My Favorite Royal Icing Recipe

There is one thing every cookier needs in their arsenal… a favorite royal icing recipe. The royal icing recipe that I’m sharing with you today is my favorite because it is not only yummy (of course!) but it is the perfect texture. There is a not-so-secret ingredient that allows the icing to harden enough for stacking and shipping while remaining soft on the inside. No more biting into a beautifully decorated cookie and cringing because the icing is rock hard!

After trying several recipes for classic royal icing, I came across Sweet P’s recipe for Royal Glaze, a cross between royal icing and glaze. I loved her recipe because the icing did not harden as much as classic royal icing. I adapted her recipe slightly, making it the exact flavor and texture I wanted.

Royal Icing Recipe -

Begin by using a whisk to mix 5 tablespoons of meringue powder and 3/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar with 3/4 cup of warm water. Mix it for about 30 seconds, making sure that you get rid of all lumps.

How To Make Royal Icing

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If you are not familiar with meringue powder, it is used in royal icing as a substitute for raw eggs whites. Look, Mom, no Salmonella! It also helps to stabilize the icing and give it a nice texture. You can find it at your local craft store in the baking section or online. I started out using Wilton brand meringue powder, but have found that I prefer the taste of CK.

Now, get ready for a vicious arm workout! In a separate large bowl, sift two pounds of powdered sugar. I always make a mess doing this, so if you figure out how to do this without getting sugar everywhere, you’re a superstar in my eyes! Pssst… I heard an unconfirmed rumor that you can skip the sifting as long as you’re not doing piping with a really small tip.

How To Make Royal Icing

Next, add the water mixture to the powdered sugar and mix it for about a minute to get it all combined. Then, add 2 tablespoons of light corn syrup, 1 teaspoon of glycerin, 12 drops of white gel food coloring, and your flavorings (I like to use 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon almond, and 1/4 butter). The corn syrup is an ingredient that is usually mentioned as optional in classic royal icing recipes. It adds a little gloss and elasticity to the icing. The glycerin is the not-so-secret ingredient that keeps the icing from being rock hard. You can find it in the baking section at craft stores or online. The purpose of the white food coloring is to make the icing a pleasant bright white instead of off white.

Now, put your mixer to work! Beat the icing on medium for about 6 to 8 minutes, until you can make a stiff peak that holds its shape. Pause and scrape down the sides of the bowl while mixing if needed.

How To Make Royal Icing

Take a step back, lick your fingers, and smile at the fluffy white sweetness you have created!

How To Make Royal Icing -

If you are saving the royal icing for later use, I suggest storing it in Tupperware containers (that you use for icing only, see Keep Oil Out of Royal Icing for the lesson that I learned the hard way), covered with plastic wrapped, and sealed tightly.

If you are ready to start decorating, separate your icing into smaller bowls, color with gel food coloring, and add water (a tiny bit at a time) to get the consistency you want.

Well, what are you waiting for? Now that you’re a royal icing ninja, grab your sugar cookie recipe and get baking!

Royal Icing (That Won’t Dry Rock Hard)

5 tablespoons meringue powder
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup warm water
2 pounds powdered sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon glycerin
12 drops white gel food coloring
1 teaspoon oil-free clear vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon oil-free clear almond extract
1/4 teaspoon oil-free clear butter flavoring

Use a whisk to mix together the water, meringue powder, and cream of tartar for about 30 seconds, making sure there are no lumps.
In a separate bowl, sift the powdered sugar.
Add the water mixture to the sugar and mix for one minute.
Add the corn syrup, glycerine, food coloring and flavoring.
Beat until the mixture forms stiff peaks, approximately 6 to 8 minutes, pausing to scrape down the edges of the bowl if needed.

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126 Responses to My Favorite Royal Icing Recipe

  1. Renee says:

    I’m curious about the glycerin – is it vegetable glycerin, or chemical glycerin?

  2. Rita says:

    I followed the recipe and mine dried rock hard-any suggestions?

    • Janine says:

      Rita, It will still be hard on the outside so that you can stack and ship the cookies. But it shouldn’t be as rock hard all the way through as regular royal icing. To make it softer, you can try adding a little but more glycerin. You can also try a straight glaze recipe or buttercream if you prefer something softer.

