Easy Royal Icing Recipe

This royal icing is one of the crown jewels of decorating. According to Sugar Arts Institute, royal icing was originally used to elegantly decorate fruit cakes — the traditional cake choice for countries like England and Canada. It was characterized by its almost rock-hard exterior, which helped withstand long periods without refrigeration. Historically, it's commonly used to decorate elaborate wedding cakes, including the ones seen at many famous British royal weddings. It was even customary to break open a royal icing-covered wedding cake with a small silver hammer. 

Recipe developer Stephanie Rapone of Pantry to Plate Meals came up with this fantastic and versatile recipe. "This recipe for royal icing is simple and super reliable — it turns out, and dries perfectly every time," Rapone raves. "I like to use this recipe any time I'm making decorated cookies, so usually around the holidays and birthdays."

Keep reading to find out how to make this easy royal icing.

Gather the ingredients for this easy royal icing

This recipe is as simple as they come. All you need is confectioner's sugar, meringue powder, and water. You can also add gel food coloring, if desired. 

Once you have those items, you can make this easy royal icing. 

Combine the ingredients

Sift the confectioner's sugar and meringue powder into a medium-sized bowl. "This version uses meringue powder, which stabilizes the icing without having to use raw egg whites, making it much easier and more dependable than other versions," Rapone explains. 

Then, add ¼ cup of water, and mix the ingredients using the whisk attachment on a stand or hand mixer, until smooth. "You could [whisk this by hand], but it would be a major arm workout," Rapone adds.

Thin or thicken the icing to your preference

If you are using the icing to create simple decorations, it should easily flow or ribbon off the beater, and settle into a smooth, unrippled state in the icing bowl within 5 seconds.

If you want to make defined borders with the icing, you will need to make a thicker icing by adding 1 additional tablespoon of powdered sugar at a time to reach the desired consistency. If you are using the icing to fill or flood a shape, you will need to make the icing thinner by adding 1 teaspoon of water at a time. 

Add color and decorate

Add in the optional gel food coloring, and then the icing is ready to decorate cookies or other baked goods. "You can use this icing in the stiffer consistency to pipe flowers [onto] cakes," Rapone notes. "They will dry hard, which is good if you have to transport the cake."

Easy Royal Icing Recipe
5 from 23 ratings
This royal icing recipe is the secret to creating beautifully decorated baked goods, perfect for cookies, cakes, and more.
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
0
minutes
Servings
24
cookies
easy royal icing in dish
Total time: 10 minutes
Ingredients
  • 4 cups confectioner's sugar, plus more for thickening
  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  • ¼ cup water, plus more for thinning
Optional Ingredients
  • gel food coloring
Directions
  1. Sift the confectioner's sugar and meringue powder into a medium-sized bowl. Add ¼ cup water, and mix using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, until smooth.
  2. For simple decorations, the icing should flow off the beater, and settle into a smooth state in the icing bowl within 5 seconds.
  3. Make the thicker icing by adding 1 additional tablespoon of powdered sugar at a time. Make the icing thinner by adding 1 additional teaspoon of water, until reaching the desired consistency.
  4. Color, if desired, and decorate.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 81
Total Fat 0.0 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 20.8 g
Dietary Fiber 0.0 g
Total Sugars 20.4 g
Sodium 1.3 mg
Protein 0.0 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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