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How To Make Royal Icing Sunflowers

Royal icing sunflowers are a popular icing decorations for cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and other baked goods. With their cheerful appearance, they can instantly elevate any dessert.

Yellow-orange royal icing sunflowers.

HOW TO MAKE ROYAL SUNFLOWERS

What’s great about royal icing decorations is that they can be made ahead of time. Royal icing sunflowers can be made ahead of time and with this step-by-step tutorial, you can easily create stunning royal icing sunflowers.

I will share with you how to make these admired flowers employing several techniques using piping tips and also without the use of piping tip. Remember, you can experiment with different sizes and colors to customize your sunflowers to suit any occasion.

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TO MAKE ROYAL ICING SUNFLOWERS YOU NEED

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SUNFLOWER TEMPLATE

I used a piping template to help me pipe flowers. It helps maintain uniform flower size and facilitates evenly spaced flower petals. This is completely optional; you don’t have to use the template; you can make flowers without it, too.

TIP: What is piping consistency? When you pull the icing up with a spatula peak will bend immediately and slowly fall, but doesn’t become blended with the rest of the icing.


I like to laminate my piping template with a packaging tape, step 1. I use the same technique to laminate cookie cutter templates.

Secure template onto the flower nail with a double-sides tape and then use either double sided tape or a dot of icing to attach the parchment square onto the flower nail (steps 2-4).

Hand holding a flower nail with a template.

ROYAL ICING CONSISTENCY

In this tutorial I use thick consistency icing to pipe the petals and to make the centers, and also soft piping consistency to make the centers. Learn more about different royal icing consistencies.

TWO TONE ICING

You can use yellow colored icing, but to make things a bit more interesting you can add a touch of orange to yellow, to create more realistic flower petals. Onto the plastic wrap pipe medium thick consistency yellow and orange icing. Form a pouch, tie one end (steps 1-8).

Yellow and orange icing piped on a clear food wrap.

PIPE SUNFLOWERS WITH A LEAF PIPING TIP

Fit the piping bag with a coupler base. Thread the untied end of the icing pouch through the coupler base (steps 1-2). Trim the end (step 3). And fit a leaf piping tip onto the coupler base and secure it on with the ring part ( steps 4-5). When using a leaf tip, remember you shouldn’t see the V cut (step 4) when you pipe a leaf/flower petal, you should see bird’s peak (step 6).

Piping bag filled with yellow icing and fitted with a metal star piping tip.
  • Pipe flower petals onto the parchment square attached to the flower nail.
  • Hold the flower nail in one hand, and pipe the flowers with your dominant hand.
  • Hold the piping bag at about a 45-degree angle with the leaf tip facing the circle template.
  • Start piping the petal at the edge of the circle.
  • Squeeze the piping bag and slowly move the piping bag towards the edge of the flower nail. Decrease the pressure on the piping bag and slowly pull away.
  • Turn the flower nail and repeat; follow the star template to pipe the petals (steps 1-4).
  • I used a star piping tip #14 and a stiff brown royal icing to make the center.
  • Hold the piping bag perpendicular to the flower nail.
  • Pipe a small star in the middle and then pipe stars around it until you fill the space (steps 5-8).
  • Carefully remove parchment with the flower and lay it flat on a tray to let dry for 8-12 hours.
Piping flower petals with a leaf piping tip.

PIPE SUNFLOWERS WITH A PETAL TIP

You can use a petal tip to make a sunflower. Unscrew the ring part of the coupler, remove the leaf tip and replace it with a petal tip #101 (steps 1-2).

Hand holding a piping bag fitted with a metal petal tip.

Hold the piping bag at about 45-degree angle, with the wide end of the petal tip facing middle of the flower nail and narrow end of the piping tip facing the edge of the flower nail.

  • Start piping each petal on the edge of the circle template.
  • Squeeze the piping bag, let the icing fan out a little, move the piping bag ever so slightly towards the middle of the nail and then move it back towards the edge of the flower nail, decreasing the pressure and pull away (steps 1-3).
  • Rotate the flower nail and pipe petals, follow the star shape outline (step 4).
  • Pipe more petals between the first set of the petals (step 5).
  • Fill the center with brown icing about soft piping consistency. Use a scribe tool to smooth the icing (steps 6-8).
  • Carefully remove parchment with freshly piped flower and let it dry for 8-12 hours on a flat surface.
A hand holding a flower nail with a parchment square, piping flower with petal tip.

