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Cookie Decorating Practice Sheets + Piping Tips & Tricks

Cookie decorating practice sheets are a great place to start when you’re eager to improve your royal icing skills!

summer themed cookies decorated with royal icing

Why Use Cookie Decorating Practice Sheets?

Often, we are so eager to get to the fun part: actually decorating on cookies! But before you get to the cookies, I always recommend starting with some practice sheets (especially if you’re brand-new to decorating).

Practice sheets are a great way to practice piping basic lines, as well as more complex lines/piping. It’s also a great way to practice actually flooding (whether you’re using a one or two consistency outline and flood). Check out this post for the different consistencies that I use.

That said, it IS possible to get too attached to the practice sheets and be too afraid to actually decorate on the cookies. This is why in my cookie decorating classes I recommend only using 1-2 sheets before you actually start decorating. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath, say a prayer and rip that bandaid off!

General Piping & Flooding Tips for Success

Brace Your Arm On the Table

Your decorating arm should always make contact with the table in some capacity. This will give you a more steady decorating hand. Do NOT float your arm as you decorate. But, put your arm in the wrong spot and it will actually hinder your decorating abilities.

Depending on how far I have to reach across the table to decorate, I will either brace my arm (somewhere between my elbow and hand) on the edge of the table OR actually put my elbow on the table (usually, it’s the former). If you have shorter arms, you may want to make contact just above your elbow.

Then, make sure you can rotate your arm while still keeping contact with the table. You should aim for as close to 180 degree rotation radius as possible.

Don’t Forget to Use Your Wrist!

Many cookiers (especially beginners) tend to lock their wrists. No no! Make sure that your wrist is still flexible. Think about it like this: if you’ve placed your arm at the right spot on the table (for you/where you’re decorating), you should be able to flood an entire shape on the practice sheet or pipe an entire line without moving your arm (you just move your wrist).

Use Your Other Hand for Extra Support

If you find that your hand shakes and you could use some extra support, try bracing your decorating hand with your other hand. I recommend taking your pointer and middle fingers of your non-decorating hand and placing them either on the ball of your thumb (the fleshy part) or on the piping bag (I’d only do this if you’re using a lot of icing). It’s up to you whether you allow the bracing hand to float or have it make contact with the table as well.

Now I just want to say: whether you choose to use your extra hand for support or not is NOT indicative of your skill level. I know at least two advanced/expert full-time cookiers who brace their decorating. I think it’s just about how you learned to pipe. I personally did not learn to pipe with an extra support hand, so I don’t do that. To each their own!

Always Clean Off the Tip First

Before you start piping, ALWAYS clean off the tip of your bag (especially if you’re using tipless bags). I simply sandwich the tip of the bag between a paper towel and LIGHTLY apply pressure to clean off the tip.

cleaning off tip of royal icing bag

Contact – Lift – Contact

The basic rhythm of piping a line is contact (make contact with the paper), lift (lift the icing off the surface) and then contact again (come back down and make contact with the paper).

The “contact” point happens when the tip of your bag is basically touching the paper. I’d say you’re about 1 millimeter away from the paper (the 1 millimeter is filled with the icing at the tip of your bag). Apply just enough pressure on your bag to produce 1 millimeter of icing at the tip of the bag before/at the same time you make contact. Too close/too much icing at the tip of your bag and you’ll be left with a large bead at the beginning of your line. Too far away and you’ll have a squiggly start to your line (no, you are NOT trying to make a magic landing from 1/2 inch away, ok! LOL).

decorating royal icing cookie

The “lift” part is VERY important. The BEST lines (straight or curvy) are made by lifting your bag off the surface of the paper/cookie. This is anywhere from 1/4″ to 1″ (depends on what you’re piping). Generally speaking, the longer the line, the farther away from the paper you want to be. When piping more complex lines like in the intermediate practice sheet, you want to lift that bag AT LEAST 1″ off the surface! You can do it!!

Coming back down for the second point of contact at just the right place is possibly the hardest part of it all. Generally, I wouldn’t worry about this too much when you first start decorating. It’s all about knowing just when to start the descent based on how fast the icing is coming out of your bag and how far off the surface your bag is lifted.

Optimal Pressure: Flood vs Piping

How much pressure you need to apply on the bag depends on how thick the icing is and whether you’re piping or flooding.

