Royal Icing Recipe for Gingerbread House

Recipe for royal icing gingerbread house glue

The Spruce

  • Total: 10 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Servings: 12 to 15 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
122 Calories
0g Fat
30g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 15
Amount per serving
Calories 122
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 14mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 30g 11%
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 the edible "glue" or mortar that holds a gingerbread house together and can be used to make fancy sugar decorations. It's the best option for projects like gingerbread houses since, unlike buttercream frosting, royal icing will harden once dry. It's the key to keeping your gingerbread house from falling down.

If you plan to eat the gingerbread house and after it has served its decorative purpose, we recommend using pasteurized fresh egg whites since the icing is not cooked. Pasteurized egg whites are available at grocery stores in cartons, and are a better option than meringue powder because the result is smoother and the icing has better "stickability." Make sure the egg whites are at room temperature for better volume and be careful not to over-whip your royal icing or it will crack as it dries and your house will collapse. Don't omit the cream of tartar—it helps stabilize the egg whites and keeps the icing smooth.

The best and easiest way to use royal icing is to transfer it to a piping or pastry bag. The piping bag makes it much easier to get into corners when assembling the gingerbread house and allows for more exact placement of candy decorations like icicles and curlicues. This recipe makes enough royal icing for assembling and decorating a standard-sized gingerbread house so plan accordingly.

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Click Play to See This Royal Icing Recipe Come Together

Ingredients

  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar (sifted, more as needed)
  • 1/2 cup/3 large pasteurized egg whites (room temperature)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for royal icing
    The Spruce 
  2. In a large bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar, pasteurized egg whites, and cream of tartar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

    Mix ingredients
    The Spruce
  3. Turn the mixer to high and beat until the mixture is thick, very white, and will hold a peak. This should take at least 7 to 10 minutes. If the icing is still too soupy, add more confectioners' sugar a little at a time. Don't add too much, or the icing will be dry and hard to work with.

    Turn mixer to high
    The Spruce 
  4. When finished, cover with plastic wrap, making sure it touches the royal icing so a crust doesn't form. Royal icing dries out quickly, so make sure it is covered all the time. Otherwise, lumps will form in the icing and they will never pass through an icing tip.

  5. When ready to use, transfer to a piping bag and decorate. Enjoy!

Raw Egg Warning

Consuming raw and lightly-cooked eggs poses a risk for food-borne illness.

Tips

  • You can tint the icing by using a small amount of paste food color (don't use liquid food color because it will dilute the icing and make it soupy). For 1/4 cup tinted icing, dip the tip of a toothpick into the desired color, then into the icing and whip. Repeat until the desired color is achieved. For strong colors, such as red, royal blue, and dark purple, use 1/8 teaspoon color to 1/4 cup icing.
  • Royal icing can be used immediately, or stored with plastic wrap pressed against the top and completely sealed in the fridge for a few days.

How to Use

Added to a piping bag, royal icing can be used to make intricate decorations and outlines and/or be used to glue a gingerbread house together:

  1. To stick a gingerbread house together, start by lining up two adjoining walls and marking their location on the base. Made a thick L-shaped line of icing where the walls will go and place the walls on top, holding them until the icing sets. Add a line of icing on both sides of the wall joint and gently press together, holding until the icing sets.
  2. Repeat with the two remaining walls, allowing the icing to set each time. Let the house dry for at least a couple of hours before adding the roof.
  3. The icing can also be used to secure shingles, a chimney, draw on windows, and more.