how to draw on food… ending the confusion about edible writers

Those of you who have been here before may already know this, but I have a thing for drawing on food with edible writers. Particularly marshmallows. See? HERE. I came up with this idea almost two years ago in the midst of a housing search when our belongings were in storage, we were living in temporary housing, and then we went through a kitchen renovation. Marshmallow art is so quick, easy, kid-friendly, versatile and oven-free, so it was perfect for our transient life at the time.

Edible markers, gourmet writers, food writers, food coloring pens… the many different terms are just as confusing as the many different brands. This post is all about food writers: what brands to buy, where to buy ’em and what you can do with them. Food writers are markers that have edible ink, NOT to be confused with “candy writers” that you find in the craft store. Those come in tubes. I don’t use those.


brands of food writers in order of my preference

Americolor Gourmet Writers, set of ten. These are my favorite writers. They have good flow and are easy to use. You can get finer detail by using the tips and cover thicker areas by using the sides more. If you only buy one set of writers, buy these. The Americolor site doesn’t sell directly, but you can buy these on, and many other online sites.


FooDoodler. My next most-used writers are the FooDoodler Fine Line set of ten. The fine line is even finer than the Americolor Gourmet Writers and I use this a lot for very fine detail. FooDoodler also carry thicker markers, which are good (here), but I rarely use those, only because I draw such small things. If you don’t need a super-fine line, then they work well. The perfect combination of markers–if you buy two sets–are the Americolor Gourmet Writers with the FooDoodler fine line set. You can buy FooDoodlers at their site, and at

KopyKake pens. The set of KopyKake pens are also quite good. They have two ends, one thick and one fine, which is great. The fine end gives the same detail as the fine line FooDoodlers, so I love them. The other big bonus? The set has two greens, including a lime green. I use lime green a lot, and I miss this with the other sets above. The down side to these? I feel like the flow is a little dry and they run out of ink more quickly. Find KopyKake pens at amazon and at

FoodWriters. I’m a fan of all Wilton‘s products, of course, though I use their FoodWriters the least. They are good writers and have a good flow, but the tips are a bit thick for the detail I like to draw. However, the pros: they are widely available in most major craft stores, they come in a variety including lime green (yay), and they are great for kids. When my 3-year old decorates marshmallows, I give her the FoodWriters. You can buy them on the Wilton site, in craft stores, or on amazon. The sets are smaller, so you end up needing to buy a couple different sets. I’m partial to the “neon” colors.

A few examples are below, but CLICK HERE to see all my ideas.
(click the pictures to go to the original post)



drawing on food
The best sweets and treats compatible with edible writers are:


  • marshmallows
  • fondant (roll out and cover cookies, cupcakes or cakes with fondant, or, if you make dimensional designs, use writers for the details)
  • royal icing that has been flooded and left to dry overnight


These sweets are LESS or NOT compatible with edible writers:


  • candy melts (You can use edible writers with stuff that’s been dipped in candy melts and hardened, but the writers do react with the fats in the melts and don’t work quite as well. If you’ve tried to make cake pops, you may have experienced this. I suggest markers with a good flow, like the Americolor’s, use the tips and use them sparingly for small details, like dots for eyes.)
  • buttercream frosting. Frosting won’t fully harden, and the bumps and grooves make this a bad surface for writers.





    • Let your surface dry well before using the writers. Marshmallows and fondant will stiffen if left out for an hour or so. And flooded royal icing MUST dry overnight.


    • Don’t try and layer colors, unless it’s for effect (like the spring flower marshmallows above). The bottom color will show through. Only black witll cover other colors, so I often outline with black last.


    • When switching colors, let the first color set about ten minutes so you don’t accidentally pick up another color with your marker and to prevent bleeding.


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  1. Ashley says

    Thanks for that comprehensive list! I've tried the Americolor before and didn't have a whole lot of success. However I think I was trying it on candy melts.
    This is a great resource!

  2. Whimsy Cookie Co. says

    Hey!! I have had a little trouble with bleeding when I use the black pens(americolor and moorland brands) on a cookie flooded with royal icing that has dried overnight.. And not from pushing too hard and puncturing the icing… I am in Memphis and it's very humid here… Any suggestions?? Thanks!! Laurie aka Whimsy Cookie Co.

  3. Meg@MegaCrafty says

    Thanks for this post- I need some better pens than the ones I have and this will be really useful!

  4. Chic Cookies says

    Laurie, is the bleeding happening right away? Or does it seep into the icing? I would try leaving your flooded cookie to dry for 2 days (agree that humidity can be a big culprit), even with a fan on them, also, I would try using less water when you flood. My flooded icing is thicker than most flooders use b/c I really think water causes a lot of problems beyond marker bleeding (like splotchy icing). But that's just a guess!

