How to make royal icing

How to make Royal Icing

I have received many questions about how I make my royal icing. I make royal icing with egg whites (pasteurized) since meringue powder and dried egg white powder is not very common here in Denmark. Some of the cake decorating shops may have it though, but I stick to the egg whites.

If you know how to make royal icing, but are having trouble getting it runny for flooding your cookies, this step by step instruction might be helpful to you. I can tell that I always start out with a stiff royal icing and then I thin it down with water so it’s either soft for piping or runny for flooding. I swear by my royal icing recipe and won’t use any other method to make royal icing.

Always remember to cover up your royal icing with either cling film or a wet cloth as this will prevent the royal icing to dry out. Also if your icing gets too thick add water or if it is too wet add more icing sugar. So here is the tutorial on how to make royal icing.

This is what I use:

Step 1: Combine egg whites and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add some of the sifted icing sugar to the mixture and start the mixer.

How to make Royal icing

Step 2: Keep adding the icing sugar a little at a time. When the mixture looks like thick whipped cream and makes soft peaks when you push down the hooks/paddle in it, you can use it for piping.How to Make Royal Icing

How to Make Royal Icing

Step 3: When you have the soft peak icing, you start to only add 2 tbsp of icing sugar at a time because from now on the icing will get stiffer. When you can pull out small stiff peaks the icing is ready. Cover the icing with cling film and a lid or wet cloth and store it in the fridge.How to Make Royal Icing

Runny icing:

If you want to make runny icing for flooding cookies or making run-outs then take some royal icing (stiff made) into a bowl and start mixing it with water, a few drops at the time. Continue this until the icing it thin and liquid. It should be smoothing out when you lift the spoon. The mixing with the water will most likely cause many air bubbles in the icing, so it is always good to cover up the icing and let it “rest” for 30 min. Then give it a slow stir and you have reduced the number of air bubbles in your icing.How to Make Royal Icing

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You can use this royal icing for cookies! As mentioned before royal icing is great for flooding cookies. See my how to flood cookies with royal icing tutorial to learn this decorating technique.

You can also visit my tutorial section if you want to learn how to make other icings and frostings.

I hope this piece on how to make royal icing for flooding and other occasions was helpful! I know how tricky it can be to keep your royal icing runny and useable. The trick is to keep adding water to the icing to thin it out to the correct consistency. Again, if you make your icing too watery you can usually fix it by adding more icing sugar. (If the term “icing sugar” is new to you, it’s just another name for powdered sugar or confectioner’s sugar.)

Dry royal icing is a pain to work with and it can be tricky to decorate a cake with icing that isn’t applying right. Perfecting royal icing can take time but don’t get frustrated. Comment any questions you have and I will be sure to answer them to my best ability.

Happy Baking!

Jump to Recipe

This simple royal icing recipe is fast, colorful, tastes great and sets perfectly! You can make a simple cookie look super professional with this royal icing recipe.

Think back to when you use to make cookies over the holidays. What was your favorite part? Besides eating them, mine was definitely decorating them! We would normally get the white canned frosting and my mom would die some in a few different bowls to give us color options. Then the messy awesomeness of the decorating would commence. My brother and I would come up with some crazy looking snowmen, that’s for sure. Now I prefer this royal icing as my decorating tool. It is so elegant looking and smooth.

Is it safe to eat royal icing?

When it comes to eating frosting, there are a couple of tips that you should know about. Using raw egg whites in royal frosting is fairly common. When you make royal icing you should use pasteurized eggs. According to research, the salmonella is primarily found in the yolk of the egg, but it is possible that it can be in the whites too. You also have to keep royal icing, that is made with raw egg, in the fridge.

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As kids, we would commonly fight over who got to lick the spoon when my mom would make any kind of yummy dessert. In the many years I did that, I never got sick from the raw egg. I am not making light of food poisoning, I have seen some go through it an it looks like hell. So to be safe. This is why I use meringue powder in my royal icing recipe. No chance of salmonella.

What can I use instead of cream of tartar in royal icing?

If you do not have cream of tartar on hand but do have a lemon, you can use equal parts lemon juice or even vinegar. Using these will not affect the taste of your royal icing, as a matter of fact, these can actually enhance the flavor. You can also use corn starch in place of cream of tartar, which I have heard has been done and you can get away with it just fine.

How long does it take for royal icing to dry?

If you’re applying the royal icing in a thin layer it can dry fairly quickly. I give myself a 15 minute widow to decorate a half batch. that is if I am doing          If I want a layered look. Such as raised dots or lines, I let the cookies set for a few hours, or even over night. It can take 4 to 6 hours for the frosting to dry and set completely.  A thick layer can take a few days to dry completely.

How should royal icing be stored?

I take all un-used royal icing and store it in the refrigerator. I make sure to put plastic wrap directly on the surface of the royal icing so it doesn’t create a crusted layer on top. Then I cover it tightly with more plastic wrap or a lid. When you’re ready to use the royal icing take it out of the refrigerator and return the royal icing to room temperature before mixing. Once mixed, let it set for a little while so any air bubble have a chance to escape.

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Can you freeze cookies with royal icing on them?

Iced cookies can be frozen in layers. With royal frosting you want the cookies to set and dry completely before storing in the freezer. You can even put wax or parchment paper in between the layers, just to be safe. You’ll want to put them in a container that has as little air as possible to avoid freezer burn. You also don’t want to freeze them for long since the cookies can absorb that “freezer taste” and no one likes that.

What is the difference between icing and frosting?

Frosting is normally used to coat the outside of a cake or go on top of brownies. It is more buttery to the taste and softer to the touch, fluffier and thick. It hardens, yes, but not as much as royal icing. It can be harder to stack a set of cookies that are frosted instead of iced.

Cookie Royal Icing Recipe

  • 1 lb Powdered sugar 1 lb is about 4 cups
  • 5 tbsp Water
  • 3 tbsp Meringue powder
  • Some extra water In case mix is too stiff
  1. Make sure all mixing cups, mixing bowl and attachments are grease and fat-free. Any added fats from residue on mixing cups or bowl will ruin the royal icing.

  2. Add all ingredients into stand mixer with paddle attachment and mix on low. If icing mixture is too stiff, mixer will struggle and bog down to mix ingredients. Add small amount of water until mixer doesn't struggle to mix ingredients.

  3. Bump up speed to 2 and whip for 7-10 minutes until icing becomes fluffy, increases in volume, is a bright white color with stiff peaks.

  1. After following above instructions, take a portion of icing and put in a separate bowl.

  2. Slowly add water (about 1 tbsp at a time) and mix with spoon until fully incorporated. Pull mixing spoon up and drizzle icing over itself in bowl until it takes 10-12 seconds for drizzle to flatten back into icing completely.

  3. Once you can count 10-12 seconds for drizzled icing to flatten back into icing in bowl, you now have thinned icing, ready to use for flooding sugar cookies with icing. 

Royal Icing for Cookie Decorating Total Carbohydrates 150g 50%* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. The Sugar Geek Show

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