How to Use Gold Leaf

Gold leaf is used nowadays to add an elegant touch to meals and drinks. It can be seen throughout history being used to detail scribes and statues and it’s still considered a luxury today. Keep reading to find out how much gold leaf costs and how to use it.

Gold leaf is a beautiful decoration, especially when it’s one you can eat! It has been used since 400 A.D. when it was applied to letters and drawings in manuscripts around Europe. Furthermore, gold leaf has also been used for centuries amongst other civilisations such as Japan, as a garnish and in medicines. 

Nowadays, gold leaf is commonly used to decorate meals and drinks in many cultures.  In this article, we’re going to cover how to use gold leaf, with bonus facts about how expensive it is and why it’s edible.

Photo by Photoholgic on Unsplash.

What is gold leaf?

Gold leaf is real gold which has been flattened into very thin sheets about 0.1 micrometre thick. The most common gold leaf type is yellow gold leaf, which is typically 22 karat gold. However, gold leaf is available in a variety of shades and karats. 

When using gold leaf to layer a surface or object, it’s called either gold leafing or gliding, and is often used to decorate desserts. Gold leaf is edible and made out of pure gold or silver or a mix of edible metals. It passes through the digestive system without being absorbed, or in other words it’s ‘biologically inert’, which means it can be consumed.

Although gold leaf can be seen on historical pieces like manuscripts and other decorative pieces, especially in medieval times, it is now commonly used as an edible decoration on foods and drinks.

How to Use Gold Leaf

Gold leaf can be used to decorate or garnish desserts, cocktails, and other exquisite meals. It can be difficult to use if you’ve never handled it before and it’s quite expensive, so it’s best to be prepared to get the absolute most out of your gold leaf. 

*Never put gold leaf in the microwave (or silver leaf) — remember, it’s metal.

Decorating small areas with gold leaf.

Loose gold leaf can be used to execute small decorations, which should be applied with a brush or tweezers. The thin sheets and pieces can stick to your hand easily, which is why these tools are recommended. Gold leaf pieces can then be placed wherever desired to brighten up any drink or meal.

For those looking for something even more classy, like covering a cake, transfer gold leaf can be used for larger areas.

Decorating large areas with gold leaf.

Larger pieces of gold leaf can be purchased to cover surfaces like cakes, desserts or other surfaces. Depending on the look you’re going for, you can apply the entire sheet/s at once to cover the entire cake, or you can do it in sections to create a more cracked look, which also spreads the sheet out to ensure you have enough to better cover the desired area.

Tip: If your cake isn’t covered in icing or another somewhat sticky/damp surface, the gold leaf may struggle to stick. To give it the best chance of sticking, you can apply a damp paper towel to the surface, then apply light pressure to get the gold leaf to stay.

How expensive is gold leaf?

It’s no surprise gold leaf is an expensive item — it is real gold after all! As one of the world’s most expensive foods, CNN states it is estimated to cost $15,000 per pound, but is much cheaper per sheet or loose pieces.

Loose gold leaf price.

The Goldleaf Factory sells 22 karat gold loose leaf for $81.11.

Transfer gold leaf price.

The Goldleaf Factory sells 22 karat gold transfer leaf for $83.85.

Next time you’re enjoying a drink or meal with gold leaf, make sure you really appreciate it now you know how much it costs and how hard it can be to use!

Next time you’re enjoying a drink or meal with gold leaf, make sure you really appreciate it now you know how much it costs and how hard it can be to use!

Wanting to learn more about how to use gold leaf? You can find your local cake decorators and cake decorating schools on

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      Chloe Thistle

      Junior Marketing Administrator

      Chloe Thistle is a Junior Marketing Administrator at Localsearch, bringing her talents and background in digital and social media marketing to her role. She has sharpened her marketing skills across many different industries, including entertainment, fashion and in the B2B field. In her spare time, Chloe can be found either lounging at the beach or five coffees deep at one of her favourite local cafés. No stranger to adventures, she’s trekked to Mt. Everest Base Camp — fueled by coffee of course — has completed the Kokoda Challenge and is always looking for the next mountain to climb! Chloe loves looking for ways to combine her passions for adventure, sustainability and marketing, always chasing the latest trends in both marketing and fashion. Now, she’s utilising her vast life and digital marketing experience to blog and assist in the content with the Localsearch Marketing Team.