This is the only royal icing recipe you’ll ever need! So easy to work with and the addition of glycerin gives it a soft texture that doesn't dry too hard.
This easy recipe makes decorating sugar cookies fun!
What is royal icing?
Royal Icing is also known as cutout sugar cookie icing. A type of icing that is used to decorate sugar cookies, gingerbread houses, cakes and other desserts.
Royal icing can be made two ways:
- Raw egg whites mixed with powdered sugar.
- Meringue powder combined with powdered sugar and few other ingredients.
This recipe uses meringue powder (affiliate link) because it's easy to work with and less messy than raw egg whites.
How to make it
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the powdered sugar, salt and meringue powder on low speed to combine.
- In a measuring cup, mix the water, glycerin and vanilla extract.
- Slowly pour the mixture into the bowl and continue to mix on low until the wet and dry ingredients start to come together.
- Increase the speed to medium and let beat for 3-5 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- You'll know when the icing is ready, as it will be white and fluffy.
- Store in glass containers either in the fridge or at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.
Royal icing consistencies
- Stiff consistency royal icing is the consistency that the icing is when you mix the initial batch. This is the thickest consistency of royal icing. It is used to glue gingerbread house pieces together, pipe roses, borders and other things that require the icing to hold a very stiff shape.
- Piping consistency royal icing is thinner than stiff consistency but is still able to hold its shape when piped. Think of the consistency of Greek yogurt when you stir it. When you pull your spoon out of the icing you should see a soft peak. You’ll be able to use this for piping outlines on larger surfaces that you want to flood, piping letters and borders, and royal icing transfers.
- Flood consistency royal icing is the thinnest consistency of royal icing. It can be anywhere from 5-20 second consistency royal icing that is used to fill in the larger areas of a cookie.
- 15 Second consistency royal icing is what I use the majority of the time to outline and flood sugar cookies. If you drag a knife through the icing, you should be able to count to 15 before the line disappears and the surface is smooth.
How to color royal icing
Color the royal icing while it is in the stiff consistency.
Add food coloring to a bowl of icing using a toothpick, to gradually add color a little at a time. Stir and add more until you get desired shade.
Remember that if you want a light color, a little food coloring goes a long way. Make sure not to add too much, you can always add more if it's not dark enough!
Once you have your desired shade, use it to create the different consistencies you will need for that color by thinning it down with water.
How to make royal icing consistencies
By adding small amounts of water to the stiff royal icing, you can get many different royal icing consistencies to use for cookie decorating.
A spray bottle filled with fresh water comes in handy when you need to add small amounts at a time to get the consistency just right!
- Place a small amount of the stiff consistency icing in a separate bowl. Use a spray bottle, filled with water, to add a small amount of water to the icing. Use a spatula to mix the water into the icing.
- If it's still too thick, spray more water to thin it down. If you end up with too much water and the icing is too thin, simply add some stiff consistency into the icing to thicken it.
TIP: If you want more working time the with royal icing, you can double the amount of meringue powder to 10 tablespoons in the recipe.
This will avoid it from crusting over for a longer period of time so that you can move the icing around before it sets up.
How to store it
- Store your royal icing in an airtight container either in the refrigerator or on a counter-top at room temperature for up to 3 weeks. Stir the icing before using if there is separation of the ingredients.
- Glass containers are ideal for storing royal icing. They can be wiped with vinegar to remove any traces of grease from previously stored foods. If you use plastic containers, dedicate a few specifically for your icing so that you don’t have to worry about grease residue. Grease or oils will break down your royal icing so it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Easy to make holiday dessert recipes
- cut out sourdough sugar cookies
- sourdough thumbprint cookies
- instant pot cheesecake
- chocolate chip cookies
Royal Icing Recipe
- 2 lbs. powdered sugar
- 5 tablespoons meringue powder
- pinch of salt
- ½ cup room temperature water
- 2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon glycerin (optional)
- Wipe down the bowl of a stand mixer, the paddle attachment and any spatulas you will be using with white vinegar. (This is to remove any grease from the surfaces of the utensils that will come into contact with the royal icing.)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix the powdered sugar, salt and meringue powder on low speed to fully combine the dry ingredients.
- In a measuring cup, stir together the water, glycerin and vanilla extract. Pour the mixture into the mixing bowl and beat on low speed until the wet and dry ingredients start to come together.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat on medium speed for about 3 to 5 minutes. (The mixture should be thick and bright white.)
- Transfer the royal icing to an airtight container, preferably a glass container. Store in the refrigerator or on the counter at room temperature for up to 3 weeks. (If separation occurs, stirring will help to bring it back together.)