My Favorite Royal Icing

How to make royal icing with meringue powder on sallysbakingaddiction.com

This is the only traditional royal icing I use. It’s my favorite because it’s easy to work with, sets quickly, and doesn’t require raw egg whites. And, best of all, it doesn’t have a hard cement-like texture. It won’t break your teeth like other royal icings!

There are many ways to prepare royal icing and my favorite method is with meringue powder. Meringue powder takes the place of raw egg whites, which is found in traditional royal icing recipes. Both create a very sturdy and stable icing that hardens quickly on top of cookies. Meringue powder eliminates the need for raw fresh eggs, but still provides the EXACT same consistency. You can find meringue powder in some baking aisles, most craft stores with a baking section, and online. I just buy it on Amazon in the 8 ounce container. Super inexpensive and it lasts me awhile.

This royal icing is just 3 ingredients: confectioners’ sugar, meringue powder, and water. The trickiest part is landing on the perfect consistency. Sometimes I need more water, sometimes I need less water. But the wonderful thing is that you can manipulate the icing to get the proper consistency by adding more water or more confectioners’ sugar. It’s awesome.

I use this one royal icing for both piping/outlining and flooding. It is thick enough to outline and thin enough to flood, which makes it super convenient.

Decorated sugar cookies with my favorite royal icing on sallysbakingaddiction.com

What consistency are we looking for?

After mixing the 3 icing ingredients together, lift the whisk attachment up. If the icing that drips off melts right back into the bowl of icing, you’re golden. If it doesn’t, add more water. If it’s super thin and watery, add more confectioners’ sugar. I made a very fancy video with my iPhone to show you:

If desired, try this royal icing alternative that I posted on my blog a couple years ago. This “glaze” icing doesn’t set/dry as quickly as royal icing and it’s not as easy to decorate with. That being said, sometimes it’s just the more convenient option! So give it a try if you prefer. (It will dry in about 24 hours, where the royal icing recipe below dries in about 1-2 hours.)

Royal Icing

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups (480g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 Tablespoons meringue powder
  • 6 to 8 Tablespoons room temperature water
  • optional for decorating: gel food coloring (I love this food coloring kit)

Directions:

  1. Watch the video of the icing above so you get an idea of what the final consistency should be.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat all of the icing ingredients together on high speed for 5 minutes. (I always start with 6-7 Tablespoons and usually need to add 8. On particularly dry days, up to 9-10!) When lifting the whisk up off the icing, the icing should drizzle down and smooth out within 10-15 seconds. If it's too thick, add a little more water. If it's too thin, add a little more sifted confectioners' sugar.
  3. Icing completely dries in about 2 hours at room temperature. If you're layering royal icing onto cookies for specific designs and need it to set quickly, place cookies in the refrigerator to help speed it up.

Recipe Notes:

When you're not working directly with the royal icing (for example, you are decorating cookies but you still have some icing left in the bowl that you intend to use next), place a damp paper towel directly on the surface of the royal icing. This prevents it from hardening.

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23 Comments

Comments

  1. Lauren on December 15, 2017 at 9:10 pm

    Can you double the icing recipe? Or would powdered sugar go flying all over the place out of my mixer? I feel like I always end up making two batches (maybe because I like to use so many colors ) thanks!! 

    • Sally on December 16, 2017 at 2:45 pm

      Yes, absolutely. I always double or triple it based on how much icing I need. Start the mixer on low to avoid confectioners’ sugar explosions 🙂

  2. Kim Calhoun on December 15, 2017 at 11:14 pm

    Once you had instructions on how to quickly bring butter or eggs to room temperature… Can you please email this information to me!

    • Danny on December 15, 2017 at 11:29 pm

      I know I’m not Sally but… https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2016/10/28/soften-butter-quickly-trick/
      and for the eggs, place them in a bowl of warm water for 5-10 minutes.

  3. Jenna on December 17, 2017 at 12:39 am

    Could you add vanilla or peppermint extract to this for a little more flavor?

    • Sally on December 17, 2017 at 11:57 am

      Sure can! As long as they are oil-free. Oil based extracts prevent the icing from setting properly.

  4. Cherry on December 17, 2017 at 11:04 am

    Hi Sally. Is there any way to make any alternative for meringue powder? I have hard time finding them in my place. Thanks. 

    • Sally on December 17, 2017 at 11:43 am

      Hi Cherry! I recommend this glaze icing instead. Or you can search for traditional royal icing using egg whites. (I don’t have one of those on my website because I prefer meringue powder!)

  5. Anne Moller on December 17, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Hey Sally! I was just wondering if I could replace the water in the recipe with milk? Would that make it taste better? My mom isn’t a big fan of royal icing on her cookies but I love making them all pretty for the holidays so I want a compromise 🙂 

    • Sally on December 17, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      Hi Anne! The royal icing will not set with milk, so I don’t suggest it. How about adding a little extract for flavor? 1/2 teaspoon of a non-oil based extract is great here such as lemon or vanilla.

  6. Cherry on December 17, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    Thank you so much Sally. I have been following your recipes for two years now and I am so happy i found your website… thanks for sharing your recipes to us. Merry Christmas in advance. 🙂 

  7. Lindsey Cabales on December 22, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    hi sally how many cookies does this royal icing frost??

    • Sally on December 23, 2017 at 6:19 am

      About 3 dozen 3 or 4-inch cookies.

  8. Kristen on December 26, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    Hi Sally,
    I have had success with this icing recipe but I’ve only been able to get the right consistency by adding A LOT more water than your recipe calls for. Could you think of a reason for this?

    Thanks! 

    • Sally on December 27, 2017 at 6:31 am

      I typically add more water as well. There’s nothing you’re doing wrong. Could be the dry weather, the day, the brand of confectioners’ sugar and/or meringue powder.

      • Kristen on December 27, 2017 at 9:59 am

        Okay, good to know! Thank you!



  9. anon on May 27, 2018 at 10:33 am

    great icing, finally got a good recipe. meringue powder really makes it.
    thanks!

  10. Ellie Van Neste on June 8, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    Is there anything I could substitute for meringue powder?

    • Sally on June 11, 2018 at 5:46 am

      None that I’ve found produce the same quality taste and texture.

  11. Aubrey on June 10, 2018 at 7:47 pm

    My icing looks too whipped, it seems to have a lot of air bubbles, do you know what I may have done wrong?

  12. Kathy on June 21, 2018 at 12:41 pm

    Can you frost cookies with the royal icing and then freeze

    • Sally on June 25, 2018 at 10:29 am

      Frozen and thawed decorated cookies never taste quite the same, so it’s not my recommendation– but you definitely can do it!

Reviews

  1. anon on May 27, 2018 at 10:33 am

    great icing, finally got a good recipe. meringue powder really makes it.
    thanks!

Questions

  1. Ellie Van Neste on June 8, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    Is there anything I could substitute for meringue powder?

    • Sally on June 11, 2018 at 5:46 am

      None that I’ve found produce the same quality taste and texture.

  2. Aubrey on June 10, 2018 at 7:47 pm

    My icing looks too whipped, it seems to have a lot of air bubbles, do you know what I may have done wrong?

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