Updated Royal Icing Recipe

Just like my update to my sugar cookie recipe, I feel my initial royal icing recipe post requires an update as well. When I initially posted the recipe it worked well then, but I realized it is outdated and not what I use today. Over the past two years, I’ve experimented with other royal icing recipe variations and made a few tweaks until I reached the formula I now use consistently each time I make cookies.

Also, my previous post was very lacking in the details. I was new to blogging then and didn’t think to include more information that could have been helpful. Making royal icing can be very finicky and it’s a topic that deserves a more explanatory post. So here’s my updated royal icing recipe post. It has more pictures of the mixing process and some tips I’ve learned along the way.

Ingredients

  • 5 tbsp
    meringue powder
  • 1 tbsp
    light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp
    CLEAR vanilla extract
  • 1 cup
    water
  • 2 lbs
    powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. 1

    In a mixer, combine meringue powder, light corn syrup, clear vanilla extract, and water.

    royal icing recipe step one
  2. 2

    Using a hand whisk, mix ingredients until the mixture becomes foamy.

    royal icing recipe step 2
  3. 3

    Add the powdered sugar to the mixture.

    royal icing step 3
  4. 4

    Hand whisk the mixture until the powdered sugar is incorporated and looks soupy. (I do this step so the powdered sugar doesn’t fly everywhere when I start the mixer in the next step.)

    royal icing recipe step 4
  5. 5

    Attach the paddle attachment and beat mixture on medium-high for about 10 minutes.

    royal icing recipe step 5
  6. 6

    The mixture should begin to thicken and whiten.

    royal icing recipe step 6
  7. 7

    Mix until the icing forms peaks. (If you remove the paddle and wiggle it, the icing should kind of jiggle but the peaks will remain intact.)

    royal icing recipe step 7

Storing Royal Icing

After the royal icing is done mixing I immediately prep it for storage; royal icing can dry and start to crust over fairly quickly. I like to store my icing in the same mixing bowl. I know others like to transfer the icing to another bowl or into tupperware for storage, which works great too. Below is just my preferred way of doing it.

  1. 1

    Scrape the sides of the bowl and gather the icing with a rubber spatula.

    storing royal icing step 1
  2. 2

    Cover the top with plastic wrap touching the icing surface. Be sure to cover the edges of the icing. Any exposure to air will dry out the icing.

    Storing royal icing step 2
  3. 3

    Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel. This prevents little dry crusties of icing from forming and getting into your icing, which would clog your icing tips when you try to decorate.

    royal icing storage step 3

From this point, I scoop out the amount of icing I need at a time, while recovering the icing with plastic wrap and the damp cloth when it is not in use.

I leave this bowl of icing at room temperature on my kitchen counter. Royal icing will keep for a few weeks, however I tend to finish off the batch before the end of the second week.

What’s Changed from the Original Royal Icing Recipe

  • I used to add light corn syrup whenever I randomly felt like it. Now, I think of it as a requirement. I believe it adds a boost to the taste, creates a nice sheen surface, and adds some favorable elasticity to the icing when it flows out of a piping tip. (meaning: I think it prevents icing lines from breaking mid-squeeze. It’s just a theory though.)

  • I now use Americolor’s meringue powder. It has a great vanilla smell and taste. I purchase 20-oz. tubs of Americolor meringue powder on Amazon, two tubs at a time to qualify for free shipping.

    (When I’m in a pinch, I still use Wilton’s meringue powder because it’s readily available in craft shops and grocery stores. However, the smell of the powder is off-putting. That’s my only complaint.)

  • I’ll add a half teaspoon of cream of tartar, only if I’m expecting humidity that day. I live in Seattle and, surprisingly, I don’t have humidity problems often, but I feel cream of tartar does help with the drying process when humidity does occur.

Royal Icing Tips and Tricks

  • This recipe can be easily doubled or reduced in half. I buy 2-pound bags of powdered sugar most of the time when making royal icing. However, if I know I won’t need much icing for the cookies I have planned, I buy 1-pound bags and prep for half the recipe.

  • Royal Icing will separate in its bowl after a few hours. Just re-mix the icing with your mixer to bring it back to its normal, fluffy state.

  • I love my Kitchenaid Flex Edge paddle attachment. It does a great job scraping the edges of the bowl during mixing, making sure all the powdered sugar is incorporated.

royal icing recipe

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82 replies on “Updated Royal Icing Recipe

  1. Hi Mike,
    I am new to your site and your work is just incredible! Thank you for being so generous with your talent and knowledge.
    I have a question about subbing maple syrup for corn syrup to achieve a maple flavoured icing. I am using strong deep colours on the cookies, so I don’t worry about tint, but do you think it would have the same consistency (or close) to corn syrup? I am leery of the artificial flavours of some extracts – but maybe I should keep looking to find the best maple one I can.
    Your posts are amazing and it’s a big help as I strive to recreate our organization’s logo in a clean, beautiful way!

    1. Hi Andrea, I never tried maple syrup so I don’t think I can provide much input. My main concern with maple syrup would be it prevented the royal icing from drying completely. That could lead to color bleeding or be a headache when packing them up. Corn syrup hardens if left to air dry, but I don’t think maple syrup will dry as hard. I wish I could give you a better answer. Maybe experiment with a small batch of icing and see if it dries to your liking. Please let me know if you do!

      1. Hi Mike,
        Thanks for getting back to me. I think I am going to play it safe this time around and go with corn syrup and maple extract. Too much pressure on these cookies and their need to be stable in this hot summer weather to mess about! It’s an experiment for another day.
        I will use your royal icing recipe though – it’s the best I have seen. I love your work!
        Thanks again!

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