royal icing recipe

Royal Icing Recipe

By Mike Tamplin on 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 When I initially posted the recipe it worked well then, but I realized it is outdated and not what I use today.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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115 replies on “Royal Icing Recipe

  1. Help please! I typically use a different recipe for icing cookies, but loved your cookie designs so decided to give your recipe a try. I’m icing 100 woodland animal cookies, a few mostly white baby bottles and placards.
    The base white has hardened nicely, as did the brown on some hedgehogs that I’ve coated with sanding sugar. My dilemma is…l used the same brown to do portions squirrels and moose lady night. When l sat down to work this morning though, the moose and squirrels sticky to the touch! I’m using gel color…in fact it’s the same batch icing l used for the hedgehogs.
    Any suggestions? Thankfully it’s only the last 10 cookies so it’s not a great loss but I’m deeply concerned about continuing!
    Thank you in advance! ❤

    1. Hi Holly, just so I understand, the same brown icing dried fine initially but was sticky when you used it later? That’s really odd! My only theory is that the icing separated when you used it a second time. I use bottles and use a chopstick to stir the icing up again after it separates after a few hours. If you use piping bags, you might have to massage it together in the bag or remix it in another bag. I hope this helps! Email me a picture and I can probably troubleshoot more from that.

      1. Thanks for the quick reply!
        Strangely enough…l used the same color consecutively from the hedgehogs to the moose and squirrels. The hedgehogs are much harder to the touch ( Katie to the sanding sugar l suppose) but still have give.
        I’ve since read that darker colors such as black, brown, dark blue and red for some unknown reason, perhaps because of the amount of gel necessary to get desired colors, could be the culprit. I placed the partially iced cookies in a VERY low temp oven for about 15 minutes and voila they are hard! The big drawback…they formed tiny bubbles. That isn’t a real problem since these are animals and out gives the effect of hair! LOL! So not all is lost!
        Love your site and I’m so happy to have found it! Thank you again!
        I’d send a photo but not sure where to send it!

        1. Yes, too much food coloring gel added to icing can prevent it from drying appropriately. It’s best to let dark colors develop deeper in color over time (1 to 3 hours) than to add more coloring gel. I’m glad the oven trick worked!

  2. I apologize for my spell checker…she great, but her grammar is awful!

  3. I’m so happy to have stumbled across you on Instagram! Your designs are absolutely AWsome. I’ve been working my way through a bunch of royal icing recipes to see which I like best, and am excited to try this one today. Potentially strange question: have you ever played around with lower-sugar icing options? Sadly, I have insulin issues and can’t personally partake in the more traditional recipes. I’ve experimented a bit myself, but have yet to come up with anything thrilling :-/

  4. Hi Mike, I am going to try your icing and cut out cookie recipe soon and I wanted to know how many cookies this batch of icing would decorate on average? I am planning on doubling your cut out cookie recipe.


  5. Hi I’m a beginnger. I am using your recipes for both cookies and icing. You don’t specify whether or not you thin your icing further to flood? Do you use this for outline and a thinner version for flooding? Thanks for your time!

    1. Hi Brittany. Yes, I use a spray bottle to thin the icing to a flood consistency. Piping and flood consistency is so subjective and differs people use different consistencies. I like my piping to be like pudding and my flood to be like thick shampoo.

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