Easy royal icing only needs three ingredients: egg whites, icing sugar, and some water to adjust its consistency. It’s a baker’s staple that you can use to decorate cookies, frost cakes, and build gingerbread houses.
Royal icing hardens when set and tastes very sweet because of the high amount of sugar needed to make it. This however makes it a shelf-stable icing. Moreover, you can lessen its sweetness by adding lemon juice to the mixture just like in this recipe.
Royal Icing Consistency
I especially like how easy it is to customise this icing with just a bit of water. To make it in different consistencies, you can follow these easy steps:
- Start with a stiff royal icing. Whipping it for a long time incorporates more air into the mixture and gives you a stiffer icing.
- If you want to add colour to your royal icing, divide it into several mixing bowls then add your preferred gel-based food colours.
- Thin your coloured royal icing out with water, adding a few drops at a time to get your desired consistency.
|Stiff||For gluing gingerbread house parts together, piping flowers, adding borders, and writing messages|
|Spreadable||For covering cakes|
|Flood||For filling sugar cookies and painting them with roses, polka dots, or swirls|
After decorating your baked goods with royal icing, place them on a tray and leave them to dry without any cover. A thin matte crust will form on the surface after about 15 to 30 minutes of drying. Depending on how wet your icing is, it usually takes up to 3 hours for it to be dry enough to pack or store.
- Hand mixer
- Mixing bowl
- Egg separator
- Silicone spatula
- Paring knife
- Chopping board
- Citrus juicer
- Cling wrap or tea towel
- 75g (approximately 2) egg whites (see notes below if you prefer using meringue powder)
- 400g icing sugar, sifted
- 10ml lemon juice, optional
- Combine the egg whites and icing sugar together in a large mixing bowl.
- Use the hand mixer to beat the egg and sugar together until stiff.
- Stir in lemon juice for flavour if preferred.
- Do not leave the royal icing exposed to air as it may set and harden, making it difficult to spread or pipe. Cover it with plastic wrap or damp tea towel until you are ready to use it.
- Transfer the royal icing into piping bags. Place a piping bag inside a glass tumbler or jug for easy pouring. Snip a tiny portion on the end of the piping bag to create a small hole for piping or use different piping tips.
- Have fun adding colours to your royal icing!
Royal Icing Recipe Notes
- For food safety reasons and longer shelf life, you can use meringue powder for this recipe. Meringue powder is made from dehydrated egg whites and preferred by some bakers as it is more convenient, safer to eat, and shelf stable. Adjust this royal icing recipe following the instructions on the meringue powder packaging, or you can follow this ratio: 1 egg white is equal to 2 tsp of meringue powder plus 2 tbsp water.
- To make different colours of royal icing, add a bit of gel-based food colouring. This gives your icing a brighter tint without affecting its consistency. Always start with one or two drops of food colouring, mix, and add a few more drops if needed.
- Store leftover icing at room temperature in an airtight container. Do not refrigerate baked goods decorated by royal icing as humidity can react with its high sugar content and affect its texture.
Use this royal icing recipe to decorate our Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe.