Your Holiday Cookies Will Shine With Color Flow

December 7th, 2010 by Amber Spiegel

When it’s time to make cookies for the holidays, I always use Color Flow icing to decorate them. It gives a clean, smooth finish and it dries hard, making it perfect for shipping your cookies as a holiday gift.

Color Flow technique is also known as “run sugar,” “flood work,” and “flow-in.” Whatever you call it, the first thing to do is outline your cookie using full strength Color Flow icing and decorating tip 2.

Outlining Cookie

Use thinned Color Flow and tip 3 to fill it in. If your design requires tinted Color Flow, add the icing color of your choice a toothpick at a time until you reach the desired color. The icing should be tinted before being thinned down.

There are lots of different ways to give your cookies a special touch by using Color Flow icing. For example, this tree was done by piping thinned light green Color Flow into freshly piped thinned dark green Color Flow. Use a tip 2 to pipe the design in the tree. Start at the top and work from the outside in and finish with the trunk.

Color Flow Tree

To achieve the starburst effect on this mitten, pipe white dots using thinned Color Flow and a tip 2 immediately after filling it in with red. Use a toothpick to drag the white icing outward.

Mitten Technique

Repeat the process on each dot.

Sprinkle Sugars

To finish the mitten, fill in the cuff with white Color Flow and sprinkle it with Sparkling Sugar. I like to let color flow cookies dry for at least 8 hours or overnight before handling them.

I hope you have fun experimenting with different ways of using Color Flow to decorate your cookies. Happy Holiday Baking!

Amber Spiegel Amber Spiegel is a decorator in the Decorating Room at Wilton. Her career as a decorator began as the grand prize winner in the Wilton Castle Decorating Contest. From there she went on to complete the Master Course at the Wilton School of Cake Decorating and Confectionary Art and later acquired a position as a full time decorator with the company. Amber is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York with a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts.

75 Replies

  1. I am so excited to try this!

  2. Auntie Sherri says:

    What’s the difference between color flow and royal icing?

    • Amber Spiegel says:

      Auntie Sherri-

      The difference between the two is that Color Flow contains a higher concentration of meringue powder, which allows it to dry harder than thinned royal icing.

  3. Anne says:

    This may seem like a silly question, but does the icing taste good? With it being basically just sugar, I’m just wondering if it is enjoyable to eat, or if it mostly just looks better. Thanks!

    • Amber Spiegel says:


      You can add flavor to your Color Flow icing by using vanilla, almond, lemon, or any other extract you’d like. Thanks for your comment!

      • PAT BURTON says:


      • Regina says:

        Hello. I just attempted to make color flow icing for the first time…probably should’ve just made a whole batch but instead I attempted to make a half batch. Unfortunately, since I didn’t know EXACTLY how much powdered sugar I had, I wasn’t sure exactly how much color flow or water to add to achieve the baseline mixture. I actually have a few questions: 1. can I make this ahead and store it in an airtight container (either on the counter or in the fridge)? 2. I would like to try adding different flavorings but I have no idea how much to start with whether using an extract or a flavoring oil, please help. 3. When thinning, I thought I had achieved the consistency where the amount added back disappeared in approx a count of ten but it was still too thick to “flow”…I had to basically use a spoon to push the icing around on the cookie. Did I just not get it thin enough? 4. The recipe says to use parchment bags — what size hole do I make for the thinned icing for flowing on the cookie? Thank you!

  4. Karina says:

    It looks so cute!
    Thank you, Amber!!

    Happy holidays and happy baking, girls!!

  5. Becki says:

    Amber – this is exactly the technique I’m looking for to make snowflake cookies! Regarding your comment about color flow/royal icing… would I be able to add meringue powder to royal icing to get the same effect?

  6. Andrea says:

    I do this technique using royal icing. My problem is that when filling the thinner icing runs out of the bags so fast. Also, I was told that color flow takes a long time to dry. Is that true?

    • Amber Spiegel says:


      It sounds like your icing is too thin. Try adding less water when thinning your icing down. Color Flow does take a long time to dry. I like to let my cookies sit overnight after icing them.

  7. Marty says:

    How do the cookies taste with the hard icing? Is it hard to bite a piece off? Especially for the elderly or younger children.

    • Amber Spiegel says:


      Color Flow icing is sweet, but does not have a particular flavor. You can add any of your favorite extracts to flavor the icing.
      The icing does dry hard but it is still easy to bite into. Thanks for your comment!

  8. Dana says:

    I had no clue about a container of “color flow”. I have always just made Royal Icing and thinned it out. After they dry using Color Flow, are they still stackable and shiny?

    Someone had asked how it tastes? In my royal icing recipe, I always add almond extract or sometimes lemon extract to give it a better flavor.

    Thanks for this article!

    • Amber Spiegel says:


      Color Flow icing dries hard, so your cookies will still be stackable and shiny.
      I agree that adding an extract is a great way to flavor Color Flow icing. Thanks for your comment!

  9. Dodi says:

    I used Color Flow for the first time today. It worked out so great! I’m going to continue using this product for fun cookie decorations.

  10. Emilie says:

    I love this technique! Thanks for including the colorful and easy to see pictures!

  11. Deonie Lloyd says:

    I live in South Africa. What other icing can i use

    • Bianca says:

      Where in South Africa? I’m in Pretoria and Bake-a-Cake, , and Binun’s (the one in Atterbury Value Mart has more options) sell Wiltons products.

    • Amber Spiegel says:

      Deonie Lloyd-

      Color Flow and royal icing are the only icings that will dry hard and have a smooth finish. You can try using a royal icing recipe made with egg whites and powdered sugar.

      I hope Bianca’s reply helped. You can also refer to this link, which lists Wilton distributors by country.