If you’re piping a line with a flood consistency, you need BARELY any pressure (if at all). Then when you go to flood, you are going to apply pressure like you’d apply when opening a (difficult) pickle jar. It’s truly a huge difference and that’s how you increase the width of icing coming out of your bag by at least 5 times.

flooding with royal icing

If you’re using a piping consistency to pipe lines, it’s all about the thickness of the icing! A thinner piping consistency (like a soft peak piping consistency) is going to need minimal pressure, whereas a thicker piping consistency (like a thick peak piping consistency) is going to need a LOT of pressure. That’s why these thicker icings make your hands hurt a lot faster!

Guide the Icing

In my my cookie decorating classes I always talk about how you want to guide your icing as you pipe, similar to reading music (if you know how to do that). The general idea is that you always want your eyes ahead of the icing so you know where the icing is going before it actually hits!

practicing with royal icing using a practice sheet

Make Contact at Each Corner

When piping a shape with any type of corners (square, triangle, heart, etc.), you need to make contact with the paper/cookie at every corner. No hovering over those corners people!!

flooding with royal icing

How to Avoid Beads at the Beginning of Lines

I always get asked: how do I get rid of the beads of icing at the beginning and ends of my lines? My first response is always: master piping the line first THEN we can discuss improving those beads 😉

piping lines with royal icing

Essentially, the beads happen when there is too much icing for the contact point. This happens at the beginning of the line most often as there is so much concentration on making the contact that y’all forget to pick that bag up quickly enough 😉 You want to have JUST BARELY enough icing at the end of the bag to make contact with the paper, then lift IMMEDIATELY.

Allow the Outline to Dry

9 times out of 10 (and always for beginners), I say let your outline of a shape dry before flooding. That is ONLY IF you are doing a two consistency outline and flood (if you’re doing one consistency outline and flood, then it’s all one continuous motion and you DO NOT want to allow that outline to dry for even a second: outline and then immediately flood).

cookie outlined with royal icing

The outline is like the fence that holds all the animals in. The stronger the fence is, the more able to it is to hold in larger animals. Same goes for the outline: the more dry it is, the more capable it is of holding the flood icing inside. Now, if you use too much flood icing it’s going to overflow no matter what 😉


This might seem silly to mention, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught myself not breathing while decorating! It’s important to feel more at ease while decorating, and, well, breathing is obviously very important LOL.

Using these Practice Sheets Left-Handed

It’s important to note that those who are left-handed should not decorate the same direction/way as those who are right-handed. Generally speaking, as a left-handed cookie decorator you always want to pipe from right to left (NOT from left to right). Check out this post for more detailed tips & tricks for left-handed cookie decorators.

Beginner Cookie Decorating Practice Sheets

While my cookie decorating practice sheets can be used by all skill levels, these are specifically designed for beginner cookiers. This sheet has basic straight lines and 4 different shapes to practice piping.

These can be used either with a one consistency outline and flood (just one flood consistency, like my thick flood) OR a two consistency outline and flood (piping consistency to outline/pipe lines and a flood to flood in). I always use this beginner practice sheet for my beginner cookie decorating classes.

Below is my BEGINNER Cookie Decorating Practice Sheet for download/print:

Intermediate Cookie Decorating Practice Sheets

While my cookie decorating practice sheets can be used by all skill levels, these are specifically designed for intermediate cookiers or anyone just looking for a step up from the basic beginner. This sheet has more complex line piping

Below is my INTERMEDIATE Cookie Decorating Practice Sheet for download/print:

When Printing the Cookie Decorating Practice Sheets

It’s very important that when printing these cookie decorating practice sheets that you set your print scale to 100% so that the images are the correct size (otherwise the default print size is a bit smaller):

printing settings when printing cookie decorating practice sheets

Want to try cookie decorating?

Try out one of my online cookie decorating classes!

Other posts you might be interested in:

Katie T.

Sunday 16th of July 2023

I’ve enjoyed watching your videos for the last year and although I’m a macaron maker by trade you’ve made me want to try my hands at royal icing cookies. Thank you for all your amazing insight and RI/ cookie knowledge!!


Sunday 16th of July 2023

So glad you've found it all helpful!! Definitely recommend checking about my beginner online classes too I really walk you through step-by-steo how to do everything :)

Left-Handed Cookie Decorating: Tips You Didn't Know You Needed!

Wednesday 12th of July 2023

[…] off, when practicing lines on the practices sheets, simply pipe from right to […]

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