This classic Royal Icing recipe is perfect for flooding and outlining your sugar cookies! It’s easy to work with, sets quickly and isn’t hard when it dries, plus it’s has a delicious taste. Use this recipe when decorating your cookies for holidays and events!
I have to admit, I was a little afraid of royal icing for a long time! I’d see those amazing (and complicated!) cookie decorating videos on social media and think, “well, I could never do that!”
Turns out, working with royal icing doesn’t have to be hard or complicated – it’s actually pretty easy! And it’s the best way to decorate sugar cookies for any occasion.
So, today I’m sharing my simple recipe that you can use to make all kinds of fun designs on cookies.
Easy Royal Icing Recipe
- This recipe is easy! You only need three ingredients to make it plus food coloring to create your designs.
- The texture is perfect and sets up beautifully. The icing is not hard and brittle once it’s dries. It lightly hardens but is still soft when you take a bite.
- The flavor is so good and pairs perfectly with sugar cookies.
The only thing you need besides this amazing icing is the best cut-out sugar cookie recipe to go with it!
What is Royal Icing?
Royal icing has been used for hundreds of years and became popular (and got its name) after it was used to decorate Queen Victoria’s wedding cake. It had been used for quite a while even before that!
But that old-style royal icing was very different from the kind used today. It was very hard and brittle because it was made mostly with egg whites. I suspect that it didn’t taste that great either! It was used mostly because you could create very intricate icing designs with it.
These days, there are many variations of royal icing although they are typically made with the same ingredients:
- Powered sugar
- Meringue powder
Meringue powder takes the place of raw egg whites making this icing completely safe and easy to make.
You can also tint it any color you like I prefer gel food coloring because the colors are very even and vibrant. Perfect for decorating!
My royal icing recipe is so good and has been tested countless times. Unlike the old style, this recipe makes an icing that sets up but is still soft enough to eat and tastes delicious!
You can use this recipe for sugar cookies and other cookies, too! It would be great for gingerbread and gingersnaps, too.
How to Make It
Combine the powdered sugar and meringue powder in a large bowl. Using the whip attachment, whip them while slowly adding the water.
Whip the mixture for seven to ten minutes or until it thickens it starts to hold small peaks. At this point, turn off the mixer and lift up the whisk. If the mixture drips off and melts back into the rest in the bowl within seconds, it’s ready.
How to Fill a Piping Bag
I usually use white for the cookie backgrounds and use some icing to make different colors. So, add some icing to bowls (depending on how many colors you are using) and place the rest of the white in a piping bag.
Take a piping bag, fit it with a number three tip, and place it into a tall glass. Fold the bag over the outside of the glass. This is the easiest way to fill up a piping bag with less mess.
Place icing in the bag and use a rubber band to tie the top of the bag. Place a piece of wet paper towel in the bottom of the glass, this will help the tip stay moist while you are working.
How to Ice Sugar Cookies
Use the piping bag to pipe the icing around the outside edge of the cookie. Next, fill the middle. Use a toothpick to spread the icing evenly.
Once you’ve done the background you have two choices: if you want to add sprinkles, sprinkle them on while the icing is wet. If you plan to add designs, let the white set before adding them.
Once the background icing has set, use the colors you have mixed and a toothpick to create the designs on the cookies.
Start with one color and let it set before adding more colors. So, for example, if you are creating a tree add the green for the boughs first, let them set, and then add the red berries and gold star on top of the tree.
Once you’ve decorated your cookies, allow them to set before eating them or storing them in an airtight container.
There are so many decoration ideas you can use! Use your imagination to create your own fun designs or try some of my favorite decorating ideas for different holidays:
- Halloween Sugar Cookies with spooky skeletons and spiders!
- Patriotic Cookies decorated with different versions of red, white, and blue!
- Christmas Cookies with wreaths, twinkly lights, and adorable Rudolphs!
- Simple cookies with different background colors and sprinkles are great all year!
My recipe does! It’s sweet and not rock hard like other kinds. It’s delicious.
Mine is safe to eat because it’s made with meringue powder instead of egg whites. Royal icing made with egg whites can be risky because the egg whites are raw.
Yes, it will keep in the refrigerator for two to three days. Keep it tightly covered and then let it come to room temperature before you use it.
Yes, it freezes well! Keep it in a freezer bag and it will freeze well for up to two months.
Once you try this easy royal icing you will find all kinds of ways to use it! You’ll be decorating your cookies like a pro in no time – everyone will think you went to pastry school! Have fun with it!
More Iced Desserts
- Banana Bars are soft and sweet with a delicious cream cheese frosting!
- Almond Bars are easy to make and have a the best powdered sugar frosting on top!
I’d love it you would rate this recipe!! A five-star rating will make my day!
Don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @julieseatsandtreats or #julieseatsandtreats that way I’m sure to see your pictures!!
Did you make this? If you snap a photo, please be sure tag me on Instagram at @julieseatsandtreats or #julieseatsandtreats so I can see your yummy treat!
- 4 c. powdered sugar
- 3 Tbsp Meringue powder
- 9-10 Tbsp water room temperature
- Gel Food Coloring optional
- Add the powdered sugar to a large mixing bowl attached to your stand mixer, as well as the meringue powder and stir a little to mix.
- Using your wire whip, turn on your stand mixer on a low speed and slowly add the water. As the powder subsides you can turn up the speed to medium.
- Whip the mixture well for about 7-10 minutes, until you start to see tips forming.
- Check the consistency of the icing. If it falls off the wire whip and melts back into the bowl of icing within 5-10 seconds then it’s perfect.
- Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap until you are ready to use it.
- Take a piping bag and a number three tip and place into a tall glass, folding the edges over the outside of the glass. This is the easiest way to fill up an icing bag with less mess.
- Use a rubber band to tie the top of the icing bag. Place a piece of wet paper towel in the bottom of the glass, this will help the tip stay moist while you are working.
- If you are using other colors, pour a little of the remaining icing into a small bowl and mix in a little of the food color until you reach the desired color.
- If your cookies have a white background, which most of mine did (in the images), use the piping bag to pipe the icing around the outside edges, and then fill the middle. Use a toothpick to spread the icing evenly.
- Leave cookie to set while you move onto the next, or if you are using sprinkles on your cookies sprinkle them on at this point, while the icing is still wet.
- Use the colors you have mixed and a toothpick to create the designs on the cookies. If you are putting a design on the white background let the white set first before you start with your next color.
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