    • Stephenie says:

      We lived in S.Africa long time ago when my husband was a vp for one of the rubber companies.
      Bakeing there was quit a challange for me in the beginning..
      Sorry ,just reminising.we are visiting old neighbors there in Pretoria,
      Rattenburg,Kruger Park for a week and the Cape in September.
      Beautiful Country.

  12. Christine says:

    Can this icing be used on cakes as well? It sounds like a great way to make something shiny, or would piping gel be better for that?

  13. Amber Spiegel says:


    I would not recommend covering a cake completely in Color Flow or royal icing. You can make Color Flow plaques for your cake as shown in this Wilton blog post:

    You can certainly use piping gel as a glaze to add shine to your cake.

  14. sylvia says:

    can you use color flow to cover cupcakes when making ornament cupcakes.

  15. Donna says:

    Does color flow bleed? I used royal icing on my cookies and it bled.

    • Amber Spiegel says:


      To prevent Color Flow or royal icing from bleeding, try adding less color to your icing. Or you can try letting each icing color dry on your cookie before adding another color.

  16. Kim says:

    I love color flow. I use it all the time! I’ve made numerous cookie bouquets and wouldn’t “leave home without it.” I do have a question, tho. Everywhere I read says to use parchment bags. Is that really necessary?

  17. Lotta says:

    I live in Randfontein Gauteng South Africa. Where exept Pretoria is a seller of wilton products please.

  18. Paola says:

    I really love this technique, I´ll try it all the time and is wonderful. cookies really look very pretty. Try it!!!

  19. Alynao says:

    Hola buena tecnica se le agrega azucar al final verdad?

  20. Elaine says:

    where can you get the “Butter & Nut vanilla extract”?

  21. Kathy says:

    How do you keep color flow from appearing dull?

    • Amber Spiegel says:


      To keep Color Flow from appearing dull, it needs to dry as quickly as possible. Try putting your finished designs in front of a fan to dry. Thanks for your comment!

  22. Rosalyn B. says:

    I want to make some color flow cookies a week and a half before Christmas. Can I store these in the freezer and the color flow icing not form cracks in it?

    • Amber Spiegel says:

      Rosalyn B.-

      I do not recommend keeping Color Flow iced cookies in the freezer. I’ve kept finished cookies in an air-tight container for up to two weeks at room temperature and they’ve been just fine. Thanks for your comment!

  23. Stephenie says:

    On flvoring icing,I use the candy oils just afew drops to start,then to taste till you get the flavor your looking for. My family loves cinnomom on my valentines cookies. Awsome
    Lemon is great,butter to give your butter icing a little kick,
    Explore to your hearts desier.
    It does not hurt the flow lcing or regular butter cream in any way ,just a whole lot of flaver.

  24. doyin says:

    this is gorgeous, ill make it.

  25. chalim says:

    cool … it’s brilliant, I like the idea of making the star shines .. will try to do that on my pudding ..

  26. Elsa Leyton says:

    Amber,can you send me the recipe for color flow,y like to made cookies,always y uses royal icing and whis h is better….thankyou Elsa


    I am so glad that I checked your email out. I will definately try this on my sugar cookies this is really a neat way to decorate the cookies. Thank you so much.

  28. Megan says:

    How do you get such vivid colors in your icing? I can never get the colors I want without using half a jar of the paste and even then red is never red! I would like to get a red color like your picture above.

    • Amber Spiegel says:


      I also end up using a lot of gel paste to get deep colors. The one I used here is Christmas Red. It is possible that you will have to use half a jar or more to achieve the color you want.

      • Annalee says:

        For RED I buy premixed Wilton frosting and fondant… much easier I’ve tried and tried with Red not worth wasting my time on trying to get the vivid red when I can buy it already done I have used an entire gel pot before and it was still salmon not red…:/

  29. belgica pelliere says:

    Que icing se usa, en las galletas, para que quede brilloso. por favor si alguien puede contestarme. felices fiestas.

  30. Diane Barrett says:

    I bought a plastic bottle of Wilton’s Red Cookie Icing about four years ago and it has been a great help in the past. Now I am wondering, does it have an expiration date? Is it still safe to use this year? It has a code number of 7200146 printed on it. Thanks.

  31. Amber Spiegel says:


    We recommend that you keep the Wilton Cookie Icing for no longer than one year. Freshness of the icing cannot be gauranteed after that amount of time. Thanks for your comment!

  32. Char says:

    Hi, does anyone know if Color Flow Mix have an expiration date? I have a can for about a year. Also, the seal has not be opened yet. Is it safe to use?

  33. Miriam says:

    porque cuando uso el color flow icing mis galletas no se ven shiny cuando se secan?

  34. daw says:

    Last time I used royal icing. It never dried, any thoughts on that? I have never used color flow, but I am doing cookies today and tomorrow and will try it. Do you think they will be dry in time to wrap on Saturday?

  35. Candace says:

    Can you put an edible image on the top of the cookies that has color flow icing?

  36. Debra says:

    If I make a batch of cookies and then decorate them with Color Flow, can I then freeze them? I never know if it’s ok to freeze my decorated cookies.
    Thank you ,


  37. Ho amazing tips! Ah conseiller à nos clients wilton®… Merci!

  38. Amy says:

    I need to make 200 cookies. Can I freeze cookies with the color flow icing?

  39. Lynn says:

    I have frozen my color flow iced cookies and have had no problems!

  40. Julie says:

    I’m going to try using outline and filling cookies the first time. I couldn’t find the color flow stuff. I looked up online and they suggested meringue powder. What’s the measurements?

  41. Tammy says:

    How do I store the extra color flow icing? How long does it last?

    • Desiree Smith says:

      Hi Tammy,

      Store the extra color flow icing in an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator. It will last for approximately two weeks. You’ll have to re-beat it before using again.


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