Of the many ways to decorate sugar cookies, using colored sugar is one of the simplest. If you're short on time but want to add color to a whole batch of cookies, or if you have small children helping decorate, colored sugar is forgiving and easy to work with. The sparkling color that comes from colored sugar crystals gives the cookies a festive glow. Combine sugar with other types of decoration, whether it's piped icing, sprinkles, silver balls or something else, to add variety. Applying the sugar before baking gives a more subtle effect but more color coverage while using the sugar on cooled cookies makes a bright, sparkly impact.
Apply Sugar to Unbaked Cookies
Roll out the dough, shape it with cookie cutters, if you wish, and place the cookies in a single layer on the baking sheets. Make sure the cookies are approximately 2 inches apart on the sheets.
Sprinkle an even layer of colored sugar over all of the cookies and then bake according to your recipe.
Remove cookies from the oven and cool them for several minutes on the baking sheets. Transfer the baked cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Apply Sugar to Baked Cookies
Roll out, cut and bake the cookie dough according to the recipe.
Cool the cookies on their baking sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then move them to cooling racks to cool completely.
Combine 1/4 cup corn syrup and 1 teaspoon of water in a small bowl.
Brush the corn syrup mixture on to a cookie then immediately sprinkle a generous amount of colored sugar over the cookie. Wait 5 seconds, then shake off any excess colored sugar.