Royal Icing Recipe

Yields: About 2-3 cups
Prep time: 5 minutes
Setting time: Varies (See instructions)


  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar), sifted
  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 5-7 tablespoons warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or other flavoring like almond or lemon)
  • Gel food coloring (optional)


  • Stand mixer or large mixing bowl
  • Electric hand mixer
  • Whisk
  • Rubber spatula
  • Piping bags or small resealable bags
  • Small bowls for color mixing (if using)


  • Combine dry ingredients: In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sifted confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder.
  • Add wet ingredients: Add 5 tablespoons of warm water and vanilla extract.
  • Beat: Beat on low speed with your mixer until the ingredients are moistened. Then increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 5-7 minutes until the icing becomes glossy, thick, and stiff peaks form.
  • Test Consistency: Dip a spoon in the icing and lift it out. The icing should flow back into the bowl in about 10 seconds. If it’s too thick, add a tiny bit more water (a teaspoon at a time) and beat again until you reach the right consistency. If it’s too thin, add a bit more confectioners’ sugar.
  • Coloring (optional): Divide the icing into small bowls and add your desired food colorings. Use gel food colorings for the most vibrant results. Stir until evenly colored.
  • Flooding (Optional): For a smooth, glaze-like finish on cookies, thin out a portion of your icing with water, a few drops at a time, until it reaches the consistency of thick syrup.
  • Icing and Decorating: Transfer your icing (both the regular consistency and the thinned version, if flooding) to piping bags or resealable bags with a small corner cut off. Use them to decorate your cookies as desired.
  • Drying: Allow decorated cookies to dry completely at room temperature. This can take anywhere from a few hours to overnight, depending on humidity and the thickness of the icing.


  • Clean Equipment: Make sure your mixing bowl and utensils are absolutely clean and grease-free for the best results.
  • Egg White Variation: If you don’t have meringue powder, you can substitute 2 fresh egg whites. Food safety note: using meringue powder is generally safer for consumption.
  • Flavor Variations: Swap out the vanilla extract for almond, lemon, or any other flavor that suits your taste.
  • Storage: Store unused royal icing in airtight containers at room temperature for up to two days. Before using, stir well to bring it back to a smooth consistency.


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