In this article, you will learn everything there is to know about royal icing. How many desserts, confectionaries, biscuits, cookies, and puddings do royal icing not play a part in? Not a lot.

Quick Facts About Royal Icing

Almost everything that goes into the oven for baking is topped off after baking with royal icing to accomplish a perfect finish, work & bake. It helps whatever you are baking taste so good, and royal icing is also frequently used in cake decorating.

So in this article, you will learn how to make royal icing right from the comforts of your home, instead of always going out of your way and rushing to the supermarket or grocery shop to buy some royal icing for your cake or whatever you were baking.

And right now, let’s get down to making some epic royal icing!

Royal Icing – What is it all about?

Royal Icing - Healthsoothe

Royal Icing is a pure white icing that dries to a smooth, hard, matte finish. Besides its lovely finish, it also colors beautifully which makes it a favorite of professionals who use it not only for frosting cakes and cookies, but also for intricate piping of decorations (flowers, borders, and lettering).1https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/royal-icing-recipe

There are two ways to make royal icing. The common preference is to use one made from a mixture of confectioners’ sugar (powdered or icing), lemon juice, and raw egg whites.

However, because of the risk of salmonella when using raw egg whites, some may prefer the recipe I have included using meringue powder. Meringue powder is a fine, white powder used to replace fresh egg whites and is made from dried egg whites, sugar, salt, vanillin, and gum. You can purchase it online, in cake decorating stores, or at Michael's or Joann's.

Nutritional Information of 3 cups of Royal Icing Recipe

  • Calories: 26kcal
  • Sodium: 2mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 7g  
  • Total Sugars: 7g

 

Royal Icing Recipe – 3 cups

  • Prep time: 7mins
  • Total time: 7mins

Equipment & Kitchen Utensils Used: Airtight container, plastic wrap, small knife, medium bowl, cups, teaspoons, tablespoons, measuring cups, electric or handheld mixer, and refrigerator.

Ingredients

Ingredients Of Royal Icing - Healthsoothe

For Royal Icing Using Egg Whites:

  • 2 large (60 grams) egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cups (330 grams) of confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

For Royal Icing Using Meringue Powder:

  • 4 cups (440 grams) of confectioners' (powdered or icing) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (30 grams) of meringue powder
  • ½ teaspoon of extract (vanilla, lemon, almond)
  • ½ - ¾ cup (120 - 180 ml) of warm water

 

Making Royal Icing

For sugar cookies frosting

N/B: When making royal icing, it must be of the proper consistency.  When frosting sugar cookies, it is good to first pipe a border around the outside edge of the cookie, as this will prevent the icing from dripping down the sides.

Making Royal Icing - Healthsoothe

For piping a border for sugar cookies frosting, the royal icing needs to be thicker than the recipe given which is used to spread over the entire surface of the cookie.2https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/royal-icing-recipe-1941917

  • To make a small batch, beat together one large egg white, one teaspoon of lemon juice, and about 2 cups (230 grams) of confectioners’ sugar, or until the frosting is stiff (like a meringue) and of piping consistency.
Making Royal Icing - Healthsoothe

 

  • Then place the icing in a piping bag, fitted with a small plain tip, and pipe a border around the outside edges of the cookies.
Making Royal Icing - Healthsoothe
  • Let it dry completely before covering the surface of the cookie with royal icing.
Making Royal Icing - Healthsoothe

Note: The royal icing recipe I have given below is for covering or "flooding" the entire surface of the cookie. The right consistency to cover cookies is when you lift the beater, the ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl remains on the surface for a few seconds before disappearing. Another way is to take a cookie and place a small amount of icing in the center of the cookie.

  • Using a small knife or spatula, push the icing to the edge of the cookie. If the icing runs off the edge, thicken the icing by adding a little more confectioners’ sugar. Do not add too much sugar at once.
  • Conversely, if the icing is too thick, add a little water or lemon juice. You want the icing to spread smoothly but don't worry about a few light streaks as they will disappear as the icing dries.

Note: Be aware that the icing can take several hours, or even overnight, to dry completely. It is important when working with royal icing to keep it covered (with plastic wrap) as much as possible as it dries out very quickly.

