Royal Icing Recipe That Doesn’t Dry Rock Hard

Royal Icing That Doesn't Dry Rock Hard

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.

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.

Royal Icing That Doesn't Dry Rock HardIf 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.

Royal Icing That Doesn't Dry Rock Hard

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 (optional), 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 gel 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.

Royal Icing That Doesn't Dry Rock Hard

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

Royal Icing That Doesn't Dry Rock Hard

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 Doesn't Dry Rock Hard

4.8 from 4 reviews
Royal Icing That Doesn't Dry Rock Hard
  • 5 tablespoons meringue powder
  • ¾ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ¾ 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
  • ½ teaspoon oil-free clear almond extract
  • ¼ teaspoon oil-free clear butter flavoring
  1. Use a whisk to mix together the water, meringue powder, and cream of tartar for about 30 seconds, making sure there are no lumps.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift the powdered sugar.
  3. Add the water mixture to the sugar and mix for one minute.
  4. Add the corn syrup, glycerine, food coloring and flavoring.
  5. Beat until the mixture forms stiff peaks, approximately 6 to 8 minutes, pausing to scrape down the edges of the bowl if needed.

If you’re like me, you hate stopping repeatedly in the middle of a recipe to scrape down the sides of your mixing bowl. Luckily, I discovered a handy dandy little gadget called the Metro Beater Blade. This attachment for the KitchenAid stand mixer has rubber wings running down both sides that scrape down the bowl as it mixes. It cuts mixing time by up to 50%! I use my Metro Beater Blade every time I make royal icing, or any other frosting, and I never have to stop to scrape down the sides of my bowl.
Metro Blade

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About Janine

Creative sweets made simple. Learn how to easily make decorated treats through recipes and tutorials at Are you ready for sweet inspiration?
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230 Responses to Royal Icing Recipe That Doesn’t Dry Rock Hard

  1. Jill says:

    hi there: I was wondering where you purchase food glycerin? Is it the same used in soap? I’ve never heard of it as a food additive..excited to try this recipe!

  2. LeeAnn says:

    If you have a cake decorating/supply store near you, you’ll find it there. Most of the major crafting store also carry it. I’m not sure where you live but here in the US we have Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, JoAnn, Beverly’s and there are many others, I’m sure. Any store that has a well stocked baking section should have it. If you can’t find it locally, I’m sure you can order it online. I believe the brand I have is by CK.

    • Jill says:

      Thank you! I am near DC and have all those so I will check tomorrow.. Thanks!

      • Breequa says:

        Hi Jill, I know it’s months later, but I just wanted to let you know that many pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens also carry glycerin, as it is used as for skin care. And yes, it’s the same glycerin as in soap and other products. It is non-toxic, colorless and odorless, and has a very slight sweet taste. Happy frosting! :)

  3. Cindy says:

    You mention to keep oil out of your royal icing; even any small amount. Isn’t glycerin an oil? If so, why doesn’t it adversely affect the royal icing? Thanks for your help.

    • Breequa says:

      Hi Cindy! Yes, you are correct. The glycerin *does* in fact affect the icing; it’s why this icing doesn’t dry completely hard like a traditional royal icing does. I believe Janine was warning us away from unintentially adding any *additional* oils, such as those that can sneak in via flavorings (be sure to check the ingredients of your extracts!) and the oils that adhere to used plastic ware.

      • Breequa says:

        LOLZ, please excuse the cat induced misspelling! Should read “…from unintentionally adding…”

    • Janine says:

      Cindy, I’ve never had any issues with glycerin. I do not know exactly how it’s made as the only ingredient listed is glycerin.

  4. isabel says:

    Can I use this to frost a cake? 😀

  5. Uyen says:

    If I make this ahead of time, what is the shelf life? Will it be better to store in the fridge until ready for use?

    • Janine says:

      I usually only put it in the fridge if I’m not using it for a few days. You may need to remix it. You can also freeze it for long term storage.

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  9. LeighAnn says:

    How did you achieve that red? If you already answered this question, I am sorry – I looked through the tread and didn’t see it.

  10. LeighAnn says:

    How did you achieve that red?

  11. Loreta says:

    Your recipe indicates meringue powder and additional cream of tartar. The meringue powder you link to already includes cream of tartar. Are you adding more?

    • Janine says:

      Yes, Loreta. I’ve always added the cream of tartar but I’ve seen recipes without it. If you try leaving it out, I’d love to hear how it goes.

  12. Nancy says:

    If you don’t feel like sifting the powdered sugar, you can use your stand mixer. Use the whisk attachment, and turn it on low. Let it mix for a minute or so, and all the sugar lumps will have been broken up. To help control the sugar clod, simply drape a kitchen fowl over the mixer. I hope this helps!

  13. Yen says:

    Hi Janine,

    I just want to ask regarding the meringue powder; you said it’s a substitute for raw egg whites. May I know how much eggwhites corresponding to the meringue powder you are using? And do I have to beat the egg whites or what should will be the directions if I will use egg whites?

    And one more thing, will royal icing be not easily melt? I’m here in the Philippines and we have a very high degree of heat. Or if not, what can you suggest for cupcake and cake frosting that is suitable for our climate?

    Thank you.

    Hoping to hear from you soon.

    • Janine says:

      Hi, Yen. I’ve always used the meringue powder in my royal icing, never egg whites.

      It is very sturdy and stands up to heat well. I use it here in Texas where we have temps in the triple digits during the summer. It is great for decorating cookies, however I don’t suggest you use it to frost cupcakes. It will not be soft like frosting. When I frost cupcakes, I use buttercream frosting.To help it stand up to the heat I substitute shortening for 1/2 the butter in the recipe. Hope this helps!

  14. Charlene Benoy says:

    I am fairly new to Royal Icing but have heard of cookie icing in different consistencies. Outline and flooding mostly. This is the same type of icing correct? Cookie icing is royal icing? If so, I can add water to get the flooding consistency correct?

    • Janine says:

      Yes, Charlene. This icing can be used for both outlining and flooding. So just add a little water to thin it as you said. Have fun decorating!

  15. dalia says:

    I have brownish corn syrup (no high fructose)
    Can i use it instead of light corn surup?
    Thank you

    • Janine says:

      I’ve never made it with the darker syrup, Dalia, but I think the impact of the darker syrup will just be a stronger maple taste and darker color.

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