The biggest struggle I had when I first started decorating was learning how much dough and icing I would need for a cookie project. This blog post will outline my method for planning for small (1 dozen), medium (4 dozen), and large (12 dozen) cookie projects. I hope this is helpful as you tackle your next decorating project!! First, click below to download this free icing chart. Also, at the bottom of this lengthy blog post is an icing video. You can click to watch it here too!
The Great Icing Experiment
Question: How much icing should I make by icing color?
Hypothesis: It takes approximately 12oz of icing to flood 12 large 4” cookies, 18 medium 3” cookies or 24 small 2” cookies
Tests: I performed 3 separate tests: an average sized project (4 dozen), a large scale project (12 dozen), and a small scale project (1 dozen)
Double batch of icing and a double batch of dough, 3 basic colors + white pipe and yellow 20-second icing
Separated double batch of icing into containers, approximately 12 ounces for each color.
Time to color! I pulled out a little extra icing for the yellow 20-second and the white piping. You can see that the orange 12oz bottle is only half full as a result.
Approximately 12 oz of icing was enough for 2 tablespoons of piping icing (in bag) and 11 oz of flood icing in bottles.
12 oz of icing covered =
12 Large 4” cookies (the cakes)
18 Medium 3" cookies (the hats)***
24 Small 2” cookies (the gift box)
***The orange icing bottle had about 8 oz of icing and covered 12 Medium 3” cookies, therefore, I estimate that 12 oz of icing would cover about 18 medium 3” cookies.
Take a look at the 12 oz bottles at the end – practically no leftovers! I had to literally scrape the green bottle to finish the last gift box (that might be cutting it a little too close)
Large Scale Project 12 dozen cookies (6 dozen of a real estate gift and 6 dozen of a housewarming gift)
Materials: 3 double batches of icing and 4 double batches dough (I ended up making 1 more double batch of icing because I realized during mixing I was going to run out). So the final totals were 4 double batches of dough and 4 double batches of icing.
First, I made a list of the cookie designs and the icing colors needed (including shared colors). Next, I estimated how many cookies for each color.
Time to make the icing! I made 3 double batches of icing (each approximately 36 oz of icing)
Then I separated….
And Colored …
It was at this point that I realized that I did not have enough icing for the 24 Large Real Estate signs (white and brown icing). I made one more double batch of icing. I measured out 24 oz of icing and then split it in half to make the brown and white icing.
These are the leftovers. As you can see, very little icing remains in the bottles. I overestimated the size of the yellow key and had the most leftover of that color.
Small scale, 1 dozen cookies, approximate 13-14oz of icing
For my final test, I am going to create 1 dozen cookies with 3 colors
I started with approximately 13-14oz of icing.
I separated the icing into equal thirds since I need the same amount for each color.
I mixed my colors, pulling out 2 tablespoons for piping outlines and details. Since I had less icing, I used an 8oz bottle.
I like to keep an empty glass on my workspace to flip bottles before flooding.
This amount of icing proved to be the perfect amount. Not much is leftover! The bottles are almost empty!
A few notes from these three initial tests:
- I feel confident stating that: with 12 oz of icing, you can decorate: 12 Large cookies, 18 medium cookies, or 24 small cookies.
- This process is approximate, making it quick and easy to set up and mix colors.
- In all tests, the icing was almost completely gone after decorating. Therefore, a decorator should plan for extras if doing an icing-intense design (lots of ruffles, basketweave, thick icing borders, icing flowers, etc.)
- Finally, AND THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT, the more icing colors being mixed, the more icing will be required. For example, when I did the test with a dozen cookies, I started with 14 oz of icing instead of 12 oz since I would need three bags (3 colors) for the piping icing.
In all three test cases, I was easily able to predict and make the correct amount of icing so that I did not run out or have lots of leftovers!! Hooray!
Setting up plastic containers with markings:
First, using a liquid measuring cup, measure 12 oz of water.
Then pour the water into a plastic container.
Using a sharpie marker, make a note of the 12 oz line (I have run my containers through the dishwasher several times without it washing off).
Add 12 MORE ounces and mark the 24 oz line. This will be helpful for the LARGE cookie projects.
For small projects I might also measure out a 4 oz and 8 oz line.
Overall, I think this method will be helpful for planning how much of each color to make. I’m also excited to use this method in tutorials so that I can confidently help decorators make a specific number of cookies with a specific amount of icing.
Are you NEW to decorating? Check out this video on how to make royal icing!
A message from Anne
“My blog is a collection of tidbits about the things I love... sugar cookies, baking, great food, cute stuff, and life in Happy Valley. Check back often for updates!!”