Royal Icing

I was terrified of Royal Icing!

When I was first introduced to sugar cookies I thought you used regular buttercream frosting to decorate.  Which you could still do, but if you want that beautiful smooth design then Royal Icing is the way!  When I first heard the term “Royal Icing”.  The sound of the name was daunting and foreign.  So I searched for the recipe and it had 4 ingredients…. water, meringue powder, powdered sugar and cream of tartar! That seemed simple!  I remember the first time making royal icing.  It took me hours upon hours to understand consistency and the terms such as flooding and piping.  But once I figured it out, it truly is Royal!!  So I’m here to gently guide you through Royal Icing 101 because I don’t want you to endure the pain and anguish I went through!!


¾ cup of warm water

5 Tablespoons Meringue powder

1 tsp cream of tartar

2.25 lb Powdered icing sugar (which is usually 1 bag from the grocery store)

1 tsp clear vanilla (optional)


In a mixing bowl pour the warm water and Meringue powder.  Mix it with a whisk by hand until it is frothy….about 30 seconds.

Add the cream of tartar and clear vanilla extract and whisk for 30 seconds more.

Pour in all of the powdered sugar and place the bowl on the mixer.

Using the Paddle attachment on the Lowest speed, mix slowly for 10 minutes.

Icing will get thick and creamy.

Remove the icing.  I like putting the icing in a storage container or mason jars.

The icing starts off very thick but can be thinned out with warm water to set the base of the cookie


This icing is mixed to a stiff consistency for outlining cookies, then can be thinned with warm water to fill in the cookie shape. I like to dry my cookies for at least 24 hours…and up to 48 hours before packaging them. This icing can be kept at room temperature in an air-sealed container for literally weeks, with a good re-mixing before you use it again. I haven’t had great results with keeping it in the fridge…but un-tinted icing (i.e. white) seems to be okay from the freezer.

Cover the bowl with a dampened tea-towel to prevent crusting and drying.

Tint with food coloring or thin the icing with small amounts of warm water to reach the desired consistency.

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