Painting Your Own Cookies – Everything You’ll Need

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Paint your own cookies (or PYO for short) is one of the best activities for anyone of just about any age to do, young and old!

With the right tools and some creativity, PYO cookies can be done at home. There are a few things that you need to get started and to create your own PYO cookie-kit at home, but with some patience, it can be done!

What do you need to paint your own cookies? To paint your own cookies, you’ll need different color food dyes, royal icing, a stencil, and some paintbrushes. All of these are used to create a PYO cookie kit that you can either use to keep the family busy and creative at home, or even as party favors!

Possibly the trickiest part of PYO cookies is making the edible canvas and paint palette, but with the right tools, it is easy enough. Keep reading to find out everything you need for painting your own cookies!

The Edible Canvas And Paint Palette

First off, you will need to start by creating your edible canvas and paint palette. Use a trusted recipe that is the right texture and size for stenciling and painting.

The canvas can be any shape, but square or round is the most common. For the paint palette, a rectangular shape works best, but once again you can get creative and use a circular shape or whatever you want.

A handy tip to save you any frustration is to measure the size of your cookie cutter along with the stencil you will be using for the cookie.

You don’t want to bake a whole batch of cookies just for them to be too big or too small for the stencil.

Once you have shaped and baked these cookies, make sure to leave them to cool down fully. Once they are cooled, you will need to ice them in white royal icing and allow them to dry completely.

It is essential to leave the icing to be completely dry, or the stencil and paint will run and it will ruin the pictures on the cookie.

You need to make the cookies first, as you won’t be able to do anything else until they are cooled and completely iced. It might be a good idea to make the cookies the night before, to allow the icing to dry fully overnight.

Paint Palette Color

The next thing you will need are the colors on the paint palette. There are two ways to do this, depending on how much extra work you are wanting to do.

The first option is to create royal icing paint dots. To do this, place royal icing into an icing bag and create small dots along the parchment paper. A medium consistency royal icing works best for this.

Small circle guides on parchment paper can help achieve uniform size dots, but you can just do your best to even them out without it.

Once you have piped out all the paint dots, place the baking sheet in front of a fan to help them harden on the top, so they do not cave inwards.

Allow the dots to dry completely. Once dry, you will then have to add your paint colors to the dots.

You can either do this by adding airbrush coloring straight to an airbrush machine and airbrushing a different color onto each dot, or you can use a paintbrush and try to evenly paint the colors onto each dot.

Place the dots in front of a fan to quickly dry them.

These dots, once dried, can be placed onto the paint palette cookie, stuck down using some more icing.

The other way to achieve the paint palette is without making the royal icing dots.

You can simply draw small circles onto the paint palette with a cookie marker, and carefully paint some food coloring (preferably gel or airbrush color) onto the circles, and place this in front of a fan to dry.

If you are not using the paint dots right away, you should dust the colors with cornstarch to stop them from rubbing or running.

The Image

Once your cookies are ready, you’ll need to then create the image to be painted on the cookie canvas.

There are a few ways that you can do this:


You can pipe the picture onto the cookie canvas freehand, using thick-consistency black icing. You can use a projector to help with this, but if it is a simple enough image, it will be easy enough to freehand the picture on.

You can use black icing for this or you could purchase a special cookie marker that can be used to trace a light image to the cookie.


An easy way to place a picture onto the cookie is by using a stencil and a holder.

You use a special holder to keep the stencil in place, and you then scrape thick black icing over the stencil with a spatula. Use a good amount at first, and then scrape any excess off.

Once you have scraped the excess icing off, lift the stencil upwards and rinse off after around 6-12 uses.

Edible Image

If you have the right equipment at home, or a small local business to help, you could print and transfer an edible image onto the cookie.

You can cut the image down to the right size and then stick the image down with edible adhesives. 

This is a little more expensive and slightly harder to come by, but it is the best way to ensure flawless, mistake-free images with little work needing to be done.

Extra Painting Accessories

Outside of the cookies, paint palette, and stencils, there are some extra accessories that you will need to get painting.

Small Tub

Use a small tub to hold a small amount of water. This water can be used for dipping your paintbrush into before dabbing onto the color palette and then painting onto the canvas.

Just remember to not get the paintbrush too wet, or it will cause the color to run and not be as vivid and bright as it could have been.

A small tub, cup, or bowl works perfectly for this purpose, and it can be helpful to have a separate bowl of water to wash the brush between colors.


Obviously, you will need a paintbrush to paint on the cookies! A smaller paintbrush is best, especially for fairly detailed pictures.

A soft bristle brush is also a better option, as you don’t want to use one which is too hard and which might break the icing as you are painting on the canvas.

If you do not want to clean up between each color, you could use a few different paintbrushes, but it isn’t much hassle to rinse it in water after each different color.

Plastic Bag

If you are creating a batch of these PYO cookies, then you would need to put each canvas cookie and paint palette into a small plastic bag.

It is a good idea to choose clear plastic bags that can be sealed. Even better, if you have a vacuum sealer at home, we recommend using that to ensure that there is minimal air and moisture in the packet.

What You Need To Paint Your Own Cookies

While you can create your PYO cookie sets from scratch, there are minimal things that you actually need. Here is a quick summary of the essentials:

  • Cookie dough
  • Cookie cutters (for the canvas and for the palette)
  • Royal Icing
  • Food coloring for airbrushing or gel food coloring
  • Airbrush (optional)
  • Black icing for the stencil
  • Stencil (optional)
  • Piping bag (optional)
  • Edible image (optional)
  • Paintbrush
  • Tub for water

There are a few items you will or will not need depending on how you are going to be creating the image on the cookie, so make sure to decide on this before stocking up on the items that you need!

Related Questions

Now that we’ve gone over everything you’ll need to paint wonderful edible designs onto your cookies, let’s take a look at a few related questions we thought you might have had!

Can you make PYO cookies with fondant?

Yes, you can make PYO cookies with fondant alone, and you can even do so without using any royal icing at all.

You would paint onto the fondant instead of the royal icing, and it can be easier for some to roll out and set down the fondant instead of royal icing.

What consistency of icing should I use for stenciling or drawing pictures on cookies?

It is best to use a medium consistency royal icing to stencil pictures or to pipe pictures onto a cookie. This consistency will still be easy enough to flow and work with, but hard enough to be stable and not to fall out of shape.

Should icing be cold?

It is best to let icing come up to room temperature before frosting a cookie or cake.

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