Royal Icing Recipe

Royal Icing Recipe

Royal Icing Daisy Cookies

Royal Icing is pretty simple to master once you get to know it’s quirky characteristics.

It likes to dry – which is why we use it right?

But I mean, it likes to dry WHILE YOUR ARE USING IT!

So you have to just get the hang of working fast, being organized and working CLEAN, which is not easy when you are in the midst of a gigantic royal icing cookie project!

Things can get out of hand pretty quickly! Trust me!

The amount of bowls you can pile up is pretty impressive (unless you are the person washing the dishes after! Then meh…not impressive but annoying!)

Be sure to have it all thought out before you begin and THAT is my second advice:

DO NOT TO BEGIN Until you have your entire Mise en Place before you!

Meaning, cookies baked and cooled of course.

Divide up the icing and get all your colors colored; be sure to have them covered with damp paper towels or coffee filters so they don’t start to crust over and dry out while you are working.

Have any adornmentsย  made up ahead of time (like my little leaves and fondant daisy centers for my flower cookies pictured above)

I even draw out sketches of what I want my finished cookies to look like so I can know exactly what colors I need, how many bowls, what kind of tools may be helpful etc ….

I know it sounds like an OCD dream come true, but it’s just that the better prepared you are~ the more fun you will have with this!


Oh and don’t forget to make the Sugar Cookie Dough ahead of time!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Royal Icing Recipe
Prep time
Total time
For those using Meringue Powder follow the recipe on the can
If you do not have cream of tartar use the juice of 1 lemon
Serves: 8 cups
  • Confectioners Sugar 12 cups (1500g)
  • Cream of Tartar 2 teaspoons (12g)
  • Egg Whites (pasteurized) ยพ cup (180g)
  • Flavor extracts 1 teaspoon
  1. Place the sifted confectioners sugar and the cream of tartar in the mixer bowl
  2. Blend on low speed to aerate.
  3. Add in the egg whites and any extracts and mix until it is smooth.
  4. Mix on high for about 20 seconds.
  5. At this point you can see the consistency and whether you want to adjust with more egg whites or more confectioners sugar.
Store excess royal icing in the refrigerator in an airtight container with a damp coffee filter or paper towel directly on the surface of the icing for up to 2 weeks

Bring to room temperature before using. You may have to add more confectioners sugar or water (both 1 Tablespoon at a time) to desired consistency.
5.0 from 2 reviews
Meringue Powder Royal Icing
Serves: 2 cups
  • 4 Tablespoons meringue powder
  • ยฝ Cup water
  • 1 lb box powdered sugar
  • few drops clear extract (optional)
  1. Combine the meringue powder and water.
  2. With the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat until combined and foamy.
  3. Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine.
  4. Add in the extract.
  5. Increase speed to med-high/high and beat for about 5 minutes, just until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form.

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  1. I noticed for your meringue powder royal icing the instructions you have corn syrup. .how much is needed..& what does it do to recipe..thanks

  2. Hi Gretchen,
    Could you please list the brand of butter extract and clear vanilla that you use. I would like your recommendation before ordering the extracts.
    Thanks so much,

  3. Can you please tell me the recipe for the linzer tart cookies shown in the above photo with the royal icing cookies? Thank you!

  4. Oh!! Ms. Gretchen I am so happy you are back I have missed you so much. I didn’t think you would be back Thank you for not forgetting us . I enjoy all your wonderful hints!!! They really help me out in many ways, again hank You Ramona Mc Dowell from Baton Rouge, La

  5. Hi Gretchen, I’m sure I can speak for all of us – we are so happy you are back! I have a quick question. On your royal icing. How long do you have to let your base layer sit to dry before adding the top color so it doesn’t bleed into it? Do you have any tricks to keep it from doing that? I make adorable cookies but they look horrible the next day! Thank you in advance!