  5. Pink Little Cake says

    Great post. When I make my Hello Kitty cookies I use a black marker,I do use very little water when I flood them and I have never had any issues the markers.

  6. Sarah-Lyn says

    Yes! lol … I like the refresher course, might just have to do some food "drawing" this weekend!


  7. CraftCrave says

    Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave in the Cooking category today [07 Jun 12:00am GMT]. Thanks, Maria

  8. SweetSugarBelle says

    I think everyone should own them all, and your faves are pretty much mine, reverse the Wilton and KopyKake. WODERFUL WONDERFUL post!

  9. Trish - Sweetology101 says

    you had me at edible….but seriously I owe you a lot of fun times here at the Shamp ranch. Sophia and I have had so much fun with drawing on food inspiration that we find here. Can't really thank you enough. One of the TOP things Sophia wanted to do this summer was have a draw on food day with her buds. That is cool.

  10. bridget {bake at 350} says

    Ooo….I've never even SEEN the KopyKake ones! You mean, I need MORE cookie stuff? The answer always seems to be "Yes!"

  11. Sassy lane says

    I like using the the pens to draw of the fruit tingles lollies you can see what I men on my Facebook page. Thanks for the tips.

  12. lisa says

    Trish from Sweetology 101 sent me over here after I lamented to her about my inability to use an edible marker. I will be sending for some new markers ASAP. Thanks!

  13. vicki says

    I heard about painting candy color with alcohol works too. Have you tried this before? And if so what type of alcohol and candy colors? Thanks!

    • meaghanmountford says

      Hi Vicki,
      Yes, you can use food coloring as paint and dip your brush in alcohol instead of water so the surface doesn’t become soggy (as the alcohol evaporates)… though I actually use water instead of alcohol and have had no problem, even on fondant, since I use water sparingly. But I’ve also used a bit of vodka or clear vanilla extract and it works.

  14. Natinha says

    I am wondering if I can use Staedtler Noris Club markers on my food, it says they are made with food coloring but I haven’t seen any example of someone using these on food online. Do you think they would work and especially would they not make people sick? It says non-toxic. Thanks!

    • meaghanmountford says

      Hi Natinha! Unless the markers are specifically for food, made with food coloring, I wouldn’t use them on edibles even if they say non-toxic. Unless of course, the food is for decoration only and not to be eaten! Oh, what a wonderful world if we could, though, given the detail you could achieve with real markers!

  15. says

    Hi Meaghan, very informative post! I recently tried my hand at cake pops. I’d planned to paint designs on them after the candy melt coating had set. But the paint wouldn’t stay on … it just kind of separated and formed individual droplets. I used a standard Wilton gel paste, tried diluting it with lemon juice first, and then just the paste by itself, but it didn’t work. Any ideas? Thanks!

    • meaghanmountford says

      Hi Shalom,
      Yep, I know exactly what you mean. Some surfaces take the food coloring-as-paint (you can also dilute a bit with alcohol, vodka is best, as it evaporates, though I just use a couple drops of water). For example, fondant that has stiffened a bit and royal icing that has totally dried takes food coloring paint very well. But candy melts don’t. There are just too many oils/fats in them. It’s also difficult to use an edible writer on cake pops dipped in candy melts, though it can be done, as evidenced by the jillions of cake pops online that have been decorated with edible writers. When I draw on cake pops, I use a good edible writer (such as Americolor Gourmet Writers), draw on them sparingly (such as just dots for eyes or a smile), and use the tip of the marker. If you want to TRY painting on cake pops with food coloring, the craft store carries another Wilton brand of food coloring called candy colors. They come in sets of 4 in little tubs that look like the concentrated gel pastes, but it’s special food coloring for chocolate and candy melts that don’t react with the fats. I’ve not tried to paint on chocolate or candy melts with it, but if any food coloring works at all, that would be it.

      Hope this helps! Thanks!

  16. Hope's Creative Cookies says

    Have you tried the new Wiltons Food-Writers that are specially designed to work on their candy melts? I would appreciate your opinion on them. Do they truly work well on the candy melts? Do they work on the fondant and marshmallows, like the normal food writers? Any light you can shed on the subject would be fantastic.

    • meaghanmountford says

      Wait, Wilton has new food writers that work on candy melts??? I’ve GOT to try them. I haven’t. My guess would be they would work on fondant and marshmallows, too. I’ll see if I can find some and try them. Thanks for the tips!

