This is a list of tools and/or supplies that I most often use with my cookies including my “go-to” basic cookie cutters. This is a good list to use to get started with cookie making. Do you need everything on this list? Absolutely not, but this will give you some ideas of what you can buy if you are just getting started. You can click the image or text link to purchase these items.
A medium to heavy gauge aluminum sheet pan lined with parchment paper is the best way to cook your cookies evenly without over browning. The parchment paper will help prevent the bottoms of your cookies from becoming browned – which results in a crispier cookie. However, if you like a crispy bottom cookie, you can bake without the parchment and the bottoms will brown more. Coated pans – like non-stick coatings – will also result in cookies with crispier, browner bottoms. Make sure your pans are heavy enough that they distribute heat evenly so your cookies will cook evenly. These half-sheet pans are the ones I use exclusively.
Wilton’s meringue powder is the only brand of meringue powder I use for my royal icing. This is a crucial ingredient for royal icing. You can either use meringue powder, powdered eggs, or raw eggs but you must have egg in there somewhere to make royal icing. This is what gives your icing opacity, strength, and hardness. Without it you are just creating an icing glaze that will remain soft, slightly translucent, and will deform under pressure (like stacking cookies). Wilton’s meringue powder is by far my favorite. It is consistently good and has a great flavor.
The scribe tool is probably one of my favorite tools in my tool box. Many, if not all, cookie decorators will probably tell you that their favorite tool is a toothpick or scribe tool. The scribe tool is just a reusable toothpick tool for cookie decorating. With this tool, you will smooth out your icing, pop air bubbles that rise to the surface of your icing, etch designs into your icing that you can later pipe over, and you can even use it for the precise placement of sprinkles or dragees. This little tool should be in your tool box. It’s affordable and will be used on every cookie you make.
Kitchen Aid Mixer Professional Series
If you are going to purchase a Kitchen Aid mixer for making cookies, make sure to get one that is strong enough and durable enough to stand up to the tough mixing of cookie dough. You are wasting your time with a lower end model with little power. You will wear out the motor or bearings quickly with cookie dough. The professional series is more than adequate for the semi-frequent to full-time hobby cookie maker. Now if you are starting a bakery and need even more power, there are other options available. But this mixer won’t let you down. It will hold up to weekly batches of cookie dough. The six quart bowl of this mixer will mix one and a half batches of my cookie dough recipe which will yield any where from 30-36 3-inch cookies.
Americolor Food Gels (Food Coloring)
My favorite food coloring are the Americolor gels. These come in a variety of sizes – the ones I’ve linked are the 0.75 ounce sizes, perfect for beginners. This box contains 12 colors which is more than enough to get started with. You can make any color with this set. I like the pigments of the Americolor gels. There are other food gels out there, but these are my go-to colors. If you dilute these colors with alcohol, you can thin them enough for painting and air brushing. There is no need to buy separate air brushing colors.
Air Brush and Compressor Kit
Most all of the small air brush and compressor kits are the same – they just have different brands or names on them. Don’t waste money buying a kit that has a special name on it. Save money, buy an inexpensive air brush kit, and you will be set. Don’t invest in a super air brush kit either. Unless you are planning to do a TON of air brushed cookies, you just don’t need those fancy machines and compressors. Any small kit with a small compressor is going to be more than enough for your cookie decorating needs.
Tipless Piping Bags – Medium
The piping bags I use the most often are these Master brand tipless bags. For most cookie decorating, you don’t need a tip for your bags. These tipless bags can be cut to any size round opening you need, and in some cases can be cut with angles to simulate leaf and rose tips. The medium size is my favorite because the are small enough for small amounts of icing without wasting a large bag, and large enough for holding a moderate amount of flood icing. The large bags are difficult to handle, even for flooding, which results in imprecise lines and piping. If you need large bags for buttercream frosting for cakes and cupcakes, then the large bags are good. But for cookie decorating, I’d recommend the medium size. I also like tipless bags instead of round tips because clogs are super easy to remove. With tips, clogging can occur and it can be a pain to remove the clog. You can use tipless bags for super tiny lines similar to tip sizes 0 and 00, or you can cut them to make massive openings and any where in between.
Round Cookie Cutters
This set of cookie cutters is my absolute most often used set. These are your basic graduated round cookie cutters with both a straight and scalloped edge. I’ve used these more times than I can ever count. You can make just about any cookie design on a round cookie, from simple flowers to more complex character cookies. If you are just starting out with cookies, building a basic shape cookie cutter set is the first thing you need to do. Over time you can add to your collection with more complex shapes.
Square Cookie Cutters
My second favorite and most used cookie cutter set is this set of square cutters. Just like the round cutters, these have a straight side as well as a scalloped side. Square cutters are versatile and can be used for many designs. Squares are also good for when you need a plaque cutter but don’t have a large collection of plaques. I usually use the scalloped side of these cutters but both sides are very useful. This is another great basic set to have in your collection.
Basic Plaque Cutter Set
These three plaque cookie cutters are a great set to have in a small collection of cutters. Their shapes lend themselves well to many designs. They are also great for text cookies and will add to the aesthetic of your cookie set. There are a ton of different plaque cookie cutters available, but to get started, I would definitely recommend these three.
Assorted Shapes Set
The last set of cutters I would recommend is a good assorted set like this Wilton set. I’ve had this set of cookie cutters for about 6 years and was one of the first sets I started with. This set has a variety of cutters including animals, numbers, letters, transportation themed, flowers, and other basic shapes. If you are starting with your cookie cutter collection, this is a great set to start with. It will give you a great variety of cutters to create many designs and design combinations.