    1. thankyoU! and I hear you! At the bakery I always had that trouble! Ugggh- horrible bleeding Smiley Faces! Most often I would wait an entire day to start the next color- but here (because it was a white daisy) I did not wait at all

  6. This is my first ever response. But really thank you so much for being such a generous chef. Time is my only hindrance of not browsing your mails and lessons right away. They re all flagged anyway. I m
    from southern part of the Philippines, but I always felt your just my freind next door.

  7. Hi, shelf life of left over royal icing? How can I store it effectively? Would it still be okey the next time I use it again? Thanks.

    1. I try to keep the storage NOTES at the bottom of the written ingredients and mix method:
      Store excess royal icing in the refrigerator in an airtight container with a damp coffee filter or paper towel directly on the surface of the icing for up to 2 weeks

      Bring to room temperature before using. You may have to add more confectioners sugar or water (both 1 Tablespoon at a time) to desired consistency.

  8. Hey Gretchen! I absolutely LOVE your site! Thanks for helping a self-taught cake decorator improve her skills! Question…can you use this royal icing recipe on cakes as well as cookies? Will it work on top of fondant? Buttercream? Modeling chocolate? I’ve tried royal icing before but always seem to get frustrated at the “runny-ness” of it!

    1. HI Dana great! You’re welcome and ThankYOU too!
      Yes you can use royal icing as an icing for cakes- its big in the UK.
      Not so much here though.
      But if you mean just for decorations then, yes to that too, but you just have to adjust the “runniness” of it with more confectioners sugar

  9. Hi Gretchen, thank you for always sharing you ideas and expertise with us. Your site is so inspiring and engaging,it’s my second daily devotional beside my Raphsody of Realities Daily devotional. Thank you,I love you very much.

    1. Do you mean all the same as in method? Or end result?
      You can pretty much follow the directions on the can or here I have it listed also.
      Yeah- its pretty much the same in consistency if thats what you are asking

  10. Hi Gretchen….I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your SMBC recipe!!! I was wondering…do you think it is it possible to use the sugar/egg white mixture used to start off your SMBC as a pipeable/stiff royal icing? I mean, isn’t it basically, the same thing? If so, then do you think thinning it out with some corn syrup for string work consistency would work also? Curious to hear your thoughts on this. Thank you for your time! ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Thanks for your reply. Do you think adding a little corn syrup would make it less brittle? Isn’t royal icing brittle as well when dried/hardened? I want to try to make scrolls on the side of a cake covered in fondant and make some roses with it. I’ve tried making royal icing before, but it’s always a flop for me…just never gets to the piping consistency I need. But, your meringue recipe is perfectly firm for piping.

        1. I have not ever tried adding cornsyrup to royal icing. Royal icing is meant to get hard and dry hard.
          SO maybe royal icing is not what you want afterall.
          If you like the way the meringue pipes, sure go for it.

  11. Gretchen I love your site , thank you for sharing your recipes, as a new baker I love how you make your demonstrations so interesting and the ones I’ve tried are great.

  12. hi gretchen, love your sugar cookie recipe. now that i finally found a recipe i love, i need help to convert it to gluten free since a family member has just been diagnosed with celiacs disease. can you help with that?

      1. Hi, I recently learned from Anna Olsen on youtube, that when using gf flours, & homemade blends, you need a ratio of 2/3 gf flour(s) to 1/3 starch, like tapioca or potato or arrowroot. I was not getting consistent results till I learned that. Now, I always get a really good result with my cakes, flour-wise.

  13. Hey
    I saw dis video again n again n again..since m gonna try dis for d first time in my entire life..I have few qts by reading through d comments from fellow bakers n ua video instructions too.
    In case of using flooding consistency,do I hv to wait till d base flooding icing dries before topping it Wid d another design of same or other color.
    In d video.. U hv directly made those daisies.. U did dat for d video or u would suggest to wait it to dry.
    Same goes for d other decorated cookies

    1. It depends on the color you are using and when I use a darker color on top of a lighter color I WAIT (since it could bleed into the base color) but if I use a lighter color Like the white for the daisy no need to wait.
      Alot of cookie designers I have seen will use a black outline for every section of color to make sure that nothing touches another color and they flood within the lines

  14. Hello Gretchen.

    Hope you are well settled in Florida by now and not missing the cold of NJ:)

    Well just saw your video on cookie decorating and I don’t feel confident decorating with RI as of date:), but was thinking of doing the same with fondant cutouts and maybe smaller embelishments with RI.

