How to Make Royal Icing

Yesterday we talked about my favorite sugar cookies for icing. You can find that recipe here . Now lets talk about royal icing. For icing cookies royal icing is always your go to icing. It dries hard and opaque so that the cookies stay pretty when stacked. It is very easy to make and only has a few ingredients. This is a stiff icing, so it is perfect for outlining and monogramming your cookies. It can also be used as a glue for building gingerbread houses. Have some family fun this weekend and make some great cookies.

This will cover 2-3 dozen 3.5 inch cookies in 2 colors; I usually double this recipe.


  • 4 TBSP meringue powder
  • a little less than 1/2 cup water
  • 1 lb. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp light corn syrup
  • few drops clear extract (optional)


  1. Combine the meringue powder and water. With the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat until combined and foamy.
  2. Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine. (Do NOT skip the sifting!)
  3. Add in the corn syrup and (clear) extract if desired. (corn syrup helps keep the icing shiny.)
  4. Increase speed to med-high/high and beat for about 5 minutes, just until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form.(You should be able to remove the beater from the mixer, hold up and jiggle without the peak falling.) Do not over-beat.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap touching the icing or divide and color using gel paste food colorings.

I typically use a few drops of clear pure almond extract when I am making my vanilla-almond sugar cookies. Just keep in mind that any colored extract, such as vanilla, will tint the icing.

Make sure you don’t over-beat. Try to beat it just until it’s glossy and just coming to a stiff peak.

Remember This “stiff” icing is perfect for outlining and even for building gingerbread houses and monogramming. However, to fill in your cookies, add water to your icing a teaspoon at a time, stirring with a rubber spatula, until it is the consistency of syrup. This technique of filling a cookie with thinned icing is called “flooding.”

When mixing my colors I divide my icing into how many colors I’ll need, whether it’s for piping or flooding. (IE…if I need red for outlining and flooding, I make one big container of red.) Then, I tint them with food coloring. If I need a color for both piping and flooding, I go ahead and fill a piping bag before adding the water for flooding.

To get the perfect consistency for icing when flooding. After you have added your food coloring, add water a teaspoon at a time to thin it for flooding. Stir the water in with a rubber spatula, rather than beating it. Hold your rubber spatula over the bowl and let some icing fall back into the bowl. The ribbon of icing should disappear into the rest of the icing in about 2-3 seconds.

When decorating you will typically want to work with about 6-8 cookies at a time. I flood all the cookies in the base coat, then go back and add the dots. This gives them a minute or so to rest. It seems to stop the bleeding. Sometimes, it still happens and that’s when I have to remind myself not to stress and that it’s “just a cookie.”

The cookies will need to stay out overnight in order for the icing to dry thoroughly.

Now lets talk about the meringue powder. Meringue powder can be found in craft stores and even in the WalMart craft section. The brands that I recommend are normally only found in baking supply stores or online. I recommend Williams-Sonoma, Ateco and AmeriColor. These 3 are vastly superior to the craft store brand in taste and performance.

Ateco 475 Meringue Powder, 10 oz.

Americolor Cake Colors Mp-20z Meringue Powder 20 Ounce

I recommend you go to if you have any questions and for all things cookie.

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Posted in Desserts, How to, Recipes

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NaBloPoMo May 2013


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