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 When I initially posted the recipe it worked well then, but I realized it is outdated and not what I use today.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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76 replies on “Updated Royal Icing Recipe

  1. Hello Mike,
    I am new to your site and I love it already! I have made a few of your Thanksgiving pilgrim cookies and not to bad for the first time! Can you tell me if you have ever used Wilton’s color flow as opposed to meringue powder! And what is the difference if so! Heading into the Christmas season I am very much trying to decorate with shiny icing. Ps. I just started using corn syrup and do notice a difference. Thank you for your time.

  2. Gracias por tu generosidad al compartir !!!!!! <3

  3. Hi Mike! I’ve been following your blog for about a year now but I’m too scared to try making anything! I only own a hand mixer (I’m not a professional, just a woman with 7 goddaughters who now want Christmas cookies). Will I be able to achieve a good consistency with a hand mixer, or should I just give in and buy some tubes of icing from Walmart?

    1. A hand mixer would totally do the job as well! You really don’t need anything too fancy. Good luck!

      1. Thanks so much! My poor little hand mixer has definitely been put to work lately with all your recipes!

  4. Can you give me some tips or tricks on how to get the icing into to squeeze bottles without it dripping all over the sides and my finger?

    1. You can scoop it all into a gallon- or quart-sized Ziploc baggie and snip off a corner with a pair of scissors and “feed” the icing into the bottle. Or use a piece of parchment shaped into a funnel stuck into the bottle opening and a spatula to “guide” it in. I use a disposable piping bag. I buy them by the roll of 100 on Amazon.com. You can get smaller quantities at Michael’s from Wilton.

  5. Thanks for the great tips!

  6. Hi!

    I love your tips and tricks that you post. I use your royal icing recipe all the time and it works great, however, yesterday I made cookies for a baby shower and cut the recipe in half. I flooded the cookies and left them to dry but they never actually dried, it stayed sticky for hours which has never happened to me before. Do you have any insight as to why this may have happened? Thank you!!!

    1. Sometimes royal icing is so finicky. There are a few things that could be the culprit for the non-drying issue. Check out this great write up by Sweet Sugarbelle. There is also more insight in the comments of that post too worth checking out.

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