Everybody has their own way of decorating cookies. But one of the most commonly asked questions in all of my cookie decorating classes is should I outline my cookies?
Honestly, it really depends on you and how confident you are in your consistencies. There are some people who do not outline the cookies such as Borderlands. however I do.
Pros to Outlining
You don't have to worry about icing falling off your cookie
This is one of the major problems if you don't outline or don't have a thick enough outline and I suffer from it constantly when I'm doing big orders.
You get cleaner, sharper lines especially when it comes to scalloped or cookies requiring more precision
You CAN flood a scalloped cookie without outlines but you may end up with a wavy edge instead of a clearly defined scalloped one.
Your icing settles flatly without having to wiggle and jiggle it with a scribe or the piping bag
As you get better at outlining and flooding cookies, you don't even notice the outlines are there unless you're having a staring contest with the edge of your cookie
Cons to Outlining
It can be time consuming
If you have a 100 cookie or even a 50 cookie order, it can be very time consuming going through and outlining each and every one of them and your hand will start to cramp after a while.
I take this as an opportunity to practice cookie decorating with my left hand lol
You have to mix 2 different consistencies
For outlining you need piping consistency (soft peaks)
For flooding you need flood consistency (honey)
Some people hate using 2 and opt for a 20 sec consistency for everything. I have done this in the past
Pros to No Outlines
You do not have to outline anything though as you add your details you may choose to outline those items
You only need 1 consistency
If you hate mixing icing then this is good for you
If you like using cute scribe tools, then stock up because no outlines means the icing needs help wiggling and jiggling to stay flat
...This can also be a con if you're spending $$ on cute scribes...
Cons to No Outlines
Your lines are not always as crisp
This is especially with odd shaped cookies or cookies requiring lots of angles. If it's a relatively common shape, this isn't a problem
It can be messy
This is especially true if you have icing that falls off cookies. You'll be juggling icing more cookies with trying to control the spillover.
A tip here is wait for the entire thing to dry then take a microplane to the side of the drippy edge.
You can also just not flood so close to the edge and scooch it over with a scribe. SweetAmbs does this
Lumpy Looking Cookies
Your cookies may not look at flat and smooth if you didn't wiggle or jiggle the icing enough
You may have to make piping icing anyway
Depending on your details you may need piping icing for writing so you may need to mix 2 consistencies either way
Honestly when it comes down to it, with lots of practice, you can't even tell if there is or isn't an outline so in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter which way you go. However my recommendation is to try it both ways and see which one feels better to you. You’re not wrong either way.
As always I hope this helps!