Cut out cookies are a great way to make holiday-specific treats. But it can be hard to come up with creative (and easy!) ways to decorate them. Whether you want to use royal icing or not, these Valentine cookie decorating ideas will give your heart-shaped sugar cookies some pizzazz.
I may have mentioned this once or twice before…
I’m not a great baker.
But I love the look of decorated desserts.
So I decided to learn how to make sugar cookies with royal icing. (In case you need help with that, find my fail-proof cut-out cookie recipe HERE and all of my tips for making cookie icing that hardens HERE).
Now that I’ve got those recipes figured out, I’ve been trying out all kinds of sugar cookie designs (including these ones for Valentine’s Day).
But I do have a couple of rules…
The decorating process has to be easy. (I want designs that will turn out even if you’re not an experienced baker!)
And of course, the cookies still need to look good.
So that’s where these easy Valentine cookie decorating ideas came from. (Along with all the tips I learned along the way.)
1 | Ombre Icing Hearts
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Flooding sugar cookies with royal icing is the traditional way to decorate them.
To make heart cookies a little more fun, try frosting them with shades of pink to create an ombre color combination.
Of course, you don’t have to do traditional pink…any color of icing will work for this!
2 | Colored Cookie Dough
Or you can go with the opposite approach and add food coloring to the cookie dough instead of the icing.
I had all kinds of fun making blue heart cookies and decorating them with white and pink icing.
But you could choose to take the easy way out, and not frost them at all 🙂
3 | Conversation Heart Cookies
To take the colored cookie dough concept one step further, why not use conversation hearts as inspiration?
Make batches of cookies in different colors, like red, green, blue and pink.
Then write cute sayings on the front.
If you’re not good at writing with a piping bag (that would be me!), these little piping bottles* are much easier to work with.
They don’t hold a lot, so they don’t work well for flooding cookies.
But for small jobs like outlining and writing text, they’re perfect!
To make them even easier, you can skip the icing altogether and write the sayings on with an edible marker.
For more details, read our conversation heart cookies recipe.
4 | Icing With Sprinkles
With all of the different sprinkles that are available, there are a ton of Valentine cookie decorating possibilities.
The easiest way to get sprinkles to stick is to cover the cookie with royal icing first.
Then while the frosting is still wet, add your sprinkles.
For something different, try adding sprinkles in different patterns, like across the top of the cookies or make a stripe down the middle.
To make a more structured pattern, use tweezers to place the sprinkles where you want them.
They also work great for removing sprinkles that fall where you don’t want them.
I love using these cake decorating tweezers* for this.
5 | Hearts Outlined With Dots
To create a more interesting pattern with icing, try flooding the middle of the heart and then add dots around the outside.
It has a lace-like look but is still really easy to do.
6 | Joined Hearts Outline
If you’re willing to make two different colors of icing (I did white and red), you can make these heart cookies with an outline that looks like mini joined hearts.
This is a wet-on-wet icing design.
In other words, you need to have both colors of icing ready to go when you start decorating the cookies.
Start by flooding the cookie with the first color.
Then add dots around the inside edge with the second color. (Those little piping bottles work pretty well for this!)
Finally use a toothpick (or any other thin tool like a cake tester or skewer) to drag through the icing.
7 | Layered Cookies
Another way to decorate Valentine’s Day cookies is to layer them.
Make cookies of different sizes and then stack them on top of each other.
You can “glue” them together using icing (like I did for the cookie above).
Or use this edible cake decorating glue* if you don’t feel like making icing.
8 | Gold painted hearts
Another Valentine cookie decorating technique that doesn’t require icing is using edible paint.
You know I love a little glam, so I used this gold edible paint* to add a heart inside my cookies. However, it comes in many different colors so you can use whatever one you want.
It literally is as easy as using a small paint brush to paint the design on the cookies.
To make sure the brush was clean, I did get a “cookie decorating” brush (it wasn’t very expensive).
It came in this cake and cookie decorating kit* which comes with the tweezers, brushes and tools for dragging (and it’s not very expensive).
9 | Layered Icing
Now that we’ve finished with the one-step icing designs, I’m going on to the ones that take a little more time…layered icing.
Not because they are any harder to do. But with these you have to wait for the first layer of icing to dry (at least a couple of hours) before you can do the next one.
And if you have one layer that’s light and one that’s dark (like white and red), you’ll need to wait longer than that (ideally over night) to make sure the colors don’t bleed.
10 | Outlined Hearts
One of the easiest ways to add a layered icing design is to do an outline on top of the first icing layer.
You can leave it as an outline, or fill it in depending on the look you are going for.
For more variety, try different outline variations like polka-dots (or dashes).
11 | Criss-Cross Icing
Another way to add more interest to your Valentine cookies is to create a pattern with the second layer of icing.
I love this criss-cross design done in the same color as the first layer. It adds texture without being too dramatic.
Of course, if you like drama, contrasting colors will work, too! (I didn’t do a great job of putting the icing on these ones…but you get the idea).
12 | Painted Icing
My absolute favorite Valentine cookie decorating idea is also the most time consuming (doesn’t that always seem to be the case?)
It combines layers of icing with painting.
To make the arrows, I flooded them with icing.
Waited for it to dry.
Then did an outline of the arrow in white icing.
Waited for it to dry.
And then painted it with edible gold paint* (the same stuff that I used above).
Not hard at all…but there’s a lot of waiting involved.
However, I think they’re worth the wait!
I love how the gold looks on both the white and the pink icing.
And I think they look awesome mixed with the red.
Of course, this technique would work just as well with any of the other designs. Just paint over your outline, dots or any other pattern with gold paint to give it that glam appeal.
Hopefully, you’ve found some easy Valentine cookie decorating ideas that will make great Valentine’s Day treats for the special people in your life.
Other Recipes You Might Like
- How to make pink royal icing
- How to make red royal icing
- Cut out cookies that hold their shape
- Royal Icing: Sugar cookie icing that hardens
- Heart-shaped Valentine cake
Have comments or questions about our easy Valentine cookie decorating ideas? Tell us in the section below.
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This post was originally published on February 6, 2021 but was updated with new content on February 20, 2023.