Royal Icing Recipe

Decorate impressive cookies and cakes with this easy to make royal icing. Take those baked sweets to the next level!

Super easy to make Royal Icing from scratch is ready in minutes and the BEST frosting recipe for any cookie decorating project. Create intricate detail, flower, and lettering. Try this icing on the BEST Sugar Cookies, Classic Vanilla Cake, or Butter Cookies.

Royal Icing used to decorate star shaped sugar cookies

It’s Easier Than You Think!

Royal icing is an easy to make icing that’s made from just 3 simple ingredients: meringue powder, water, and powdered sugar. The key to creating show stopping pieces is in the consistency.

Royal Icing is a pure white icing that dries to a smooth, hard, matte finish. Besides its lovely finish it also colors beautifully. This is perfect for frosting cakes and cookies, and for creating lovely piping decorations such as flowers, borders, and lettering.

It’s time to get your creative on and see what fabulous designs and decorations you can conjure up!

Meringue powder for royal icing recipe

Powdered Egg Whites vs. Meringue Powder

For the sake of this recipe, powdered egg whites and meringue powder are essentially interchangeable.

But if you’re wondering how they’re really different, powdered egg whites are just that: dried egg whites, while meringue powder is an egg product containing corn starch, egg whites, sugar, gum arabic, calcium sulphate, citric acid, cream of tartar, silicon dioxide and artificial vanilla flavoring.

Personally, I tend to prefer meringue powder because it’s slightly more stable and already has flavoring, but either one will make a solid royal icing. I’ve found meringue powder at places like JoAnn and Michaels, and I’m sure it’s available on Amazon as well. It makes it really easy to make the icing.

How to make royal icing in a mixing bowl with a spatula

How to Make Royal Icing

BEAT. Add the powdered sugar, warm water, and meringue powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat the mixture until the icing forms peaks, about 7-10 minutes.

REST. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes.

TEST CONSISTENCY. For piping, the royal icing should be about the consistency of buttercream frosting. You may need to add another teaspoon or two of warm water to reach a consistency that is easy to pipe.

Frosting the cookies:

EDGE. To decorate cookies, scoop some of the icing into a piping bag with a small writing tip. Pipe a line of icing around the edge of the cookie.

FLOOD. To flood the cookies, add the icing to a piping bag or squeeze bottle. Pipe the icing into the outline on the cookie, and use a toothpick to drag the icing slightly to fill any gaps. Alternatively, you can gently shake or tap the cookie to encourage the icing to fill the outline.

Note: For flooding, the royal icing should be about the consistency of a thick glaze. Add 1 teaspoon of water per cup of icing. To test for the correct consistency, scoop a spoonful of icing and let it run down into the bowl of icing. It should disappear into the icing completely by the time you count to ten. Be careful not to add too much water.

SET. Let the cookies set for 1-2 hours before attempting to stack them. Depending on the humidity, the icing may need longer to set.

Mixing tip: When mixing you’ll want to scrape the sides of the bowl to be sure all the ingredients have been incorporated. To help make the scraping smoother use a spray bottle to lightly mist the side of the bowl. This will make the icing on the sides softer so that stiff bits don’t get mixed into the main frosting mixture. 

Decorating sugar cookies with royal icing

What consistency should I make?

The consistency that you make depends on what you are going to do with that particular batch of frosting. 

  • Stiff Icing is the thickest. The frosting will hold a stiff peak and be more of a traditional frosting consistency. It is used for flowers and other shapes that need to hold their shape.
  • Piping Icing: The peak will be soft, but hold. When you pipe the frosting out it will keep its shape and not spread out. It is used for outlining, decorating borders and lettering
  • 20 Second Icing: Take a dollop of icing and drop it back into the frosting bowl. It will take 20 seconds to reabsorb. This is used when you want to cover a whole cookie, build frosting layers or add one color on top of another color. 
  • Flood Icing: When you drop a doppo icing bak into the bowl it will only take 10-12 seconds to reabsorb. This is the thinnest frosting and is used to fill in areas that have been piped with a boarder. It will fill in quickly and smoothly. 
  • When you place the royal icing into the piping bags use different colored rubber bands to tie the tops closed. The different colors will help you know which consistency is in the bag.

Step by step pictures of decorating cookies with royal icingMore Icing Tips

  • Do NOT use liquid food coloring. The added moisture will change the consistency. USE GEL food coloring.
  • Food coloring darkens as it dries.
  • When loading the royal icing into piping bags, I like to put the bag into a tall cup and fold the edges over. The cup will stabilize the bag while you pour in the icing.
  • If you don’t have a quilling tool, you can use a toothpick. This tool helps you gude frosting into all the little nooks and crannies. It is also used to pop any air bubbles that form.
  • Give the cookies a little tap to help the tops soften and settle. 
  • Be sure that the cookies have completely cooled before frosting them. Warm cookies can make the butter in the frosting separate. Also, warm cookies can change the consistency of the frosting. 

Several colors of royal icing used to decorate sugar cookies

Storing + More frosting recipes

Icing: Royal icing can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Be sure to place a piece of plastic directly on top of the icing to avoid a crusty top. Be sure to give the icing a good mix before using. 

Storing decorated cookies: The cookies MUST be completely dry before stacking them to store. You’ll need at least 3 hours, but can take up to 8 hours. Just be patient. You do not want to ruin your cookies by stacking them before they are ready. Store in an airtight container for about a week. Separate the layers using parchment or wax paper.

More Frosting Recipes:

White royal icing on star shaped cookies

For more favorite Sugar Cookie Recipes, try:

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Royal Icing Recipe

5 from 2 votes
Decorate impressive cookies and cakes with this easy to make royal icing. Take those baked sweets to the next level!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Calories 1867 kcal
Author Lil' Luna

Ingredients

  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 5 tablespoons warm water
  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder

Instructions
 

  • Add the powdered sugar, warm water, and meringue powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat the mixture until the icing forms peaks, about 7-10 minutes. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes.
  • For piping, the icing should be about the consistency of buttercream frosting. You may need to add another teaspoon or two of warm water to reach a consistency that is easy to pipe.
  • To decorate cookies, scoop some of the icing into a piping bag with a small writing tip. Pipe a line of icing around the edge of the cookie.
  • For flooding, the icing should be about the consistency of a thick glaze. Add 1 teaspoon of water per cup of icing. To test for the correct consistency, scoop a spoonful of icing and let it run down into the bowl of icing. It should disappear into the icing completely by the time you count to ten. Be careful not to add too much water.
  • To flood the cookies, add the icing to a piping bag or squeeze bottle. Pipe the icing into the outline on the cookie, and use a toothpick to drag the icing slightly to fill any gaps. Alternatively, you can gently shake or tap the cookie to encourage the icing to fill the outline.
  • Let the cookies set for 1-2 hours before attempting to stack them. Depending on the humidity, the icing may need longer to set.

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About the Author

Kristyn Merkley

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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Comments:

  1. 5 stars
    I can’t wait to use your icing. Thanks for all the decorating tips as well. Well written and clear directions too!