Another way to prevent a crust from forming on the icing's surface is to add a few drops of glycerin (glycerol) to the icing. Glycerin is a sweet, odorless, clear, and syrupy liquid (chemically alcoholic) that comes from fats and oils. It is available in cake decorating and party stores (like Michaels or Joann's).

For the food coloring

  • Some bakers like the concentrated gel paste dyes that are sold in small ½ or one-ounce (14 - 28 grams) containers. Only a very small amount is needed to color the icing, and it can be measured using the end of a toothpick.
Making Royal Icing: Food Colouring - Healthsoothe
  • Make sure to thoroughly mix the paste into the icing as you do not want streaks. You can buy gel pastes at cake decorating stores or stores like Michael's and Joann's.

For Royal Icing with Egg Whites:

  • In the bowl, using an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the egg whites with the lemon juice until combined.
Making Royal Icing With Egg Whites - Healthsoothe

 

  • Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined and smooth. When making royal icing, it must be of the proper consistency. The right consistency to cover cookies is when you lift the beater, the ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl remains on the surface for a few seconds before disappearing. 
Making Royal Icing With Egg Whites - Healthsoothe
  • Using a small knife, push the icing to the edge of the cookie. If the icing runs off the edge, thicken the icing by adding a little more confectioners’ sugar.
  • The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air. 
Making Royal Icing With Egg Whites - Healthsoothe

 

  • Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.

For Royal Icing with Meringue Powder:

  • In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the confectioners' sugar and meringue powder until combined. 
  • Add the water and beat on medium to high speed until very glossy and stiff peaks form (5 to 7 minutes). If necessary, to get the right consistency, add more powdered sugar or water. To cover or 'flood' the entire surface of the cookie with icing, the proper consistency is when you lift the beater, the ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl remains on the surface of the icing for a few seconds before disappearing.
  • The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air.
  • Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.
  • Makes about 3 cups

 

Recipe Notes

  • This royal icing recipe is for covering or "flooding" the entire surface of the cookie.
3https://www.joyofbaking.com/RoyalIcing.html
  • When making royal icing, it must be of the proper consistency.
  • The right consistency to cover cookies is when you lift the beater, the ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl remains on the surface for a few seconds before disappearing.
  • Another way to get the right consistency is to take a cookie and place a small amount of icing in the center of the cookie.
  • Conversely, if the icing is too thick, add a little water.
  • When frosting sugar cookies, it is good to first pipe a border around the outside edge of the cookie, as this will prevent the icing from dripping down the sides.
  • For piping a border for sugar cookies frosting, the royal icing needs to be thicker than the recipe given which is used to spread over the entire surface of the cookie.
  • Be aware that the icing can take several hours, or even overnight, to dry completely.
  • It is important when working with royal icing to keep it covered (with plastic wrap) as much as possible as it dries out very quickly.
  • Another way to prevent a crust from forming on the icing's surface is to add a few drops of glycerin (glycerol) to the icing.

 

How Long Does Royal Icing Take to Dry

It takes royal icing six to eight hours to completely dry. Once you flood, spread, or pipe it onto your cookies, let them stand at room temperature. However, royal icing will start to dry mid-use if you're not careful.

To prevent hardening while you decorate, keep your icing covered with a damp cloth while you work and give it a good stir every so often. If necessary, add a drop or two of water to regain the desired consistency.

 

How Long Royal Icing Lasts

Royal icing can last up to three days when refrigerated. Royal icing can last longer than three days when stored in the fridge, but for best results, try to use or eat it within those three days.

If not, you may find an unpleasant texture change in your icing. Royal icing lasts in the freezer for up to one month, though you will have to thaw it completely before using it.

 

How to Store Royal Icing

If you've used fresh or dried egg whites, you'll want to store your royal icing in the refrigerator. Royal icing made from meringue powder can be stored at room temperature.

You can freeze royal icing in clean, resalable freezer bags with the air pressed out. Thaw at room temperature when ready to use.

When storing royal icing, glass or ceramic containers are the best kinds to use. Once transferred, gently press a piece of wax paper, parchment, plastic wrap, or a damp paper towel over the surface of your icing to completely cover it, then tightly cover the container with a lid.

