Royal Icing Recipe
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The best no-fail, homemade, 3 ingredient royal icing recipe for decorating sugar cookies. Use for gingerbread cookies and houses!
I love to make homemade sugar cookies and decorate them all fancy and personalized for all of my kiddos various events (I’m an overachiever in that way!) They are super easy to make and usually a big hit!
I’ve written a FULL tutorial of Everything You Need To Know About Royal Icing from what royal icing is used for, how to use it, how it compares to other frostings, and more! Royal icing is perfect for decorating holiday cookies.
Royal icing is really easy to make but can definitely be intimidating when you are not sure how the process goes. So lets make this no fail, 3 ingredient royal icing recipe together!
NOTES: The images I show below are with cream of tartar. I have recently switched to using 1/2tsp of vanilla extra in place of cream of tartar.
SUGAR COOKIES: I use my mom’s sugar cookie recipe which is my most favorite! Roll out thinner and bake at 400 degrees for crispier sugar cookies or roll thicker and bake at 350 degrees for more soft and fluffy sugar cookies!
GINGERBREAD COOKIES: I use my grandma’s recipe. This recipe also makes perfect gingerbread houses because it’s firm.
- egg whites
- confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
- cream of tartar or vanilla extract
- food coloring (optional)
1. Separate egg whites from yolks. Discard egg yolks and put egg whites in a mixing bowl. Measure out 3 ounces (typically around 3 eggs)
2. Mix/whip with hand held mixer with whisk attachment until light and fluffy
3. Add 1/2 tsp cream of tartar **or substitute cream of tartar for 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (use clear, imitation vanilla extract if you need a bright white royal icing color)
4. Add 4 cups powdered sugar
5. Mix/whip until you reach a toothpaste-like consistency
6. If making colored royal icing, now is the time to add your food coloring. **a little goes a long way so start by adding a few drops at a time and then mixing. Add more food coloring as needed
7. Using handheld mixer, blend food coloring into the royal icing
8. Scoop icing into decorating bags (I prefer the reusable Wilton Piping Bags) and with your decorator tip of choice, pipe around the outline of your cookie and then fill the inside
9. Have fun getting creative!!
Decorating with royal icing can be super fun! The creative possibilities are endless! I have a whole Pinterest board with sugar cookie decorating ideas! Come follow along for great inspiration!
Baseball cookies for my little man’s birthday!!
Royal Icing Recipe
- 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup
- Hand held Mixer with whisk
- Piping bag and tips
- 3 oz egg whites
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract can use clear vanilla extract if desired
- 4 c powdered sugar
- Separate egg whites from yolks. Place egg whites into a mixing bowl
- Mix eggs until fluffy and airy
- Add in vanilla extract
- Mix in powdered sugar
- Mix until icing reaching a consistency of toothpaste *don't over mix
Didn’t taste very good, using vanilla. I also must have over mixed because it was very thick!
Can you use this icing on a coconut cake?
I don’t see why not! This icing recipe is really good on just about everything!!
Royal icing isn’t meant for cakes, just cookies.
is it gonna be harden? or i have to put it in to freezers first?
It shouldn’t get hard-hard. It is the consistency of toothpaste essentially while you are piping it on the cookie, and then it will firm up. Definitely wouldn’t put it in the freezer to harden it. If it’s too runny, slowly add more powdered sugar.
Hi! I’m confused…I added half the amount of powdered sugar, and it looks like marshmallow! What did I do?
Hi Allison, no worries. Did you use the egg whites? Sometimes eggs can run on the smaller side and the icing comes out a tad too thick.. what you can do to fix this is add a little water. Add a drop at a time and mix. Happy piping!
question: can I use my egg beater egg whites purchased at gocery store? Also can I spread on the cookies with a knife or do you have to pipe it?
Hi Charlene, I’m really not sure about using egg beater whites, I’ve never used those before. You could give it a try though!
Royal icing works great piping…but yes, you can use a knife to spread it. It won’t give the same look, but if that’s not of importance, than yes.
Can I prepare this ahead of time, like a day ahead?
Hi Pat – you can….but make sure that it is in a VERY tight air-tight container. You may need to add a few drops of water to the icing the next day if it has hardened some. Happy baking!
Is it safe to eat perishable egg whites? Is that the same as pasturized? Do not want to make anyone sick. I found your recipe as i do not want to run to the store for corn syrup, thanks!
How come you’re not cooking the egg whites? That’s not safe. I use meringue powder, which is egg whites.