Royal icing is often the star of decorating Christmas cookies. But because the recipe contains raw egg whites, you may wonder if it's actually safe to eat. Here we dig into whether royal icing is safe to eat as well as alternatives for raw eggs in icing.

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So you've decided to take on a new holiday baking challenge by recreating those intricately-decorated sugar cookies. The oh-so-colorful and delicious treats make a stunning centerpiece to the dessert table. If you haven't made royal icing (the hardened icing used for decorating dessert) before, you might be surprised to see raw egg whites in the recipe. Since we grow up learning that eating raw eggs is dangerous because they might contain salmonella, we understand the concern. Before you go searching for a royal icing alternative, read on to learn about this egg white icing and how to avoid any risk of bacterial illness.

person frosting cookie with royal icing
Credit: Blaine Moats
Get Our Best Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing Recipe

Is Royal Icing Made with Raw Egg Whites Safe to Eat?

The risk is slight, but it is certainly possible for raw egg whites to contain foodborne pathogens, such as salmonella. Fortunately, you can prepare royal icing using two different methods with little to no risk by using meringue powder or pasteurized egg whites.

Royal Icing with Meringue Powder

Available at crafts stores and bakery supply outlets, meringue powder ($5, Walmart) is made from pasteurized dried egg whites. Our Test Kitchen's tried-and-true royal icing recipe relies on meringue powder.

Royal Icing with Pasteurized Egg Whites

If your royal icing recipe calls for raw egg whites, opt for buying pasteurized eggs. This means the eggs were partially sterilized and more likely to be rid of any food-borne illness. You'll be able to find a pasteurized label on eggs at most grocery stores.

Now that you know you can safely eat raw egg whites in royal icing, practice your decorating skills on some delicious sugar cookie cutouts that are tinted to match the season or favorite colors.

Comments (2)

Better Homes & Gardens Member
December 31, 2018
Hello! When we call for pasteurized egg whites, we mean to purchase the pasteurized whole eggs and use the whites. Thank you!
Better Homes & Gardens Member
December 22, 2018
If you read the label on the pasteurized egg whites, it says clearly that it cannot be used to make meringues. It will not whip!