How Long Does It Take You To Decorate Your Cookies?

Baking By JenWhitlock Updated 5 May 2009 , 9:43pm by -Tubbs

JenWhitlock Posted 1 May 2009 , 12:14pm
post #1 of 22

ok, I'm really tired this morning. I have three cookie "orders" (two are for my daughter's activities) and a cake order. I baked my cookies all day yesterday, and my goal was to get them done last night to bake cakes today. ugh.

anyway, I decided to measure the time it took to decorate the cookies.
the last time that I did was for my turtle cookies, and it took 11 minutes per cookie.
and this is pretty consistent for me with my more detailed cookies.

the cookies that I worked on last night were "simple" so I estimated 5 minutes per cookie, and I was right.
I had 60 cookies for that order, so that's 5 hours!
and that was "fast" for me.

that didn't include the hour it took to mix the 10 colors needed or all the baking time.

so my question is, how long does it take you, and is there anyway to get faster?

21 replies
kneadacookie Posted 1 May 2009 , 12:22pm
post #2 of 22

i truly believe in a production line. once i have that red bag in my hand, i want to get as much done as possible with it before moving on. i think that's why i really don't know how long it takes me to do 1 cookie. i never work on 1 cookie. i honestly think it takes me almost as much time to get set up, cookies baked, colors made and all than it does to really decorate. last night i had 30 crosses decorated with a chalace(sp?) and grapes. i think i spent about an hour baking and doing colors. then i probably spent about 4 hours decorating. so you getting 60 cookies done in 5 hours is great.
jen, i'm a huge fan of your work!

GeminiRJ Posted 1 May 2009 , 12:30pm
post #3 of 22

I can relate to the time investment when decorating cookies! Some cookies just take longer than others, but I can figure no less than 5 minutes per cookie for the simple ones. When I do my 3D cookies, I know that when it's all added up, I average only 4 to 5 of those per hour. The only way to speed things up is to do as kneadacookie mentioned...production line. Figure out a plan of action before you even pick up that decorating bag. If you can simplify the design, do it. Most people won't be able to tell you cut corners by eliminating a color or two, or left off some details.

Your cookies are fantastic, and I can see why it takes the time it does. Those of us who do cookies can look at them and truly appreciate the time and effort that's required to get that look.

indydebi Posted 1 May 2009 , 12:43pm
post #4 of 22

It so depends on the cookie. I made 100 dog-bone shaped cookies for wedding favors. One color icing. Took me between 60-90 minutes. Made 50 Hello Kitty cookies and it took me 5 hours!

And "yes" on the assembly line thing. I also don't do one cookie at a time. I put the base color on all cookies. Then put the next color on all cookies, etc. When you're switching back and forth between colors on one cookies, you'll be amazed how those little seconds add up by the end of the day.

I made baby bottle cookies for a family baby shower and had 2 family helpers. I put the base color on, one person did the blue bottle cap and the 3rd person did the yellow nipple. It went really fast!!

Assembly line ..... only way to go.

bethola Posted 1 May 2009 , 12:44pm
post #5 of 22

In a word....FOR-EVER! LOL I don't do a lot of cookies, but, I have TONS of cookie cutters because when I get a chance I really do like doing them. My grandchildren live in California and they want to make Christmas Cookies when I go visit in July. Well, YEAH! I'm taking the Christmas Cookies Cutters! Ever heard of "Christmas in July"! LOL

Your cookies ARE great and I can see the time investment you make. Of course, any cake/cookie artist can appreciate that.

Beth in KY

cricket0616 Posted 1 May 2009 , 12:44pm
post #6 of 22

I looked at your cookies and they are truly beautiful and I can see why they take they time they do. Other than an essembly line (which I am sure you are doing) there aren't any suggestions here.

debster Posted 1 May 2009 , 12:52pm
post #7 of 22

I'm not as good as you all with the cookies but yes it takes me FOREVER!!! It doesn't bother me when people pay 1.00 -2.00 a cookie but when they want them for .50 they are NUTS........................Keep baking and making those beautiful works of art for those that know the time and are willing to pay for it. thumbs_up.gif

michellesArt Posted 1 May 2009 , 12:56pm
post #8 of 22

yeah i agree that it takes a lot of time to decorate even "simple" ones -to me no cookie can be simple, i have to add some glitter or accent something lol so it's definately a labour of love that i am in awe that you more advanced decorators (jen, antonia, gemini tracyh and more) don't through in the icingbag! it's intense, frustrating (why can't RI dry faster?!?!!) and time consuming. but sometimes i would rather sit down to an order of cookies over 2-3 days then a big cake. except when i get "it's just a cookie"-though i suppose that's like the "it's just cake" petpeeve grrrr

pattycakesnj Posted 1 May 2009 , 12:59pm
post #9 of 22

I sit at my kitchen counter with the tv on and work assembly line style, one color at a time. I think it goes faster than doing an entire cookie at once.

