The only royal icing recipe you’ll ever need! Perfect for decorating cookies, cakes, cupcakes, & gingerbread houses. Easy, pipes smooth, & dries hard. Today I have a basic recipe for you that every good baker should know how to make: Royal Icing!
It’s a total staple. You’ll love this royal icing because it’s easy to make and perfect for so many things. You can use it to make transfers, pipe roses or intricate embroidery-like accents on cakes, to glue together a gingerbread house, or to make my favorite: decorated cookies.
What is royal icing?
Royal icing is an easy to make icing that’s made from just 3 simple ingredients: meringue powder, water, and powdered sugar. (Some recipes call for egg whites instead of meringue powder, but I prefer to use the powder because the results are more consistent and it’s more safe to eat.) As it dries, it hardens to the consistency of candy, similar to like button candy or a smarty. Hard enough to not smear, but not so hard you can’t bite it easily. It’s perfect for piping decorations. Pipe out your image, flower, or whatever, then set it out to dry for a few hours or overnight.
What does royal icing taste like?
Royal icing mostly just tastes like sugar. It’s very sweet, and most meringue powders will also give it a subtle vanilla flavor.
You can jazz up the taste by adding lemon juice or any other kind of extract, but just be aware of how liquids affect the consistency. Decorating with royal icing is ALL about the consistency!
How long does royal icing last?
Royal icing really won’t ever spoil, because the sugar content is so high that bacteria can’t grow. It’s really a lot like candy. But having said that, you will notice the quality will degrade over time.
After 24 hours, the royal icing will become more thin and watery. It can be thickened back up with a little more powdered sugar, if needed. After 36 hours, it may start to separate. You can stir it though, and it will come back together.
After about 48 hours, you might start to notice a grainy texture. I don’t think there’s any way to recover it from that state, so I generally try to either use up or throw away any leftover royal icing after 2 or 3 days.
How to Make Royal Icing !!
- 3 ounces pasteurized egg whites 2 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups confectioners' sugar
- 12 tablespoons water
- gel paste icing colors for tinting (optional) if you want to have a colored icing
- In large bowl of stand mixer combine the egg whites and vanilla and beat until frothy. Add confectioners' sugar gradually and mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated and mixture is shiny. Turn speed up to high and beat until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks. This should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add food coloring, if desired. For immediate use, transfer icing to pastry bag or heavy duty storage bag and pipe as desired. If using storage bag, clip corner. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- exception : colored icing Tint as needed with gel paste icing colors.
A few tips and tricks to make royal icing decorating easier !!
- I like to re-use my piping bags (even the disposable plastic ones sometimes), so I included a little trick in the video below that makes cleanup a snap! Basically you just enclose the icing in plastic wrap before placing it into the piping bag. That way, when you’re done, you just slide out the wrapped-up icing, and you really only have to clean your tips.
- I also like to twist the end of the bag and secure it with a rubber band or twisty-tie. It keeps everything together nicely and if any icing comes up the top, it doesn’t harden and scatter dried icing crumbs everywhere.
- If you’ve ever used royal icing before, you may remember feeling frustrated when it hardens at the tip. It only takes a few minutes for the icing in the little pinhole of your piping tip to harden, and then you can’t squeeze it out at all. You can break it up with a toothpick, but then sometimes you’re forcing hardened icing into your tip and creating a clog. So, try placing a damp towel in the bottom of a drinking glass, and keep your bags (tip side down) in there. That little bit of moisture in the paper towel will prevent those clogged tips from happening.
- Royal icing can be thinned simply by adding water (or lemon juice), or thickened by adding confectioners' sugar. Add liquid or confectioners' sugar in small increments, such as half teaspoon at a time, and mix thoroughly before deciding whether to add more. Use thinner, spreadable royal icing for "flooding" cookies for background work, and thicker royal icing for "piping" lines and making rosettes.
- To make your royal icing colorful, a few drops of food coloring will saturate your royal icing with any color of the rainbow. Just remember that a little coloring goes a long way—if the color isn't as dark or saturated as you want, keep in mind that it will darken as the icing dries.