How to Make Royal Icing from Scratch
Smooth and shiny, this easy to make Royal Icing from scratch is made with just a couple ingredients you already have and is the perfect addition to frosting any cutout cookie. The very same icing bakeries use but tastes 100 times better. So easy and perfect every single time.
Note: This post was originally published on December 12, 2016. It’s been updated with additional information and helpful recipe tips on December 2, 1018.
Oh my gosh, that was the fastest weekend ever. I can’t believe how quickly it flew by and I still have not wrapped even one gift. I’m almost done my shopping, just a few odds and ends left but I DID make time to bake a few more cookies to share with all of you here. Just in time for Christmas. And, I realized, there is one thing I never really shared here all by itself…and it’s my favorite cooking decorating tool….Royal Icing. I’m going to tell you just How to Make Royal Icing from Scratch with just a handful of ingredients you already have in your kitchen.
This is my go-to icing for just about any cutout cookie recipe like my favorite Gingerbread Cookies. It’s fantastic year round for any occasion and it’s easy to color to fit any party or even decor. Royal Icing from scratch is ready in just a few minutes and is a staple for cookie decorating…in my opinion and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to share the recipe with you. I shared it first in this Cream Cheese Cutout recipe way back when and thought it’s awesome enough to warrant it’s own post.
What is Royal Icing?
Royal Icing is, basically, the same sugar cookie icing that’s used in bakeries. This is the very same cookie icing that hardens allowing you to decorate and then stack your cookies without smudging the designs.
It’s best if used in a piping bag and is easy to use to decorate just about any cookie you want.
How do you make Royal Icing?
You can make Royal Icing in just about 10 minutes and what I really love the most is you don’t have to wait for it to set up before piping on your cookies. You can use the icing immediately after it’s done.
To make this Royal Icing recipe you will need:
- egg whites
- powdered sugar
To make your Royal Icing:
- Place the egg whites and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer and whip until frothy.
- Slowly add the powdered sugar to the egg whites on low speed until the mixture is smooth and shiny.
- Turn the mixer to high and whip the icing for 5-8 minutes until stiff, shiny peaks form.
- Stir in desired food coloring, if desired.
- If using immediately, transfer to a piping bag and decorate your cookies.
- Icing can be stored, refrigerated, in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
How do you make Royal Icing with meringue powder?
If you’re squeamish about the raw egg whites you can use pasteurized eggs or pasteurized egg whites in a carton. OR if you want to make Royal Icing without eggs, you can sub out the raw egg whites for meringue powder by following the conversion instructions on the package.
Here’s how you make Royal Icing with Meringue Powder:
- Place the meringue powder and sugar to a bowl and whisk to combine.
- Stir in the water and vanilla. Beat the icing mixture on high speed for 5-8 minutes.
- Transfer to a piping bag and decorate.
- If making in advance, store the Royal Icing with Meringue Powder in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Either way, your easy Royal Icing recipe will be perfect for your cookie decorating.
Is Royal Icing safe to eat?
Royal Icing is safe to eat but if you have concerns you can substitute the egg whites with meringue powder as instructed above.
When you make Royal Icing, you are only using the whites of the eggs. Salmonella is generally found in the yolks of the egg, according to experts.
How long does Royal Icing take to set?
Depending on how much icing is on your cookie and how thick it is, your Royal Icing may take up to 4 hours to set up properly and harden. Your sugar cookie icing may feel dry to the touch but it will still be soft underneath and the cookies should not be stacked or stored until it’s completely set.
These Gingerbread Men pictured above only took about an hour to set because they’re just a series of dots and lines but these Sugar Cookies took a few hours before I could transfer them to a cookie tin for storage.
What do you do if your Royal Icing is too thick?
No worries if your royal icing recipe becomes too thick or too thin, both problems are easy to fix.
If your cookie icing is too thick, simply add a bit of water to thin it out. Start out with 1/4 tablespoon at a time until it’s thin enough to pipe.
If your royal icing is too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar until your royal icing has stiff peaks when beat at high speed in your mixer.
Here are my favorite recipes to use this quick Royal Icing recipe:
- The BEST EVER Gingerbread Cookies….secret ingredient best ever cookies. 🙂
- Super easy Sugar Cookies that won’t spread when you bake them!
- These Cream Cheese Sugar Cookie Cutouts are soft and heavenly.
- Halloween wouldn’t be complete without these Witch Fingers
- I love to use it for these Snowman Marshmallows, too!
- These Gingerbread Mummies are super fun
How to Make Royal Icing from Scratch
The most versatile cookie decorating icing around, this Royal Icing is simple to make from scratch.
- 4 ounces pasteurized egg whites
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups confectioners' sugar
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the egg whites and vanilla until frothy.
- Gradually, add the sugar and mix on low speed until the sugar is incorporated and the icing is shiny. Turn the mixer to med-high and beat until the mixture forms stiff, shiny peaks, approximately 5-7 minutes.
- Stir in food coloring if desired.
- For immediate use, transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a tip and pipe onto the cookies. (Or if you're using a zip top bag, clip corner and pipe onto cookies.)
- Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.