This year our youngest children are turning 21 so we have been making a lot of cookies to mark these milestones. It’s fun to personalize a set for their longtime childhood friends to celebrate the occasion. Even though they are turning 21, they still appreciate a good cookie;) These 21st birthday Marine cookies were one of our favorite sets. The formal Marine uniform was the inspiration for the color palette and cookie designs. The dress blues are so striking and mature, we had to complement it with sophisticated cookie designs.

Supplies needed to make 21st Birthday Marine Cookies:
  • Sugar cookies
  • Royal icing in white, black, navy, blue, red, tan, and gold
  • Cookie cutters: square, martini, bottle, tiered cake, plaque, circle, and balloon
  • Transfers for olives and bottle label
  • Edible marker
  • Airbrush with warm brown food color
  • Pearl and gold airbrush food color
Making Transfers

Using transfers allows you to create parts of the design ahead of time to add to cookies when needed. Royal icing transfers can be stored in airtight containers for months. You can make up some blank rectangles and olives to having on hand for when you want to add them to cookies.

First, start by drawing the shape desired on a piece of paper. Then cover the paper with a sheet of waxed paper. Next, outline and fill your shapes. Dry the royal icing overnight. Separate the pieces by cutting the waxed paper between the shapes. Leave the transfers on the waxed paper until you are ready to use them. For our 21st birthday Marine cookies, we used edible markers and pipe consistency royal icing to add the words “Aged 21 years”. Finally, spray the edges of the label with an airbrush to give it an aged effect. You could also paint the edges with gel paste food color for a similar effect.

Marine Birthday Toast Cookie

What a better way to celebrate a 21st birthday than with a toast! Start with a cookie that has been outlined and filled with white. Next, pipe half of a silhouette of a jacket with a bent arm in navy and fill it with flood consistency icing. When that has dried a bit, add a hand holding a martini glass, complete with olive. Finally, add details that make up a Marine uniform – gold buttons, red piping, and insignia on the sleeve. When the cookie is completely dry, paint the buttons with edible gold food color to make them shine.

Martini Cookies

Start by outlining a martini glass cookie and fill with white flood consistency royal icing. Allow the cookie to dry, preferably overnight. Next, paint some pearl airbrush food color onto the top of the cookie wear the martini liquid would be in the glass. Using black, pipe the outline of the martini glass around the edges. With tan icing, pipe a line for a toothpick and immediately place an olive (or 3) on top as a garnish. The olive transfers speed up the time it takes to decorate this cookie.

Bottle Cookies

Yes, yes, we know that martinis are made with either gin or vodka, not a bourbon or whiskey. However, we bent the rules a little with this cookie to tie it’s design in more with the other colors of this set. Start by outlining a liquor bottle cookie shape. Next, fill the cookie with flood consistency royal icing. After allowing the icing to set up, airbrush the edges with warm brown to age the bottle. If you do not have an airbrush, simply paint some warm brown gel paste food color on the edges. Add red wax to the top of the bottle and pipe drips down the neck. Finally, add the premade label transfer and attach it with a dot of wet royal icing.

Cake Cookie

A tiered cake is a base for this fun cookie that is inspired by the formal Marine uniform. We worked from bottom to top to decorate it. First, start by outlining 3/4ths of the bottom tier with red. Then outline and fill the remaining 1/4th of the layer with white for a belt. Immediately fill the rest of the bottom layer with a royal blue flood consistency icing. Set aside for 15 minutes or so. Once the icing on the first layer has set a little, pipe and outline the second layer with navy royal icing. Allow this to set up for approximately 15 minutes. Next, add details to complete the uniform feel. Finally, pipe the number 21 on the top layer. Once the cookie has dried completely, you can paint edible gold on the buttons and belt buckle.

Birthday Plaque Cookie

When selecting a plaque shape, make sure it matches the tone of the other cookies in the set. For the 21st birthday Marine cookies, we wanted something that was formal and more masculine. A plaque with more angled lines was the trick. After outlining the plaque in red pipe consistency royal icing, fill with royal blue. Pipe “Happy Birthday” once royal blue icing has set up for 15 minutes or so. Finish off with some gold dots as a nod to the uniform.

Round 21 Cookies

Customize a simple round cookie with “21” to celebrate this big milestone. The number 2 is designed to look like the top of the Marine uniform and the number 1 the bottom. Outline and fill a circle cookie with white icing. Allow the cookie to set up for 30 minutes or so. Using navy royal icing, pipe and fill the number 2. With red, outline a number one next to it. Fill the number one with royal blue icing. Add Marine uniform details on each number. Again for us, this was the red piping and stripes, gold buttons and insignia of rank.

Balloon Cookies

Lastly, we filled out the 21st birthday Marine cookies with a small, bite-sized cookie. You can’t have a birthday without balloons! Outline and fill small balloon-shaped cookies in red, navy, and gold royal icing. When the fill is still wet, add a swap of white as a highlight. This will make the balloon seem more rounded.

See it all in this 21st birthday Marine cookies tutorial video: