Classic and simple royal icing made with meringue powder. Use this traditional recipe for both flooding and outlining your sugar cookies!
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!
Meringue Power in Royal Icing
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, while containing eggs, 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, but I have a helpful video for you below. 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.
Use This Royal Icing for Flooding and Piping
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.
Decorating Sugar Cookies
Here is the sugar cookie recipe you need. Soft centers, crisp edges, easy to decorate.
Some handy tools:
- Couplers – only needed if you’re using the same icing color, but need to switch tips.
- Piping Bags – I prefer the 16 inch size for decorating.
- Gel Food Coloring – get the whole set. I love these colors for royal icing, cake batter, frosting, etc. They’re high pigmented so you don’t need as much coloring.
- Piping Tips– see below.
And some piping tips. I always use Wilton piping tip #5 for outlining and flooding the cookie with icing. This is a wonderful basic piping tip to have in your collection. For any detail, I use a thinner round tip like Wilton piping tip #1 (super thin) and Wilton piping tip #2 (thin). For larger round tips that are easier to work with, I suggest Wilton piping tip #3, Wilton piping tip #4, or Wilton piping tip #5. The piping tip #s reflect their sizes– #1 being the thinnest and #5 being the largest of this particular bunch.
Just starting out? I suggest #1 (smallest), #3 (medium), and #5 (largest of the bunch). You can create anything basic with these three.
Royal Icing Consistency
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:
Can I Freeze Royal Icing?
Yes, royal icing can be frozen. Many royal icing recipes, including my own, yield a lot of icing. Any leftover royal icing can be frozen for up to 2 months. Place leftover royal icing into zipped-top freezer bags. If you have more than 1 color, each color should have its own bag. Before sealing, squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible. Freeze on a flat shelf surface in your freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before using again.
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! It will dry in about 24 hours, where the royal icing recipe below dries in about 1-2 hours.
- Watch the video of the icing above so you get an idea of what the final consistency should be.
- 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 8 Tablespoons of water. 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.
- 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. See blog post above for freezing instructions.
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.
Did you make a recipe?
Tag @sallysbakeblog on Instagram and hashtag it #sallysbakingaddiction.
Here is my recipe for the best sugar cookies.