My Favorite Royal Icing

Here is my classic easy royal icing made with meringue powder. It’s easy to work with, sets quickly, and won’t break your teeth when it dries. It has the most delicious taste and texture and makes decorating sugar cookies FUN and SIMPLE. Use this traditional royal icing recipe for both flooding and outlining your sugar cookies!

royal icing in mixing bowl

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.

Christmas holiday decorated sugar cookies including snowmen, candy canes, Christmas trees, snowflakes, and stars

Decorating Cookies

Here is the sugar cookie recipe you need. Soft centers, crisp edges, easy to decorate. You can also use this royal icing on gingerbread cookies or as the glue for a gingerbread house.

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.
  • Toothpick — I use a toothpick to help spread out the icing. You could also just use the piping tip, too.

And some piping tips. I always use Wilton piping tip #4 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 #3Wilton 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 with piping details? I suggest #1 (smallest), #3 (medium), and #5 (largest of the bunch). You can create anything basic with these three.

decorated Christmas sugar cookies

Royal icing on snowflake sugar cookies


Royal Icing Consistency

After mixing the 3 icing ingredients together, lift the whisk attachment up. If the icing that drips off melts back into the bowl of icing within 5-10 seconds, you’re golden. If it’s too thick, add more water. If it’s super thin and watery, add more confectioners’ sugar.


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.

Sugar cookies decorated with royal icing freeze well up to 3 months. Wait for the icing to set completely before layering between sheets of parchment paper in a freezer-friendly container. To thaw, thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature.


How Can I Make Royal Icing Ahead of Time?

You can prepare this royal icing 2-3 days ahead of time. I recommend transferring it to a smaller bowl or container and tightly sealing for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to use it, let it come to room temperature, then mix it up with a whisk a few times as it may have separated. Whisking in a few drops of water is helpful if it thickened, too.


Royal Icing Alternative

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.

Print
clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon facebook facebook icon print print icon squares squares icon heart heart icon heart solid heart solid icon
decorated Christmas sugar cookies

My Favorite Royal Icing

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 3 cups
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Here is my classic easy royal icing made with meringue powder. It’s easy to work with, sets quickly, and won’t break your teeth when it dries. It has the most delicious taste and texture and makes decorating sugar cookies fun and simple. Use this traditional royal icing recipe for both flooding and outlining your sugar cookies!


Ingredients

  • 4 cups (480g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted (I use and recommend Domino brand)
  • 3 Tablespoons meringue powder (not plain egg white powder)
  • 910 Tablespoons room temperature water
  • optional for decorating: gel food coloring (I love this food coloring kit)

Instructions

  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 1.5 – 2 minutes. When lifting the whisk up off the icing, the icing should drizzle down and smooth out within 5-10 seconds. If it’s too thick, add a little more water. (On particularly dry days, I use up to 12-14 Tablespoons water total.) 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. See blog post above for make-ahead and freezing instructions.

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. Optional Flavors: Feel free to add 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite flavored extract, such as lemon, orange, maple, peppermint, etc when you add the water. Taste after the icing comes together, then beat in more if desired. You can also use 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Keywords: royal icing, sugar cookies, cookie decorating, icing

Here is my recipe for the best sugar cookies.

sugar cookies with icing

786 Comments

  1. Hi! The cookies came out wonderfully and the icing seemed perfect to work with, but today I noticed that all the lines on the cookies I decorated yesterday bled. What did I do wrong? Thanks!!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kristin! Royal icing can bleed sometimes, particularly if the icing is on the thinner side. For sharper lines, try adding a bit more confectioners’ sugar to your royal icing to help thicken it up. You may even want to use the thicker icing just for the lines, while using a thinner consistency for flooding. Hope this helps, and thanks so much for giving it a try!

      1. Thank you! I am totally new to decorating but that makes perfect sense!

    2. I have also had this problem! I found that if you use gel food coloring instead of the liquid drops, the colors do not bleed. Hope this helps!

  2. Any advice to getting your outline so neat? I’m sure practice makes perfect, but I tried your cookie and royal icing recipe today! My first time.. I can tell I’ll love working with royal icing, but my lines are not neat at all!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lauren, you’re right, it simply takes lots of practice! Some cookiers like to use an edible marker or stencils to draw out the lines first, then ice. Keep it up!

