Royal Icing 101

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  • Learn how to frost royal icing cookies with this easy step-by-step tutorial. These helpful tips and tricks are perfect for beginners!

    When it comes to decorating baked goods with frosting, I’ve mastered how to frost the perfect cupcake and pipe on sugar cookie icing. I just recently experimented with royal icing and am sharing all my tips and tricks that I learned along the way.

    heart shaped sugar cookie topped with white royal icing

    With the holidays around the corner, I thought I would do a little royal icing 101 “class” today. I have always seen those gorgeous iced cookies in bakeries and wanted to make them myself. They’re perfect for special occasions and everyone always goes crazy over them.

    While I am certainly no professional, I’m here to tell you that it’s easier than it looks! Royal icing is simple to make and requires only 3 ingredients. And once you test on a few cookies, you’ll get the hang of it in no time. So here are the basics…

    mixing together royal icing in a bowl

    How to make royal icing

    3 simple ingredients:

    • Powdered sugar
    • Warm water
    • Meringue powder

    Instructions: In a large bowl, beat the powdered sugar, warm water and meringue powder until it forms peaks. This takes about 7-10 minutes on low with a standing mixer or about 10-12 minutes on high with a handheld mixer. The consistency should be fairly thick.

    Outlining vs. flooding your cookies

    This is the key to creating perfect royal icing cookies! You’ll first “outline” the cookies with a stiffer icing, then “flood” the cookies with icing that has a thicker liquid texture (by adding a teaspoon or two of water). The outline helps to create a border, so that the flood icing doesn’t run off the sides of the cookies.

    Now I will say that getting the icing to the right consistency is the hardest part. It just takes time! My advice would be to buy some store bought sugar cookies and practice on those first. The first time I made these, I spent all morning baking cookies and then was too tired do the frosting. Ha!

    When you feel confident, make a batch of my favorite sugar cookies and go to town this holiday! It would be so cute to make cut out cookies and write “Merry Christmas” on top. Then you could package them up and tie on a Christmas tag!

    outlining and flooding sugar cookies with royal icing

    How to decorate cookies with royal icing

    1. Add food coloring. Once you’ve made the icing, transfer the mixture to bowls and add food coloring if desired. Then transfer the icing into a frosting bag.
    2. Outline the cookie. Next outline your cookie with a stiffer frosting and a fine frosting tip (I used a #2 tip). This border basically creates a dam to make sure the “flood” icing doesn’t go off the sides of the cookies.
    3. Add the flood icing. Mix in 1 teaspoon of water to your icing to make the flood icing. The consistency will be a thick liquid like honey. Then using a frosting bottle, spread the frosting inside the “outlined” cookie.
    4. Spread and smooth the icing. Use a small knife or toothpick to spread the frosting. You can also use the tooth pick to pop any bubbles.
    5. Let cookies dry. Allow cookies to dry over night before packaging or adding more designs.

    To add more designs on top: I haven’t played around with adding too many designs, but basically once the cookies are completely dry – you’ll use the stiffer frosting (in step #1) to pipe a design on top of your cookies.

    blue and white royal icing cookies

    Helpful cookie decorating tools

    If this is your first time making royal icing, I’d recommend picking up the helpful materials below. Most of these tools you can find at your local craft store too. Make sure to bring your coupons!

    Storage tips

    This recipe will keep for up to 1 month. Simply cover the mixture with clear saran wrap and place in refrigerator until ready to use. Let sit out at room temperature until the consistency is smooth and ready to use.

    heart shaped sugar cookie decorated with white royal icing

    More frosting recipes to try:

    Royal Icing Recipe

    Course: Dessert
    Cuisine: American
    Keyword: royal icing
    Prep Time: 30 minutes
    Total Time: 30 minutes
    Servings: 8
    Calories: 245
    Author: Jamielyn Nye
    Learn how to frost royal icing cookies with this easy step-by-step tutorial. These helpful tips and tricks are perfect for beginners!

    Ingredients

    • 4 cups powdered sugar (about 1 pound)
    • 5 Tablespoons warm water (more if needed)
    • 3 Tablespoons meringue powder

    Instructions

    • Beat the powdered sugar, water and meringue powder in a large bowl until icing forms peaks. It will take about 7­-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy­duty mixer and 10­-12 minutes at high speed with a handheld mixer. It should be fairly thick.
    • Once you've made the frosting, transfer to bowls for adding colors and then transfer into your frosting bag.
    • Next outline your cookie with a stiffer frosting and a fine frosting tip (I used a #2 tip). This border creates a dam to make sure the "flood" icing doesn't go off the sides of the cookies.
    • Mix in 1 teaspoon of water to your frosting to make the flood icing. The consistency will be a thick liquid like honey. Then using a icing bottle, spread the frosting inside the "outlined" cookie.
    • Use a small knife or toothpick to spread the frosting. You can also use the tooth pick to pop any bubbles.
    • Allow cookies to dry over night before packaging or adding more designs.

    Notes

    For stiffer icing (used for outlining), use as is. For the thinned (flood) royal icing, add an additional teaspoon of water at a time until you reach a good consistency.
    Royal icing will keep at least a month. Cover with clear wrap and refrigerate.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 245kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Sodium: 1mg | Sugar: 61g
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    Good luck!! Let’s hear it…have any of you tried royal icing? How did it go?

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