HOW TO CUT A LEAF TIP ON A PIPING BAG

You can still make pretty royal icing sunflowers even if you don’t have a leaf tip. I prefer this method as I can get close to the flower nail when piping the petals and feel I have more control. Fill the tipless piping bag with icing, I marbled my piping bag with yellow and orange icing (steps 1-2).

  • To cut the V shape opening I start by cutting a small tip, straight across (steps 3-4).
  • Then using the edge points of the 1st cut I cut short diagonal cut from each end to make a V-shaped cut (steps 5-6)
  • Pull the cut part out and your leaf piping tip is ready.
Piping bag with a v shape cut opening.

PIPE SUNFLOWERS WITHOUT A PIPING TIP

Instructions on how to pipe the sunflowers without a piping tip are same as with the piping tip. Using 2-tone icing makes for really beautiful variegated petals (steps 1-8).

Flower nail with a yellow-orange flower.

PIPE WAVY SUNFLOWER PETALS

Try moving your piping bag up and down to create slightly wavy petals.

Flower on a flower nail.

HOW TO MAKE A BIGGER SUNFLOWER

Do you want fuller royal icing sunflowers? Have you tried layering two rows of petals. After you are done with the first, outer set of petals, pipe a smaller set of petals on the inside. Pipe each shorter petal between two outer petals. (steps 1-8)

Fingers holding a flower nail with a piped flower.

USE A STAR TIP TO MAKE FLOWER CENTER

If you’d like to create textured flower center try using a small star tip #14. In order for this method to work you need to use stiff consistency brown icing. If your icing is too soft or runny, stars won’t keep their shape.

Parchment square with a freshly piped yellow flower with a brown center piped with a star piping tip.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR ROYAL ICING FLOWERS TO DRY?

It’s best to let sunflowers made with royal icing to dry for 8-12 hours. And if your flowers are large, allow even more time for the icing to fully dry.

A flower nail with a template and freshly piped flowers on parchment paper square.

Once flowers are dry, you can either keep them on the parchment squares and store them attached or you can remove them from the parchment. I always recommend making more flowers than you need, in case there is breakage. If you plan on keeping your flowers for longer, here are some tips on how to store royal icing transfers.

Fingers removing dry royal icing flowers from parchment.
Dry yellow royal icing flowers on a teal background.

HOW TO USE ROYAL ICING FLOWERS

Sugar flowers can be used to decorate cookies, cupcakes, cakes, and other desserts.

Cookie cake decorated with royal icing flowers.
A pinata cookie decorated with royal icing sunflowers

CAN I USE BUTTERCREAM TO PIPE FLOWERS?

Yes, absolutely! I developed Crusting Buttercream for cookie decorating that can be used to pipe flowers directly onto the cookies.

View from the above, of several round cookies decorated with buttercream.
Cookies decorated with Crusting Buttercream

You can also use buttercream to make buttercream sunflowers. Instead of letting buttercream dry, you can freeze it. That’s how I made buttercream flowers for my Buttercream Fall Wreath Cake. You can use Swiss Buttercream, Italian Buttercream, American Buttercream, German Buttercream. These piped flowers are great for cupcake or cake decorating.

Buttercream decorated cake with buttercream wreath decorations displayed on a cake stand.
Cake decorated with Swiss Buttercream Flowers

Did you make these Decorated Cookies? Tag @hanielas on Instagram and hashtag it #hanielas

This post containsThis post contains Amazon affiliate links that earn me a small commission, at no cost to you. I only recommend products that I use and love. Learn more about my affiliate policy here.

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2 Comments

  1. Oh my gosh Hani, what wonderful information and the love of your time and effort to explain things in a way we (I) can understand. I love you and pray that God will bless your business. I am going to set one whole day aside just to try making flowers. And I like the “tip” method better. JFYI. 🙂

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