Royal Icing 101


With the holidays around the corner I thought I would do a little royal icing 101 “class” today. I have always seen those gorgeous cookies in bakeries and wanted to make them myself. While I am certainly no professional I am here to tell you it’s easier than it looks! I also have some great links to more tips and tricks at the bottom of this post that are from some of my favorite baking bloggers. So here are the basics on royal icing cookies…

Royal icing 101 on ...learn the basics to creating "fancy" cookies! #cookies #tips


Did you make this recipe?

Royal Icing Recipe



1. Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).
2. For stiffer icing (used for outlining), use 1 tablespoon less water. For the thinned (flood) royal icing add an additional teaspoon of water at a time until you reach a good consistency.
3. Royal icing will keep at least a month. Cover with clear wrap and refrigerate.
4. Separate frosting in bowls to mix in different colors with food coloring.

Recipe slightly adapted from Wilton

All images and text ©

Now I will say getting the frosting 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!

Okay so here we go!

Royal Icing Instructions:

1. Once you’ve made your 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 basically creates a dam to make sure the “flood” icing doesn’t go off the sides of the cookies.

2. Mix in 1 tsp of water to your frosting 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.

3. Use a small knife or toothpick to spread the frosting. You can also use the tooth pick to pop any bubbles.

4. Allow cookies to dry over night before packaging or adding more designs.

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.

Here are some helpful cookie decorating tools to get you started (amazon links):

Most of these tools you can find at your local craft store. Make sure to bring your coupons!


Royal icing 101 on ...learn the basics to creating "fancy" cookies! #cookies #tips

For more information on outlining and flood icing check out this post on The Adventures of Sweet Sugarbelle. I love this video she shares on outlining and flooding the cookie.

I also LOVE these pumpkin pie cookies she recently made with royal icing! Crazy cute!

Mini Pumpkin Pie Slice Cookies

Here are some more helpful articles while learning the basics of royal icing:

How to decorate with Royal Icing via Annie Eats.

Royal Icing 102 with Bake at 350.

royal icing 102

The basics of cookies and royal icing at Bee In Our Bonnet

Number of times you roll out the dough #tips

How to pipe royal icing lines 


The frosting bag trick from Karen’s Cookies.

Also make sure to check out my favorite sugar cookie recipe + a baking tip!

Super soft sugar cookies and the best tip for baking them on #recipes #desserts

Good luck!!

Let’s hear it…have any of you tried royal icing? How did it go?

more by Jamielyn »

Jamielyn Nye

Creative director and founder of I Heart Naptime. Jamielyn aspires to reach women, get their creative juices flowing, and to genuinely inspire. When she’s not creating, Jamielyn loves to chase her three little monkeys and snuggle up on the couch with her man.

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25 comments on “Royal Icing 101”

  1. I love this tutorial… Making this for sure!

  2. Meghan @ The Tasty Fork Reply

    I haven’t made royal icing since culinary school. This is a good refresher for me and perfect for the upcoming holidays. Pinned and I can’t wait to make royal icing for Christmas Cookies!!

  3. I’m not much of a baker and have always wondered how to create those gorgeous smooth iced cookies – now I know! Thanks for the tutorial – definitely pinning it:)

  4. I’ve always been afraid to try the royal icing, but you make it look so easy. Will muster up the courage to give it a try. :D

  5. jen @ Tatertots & Jello Reply

    What a great tutorial. I am excited to try it out!!


  6. I’m totally laughing because this is how I spent ALL DAY yesterday. Finished the baking around lunch & by the time the icing was done & I finished photographing them- it was time for dinner & my hubs was rolling in. Very time consuming to make them pretty but so worth it.

  7. Thanks so much…I can’t wait to try this!

  8. I have always wanted to be able to make those fun cookies with smooth frosting! I for sure am going to give this a try! Thanks so much for sharing it!

  9. So fun – I’m definitely trying this. I tried to download the ADORABLE Christmas tag and all I could do was pin in on pinterest. Is it still available as a free printable. It is just too cute!

  10. I made baseball cookies once with Royal Icing… it was fun and actually pretty easy. Not sure I’d attempt anything too complicated, but those pie slice cookies look adorable and easy enough!

  11. I’ve always fancied myself a decorated cookie sort of girl, but have never actually become one. I think it’s time I learn! Thanks for the tutorial!

  12. can you use egg whites instead of meringue poweder?

    • I’ve heard that it works really well, I haven’t tried it myself though! From all the other sources I’ve looked at, it says that it is the perfect substitution, so I say give it a try! :)

  13. I am about to embark on my first attempt at decorating cookies with royal icing and have a couple  questions before I begin.  After mixing the icing, getting it to the correct consistency, does adding the coloring then ruin that consistency?   I am wondering if I will need to make icing thicker than it is supposed to be so that when I add the coloring, it will then be perfect, or does it not make that much of a difference.  

    Also, do you have to worry about working quickly, before the icing starts to harden, or is there some time to be a bit of a perfectionist, lol ?

    If I am going to make a couple dozen cookies, using about three different colors on each, will one (1-pound) batch of icing be enough, or will I need to make two batches ?  

    And last… I understand that you need to cover and refrigerate icing to keep it from hardening, but when I am ready to use it, does it need to be brought to room temp first?

    Thanks so much for your wonderful blog.  I am glad I found it.  

  14. Can I add flavoring to this frosting? 

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