Royal Icing

Royal Icing
The Spruce
  • Total: 10 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 4 cups (serves 20)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
96 Calories
0g Fat
24g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 cups (serves 20)
Amount per serving
Calories 96
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 9mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 24g 9%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Protein 1g
Calcium 1mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Royal icing is used for cake and cookie decoration and it's especially handy for putting together gingerbread houses as it acts like hard glue. Sugar cookies, elegant wedding cakes, and special occasion candies can all be beautifully decorated with it. Royal icing isn't supposed to be used as frosting because of its consistency, but it's a must in the home baker repertoire. Once you've mastered how to properly use it, you can make amazing designs on cookies and cakes.

Make an afternoon of Halloween, Christmas or Easter cookie decoration by adding food coloring to our basic white royal icing. If this is your first time making it, don't miss the photo tutorial showing how to make royal icing.

Be aware that by definition, royal icing always has egg whites, so although vegetarian, this product in its original version isn't vegan. If you're buying royal icing in the store, know that it has other additives and stabilizers.

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Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites (at room temperature)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • Optional: food coloring

Steps to Make It

Note: Make sure the egg whites are at room temperature before beginning. If you are concerned about ingesting raw egg whites, make sure that you buy pasteurized eggs to minimize risk or make our royal icing recipe using meringue powder, a product with desiccated and pasteurized egg whites.

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Royal Icing recipe ingredients
     The Spruce
  2. In the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer, place the egg whites, powdered sugar, and cream of tartar.

    Royal Icing recipe
     The Spruce
  3. Using the whisk attachment, beat all together on low speed until well combined, for about 3 to 5 minutes. Although you can use a hand mixer, be aware that it will likely take longer for the icing to reach the right consistency.

    Royal Icing recipe
     The Spruce
  4. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Restart the mixer and beat the mixture on medium speed until very thick, shiny, stiff and white. This should take about 7 to 10 minutes. Check the texture to ensure that it is suitable for your needs. If you require a stiffer icing, add a little more powdered sugar at this point.

    Royal Icing recipe
     The Spruce
  5. If you want to dye your icing just one color, you can add a few drops of food coloring into the bowl and mix it for a few seconds until the coloring is evenly distributed. If you want to make several different colors, divide the icing into several different bowls and stir in the food coloring by hand.

  6. Use right away and enjoy!

For a Great Royal Icing

Royal icing dries to a very hard consistency, and it will begin setting as soon as it is made. To prevent the icing from getting hard before you use it we recommend:

  • Thoroughly wet a paper towel and place it over the top of the icing in the bowl. It is very important to keep the icing covered.
  • If you are using a pastry bag and piping tips with the icing, tightly twist the back end of the bag and wrap a wet paper towel around the tip when not in use.
  • Depending on the temperature, humidity, and amount of icing used, royal icing should harden within 15 to 60 minutes of application. Do not refrigerate products with hardened royal icing, as the icing can become soft and sticky.