  3. Tammi L says:

    I am soooo excited to try this recipe! I LOVE making sugar cookies but we don’t like to eat them very much because of the icing. Which brings me to my question… I am going to try an adaption of an orange spice sugar cookie that I found online so I am wondering if you have any suggestions on how to change the flavourings. We are not big almond fans, can we just switch to orange or lemon or do you have any other ideas? Also, when you talk about going with chocolate in one of your suggestions, is there a way to adapt this recipe to chocolate? I know this is a lot to ask, but I’d be so grateful to you if you’d answer. Thank you so much for all the incredible effort you put out here for us all!

  4. Patty Wunder says:

    I was wondering about adding either lemon emulsion or lemon juice to your RI recipe. Which would be best, and how much should I add. Would I still use the vanilla, but replace the almond and butter emulsions? Also, could I also add it to your sugar cookie recipe or would that be too “lemony” in both? I am new to making cookies so I need exact measurements and instructions!!! LOL Thanks so much for your help! Your cookies look amazing!!!

    • Janine says:

      Patty, I haven’t tried lemon before but I have made Raspberry Royal Icing. I used it to decorate Chocolate Sugar Cookies. You could follow the recipe and substitute lemon juice and extract for the raspberry. I think the lemon icing would be good on both regular sugar cookies and lemon cookies. If you’re worried about it being too lemony with both the cookie and icing flavored, I suggest trying lemon royal icing on regular sugar cookie first and see what you think. For flavoring the lemon sugar cookies, I suggest using 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of vanilla and leaving out the almond. I would start there and adjust to your taste. Hope this helps!

  5. LeeAnn Slauson says:

    I love, LOVE this icing. The texture and taste is incredible. I used only vanilla extract (although I LOVE almond, I only make it for my family, not for things I’m going to give away or sell). I wanted to do something to the flavor to make it just a tiny bit different that just “plain ole vanilla” so I added three drops of Rose Water. It is INCREDIBLE!!! (Be CERTAIN that you use the Rose Water that is edible and not the perfume type!!!) The only problem I’m having, and I know it sounds a bit silly, is that I almost can’t get it thin enough for a good flow. It’s very billowy and downright delicious but I just can’t seem to get a good flow. Any suggestions?

    • Janine says:

      Never would have thought to try rose water. I’ll have to give that a shot.

      All I can suggest to thin the icing is to add more water. You can try adding more to the recipe before you mix and then thin it again after mixing.

  6. Elisabeth says:

    Do you store the icing at room temperature or in the refrigerator?

    How long can you store it?

    • Janine says:

      I’ll leave the icing out if it’s going to be just a few days. I’ll keep it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and in the freezer for a few months.

  7. Jackie says:

    How many cups of icing sugar are in 2 lbs?

  8. jessica says:

    Hi was wondering what glycerine is and where I can find it?

    • Janine says:

      The glycerin is the not-so-secret ingredient that keeps the icing from being rock hard. You can find it in the baking section at craft stores or online.

  9. Alexandra Oyervides says:

    Where can you find oil-free extracts for this icing? I have checked in my town’s stores, but without success.

    • Janine says:

      Alexandra, my favorite is LorAnn Oils flavoring. You can order online from the company’s website or Amazon. You can even find it at Michael’s.

  10. Patty Wunder says:

    I love your royal icing. However, the last few times I made it, cracks randomly appear in the flooded sections, and I keep getting “sink holes” in areas like eyes or noses that I build up a little. Any suggestions? Thanks so much for your help!

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  12. r says:

    Where do v you buy white gel from thank you.

  13. Kara McHugh says:

    I’ve been using this recipe for about a year now. I didn’t like the crispiness of regular royal icing. I have two problems with it however. 1. The icing falls in small areas that I’ve filled in (eyes) and it dries with more of a matte finish rather than the nice shine of regular royal icing. Any suggestions for the shine? I hate to go back to crispy!

    • Janine says:

      Kara, I believe if you get the icing to dry faster it will look glossier. You can try using a fan to speed up the drying process.

  14. Ina says:

    Can I freeze my cookies Once I decorate them with the Royal Glaze?

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