Martha Shares Her Favorite Method for Decorating Easter Cookies

Her embellished eggs, chicks, and rabbits are almost too cute to eat.

Every Easter, I host an egg hunt at my farm. I have been doing this for five decades, if you can believe it. The tradition started at Turkey Hill, my former home in Westport, Conn., once my daughter, Alexis, was old enough to search for hidden eggs in the gardens surrounding our old farmhouse. Later, we held it for my nieces and nephews, and then for the young children of my neighbors and colleagues. The celebration was reinvigorated when my grandchildren, Jude and Truman, were born; we now host a large buffet brunch as well. Last year, we dyed 288 eggs, or 24 dozen, to hide outside. And for two nights, I rolled, cut, baked, and decorated scores of Easter-themed sugar cookies for the party.

martha making easter cookies
Marcus Nilsson

Martha's Easter Sugar Cookies

Over time, I've developed a foolproof sugar cookie recipe: The dough rolls out evenly and holds its shape without bubbling during baking. (I think the cookies actually taste better a few days later, so I always stash a few away to savor after the holiday.)

Get Martha's Easter Sugar Cookie Recipe

colorful frosted spring themed and easter egg sugar cookies
Marcus Nilsson

The 4 D's of Decorating Cookies: Dip, Drip, Decorate, and Dry

I used to joke that it pained me to watch them being devoured in less than 30 seconds when each cookie had taken 10 minutes or more to decorate; I was determined to figure out a more streamlined decorating technique that looked inviting but took only a fraction of that time.

My method is to dip each cookie in royal icing flavored with a bit of fresh lemon juice, let the excess drip off, and embellish with polka dots and other simple patterns—that's it! Last year, not a single cookie remained after the party. I can't wait to whip up a new batch.

frosted chickens and easter egg sugar cookies on marble countertop
Marcus Nilsson

Super Natural Colors

When I was creating the palette for my cookies, I knew just where to look: my chickens' eggs. Use the formulas below for every 1 cup of royal icing. They are based on AmeriColor gel-paste colors, except Buckeye Brown and Golden Yellow, which are from Chefmaster. They are available from New York Cake, as are various Easter–themed cookie cutters.

Blue: 1 1/2 drops Royal Blue + 1/2 drop Leaf Green + 1 drop Ivory

Brown: 3 drops Buckeye Brown + 1 drop Golden Yellow

Green: 1 drop Leaf Green + 1 drop Avocado + 1 drop Ivory

Beige: 2 drops Copper (not metallic)

Golden Yellow (not shown): 2 drops Golden Yellow

Tinting Tricks

For a more accurate "drop" of gel-paste color, dip the tip of a toothpick into the bottle and stir it into the icing. If you put in too much color, dilute it by stirring in more plain royal icing, or adding Chefmaster Liquid-Whitener Gel Paste, one small squeeze at a time.

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