Royal Icing Recipe for Gingerbread House

Recipe for royal icing gingerbread house glue

The Spruce

  • Total: 10 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1 house (12 to 15 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
122 Calories
0g Fat
30g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1 house (12 to 15 servings)
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. It also can be used to make fancy sugar decorations. Royal icing got its name from being used to cover fruitcake to keep it moist. Fruitcakes were, and still are, what traditional wedding cakes of the English royalty are made with.

If the gingerbread house and royal icing will be eaten after it has served its decorative purpose, we prefer to use pasteurized fresh egg whites (now available at grocery stores in cartons) instead of meringue powder because the result is smoother and it has better "stickability." 


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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.

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 and "icicles" and curlicues.

This recipe makes enough royal icing for assembling and decorating one gingerbread house so plan accordingly.


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

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for royal icing
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  2. In a large bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar (or more as needed), pasteurized egg whites, and cream of tartar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

    Mix ingredients
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  3. Turn the mixer to high and beat until thick and very white. The mixture will hold a peak. This should take at least 7 to 10 minutes.

    Turn mixer to high
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  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, there will be lumps in the icing and they will never pass through an icing tip.


  • This recipe delivers perfect royal icing every time. If, after beating 7 to 10 minutes, the icing appears too soupy, add more confectioners' sugar and keep on whipping. Be careful not to add too much or the icing will be dry and hard to work with.
  • You can tint it 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.