Royal Icing: Making 3 Inch Tile Sugar Cookies

Symmetrical designs are part of everyone’s heritage and have mesmerized me all my life. Symmetrical designing, in fact, is the reason I became interested in Royal Icing because it can produce a glossy surface on sugar cookies, which, in a delicious way, resembles tiles.

If you are unfamiliar with the wide range of symmetrical designs, review posts on Pinterest. There you’ll see many designs, like in the montage below, that can be adapted to cookies via Royal Icing. For examples, click the following links:

Russian Mandala Arts — Mexican Tiles — Polish Paper Cutting Arts — Danish Rosemaling — Doilies

Artists  who specialize in symmetrical designing begin their work on a grid, many of which are available on Pinterest, Etsy, and through Google searches. Based on prototypes, I created the grids below to use for sketching designs that fit within a 3-inch area. Feel free to copy and expand them for your own needs.

I print out several sheets of these grids and doodle designs on them whenever I have the time. For inspiration, I draw to themes, such as flowers, leaves, sunsbirds, fish, Hindu symbols, etc.

While the designs I doodle can be very complex, if I see a pleasing shape, I simplify it, then scan it into Photoshop for further refining. You can also simplify designs by covering them with tracing paper, and redrawing over them. When satisfied with your work, transfer your designs to heavy paper (card stock) and cut them out.

Eventually, I plan on creating silk screens to transfer the outlines to cookies, but for now, I trace the cutouts onto the cookies by hand, using food-grade pens. I then pipe a Royal Icing outline over the tracing, let the outline dry overnight, and fill it in with flowing Royal Icing the next day.

I call these creations “Tile Cookies” and plan on developing designs for 4-and 5-inch square sugar cookies in the future. I love using black Royal Icing for the piping, but if you do, make sure it is absolutely dry before filling the outline with another color as the black can bleed.

Should you try this, mix light corn syrup into your flow-consistency icing to achieve gloss. Adding the light corn syrup should maintain the flow consistency you need, not make it wetter. Add small amounts of powder sugar back to your mix if it does get too wet.



As I work with larger cookies, the designs will become more complex. Some of the designs seen here, for example, might become the centers of larger structures.

Under all circumstances, tile cookies make joyful gifts and because they are relatively flat, are easy to package. I have a dozen in each of these clear, 4-inch square, food-grade boxes below and could probably could have fit a dozen more.

An ultra-wide selection of food-grade, clear plastic packaging can be purchased from Note that I packaged the “display” cookies in small clear envelopes and grouped the remaining cookies in plastic-wrap, then surrounded the grouping with gift-box filler.



Questions? Comments? Additions? Corrections? Write to Karen Little at

Written for by Karen Little, publisher, and updated on April 27, 2019. All rights reserved, but feel free to re-publish this article after contacting Karen so she knows where to find it.