  3. Where is the video for the frosting please?

  4. Hi, does this icing set hard enough to allow the cookies to be stacked without ruining the decorations? Thanks!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tina, yes! These are stackable once the icing is dry. For extra protection, we use a piece of parchment paper between the cookies when stacked.

      1. Hi, I just made the icing and it is not drying? Help!

      2. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Jennifer! 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.

  5. What does not plain egg white powder mean

    1. @Kathy powdered egg whites are different than meringue powder. Meringue powder contains egg whites, but also cream of tartar and other ingredients that will make the icing more stable.

  6. How many minutes or hours till it dries?

    1. I made these not too long ago and it took about 3-4 hours to completely dry. Just depends on how thick the royal icing is and how many layers you do.

  7. Victoria Miller says:

    Hi! When you say 4 cups – do you mean pour sifted sugar into a measuring cup and swipe off excess? Or – should I weigh 480 g but 4 cups is actually 908 grams.???? Please advice. Thanks so much!!!!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Victoria, 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted means that the sugar is sifted after measuring and 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar means that the sugar is sifted before measuring. One cup of confectioners sugar is 120g so 4 cups is 480g total for this recipe.

    2. @ Victoria Miller. I think that you are thinking of granulated sugar, which weighs 200+ grams per cup. Confectioners sugar is much lighter. It is also known as powder sugar, and icing sugar.

  8. Hi! I would like to try this recipe for my niece’s birthday giveaway, we don’t have meringue powder or egg white powder, what can i use to replace rhose please?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Justine! Unfortunately, there is no good substitute for meringue powder here. Some recipes use raw egg whites, but you would have to do a quick search to find one that you like. Alternatively, you could use our Easy Glaze Icing instead — no meringue powder required!

  9. Sandra Stamp says:

    When decorating a sugar cookie – after you have flooded the cookie with the royal icing and it has dried can you use a buttercream decoration on top of that – such as butter cream roses, lettering, etc.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sandra, we can’t see why not!

    2. Amanda Pitrof says:

      Hi! Is royal icing safe to eat while pregnant if I use the meringue powder?

      1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Amanda! It’s best to check with your doctor to see if there are any concerns consuming royal icing + meringue powder while pregnant.

  10. How many cookies does this recipe frosting?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      A few dozen, depending on the size of the cookie.

  11. NEED YOUR ADVICE –
    I used this recipe and it went on like a dream, looks smooth and glossy. Loved the result and was so excited after 2 hours of piping…but then… MY CHALLENGE it doesn’t totally harden. it has a nice crust and looks like it’s hard, but it will still dent with pressure or fingernails – so I can’t bag and stack or transport – they will get dinged up. I dried them in front of a table fan for 2 hours, then left them out overnight with a ceiling fan on. I let them sit for 12 hours so far, still fingernail marks or can get depressed with finger. Then I tried one test cookie in the oven with the light on, no heat; and one test cookie in the tiny toaster oven/air fryer on “warm” lowest setting for 10 mins (that actually made it SOFTER). Nothing seems to make these harden totally. I did use 10 T of water instead of 8T (half a cup) and I do live in a coastal town on the water, so I am guessing the humidity is high (even though I’m in side with AC and fans on).
    I also used “pure almond extract” (morton and basset) 2 capfuls. (Contains: Extractions of bitter almond oil in 35% alcohol.) (I think i’ve used in the past)
    Any thoughts or help or hacks if it’s not totally hardening? more meringue powder? change the extract?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Catherine! How long it takes to completely harden can vary greatly depending on how much water you added, the humidity in the air, how thick you applied the icing, etc. We usually wait a full 24 hours to stack them. For next time, you can try using less water, as that will help the icing to be a bit thicker and dry quicker. Hope this helps!

      1. Also the almond oil you added will inhibit the drying, oil would completely dry causing a soft set icing.

  12. Can I freeze the cookies after they are decorated, and for how long? How long do they take to thaw out?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Connie, decorated sugar cookies freeze well up to 3 months. Wait for the icing to set completely before layering between sheets of parchment paper in a freezer-friendly container. To thaw, thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

  13. Bonny Timblin says:

    This recipe called for too much water and mine came out really watery!
    So I ruined it!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Bonnie, if your icing is too thin, you can add a little more sifted confectioners’ sugar. Thanks for giving this recipe a try!

