Wafer-papering is relatively new to cookie decorating and involves nothing more than a simple cut-and-paste technique. For the uninitiated, wafer papers are thin, translucent sheets of dehydrated potato starch, water, and vegetable oil, which come both plain and pre-printed with food-safe dyes in many patterns. The most extensive source of papers that I’ve found is fancyflours.com. Read on for more details and/or check out Lesson 12 in my cookie decorating video series.

What you’ll need:

  • As many topcoated gingerbread or sugar cookies as you want to decorate (see my Royal Icing recipe and related cookie recipes, coming soon)
  • Wafer paper(s) of choice
  • Cookie cutter used to cut the cookies being decorated
  • Pen or pencil for tracing
  • Scissors
  • Corn syrup
  • Small sponge brush
Easter Basket with Checked Paper
Easter Basket with Checked Paper Photo by Julia M. Usher


1 | Wafer paper will only adhere well to cookies that have been topcoated with Royal Icing or covered with fondant (which I am less inclined to do, since I’m not a huge fan of the flavor and texture of fondant). For the easiest and least messy paper application, allow top coats and fondant coverings to dry until completely firm, ideally overnight.

Easter Bonnets with Papered Brims
Easter Bonnets with Papered Brims Photo by Julia M. Usher

2 | You can either completely cover a cookie with wafer paper or cover only select parts of the cookie, as I have in the photos to the right. (The checked pattern on the bottom of the basket is wafer paper applied to white Royal Icing; the floral patterns on the hat brims are wafer paper applied to white and pink Royal Icing; and the black checked paper on the dresses has been applied to various colors of icing. Because the paper is translucent, a hint of the underlying icing color will always show through.) The wafer paper must first be cut to fit your icing topcoat, not the cookie itself. (Remember, wafer paper will not stick well to naked cookies.) The best way to size the paper to the icing is to trace the outline of the cookie (or cookie part) onto the back side of the wafer paper using the cookie cutter that cut the cookie as your guide. Cut out the shape and then gradually trim it down to fit the icing and to remove all tracing marks, snipping off tiny portions as you go. Be careful not to get the wafer paper wet (it will wrinkle or dissolve) or to handle it too aggressively (it is rather fragile and can tear easily.)

Fiesta Dresses with Checked Paper Photo by Julia M.
Fiesta Dresses with Checked Paper Photo by Julia M. Usher

3 | The rest is easy. Turn the wafer paper cutout over, and paint a thin schmear of corn syrup on the back side with a small sponge brush. (Again, be careful not to paint too aggressively, or you will rip the paper.) Turn the paper right side up, and fix it onto the icing. Smooth out any bubbles by running your fingers gently over the paper, and press down all edges well, as they otherwise have a tendency to lift. Keep your fingers free of water and corn syrup as you do this. Any water or corn syrup will spot the paper.

Some people recommend turning the cookie over and drying for 30 minutes upside down – I presume to keep the paper from buckling. But I’ve always dried right side up with no trouble whatsoever; in fact, I believe the paper dries more quickly this way. Once the paper has dried, apply Royal Icing borders to conceal the edge of the paper. (If you add icing borders while the paper is still moist, the edges are more likely to lift.)

For more wafer-papering details, see Lesson 12 in my new video series, available on DVD here or in the link below. Confused about the difference between wafer paper and other edible papers? Check out my Edible Papers 101 video on YouTube: