Cookies · Tutorial

Tutorial: Popcorn Cookie

Let me ask you a question: do you like popcorn? I mean, who doesn’t like popcorn? If someone has a bag of popcorn, even if you just ate a huge meal you know you’d probably still hit that. Popcorn is awesome. And what better to go with a movie night than popcorn?

I recently filled an order for a church movie night. I made three dozen cookies with a “movie night” theme, including “admit one” tickets, a marquee with the movie title, and–you guessed it– bags of popcorn!

Cookie order, June 2016. Movie Night theme.
Wrapped cookie order, June 2016. “Movie Night” theme.

I got great responses about these little delights, and I’m excited to say that I got progress shots as I was making the popcorn cookie, as well as video as I was making the movie marquee cookie (to come later; my computer is arguing with me over whether I get to edit the video or not). I’ve had several questions on that little popcorn cookie, there. And today, I’ll answer them!


Step 1

Cookie: Because I was on a time crunch and didn’t have time to order a specific “popcorn tub” cookie cutter, I opted to use an inverted stocking cutter, and that the popcorn would be overflowing and spilling out.

Layout: Using an edible ink marker, I laid down a basic sketch of the popcorn tub’s lines. I wanted a central label on the red-and-white striped tub to read “Pop!” Getting it laid out  explicitly on the cookie itself allowed me to keep the surrounding shapes right.


Step 2

Red Stripes: Using a red, 20-second icing and a size 2 piping tip, I laid down every-other stripe. I used a toothpick to square off the bottom corners of the stripes so that the tub would have a smooth, flat bottom. I also used a toothpick to help me get the stripes right around the label area, as well as to round off the tops of the stripes, so that the tub would have a scalloped top (the initial straight line I drew out was to reference the location of the top of the tub, not the actual shape).


Step 3

White Label, Initial Popcorn Base: After the red stripes had some time to dry, I used a white, 20-second icing and a size 2 piping tip, to lay in the label area and began putting down some abstract globs (very technical, I know) to serve as the base of the popcorn itself. Most of the popcorn is yellow, but having white variation helps sell the realism. The more globs, the less individual popcorn pieces you have to fill in later, but use your best judgment in how much to put down. What you see in the photo above is about how much I put down on all the cookies. In retrospect, I should have done the white stripes before the label, but at least I’ll get it right next time.


Step 4

White Stripes, White Sprinkles: Next, I applied the white stripes, again using a toothpick to square off the bottoms and round out the tops. I also decided to apply some white pearl nonpareil sprinkles (available at many craft stores and some grocers) by setting them in a dot of icing. The sprinkles are a cosmetic choice I made to help them tie further with the set of Movie Night cookies, as the other two designs both had the sprinkles incorporated. They may be left out, if desired.


Step 5

Color Variation: Using a golden yellow petal dust (again, available at many craft stores; I got mine at Michael’s) and a soft, dry paint brush (one reserved only for food), begin brushing the white popcorn globs to add variation. Use more or less as desired, but make sure that each glob has some kind of variation. Again, this helps “sell” the realistic popcorn look.


Step 6

Begin Adding Popcorn: Prepare your piping bag with a small spoonful of med-stiff (add little to no water), white icing, then fill with yellow icing of the same consistency (if doing only a few cookies, just a dollop of white will do; if doing several dozen, add a little more).

Using a size 1 piping tip, begin putting in a layer of popcorn, working across all your cookies. This will make it so that a small quantity of white popcorn will be on all the cookies, then as the white works out of your bag it fades to yellow. This will create the variation that, again, helps with the realistic look. After you’ve worked across all your cookies, go back to the first one and you should notice that the new popcorn you’re adding is slightly different from the previous layer of popcorn. Space the popcorn out so that the individual pieces of a given layer do not quite touch, when possible. Below are a series of popcorn shapes you can mix together.


Many of them build up on top of each other, which a med-stiff icing will help you do. Remember that popcorn pops in fairly random ways, so most small, abstract shapes will help. You can build on top of the shapes as you go, as well.


Step 7

Build Up, Frame Label: Allow a little time for the previous layer to crust or dry, then apply another layer of popcorn. If you are doing a lot of these cookies, you can often work layer one across all the cookies, then go back to the beginning and start on layer two, etc. Build up, slowly filling in the gaps as you go. Add a few pieces of falling popcorn down the sides, or on the front of the tub. After all layers have been put in, it should look like a very full tub of popcorn! If you have what feels like too many white areas, feel free to dust in more yellow petal dust. Finally, use an edible marker to outline the label area to frame the words of the last step.


Step 8

Add the POP!: Using a stiff consistency black icing and a tip 1 (tip 0 if you have it, or a parchment paper piping bag with a very small opening), write in that “PoP!” And you’re done! That bag of popcorn looks good enough to eat! 😉

Like this tutorial? Pin it and share!Pin Popcorn Tut

Thank you for reading!


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