    I wanted to know was, how far ahead can I decorate them and how to store them? Am afraid of the fondant drying up too much , if i were to decorate them too ahead of time. It’s for a christmas fair at the end of this month and I don’t want to leave everything for the last minute as I am also planning to do many decorated mini cakes and cupcakes.

    Help please:)..

    1. HI I am well thanks! I do miss Fall in NJ it was my favorite time of year! But I surely wont miss snow shoveling! Thanks
      You can make cookies about a week in advance, stored in an airtight container they typically go stale before they would ever go bad. (And that takes several weeks)

  15. Hi Gretchen,
    Can u pls guide as in what r the after effects of royal icing on d cake imbued for decoration?
    1. If I ice d cake wid fresh whipped cream n use royal icing to decorate..Wat do I expect? Will it turn hard? Or just brk down as u said in one of d comments
    2. What is d best way to usecroyal icing on d cake for decoration on d cake or just not use it
    I saw couple of vids on YouTube where dey use it for decorations.
    Do ppl like to eat those cakes? Or its just for decoration n display purpose.

    1. Royal icing in not intended to be used with any other icing. It dries hard and is meant to dry hard. Any interference with another icing (the fats, the moisture) will break down this icing severely and you will have a mess.
      You can make flowers from royal icing and place them on a buttercream icing for a longer window before breakdown, whipped cream has so much moisture that it will tend to break down the royal faster.
      Classic cakes from England almost exclusively used royal icing as an icing and decoration probably up until about 20-30 years ago! There is really great interesting history about the Royal Icing and Wedding Cakes and why it is called Royal icing in the first place!

  16. Gretchen, every time I mix my royal icing this happens: (based on the recipe above)
    1. it becomes thinner and watery in the piping bag
    2. it takes a long time to dry
    3.there no shine on the cookie, but a matte and dull look.
    Where am I going wrong?

    1. Royal icing will naturally lose its shine, so nothing wrong there.
      But it sounds like you are mixing it too loose. Add more confectioners sugar, but also your hands could be super hot causing the sugar to melt inside the bag- wear gardening gloves

  17. Gretchen, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! I’m looking to make a large quantity of Royal Icing. Probably, enough to make 150 (give or take some) 1/2 pint milk cartons. Would you recommend making several smaller batches or one large batch? And, any idea how much to make? You’re the best! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Charlie

    1. you can multiply this recipe straight up as long as your mixer can accommodate it! Whatever you math ends up to be though- do not put all the egg whites in, be sure to hold back at least a couple cups to adjust the consistency

  18. Hi Gretchen,
    can I use this recipe for brushed embroidery? Also will I need to add some glycerin in the icing to give it a bit elasticity?
    Thank you in advance for your reply.

  19. Hey Gretchen!!!
    I tried this recipe out… It piped like a dream but when it dried it was VERY crumbly! ๐Ÿ™ I had to make some royal icing transfers but they all crumbled when I tried to lift them… It has an airy crumbly texture. What am I doing wrong here?

    Thankyou so much for posting ur recipes all over again!!!
    Hugs from Sri Lanka!!

    1. Hey there, it sounds to me like you whipped it too much, too much air will cause this (your not making meringue, just mix it until its all combined and smooth and to the consistency you like)

    2. Yea I guess I whipped it too much.. I’ll give this recipe another try.
      Just one more question…
      My colors are bleeding. Even pastel yellow bleeds into white! Even if the first layer is completely dry!!!
      I use Wilton colors. Is that what’s causing the color bleed?