Royal Icing Takes Practice

On your first start with experimenting with icing and decorated cookies, you might hate working with it. Absolutely hate it.

It will be messy, your cookies might always look so sloppy and the icing might never dry right. In fact, there are a lot of annoying things about royal icing, which is why most people probably avoid it. That's what you might do!

But with some practice and research (make sure to read this recipe & article very well), you will be able to overcome a lot of your icing fears, because, in the end, your cookies will be worth it!

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Additional resources and citations

Perfect Royal Icing: Classic Recipe
Perfect Royal Icing: Classic Recipe

Here you will learn how to make royal icing right from the comforts of your home, instead of always going out of your way and rushing to the supermarket or grocery shop to buy some royal icing for your cake or whatever you were baking.

Type: Dessert

Cuisine: British

Keywords: Royal Icing

Recipe Yield: 3 cups

Calories: 26kcal

Preparation Time: 7M

Cooking Time: 0M

Total Time: 7M

Recipe Ingredients:

  • For Royal Icing Using Egg Whites:
  • 2 large (60 grams) egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cups (330 grams) of confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

    For Royal Icing Using Meringue Powder:
  • 4 cups (440 grams) of confectioners' (powdered or icing) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (30 grams) of meringue powder
  • ½ teaspoon of extract (vanilla, lemon, almond)
  • ½ - ¾ cup (120 - 180 ml) of warm water

Recipe Instructions:

For sugar cookies frosting:

Step 1:

To make a small batch, beat together one large egg white, one teaspoon of lemon juice, and about 2 cups (230 grams) of confectioners’ sugar, or until the frosting is stiff (like a meringue) and of piping consistency.

Perfect Royal Icing: Classic Recipe
Step 2:

Then place the icing in a piping bag, fitted with a small plain tip, and pipe a border around the outside edges of the cookies.

Perfect Royal Icing: Classic Recipe
Step 3:

Let it dry completely before covering the surface of the cookie with royal icing.

Perfect Royal Icing: Classic Recipe

For the Food Coloring:

Step 1:

Some bakers like the concentrated gel paste dyes that are sold in small ½ or one-ounce (14 – 28 grams) containers. Only a very small amount is needed to color the icing, and it can be measured using the end of a toothpick.

Perfect Royal Icing: Classic Recipe
Step 2:

Make sure to thoroughly mix the paste into the icing as you do not want streaks. You can buy gel pastes at cake decorating stores or stores like Michael’s and Joann’s.

Perfect Royal Icing: Classic Recipe

For Royal Icing With Egg White:

Step 1:

In the bowl, using an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the egg whites with the lemon juice until combined.

Perfect Royal Icing: Classic Recipe
Step 2:

Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined and smooth. When making royal icing, it must be of the proper consistency. The right consistency to cover cookies is when you lift the beater, the ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl remains on the surface for a few seconds before disappearing.

Perfect Royal Icing: Classic Recipe
Step 3:

Using a small knife, push the icing to the edge of the cookie. If the icing runs off the edge, thicken the icing by adding a little more confectioners’ sugar.

Perfect Royal Icing: Classic Recipe
Step 4:

The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air.

Perfect Royal Icing: Classic Recipe
Step 5:

Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.

Perfect Royal Icing: Classic Recipe

For Royal Icing with Meringue Powder:

Step 1:

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder until combined.

Perfect Royal Icing: Classic Recipe
Step 2:

Add the water and beat on medium to high speed until very glossy and stiff peaks form (5 to 7 minutes). If necessary, to get the right consistency, add more powdered sugar or water. To cover or ‘flood’ the entire surface of the cookie with icing, the proper consistency is when you lift the beater, the ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl remains on the surface of the icing for a few seconds before disappearing.

Perfect Royal Icing: Classic Recipe
Step 3:

The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air.

Perfect Royal Icing: Classic Recipe
Step 4:

Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.

Perfect Royal Icing: Classic Recipe
Step 5:

Makes about 3 cups

Perfect Royal Icing: Classic Recipe

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