GeminiRJ Posted 1 May 2009 , 1:07pm
post #10 of 22

I'm doing some funky flamingos this weekend that I'm actually hoping will decorate quickly. There's only three colors, and most of that will be hot pink. I'm curious now how long it will take me, so I'll keep track of the time. I know it took forever to cut the stupid things out...lots of little ins and outs, cut by hand.

linedancer Posted 1 May 2009 , 1:09pm
post #11 of 22

It also takes me forever and ever! I use MMF to cover my cookies and it is imperative if you are going to do any embossing to do it as soon as you put the fondant on the cookie. The longer it sits, the drier it is, so it does not take the embossing as well. Same goes for luster dusting, it just adheres better if the fondant is not so dry. I usually attach the fondant and do the embossing and base luster dusting first. Then go back and add the details, most of which are fondant.

As for the production line thing, I have been cutting out as many as 4 dozen fondant base pieces, and layering them between wax paper. I also make as many detail pieces as I can and have them ready. Then I can apply the base, emboss, dust, and detail.

There is no doubt that beautiful cookies take lots of time. And I am thinking, no I know from seeing your work, that all of you are like I am. You need to make that cookie perfect thumbs_up.gif

sweetcravings Posted 1 May 2009 , 1:11pm
post #12 of 22

I agree with everyone..assembly line is the way to go. For example at christmas i think i made something like 10doz cookies. I baked them all one day. Then flooded all the cookies that needed red, then green, then white etc.. I did the details the same way. So i really jumped from cookie to cookie. If you were to ask me the exact time it takes me i couldn't tell you either. It can get confusing sometimes, so ahead of time i make a 'plan' of sorts, listing the colors i need, what consistency icing i need, which cookies need what. That way i know how much of a certain color to mix, and i can group my cookies accordingly. I find this really helps because i don't stand there thinking for five minutes, whats next? I mix all my colors at once, prep all the bags and tips, lay down freezer paper on the worksurface for easy cleanup (learnt that here).
It really is a labor of love. It's funny so many times i've said to myself, 'never again will i do cookies", but i always come back to them. There is something very gratifying about making amazing cookies.

HeidiCrumbs Posted 1 May 2009 , 6:14pm
post #13 of 22

I figured it out once, just kind of randonly, and for a regular cookie, like maybe three icing colors plus a base layer, like a flower or party hat, it averaged one dozen in just under an hour. I am very slow right now though because I think each cookie has to be PERFECT and I will settle for nothing less. It's a serious flaw, lol.

I really want to try the dipping method for the base coat that someone mentioned in a previous post because the base coats take me a really long time, especially just to get one color of frosting on, KWIM?

JenWhitlock Posted 1 May 2009 , 8:24pm
post #14 of 22

thanks all!
I'm so embarassed by your kind words as I look up to all of you! icon_redface.gif

anyway, I didn't mean to imply that I do one cookie at a time.
I figure the time per cookie by averaging out the time.
These last cookies were for a Derby Party and they were jockey silks.
so first I made all the colors, yep an hour!!! I can never believe how long it takes.
then I outlined all of them in black - that was about an hour or just under a minute per cookie. then it took 4 more hours to do all the flooding.
I do the same as kneadacookie, I plan out the order inwhich the colors need to go down, and do as much as I can with the same bag....

anyway, I LOVE cookies, it just seems to take way longer than it should icon_rolleyes.gif

back to the next two sets (more soccer balls, and Daisy Scout Tea party cookies icon_lol.gif )

kneadacookie Posted 1 May 2009 , 8:45pm
post #15 of 22

i guess that's why have to charge an arm and a leg

jen your stuff is so fabulous! i think you are way up there on the famous cookie decorator list!

JGMB Posted 1 May 2009 , 9:03pm
post #16 of 22

I am always so amazed by the cookie masterpieces that I see on here!!!! I truly do hope that people are willing to pay what they're worth.

I'm making very simple 4" diameter flower cookies for a charity thing on Sunday. I asked a friend how much she'd pay for one and she said a quarter. I wanted to wring her neck!!!

