Royal Icing Recipe

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The secret to royal icing is in the consistency. Fortunately, royal icing is very forgiving. Does it seem too thick? Add a few drops of liquid at a time to thin it down. Is it too thin? Add small amounts of confectioners' sugar and stir until you get it thick enough. Makes 2 cups (usually enough for one batch of our No Fail Sugar Cookies.)


  • 1 pound confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 5 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 1/2 cup of water, and more if needed


  1. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until smooth and creamy, about 7 to 10 minutes. If the icing is too thick, add more water. If too thin, beat the icing for 2 to 3 minutes more.
  2. Add a clear extract or flavored oil to make your frosting take on different flavors. We love lemon extract and almond extract.
  3. Color the icing with desired food colors by blending a drop of coloring into the icing. Gradually blend additional drops until you achieve the desired color.
  4. For decorating sugar cookies, you will want your icing consistency to be somewhere between heavy cream and ketchup. Not too thick that it won't come out of your pastry bag or squeeze bottle, and not too thin that it rolls over the sides of your cookies.

More Royal Icing Decorating Tips:

The Royal Icing decorating (or Flow Icing) technique is an easy way to make beautiful cookies. Yes, it is EASY! All you need is a little practice, and you will be creating cookie masterpieces! Let's go through some of the basic steps to get you started.

  1. Begin with your favorite sugar cookie recipe. Ours is the No Fail Sugar Cookie Recipe. This is a great recipe because the cookies hold their shape really well. Your cookies won't spread and become giant blobs! Follow instructions for baking and let them completely cool.
  2. Now for the Royal Icing. Royal icing is made of an egg white base. Meringue powder works great, but an even easier way is with Royal Icing Mix. The mix includes meringue powder and confectioners (powdered) sugar; you just add water. Follow the directions on the mix package. The mix will ice approximately 24 large (3"-5") cookies depending on the detail of icing.
  3. After initially mixing with water, divide your icing into small measuring cups with spouts. You will need one for each color that you want to decorate with. Add the desired food coloring. Beat in additional water with a spatula a little at a time until your icing is a consistency somewhere between heavy cream and ketchup.
  4. Now you are ready to pour your icing into squeeze bottles. Pastry bags work fine too, but the squeeze bottles make life so much easier, and they are great for kids to use! You will need a squeeze bottle for every color you are working with. Once the icing is in the bottle, invert the bottle upside down inside of a tall drinking glass. In order to keep the tip from drying out, tear a little piece of paper towel, moisten it with water, and place it in the bottom of the glass. This will help with a clean, steady flow of icing out of the bottle.
  5. It is now time to start decorating!
    • Step 1: Outline the outside edge of the cookie (this could be the whole cookie or perhaps just certain parts depending on the look you are going for).
    • Step 2: Flood in the outlined area. Using your squeeze bottle, you can do this by making back and forth brush-like strokes while squeezing out icing. Let it dry for 30 minutes or...
    • Step 3: Apply a separate color of icing onto the wet flood for a wet-on-wet technique. Some fun ideas to try are: polka dots, stripes, and swirls.
    Other easy yet fun techniques are:
    • Wet detail on dry flood. This creates a 3D effect and is perfect for adding faces and other details.
    • Toothpicks! Use toothpicks when you are doing a wet-on-wet technique. Draw a toothpick through stripes to create a feathered or tie-dye look. Draw through a dot to make a heart or clover. Make a swirl and then draw lines through from the center outward to make a web. Truly, the possibilities are endless!
    • Apply decorative sugars, quins, dragees, and edible glitter to wet icing at any time for a great WOW factor.
    • After your cookies are decorated, let them completely dry for at least 24 hours, uncovered. The cookies will not dry out because the royal icing holds in the moisture. Once completely dry, you can stack, store, ship, and if you haven't done it already, eat!

There are many other fun techniques to try. Don't be afraid to try something new. If you don't like it, you can always just eat the evidence! Let the cookie be your canvas and have fun decorating!

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