Egg Yolk Paint

Egg Yolk Paint

The Recipe:

egg yolk paint cookies

Egg Yolk Paint

This recipe is written with decorating cookies in mind, but egg yolk paint has a long and storied history in the art world, this can be used for craft and art projects as well.


  • 2 egg yolks
  • water added several drops at a time (say, 5 at a time per yolk) to a desired "paint" consistency
  • food colourings I prefer gel – if using liquid, start with dye, then add water.


  • whisk water into egg yolk and test the consistency with a pastry or paint brush – add water until you hit a good paint consistency
  • whisk in food colouring to desired colour.
  • paint your raw baked goods (cookies? scones?) as a final step before they go in the oven.
  • bake per recipe's instructions, admire your beautiful treats.


Ever since moving to the UK, I prefer gel food colourings, if I’m using liquid, which here can be quite watery and not as saturated colours like the drops I grew up with, I would add the colourings alongside or even before the water so the “paint” doesn’t get too thin.
If the paint thickens while you work, just add a couple more drops water. 
The colours will bleed if they touch while the paint is still wet, so if you want to have colours with clean lines next to each other on cookies, either leave a small gap between colours or work in layers letting the background colour set while you paint other cookies, then come back to do the next colour. 
This pairs really nicely with stained glass effect on easter cookies. 
This can also be used on crafts, air dried or dried in the oven – could be a fun kid’s paint.  If painting things that won’t be eaten, you can colour the paint with whatever moves you (ground chalk, powdered paint or ink).

The Waffle

I found this on Food52, and it is my new favourite cookie decorating technique, it’s fun, it’s easy to get bright vibrant colours, the cookies maintain their crunch (often lost with glaze), and it doesn’t add sugar to them. If you really cake it on, you may taste the “paint” but bear in mind, egg yolk is how Pepperidge Farm gets that glossy sheen on chessmen cookies, and egg wash is used on so many baked goods, so how wrong can you really go here? Frankly, the glossy bits of the chessmen cookies have always been my favourite parts. It pairs really well with stained glass effect, giving those cookies a little something extra.

While working with this I kept thinking of a quote I heard at a family friend’s funeral. Aunt Gladys had been an art teacher, one of the tamer eras in an exciting life, and when chiding her children to wash the breakfast dishes sooner rather than later, she would remind them that up until the 16th century people painted with egg and that paint has stayed in place for thousands of years. Wash it now, or it’ll be there forever kinda thing. I had a lightbulb moment when I realised this might be the perfect paint for salt dough, so that’s on my list of things to try.

Incredible Art has a great piece on egg tempura covering it’s history, methods and techniques.

So, this is going under foods and crafts, because you can always tint some egg yolk and paint your next masterpiece with it too.