Each cellophane bag alone costs 4 cents, not to mention that I use real vanilla, real butter, etc. and spend a lot of time baking and decorating them. And, it's for charity, for goodness sake!!!

Okay, I'm done ranting!!! icon_redface.giftapedshut.gif I do just hope that you all are getting the money that you deserve.

Pebbles13 Posted 1 May 2009 , 10:29pm
post #17 of 22

Jen, I'm sure that you have your method as streamlined as it can get. You make some amazing cookies and your work is sheer perfection, which is where the time factor comes in. Judging from your work, I can probably bet that you are a very organized person. This will make you feel better.
I am probably the slowest decorator in the world. It's a good thing I don't do this for a living, or my family would starve. Even if I have a plan with the cookie sketched out, colors ready to go, and all of my "tools" in front of me, I sometimes don't like the way the cookie is turning out and refer to my lap top to check out more clip art images, cookie pics, etc. If any of you saw me in action, you would probably want to jump in, grab a piping bag, and help me. My sis-in-law and I have volunteered to do wedding cake-shaped cookie favors for my niece's wedding this month - 150 of them icon_surprised.gif Someone needs to have a cattle prod ready to poke me if I start slowing down. The good thing is that it is only two colors - white and a hint of blue. When I start getting into goofy details on cookies, that's when I'm up past midnight. So, to make a long story short....How long does it take me to do a cookie?.............................Way, way, too long icon_biggrin.gif But guess what? I love it icon_biggrin.gif

TracyLH Posted 3 May 2009 , 8:05pm
post #18 of 22

I try not to think about it! icon_lol.gif Actually, quite a bit of time. I do assembly line work though, as others have mentioned. As I get ready to start a new step, I line up 5 - 10 cookies (depending on how large they are and how many I have to do) and get a timer out. I do this for two reasons; 1) I want to see how long it will take me to flood the background for the number I have so I can see how long I will be working to get this stage done with the number I have in total (trying to get my timing down so I am not up until 3 am and to be realistic as to when I am actually getting to bed) and 2) by timing myself, I set a goal to beat with the next set. I doubt this helps, but that is what I do. I am trying to force myself to work faster and get to where I have a real guage of the time that goes into these. Yesterday I outlined and flooded about 120 - 130 4 1/4" apples, the largest number I have done. I could do 10 in about 20 minutes, with a couple of minutes built in for reloading the icing bag at the end of the set, so I was at it for over 4 hours. So that I didn't go completly batty, I would do 10 and then take a quick water or stretch break. I can't pipe for over 4 hours straight.

JGMB Posted 4 May 2009 , 1:40am
post #19 of 22

Just an update in case anyone cares! That was me ranting at the top of this page about people not wanting to pay enough for a decorated cookie. Well, I whined prematurely!! icon_redface.gif I sold out of my flower cookies for charity at church this morning -- no one was shocked at the price. In fact, I'm sure I could've sold 2 dozen more if I'd have had that many. I'm very happy and have regained my faith in cookie consumers! icon_wink.gif

GeminiRJ Posted 4 May 2009 , 12:30pm
post #20 of 22

I was at a department store recently and saw some decorated sugar cookies on sticks, packaged, and stuck in a pot. They were 3" flowers decorated in one color with a couple accent colors for the centers. The price was $6, and there was an expiration date that didn't come due for another two months! Do people actually buy these? If I'm paying that much for a cookie, it's going to be a fresh one from a local bakery!

GeminiRJ Posted 5 May 2009 , 5:39pm
post #21 of 22

I finished up the "Funky Flamingo" cookies (I posted them today) and I timed how long it took. I was able to completely decorate 22 cookies in 2 1/2 hours...averaging about 8 or 9 per hour. That's super fast for me! Luckily, the design was simple and the colors few.

-Tubbs Posted 5 May 2009 , 9:43pm
post #22 of 22
Originally Posted by JGMB

Just an update in case anyone cares! That was me ranting at the top of this page about people not wanting to pay enough for a decorated cookie. Well, I whined prematurely!! icon_redface.gif I sold out of my flower cookies for charity at church this morning -- no one was shocked at the price. In fact, I'm sure I could've sold 2 dozen more if I'd have had that many. I'm very happy and have regained my faith in cookie consumers! icon_wink.gif

Good for you! Just because someone won't pay, doesn't mean nobody will! Go on then - how much did you charge?!

On the original post, personally I think that one of the good things about working in production line mode is the 'muscle memory' you build up, which means you're pretty much on autopilot after doing three or four cookies. That wayI find my cookies tend to have a more uniform look to them.

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