This easy Royal Icing Recipe is perfect for decorating sugar cookies, gingerbread, and all kinds of Christmas cookies. This cookie icing is made simply with meringue powder, powdered sugar, water, and vanilla extract, and it’s ready in just 20 minutes!
- Why We Love This Royal Icing Recipe
- Variations on Sugar Cookie Icing
- How to Store and Reheat
- How to Freeze
- Serving Suggestions
- More Frosting Recipes To Try
- Royal Icing Recipe
- Email This Recipe
- Recommended Equipment
- Becky’s tips
- Nutrition Information
- How to Make Royal Icing Step by Step
Why We Love This Royal Icing Recipe
When it comes to decorating holiday cookies, I’m always in need of a super easy icing. This recipe is quick, it tastes good, and it hardens to a nice texture.
- Quick. This recipe comes together in just 20 minutes!
- Easy. With only 4 ingredients and a mixer, you’ll have a gorgeous royal icing to decorate with.
- Versatile. You can use this hard-setting icing on sugar cookies, cakes, or gingerbread houses.
Variations on Sugar Cookie Icing
You can color this royal icing recipe with gel food coloring to create vivid decorations. You can also flavor it with different extracts, like citrus, almond, or peppermint!
Email This Recipe
Enter your email and we’ll send the recipe directly to you!
How to Store and Reheat
Store leftover royal icing in an airtight container with plastic wrap pressed onto the surface at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. When you’re ready to decorate with it again, beat it using a hand or stand mixer at a low speed to make the icing smooth and shiny.
How to Freeze
Place sugar cookie icing in freezer-safe Ziplock bags to store indefinitely. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before beating and reusing.
Use this royal icing recipe to decorate all of your favorite Christmas cookies and holiday treats. It’s perfect for Christmas sugar cookies or gingerbread cookies. When it’s extra thick, it makes a great glue to hold a gingerbread house together or to pipe royal icing flowers. Or you can thin it out and use it to ice cinnamon rolls or a lemon loaf cake.
Royal icing is a frosting made from powdered sugar that hardens to a candy-like texture. This helps to create long-lasting designs.
There are three different consistencies of sugar cookie icing you can make– stiff, pipeable, and flooding consistency. Stiff icing has more powdered sugar and can be used to make three-dimensional decorations. Pipeable icing is a medium-firm consistency and is used for outlining and detail work. Finally, flooding icing is thin and pourable and is used to fill in large areas.
I prefer to use water, as milk adds a creaminess and flavor to the icing that can overpower the vanilla.
In this case, meringue powder (which takes the place of raw egg whites) makes the icing harden.
If you don’t have access to meringue powder, you can use egg white powder or fresh egg whites. If using fresh egg whites, I recommend looking for pasteurized ones to eliminate the risk of foodborne illness. Keep in mind that icing made with egg white powder or fresh egg whites will need to be kept in the refrigerator for storage.
If your icing isn’t shiny, it’s likely that the lumps in your powdered sugar didn’t break up enough during mixing. I recommend sifting your powdered sugar if it’s particularly lumpy.
If you mix at too high of a speed, it will add too much air to the icing, making it fluffy. Make sure to use a consistent medium speed as your icing comes together.
More Frosting Recipes To Try
How to Make Royal Icing Step by Step
Whisk the Dry Ingredients: Add 4 cups of powdered sugar and 4 tablespoons of meringue powder to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whisk to combine.
Pour in the Water: Pour in 8 tablespoons of warm water and 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, and mix on medium-low speed until combined.
Whip to Soft Peaks: Turn the mixer up to medium-high, and mix until soft peaks form, about 1-2 minutes.
Thin to Desired Consistency: Slowly add more water (1 teaspoon at a time) until you reach your desired consistency. To create a royal icing that works well for outlining and flooding cookies, lift up the whisk and let the icing drip back into the bowl. It should take 10-15 seconds to smooth out. If it is smoothing out too quickly, beat the icing for another minute. If it is taking longer to smooth out, add a little more water.
Divide and Color: Divide the icing into small bowls and add gel food color, making as many colors as you would like.
Decorate Your Cookies: Fit piping bags with a Wilton #3 or #4 tip. Fill the bags with icing and decorate your cookies as desired.