  17. Hope's Creative Cookies says

    Oops! got busy and haven’t been on here recently. Meaghan– Yes; I’ve found them at Michael’s. They call call them “Candy Decorating Pens,” and are kept next to the rest of the candy molding tools. Here’s the link for them on the Wiltpn’s site:
    They also have light green too! :)
    The sight doesn’t say if they work on marshmallows or fondant, and I STILL haven’t bought them, so I don’t know.

    • meaghanmountford says

      I use those exact markers sometimes, because of the green! They work on marshmallows and stiffened fondant, definitely :).

  18. says

    I use my wilton markers to draw designs on cookies before flooding. Sometimes the marker bleeds into the icing. Any ideas why? Btw I use glaze icing not royal.

    • meaghanmountford says

      It’s basically food coloring in there, so it can seep into the designs. I’d try a super light touch on the cookie and less water in the icing. Or, skip the design part of light colored cookies.

  19. Stephanie says

    can you tell me how far ahead I can use the wilton markers on fondant? I am doing cupcakes of the periodic table and I want to write the elements ahead of time. I was going to use sugar sheets, but I would have to do them all the day of. Then I thought I could write on fondant and store it air tight, do you know how long the writing lasts in storage?

    • meaghanmountford says

      STephanie, I’ve written on fondant ahead of time. I’d not go more than three days before. Let the fondant dry a couple hours first (it will stiffen a bit, but not fully harden) and then draw. Then store in a single layer in a tupperware container. Don’t stack the fondant. Are these for cupcake toppers? Do NOT refrigerate though. The moisture will smear the writing. Sometimes, if you go too long, darker colors (such as black) will bleed a bit into white fondant and get pink edges. But I’ve not had that problem when I’ve done fondant toppers a day or two before.

  20. Jenny M. says

    I am going to make a cake for my husband’s 40th birthday and would like to have the kids (ages 2 & 6) draw on the cake with decorating pens. I’ve never made fondant but found a fairly simple looking recipe for marshmallow fondant. Do you know about this fondant and if the decorator markers would work on it? I plan on buying the Gourmet Writer Decorator pens.
    Thanks so much!

  21. annie says

    Hi! I’m trying to write messages on m&ms, which pen do you recommend for that? I’ve tried the Wilton candy melt pen, it’s too thick and it bled. Thanks!

    • meaghanmountford says

      Hi Annie,
      I find the finest tip and easiest to use is the FooDoodler Fine Line pack of 10. (not the regular ones, the “fine line.”) They would be your best bet, I think. The candy shell on M and Ms isn’t super duper conducive to the writers, and you may find it smears or resists it, but I think it’s the best chance you have! Hope this helps!

  22. Jenn says

    Hi (-:

    I have the Duff Goldman food writer. I bought the set on clearance at Michaels, but I found them dried out. Can I soak them ahead of time? Any suggestions that I could use to restore them?

    Thanks (-:

    • meaghanmountford says

      Hi Jenn,
      I’ve never tried the Duff food writers, but now I have to find them to add to my list! Bummer about them being dried out, too. I’m guessing they are similar to the KopyKakes. I found those dried out very quickly, whereas the Americolor and FooDoodler ones are more marker-like and didn’t. Although, unless there is a chamber you can access inside, I’m not sure there would be any way to truly restore them. I suppose you could try soaking the tips in a matching color of food coloring, but I would imagine that would be a temporary fix, more like a tool to dip in food coloring and write with, more than fully restoring.

      I know they were on clearance, but I wonder if Michaels would take them back? Sounds like they were on the shelves a wee bit too long (by my guess, at least a year or more).
      Thanks Jenn!!

  23. Amber says

    I’m making a cake tonight, so I hope someone could get back to me asap… I am hoping to put a sugar sheet on the cake, and write on it with a black Wilton Food Writer marker.. Will is bleed? Should I not refrigerate it? Will it be okay? HELP PLEASE!!!


    • meaghanmountford says

      Hi Amber! Hmmmm…. Although I have used the preprinted ones, I’ve never written on a sugar sheet, so I wish I could give you a definitive answer. But in my view, the markers should be fine if it’s for tonight, but I think that putting it in the fridge would NOT be a good idea. Is there fruit inside the cake? Or any need to refrigerate it? I also put my plain cakes with buttercream frosting in the fridge because I like them, but I think the moisture could cause the bleeding.

  24. Juliana says

    Hi! My daughter’s birthday in on May 17th and yesterday I wrote her name in a piece of fondant so as to use it as the top of the cake that day. I’d like to know if in two weeks’ time the taste is going to be ok or if it’s better to draw the design with edible markers the day before of the event. I have the Americolor Gourmet Writers. Thanks a lot!! Regards!

