royal icing recipe


Royal Icing Recipe

Written by Mike Tamplin Oct 3, 2013


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 When I initially posted the recipe it worked well then, but I realized it is outdated and not what I use today.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
  • 2 lbs
    powdered sugar


  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 4-6 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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146 replies on “Royal Icing Recipe

  1. Hi Mike Im a hobbie baker and I’m obsessed with coookies but I just can’t seem to master the royal icing I want to try your recipe and I’ve read that you thin it down with water but how many second consistency do you use? That’s the only way I can do it I’ve tried looking for textures but it never works haha, also I’m in the U.K. And when I bake my cookies I roll them about 1/4 inch thick as I like them thin and I like a crisp cookie when I remove them from the oven they look perfect and they have a good crisp, I leave them to cool in my dining room on a rack and while I’m decorating I leave them to dry on the racks, im not the fastest at decorating and sometimes I try to add dimensions to my cookies which means leaving parts to dry before moving on so my cookies could be on the racks Upto a day or 2 but when I actually bite them the cookie has gone soft and I don’t like them like this I want them to stay slightly crisp do you know what I can do to stop this happening or what it could be making them go soft? I don’t know if they are meant to be soft? I thought maybe the humidity has a factor in this as its cold and raining a lot her in England any help would be great I love to bake cookies but Im getting to a point where I feel I’m never going to get it perfect thank you Cheryl xxx

    1. Hi Cheryl. I would say it’s about 15-second consistency. I should really do a dedicated blog post on icing consistency. I’ll try to put one together after the holidays. Adding icing to a cookie does soften it, but that’s what I usually count on. I like a soft cookie. I’m not sure how to alter the recipe for a crisper cookie. Sorry, I’m not much help. :-\

  2. Hi Mike!
    I continue to love your blog. I am a very casual cookie maker. This weekend I have the need to make some maple leaf cookies for work. (Hey, I am Canadian, after all). I use a great maple sugar roll out cookie recipe with maple syrup. But I digress…
    My question is around achieving a true red in the royal icing. I can only find Wilton colour gels where I live. For one batch of royal icing, I have put in a whole small jar of red (Christmas red, no taste) and still have a pinky-red. It also makes the consistency almost grainy (maybe it’s separating a bit?), I find, but you can’t really have pink maple leaves! Any pro tips on coaxing a deeper red out? Eg. do I add the tiniest of a deep blue? And when adding quite a bit of colour, any recommendations on how to keep the consistency smooth. I use the recipe above. Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Andrea, to achieve an awesome red icing color, I use Americolor Super Red. I buy it online and it’s the best. You can find it in Canada for sure! Here’s a link to my friend, Sherry’s store in Canada. Also, you icing is grainy because there was too much coloring added. Let the color deepen over time (like 1 to 2 hours, or even overnight). Good luck!

      1. Great! Thanks for the tips and the info on Sherri’s store. I will order from her in future, but for now, I will make the royal icing now and let the colour develop overnight.

  3. Hi Mike!
    Thank you for sharing your recipe and amazing turtorials:)
    I want to try out this recipe but I don’t have the corn syrup, can I substitute it with the glucose one?Also, can it work with the dried eggs not meringue powder?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Natalie, the corn syrup is optional. I think you can just sub out the meringue powder with dried egg whites. I’m not sure of the ratio though.

  4. Hi Mike!

    I started my cookie journey about two years ago and your blog was one of my favorites to get lost in for hours at a time! You just make it so easy to understand :) AND you’re super talented of course! Regarding royal icing…when I first started making cookies, I used a hand mixer for both dough and royal icing. My icing always came out perfect…ALWAYS . I had zero issues with my icing…not even craters (beginners luck!). A few months ago, I upgraded to a stand mixer (KitchenAid) and that’s when I started noticing that my icing would start to crack within the first 20 minutes of drying time or so. What could I be doing wrong? Am I over mixing? Undermixing? Mixing too fast? Too slow? Not long enough?! Too long?! Too much meringue powder? (My recipe is almost the exact same as yours though). I have tried to replicate what I did the one time it didn’t crack but I had no luck. I hope you can help as I just don’t know what to do anymore :(

    1. Hi there, Ariana. Cracking usually has nothing to do with the recipe, but happens when you move the cookie around while decorating. Cracks mostly occurs when you flood large areas, the icing sets, then you pick the cookie up to decorate more. Try avoid picking up the cookie by leaving it on a level surface, or try moving cookies around with a large spatula. Anything to prevent the cookie from bending while the icing still hasn’t fully dried. I hope this helps!

  5. Hi Mike
    I made you Royal icing recipe for the first time yesterday. For me it is fluffier than regular Royal icing recipe I use ( meringue powder, cream of tartar, powdered sugar, vanilla flavoring). I love the consistency and the way it floods a cookie with a smooth finish. Piping is much much easier. My problem is that as the edges of the cookie are drying .. They have a bit of a whitish haze. I notice it especially on the darker icing colors like brown. I would be greatful for any input you might have . I followed your recipe exactly. But I didn’t time the mixing. I would say I mixed between 6 and 8 minutes. No more than that.

  6. I have so many royal icing recipes that I tried in the past to achieve the perfect consistency of yours when you demonstrated outline and flooding. While I thank you for your recipe I’m not sure how much water to add for the desired consistency.

  7. Some shops teach to use a thicker royal icing for the outline and a thinner one to fill in. But I have seen videos where the same icing is used for both. Which do you do? Is this icing recipe one that can be used for both? Your help is so appreciated. Love you site.

    1. Hi Kathy, when I first started decorating cookies I used the two consistency method. It’s great for beginners because you have more control. However, as I began to understand how icing behaves and flows, I switched to using one consistency to save time. This recipe is perfect for both methods. Just squirt water with a spray bottle to get the consistency you desire.

  8. How long should I let the icing dry before I can stack and store them?

    1. Hi Lauren. It really depends on your location due to humidity and temperature. It could be 4 to 24 hours. I would generally give it 8 hours.

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