Royal Icing Recipe

Written by Mike Tamplin • Oct 03, 2013

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 When I initially posted the recipe it worked well then, but I realized it is outdated and not what I use today.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

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


Step 1

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

Step 2 

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

Step 3

Add the powdered sugar to the mixture.

Step 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.)

Step 5  

Attach the paddle attachment and beat mixture on medium-high for about 4-6 minutes.

Step 6  

The mixture should begin to thicken and whiten.

Step 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.)

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.

Step 1  

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

Step 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.

Step 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.

Step 4  

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 CK Products Celebakes meringue powder. It has a great vanilla smell and taste. I purchase 16-oz bags of Celebakes meringue powder on Amazon, which are often available for next-day delivery.
  • (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.

Guide to Royal Icing Consistencies

Now that your icing is made, be sure to view our blog post about royal icing consistencies as a guide to help prepare this icing for cookie decorating.

Cookie Cutter Collection

Now that you know how to make the best royal icing, it's time to choose the perfect cookie cutter. Whether you want something traditional or unique, we have a wide selection of cookie cutter designs for you to browse. So what are you waiting for? Get started on your next batch of delicious decorated cookies today!

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