  20. Hi Gretchen, my question is how long I can leave iced sugar cookies at room temperature before they become stale? I want to make some for Christmas as early as possible and was thinking about baking and decorating on Monday. Thanks!

  21. Hi Gretchen. Would you use an entire batch of this to decorate 1 batch of your gingerbread cookies? I’ve never used royal icing, so I’m not sure if I should make a whole batch or a half batch. Thanks and Merry Christmas!

  22. Hi Gretchen,

    Once the frosting is dry can the cookies be frozen? If so, how long can they be safely frozen for? I would love to make these cookies for a baby shower I will be hosting and would like to make as many things ahead of time as possible.

    1. I dont freeze iced and decorated cookies, Im too nervous that they will sweat and bleed color upon the thaw, BUT others do it…. Im just not too savvy on how-0 you may want to cruise around youtube for that answer

  23. Hi Ms. Gretchen i love your recipes. Maam can I ask shelf life of sugar cookies with royal icing and how to store it? Thank you so much.

    1. HI Thanks! I store them in an airtight container after they have dried for a day or two completely just in the open air. Then they last for a couple weeks!

  24. I’ll be using your recipes soon to bake decorated cookies for a friend’s daughter. I have a couple of questions: if I want to freeze the cookie dough, should I freeze it in a ‘block’ or as cut out cookies? I will be packaging individual cookies (4″ size) in a cellophane bag. To help keep them fresh, would the self-sealing cellophane bags keep the air out, or do I need to buy a sealer like the “U-line heat sealer?” Thanks for the great recipes!

    1. HI Deb! I prefer to work with the dough freshly made so I will roll the cookies and freeze the cutouts, however it works both ways it is purely preference.
      As for the WAY to freeze, I typically layer them in a sheet pan with parchment between the cookies layers and wrap the entire sheet in cello a couple times. BUT the ziplocs work too, it all depends how long you plan to freeze

  25. have you tried the egg free version

    1 cup icing sugar
    2 tsp milk
    2 tsp corn syrup

    mix icing and milk till smooth then add corn syrup – i tend to add more icing so its more of a thicker consistency – id like to know what you think

  26. Hello, Gretchen: Do you have a recipe or suggestions for a cookie icing that does not dry so hard? I want to decorate cookies, but I do not like the hard royal icing. Thank you so much for all your recipes and suggestions.

  27. I really love your work so thank you very much for all your hard work that you are putting in this blog and thank you so much for sharing this recipe. ๐Ÿ˜€ I have one question for you – can I substitute Cream of Tartar because we don’t have it in my country, just like we don’t have meringue powder ๐Ÿ™

  28. Hi Gretchen…I wanted to make the meringue royal icing and use to decorate the side of a cake covered in fondant. Is this a bad idea or okay? Thanks for helping!!

  29. What is the difference in the egg white recipe vs the meringue recipe as far as results? I there a reason you used egg white over the meringue?

    1. Do you mean meringue pwowder? If so, I do not use meringue powder, Ive always used fresh egg whites. It is my preference, however some people are scared of fresh egg whites, so I added the meringue powder recipe for those folks

  30. Yes, I meant the meringue powder. I was wondering if the results of the royal icing was different depending on which you used.

  31. Hi How are you!! I have a (what i think) is a dumb question lol.. i might have missed it in your recipe actually. I am going to be using your sugar cookie recipe and then im going to make pink royal icing and then once that is dried topping it with a gold design. Once i use the royal icing on the bottom, while im letting that dry before the gold on top, do i leave it on the counter? if so should they be covered or do i let them air dry on the counter or do they go in the fridge? Sorry for the jumbled question..hope it makes sense lol.. Thank you in advance!!

  32. Gretchen, is it safe to use unpasteurized egg whites to make royal icing? Beause thereโ€™s no pasteurized egg whites in my country and also the meringue powder. Thanks in advance.

    1. Sorry, the only way I can afford to keep this free blog open is with ads ๐Ÿ™
      I know it is annoying, you can always just copy and paste if it’s not working for you

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