How to Make Royal Icing

Royal icing is our secret for making perfectly decorated cookies and cakes. It dries to a smooth, hard finish.

Learn how to decorate cookies like a pro with our secrets to making your own cookie icing. Watch as our Test Kitchen expert makes royal icing from scratch, sharing her tips for mixing and tinting the icing for the prettiest -- and tastiest -- decorated cookies.

What Is Royal Icing?

Royal icing is our go-to for decorating cookies. It's easy to work with and sets up firmly when dry. It is commonly used for decorating gingerbread cookies and for piping decorations.

How to Make Royal Icing:

  • In a large bowl stir together 1-3/4 cups powdered sugar, 4-1/2 teaspoons meringue powder, and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar. Add 1/4 cup warm water and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Beat on high speed for 7 to 10 minutes or until mixture is very stiff.

Test Kitchen Tip: Meringue powder can be found in the cake decorating aisle of hobby and crafts stores.

Makes about 2-1/2 cups icing.

Get the complete Royal Icing recipe here.

How to Use Royal Icing

Piping Royal icing starts out thick -- perfect for piping outlines and accents. Pipe the outline, then let it dry before filling in the cookie.

Flooding To thin the icing for filling in large areas, stir in additional warm water, about 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until the icing is a thick, spoonable glaze. Fill in outlined cookies with the spreadable royal icing.

Watch: Two Easy Royal Icing Techniques

Top your cookies with beautiful decorative icing, ensuring your cookie plate always stands out in a crowd. Watch as our Test Kitchen expert demonstrates two easy icing techniques: how to swirl the icing, and how to create hearts on your decorative cookies.

How to Color Royal Icing

Food coloring can be found in different forms -- paste coloring, gel coloring, and classic liquid coloring.

Paste: There's a lovely range of colors available, but you'll have to visit a hobby store to find this type of food coloring. The paste can be thick and hard to blend into frosting.

Gel: The smooth consistency of gel coloring makes it easy to stir into frosting. This can be found online and in some hobby stores.

Liquid food coloring: Available at most grocery stores, liquid food coloring usually comes in four color options: red, yellow, green, and blue. It takes some experimenting, but the colors can be mixed to create new colors.

Get complete instructions here!


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