  14. Hi Sally. May I know if this royal icing can be kept in room temperature? Thanks!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Arfah, Royal icing will last for several days at room temperature (as long as you are using meringue powder like in this recipe) in an airtight container. However, we find it will start to separate after a few hours and need to be stirred again before using.

  15. Hi I made this cookies and I want to stamp a messages on the icing. Will it show the print? I try it but y icing still soft

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nina, we haven’t tried stamps on this icing, but we typically like to wait 24 hours before stacking so I would try again after that to see if they work on the completely hardened icing.

  16. Tripintrish says:

    Hi, I’m going to use / try your royal icing & would like to know if I can dip the cookie instead of piping. I have 10dz to do & trying to find a quick way to ice, dry & apply some small fondant cut outs. You say the glaze take a long time to dry, so if I can dip using the royal icing instead of pipe it may work better time wise What are your thoughts on this, thanks for your time.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      You can certainly dip the cookies to frost, much like we do with our mini animal cracker cookies. Enjoy!

  17. where is the icing video???

  18. Hello! I’m trying to find an icing that will withstand heat, will this icing do the trick? Thank you.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jenn, yes, this royal icing should hold up just fine in the heat. Happy decorating!

  19. I’ve been dying to learn how to make royal icing cookies for years. I’ve tried another recipe in the past but it was a complete fail. I made rose cookies with a 2D tip using your royal icing recipe and your sugar cookie recipe. They came out perfect. The icing held its shape and hardened pretty fast. I love how the icing is hard when you touch it but when you bite into it, it’s soft. My cookies were pretty and tasted delicious. Thank you so much for your recipes. I can’t wait to make more royal Icing cookies.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Thank you so much for this kind review, Tiffany!

  20. Rene Iamartino says:

    Love this recipe! So easy to make and use! THANK YOU!

  21. Can I use this royal icing as “glue” to stack tiered cakes?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lisa, for stacking tiered cakes, we find it best to use cake boards and dowels, like we do with our simple wedding cake recipe. Hope this helps!

      1. Yes, thank you!

  22. Joleen Boyer says:

    Loved your recipe for the icing and all the tips. However, I have a suggestion for you and your readers. Wear light weight gloves when decorating the cookies. I didn’t the first bowl of icing I was working with. I added blue and messy me had blue icing all over my hands. I am still trying to get the blue out from under my nails! It didn’t take long for me to find gloves and that worked great!

  23. I was wondering if you’d be able to add flavouring to the royal icing recipe. I have sparking wine flavour that I was hoping to use.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kristen, absolutely. See recipe notes for tips on adding 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite flavored extract.

  24. Hi! I’m going to try this recipe tomorrow but other tips I’ve seen is to let the icing dry overnight after flooding. Will the icing be fine in the bag at room temperature until it’s time to add detail or is there something else I should do? Thanks!

  25. Can you mix royal icing with glace’ icing?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Diane, We’ve honestly never tried it!

  26. Hello
    I am going to be making Mickey Mouse cookies and I have not had luck in the past with making a bright red royal icing. Can anyone share their secret to this ?
    Thank you 🙂

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Josephine! What kind of food coloring are you using? We always recommend gel food coloring for the most vibrant colors.

      1. I just ordered the super black and red from americolor.

  27. I’ve added 10 cups of powdered sugar and it is still too soft to make decorations with. I wanted to avoid the raw eggs, so I tried this recipe. I’m not a novice baker but there is way too much water.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mary! The consistency of royal icing depends on many factors including the brand and how you measure your sugar, down to the humidity level in the air. The great thing about royal icing and this recipe is that you can control its thickness with the amount of water you add. If you try it again, add a little water at a time instead of all at once. And if it is too thin you can always add more sugar to thicken it back up!

1 11 12 13

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.

Sally's signature

Recipes You’ll Love

Archives

Categories

Join the community on the 1st of every month as we tackle a new challenge recipe. Review Sally's Baking Challenge FAQ page if you have any questions.

View More

A tradition since 2013, every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row!

View More

The first week of every November is all about Thanksgiving Pies.

View More

My Cookbooks

Sally's Cookbooks

About Sally

Welcome to my Kitchen!

I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally

×
Skip to toolbar