Dec 15, 2014, Updated Apr 13, 2021
Perfect Royal Icing to decorate Sugar Cookies!
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There’s no way better time to share this recipe than now. I mean it’s the holiday season and everyone loves to decorate some sugar cookies. Don’t you? Now you can decorate cookies using a simple mix of confectioners sugar and water. There’s another simple icing with corn syrup which I shared with my Easter Sugar Cookies. But everyone knows and will agree that for perfect cookie decoration, you do need royal icing. No other icing can set or give that sheen which royal icing does. While I like using the easy icing for decorating cookies, there are times when I want to go all out and make royal icing and Christmas is one such occasion.
Royal icing is basically just confectioners sugar (powdered sugar) and egg whites. It can be made using fresh egg whites or dried egg whites in the form of meringue powder. I have always made royal icing using meringue powder, it’s easily available and also easy to make.
The only tricky thing with royal icing is the consistency. Flooding consistency, piping consistency, stiff consistency, it takes a little time and practice to get a hang of it. For flooding consistency, keep adding 1/4 teaspoon water till it falls like warm honey. Basically when you make the border on the cookie, the icing should come out totally smooth like a toothpaste. I know it’s all confusing right? Maybe I will do a post on different royal icing consistencies someday. I have made icing so thin that it was running from all sides of the cookies, I have made it so thick and it just wouldn’t spread. So yeah it does take some practice to understand the different consistencies.
I am posting this recipe of royal icing with step by step pictures and hope it will help you to see how the icing looks at different stages.
Start by mixing together confectioners sugar (also known as powdered sugar) and meringue powder together on low speed. I mixed these together using paddle attachment in my stand mixer, you can use your hand mixer too.
In a bowl mix together warm water and vanilla extract. With mixer running running on low speed, start adding the water-vanilla extract mix (1 tablespoon at a time) into the dry ingredients. It will start appearing all clumpy. Don’t worry you are doing it right.
Increase the speed to medium and keep adding more water. It will start getting little loose.
Now beat at medium-high speed for 3-4 minutes till the icing looks shiny and forms peaks, like this.
* For stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.
* Keep adding 1/4 teaspoon warm till desired consistency is reached. For flooding the cookies, remember the icing will run from all sides if it’s too thin and if it’s too thick it won’t spread.
* The royal icing can be stored for a week or maybe more. I have never used it past 3-4 days so I can’t say how long it can be stored. Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator
* To prevent crust formation on the tip of your piping bags, put them in a glass which has a damp cloth at the bottom.
* I always use flavoring agent in my royal icing, some people don’t but I find it very bland without flavors. So you can use any extract of your choice, just make sure it’s oil free.
* Because egg whites are involved here, make sure the bowl in which you make the royal icing and store it are all grease free.
- 4 cups confectioners sugar powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder
- 1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract [oil-free]
- 5-6 tablespoons warm water
- In the steel bowl of your stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or using your hand mixer mix together confectioners sugar and meringue powder.
- In a bowl mix together warm water and vanilla extract.
- With mixer running running on low speed, start adding the water-vanilla extract mix (1 tablespoon at a time) into the dry ingredients. It will start appearing all clumpy. Don't worry you are doing it right.
- Increase the speed to medium and keep adding more water. It will start getting little loose.
- Now beat at medium-high speed for 3-4 minutes till the icing looks shiny and forms peaks [see picture].
- Store icing in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.