookie will be unique. Serendipity, isn’t it?
Allow the cookies to cool completely before decorating.
You could paint directly on the cookie, but you will get the most vibrant colors if you add a base first.
For these cookies I primarily used a basic white royal icing in flood consistency (10-15 seconds).
I tried a few with orange and yellow bases but preferred the flexibility offered by the white base.
Once you’ve piped your base layer on the cookies, allow 4-8 hours of drying time so the icing is set. It won’t be totally dry but should be set enough to paint.
A note about your painting base for fall leaf sugar cookies and an alternative to royal icing:
Now, if you are in a pinch or don’t want to use royal icing at all, you may use fondant as the base and melted chocolate for the stems.
Cut the fondant to fit each cookie using your clean cookie cutter and use decorator’s icing or a bit of melted chocolate to attach the fondant to the cookie.
Paint your fondant as usual.
Once all the cookies are painted, melt your chocolate, place it in a piping bag, and pipe the veins on your leaves.
Once the base is set, mix your paint colors. I used red, yellow, and orange and mixed them with a bit of clear extract. Any clear extract or high alcohol content liquor will do. My personal preference is lemon extract.
Combine a few drops of the extract with a few drops of your gel, and stir with your paintbrush.
Dab the paintbrush on a clean paper towel so it isn’t too wet, and you’re ready to paint! This part is very easy, and fun, and great if you have small helpers in the kitchen.
While I painted most of these myself, my little one decided she wanted to lend a hand for a few, and this little cookie was one of her creations. She was so proud!
After you’ve finished painting your cookies, pipe on your leaf veins (you could paint them if you have a steady hand!), and allow the cookies to set for 2-3 hours.
The stiff royal icing I used for the veins dries quickly.
Once the cookies are set, package them. Wrap cookies individually to share or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Don’t forget to place wax or parchment paper between each layer. This prevents any color bleed, especially if you’re in a humid climate!
For longer storage, freeze decorated cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for a few hours before serving.
I hope you enjoyed this Fall themed sugar cookies tutorial!
+ Materials List:
- Sugar cookies cut into leaf shapes
- Royal icing (see recipe in this post)
- gel food colors (affiliate) in red, yellow, orange
- clear flavor extract, your choice
- brand new, or clean food-only paint brushes (affiliate)
For more fall fun, check out these Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls from my friend Meaghan at Cook. Craft. Love.