    • meaghanmountford says

      Hi Juliana,
      Taste-wise, fondant lasts a pretty long time if you keep it sealed. You MAY be OK with the writing that long. I’ve had fondant that I drew on last weeks/months which I realized only because I packed up a lot of stuff I made to photograph for my book and was surprised at how well it held up. However, I’m not super-confident that the writing will be exactly the same on May 17 as it is today. The markers can bleed a little (I love the gourmet writers, they are the best). So my not-very-committal answer is that there is a chance you’d be OK, but you’d have a much better chance if you wrote on fondant only a day or two before the event. It would help to let the fondant stiffen and dry at room temperature for a few hours before putting it in a sealed container, but I would vote for closer-to-the-event the better! Hope this helps!!

  25. Juliana says

    Thank you very much for your prompt reply!! I think I’ll follow your advice just to be on the safe side. Thanks so much! Regards.

  26. says

    Hi, am wondering if the americolor gourmet pen colours will fade if I use them to decorate on cookies flooded with royal icing? Can I draw a week ahead of event or I should wait till a day or 2?

    • meaghanmountford says

      Hi Waheeda, The colors surprisingly last well and likely won’t fade in a week, though I do think 2 or 3 days before an event is better. The cookies start to lose freshness by about a week.

    • meaghanmountford says

      Yep! The markers will work on cookies without icing, Charlene. It’s a rougher surface, so the markers won’t “glide” as much and the drawing may be a little rougher. And the tip can pick up some of the butter/crumbs which makes it a little harder, but it will work.

  27. says

    Beautiful work! I used edible makers also, mostly Wilton, on royal icing cookies. I have HUGE problem with black breaking down IF the cookie is bagged. Open iar is fine, but bagged cookies bleed 100% if the time. Any ideas, suggestions short of ‘don’t bag!’?

    • meaghanmountford says

      I’m shaking my fist at black food coloring! I haven’t had the problem you’re talking about with markers, even black on white (though I mostly use Americolors or the Foodoodlers, wonder if that makes a difference?) but I know black food coloring can be a bugger.And I’ve had black icing bleed more on white backgrounds. But I also do NOT thing my flooding icing too much. I add as little water as I possibly can to still have the flooded look. I also let the backgrounds dry super duper well, overnight at least, you can even let them dry two nights, before writing on them. And let the black marker dry fully before bagging. Is it humid where you are? I am also wondering if heat is somehow trapped in the bags.

  28. Jennifer says

    Hi Meaghan :)

    Will the markers work on a simple powder sugar & Milk GLAZE (as opposed to making a royal icing)? I would make the glaze so it hardens of course. I am trying to avoid having to make royal icing as it’s not my family’s favorite.

    Thanks for the post!

    • meaghanmountford says

      Theoretically, it would (as in, milk or powdered sugar wouldn’t cause the markers to resist), but it would have to dry quite hard. So I would err on the side of more sugar and less milk. The points of the markers could indent the surface of the glaze if it isn’t fully hardened. But if it sets overnight, I think it would!

    • meaghanmountford says

      PS. I would just use new markers (as in full of coloring) and a light touch! Some of my more used markers, I have to press more firmly.

  29. Mary Lee says

    I am wondering if you have used the pens to write on apples? We saw a picture of an apple with name and date written on it on a Pinterest site however cannot find the original site and details of how this is done. Any insight you can give me would be wonderful. Thank you so much.

    • meaghanmountford says

      Hi Mary Lee, I have used the pens to write on apples (and if you saw a picture of it, unless it wasn’t edible, I bet that’s how it was done.) The only down side is that the ink sort of slides a bit on the smooth surface. I would make sure the apple is totally dry and then don’t touch the apple for awhile after writing to let it fully dry!

  30. mic says


    May I know for jelly, which food pen is suitable for water-based type so that it wont smudged?

    I tried using redman water colors n it smudged badly e next day after i took out fr fridge.

    • meaghanmountford says

      Hi Mic, I’m confused what you’re trying to draw on. “Jelly” an JellO or a gelatin product? I don’t know any food pens that would work on anything like that I’m afraid :(.

  31. mopnglo says


    I was wondering if the markers would wrote well on jelly rancher lollipops? And, I hope to bag them, but the posts above make me think it that if I can write on them, the ink will bleed. What do you think?

    • meaghanmountford says

      I don’t know that drawing on hard candy would work… maybe if it was a very light candy and you weren’t doing much, like a smiley face… But if I had to guess, I’d say you’d have trouble :(.

  32. Cindy says

    I was wondering it there is such thing as white food coloring marker/pen? If so which one do you use?

    • meaghanmountford says

      Hi Cindy, Nope, not that I know of. I wish! But I don’t know that it would be strong enough to write on any color without showing through.

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