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Royal Icing | with Meringue Powder

December 18, 2021 | Author: Ashley McCrary

This easy royal icing with meringue powder includes three different consistencies, decorating tips, FAQs, & is the BEST icing recipe for sugar cookies!

Royal Icing for Cookies, & More!

It seems like everyone is searching for the perfect icing recipe for cookies, sugar cookies, gingerbread houses, cakes, etc! The holiday season is such a fun time for baking, and this royal icing recipe will satisfy all your icing needs!

Made with just 4 ingredients, including meringue powder, this royal icing recipe offers instructions for three different consistencies and will be ready in no time! I’ve included tons of pro tips to help you make the perfect royal icing.

Be patient, take your time, and watch this amazing icing recipe for sugar cookies (& more!) come to life! Get your holiday cookie cutters out, grab my sugar cookie recipe here, and let’s get decorating!

How to Make Royal Icing

Ingredients You’ll Need

meringue powder*

warm water

powdered sugar

vanilla extract

corn syrup* (Optional)

Must Have Tools to Make Royal Icing

Stand Mixer with paddle and whisk attachments (if you don’t have one, use a Hand Mixer!)

Spatula

Mixing Bowls

Gel Coloring, piping bags, and tips (for decorations)

Sugar Cookies!

Royal Icing Step-By-Step Overview

In just a few steps, you will have the most delicious Royal icing for sugar cookies, cakes, muffins, decorations, etc!

*Please note that these pictures below show a basic overview. For more detailed, printable instructions, scroll down to the recipe card below!

Eggs Whites vs. Meringue Powder

You will find that many recipes for royal icing use real egg whites instead of meringue powder. For this recipe, I don’t recommend substituting really egg white for the meringue powder. Unfortunately, egg whites change the consistency of the icing and your results will not turn out the same.

While it sounds like something hard to find, meringue powder is actually pretty common! You can buy meringue powder at Hobbly Lobby, Walmart (in Wilton and baking section), Michaels, Joanns, and Amazon.

I’ve also seen people ask if they can make royal icing without meringue powder. For this recipe, I have not tested any other methods and meringue powder is my go-to choice. However, I have heard people are successful in using egg-white powder (not liquid eggs!), but I have not tested this myself. However, if you’re looking for royal icing without egg, this recipe is absolutely perfect as it is!

three bowls showing the different consistencies of royal icing

Royal Icing with Meringue Powder Consistency

There are 3 main types of royal icing consistencies.

To test consistency, take a knife and run a line down the middle. Once the line is drawn, count how many seconds it takes for the line to disappear. This is what I call the “icing count.”

  1. Stiff Consistency: This type of consistency is comparable to buttercream icing. It is used for leaves, detail designs, flowers and much more. This consistency will hold its shape. 
  2. Piping Consistency: This type of consistency is comparable to toothpaste. It is used outlining and lettering. This icing count is 25 seconds. 
  3. Flood Consistency: This type of consistency is comparable to honey or shampoo. It is used for for filling large areas. This icing count is 8-10 seconds. (this consistency is an excellent icing recipe for sugar cookies!).

Pro Tips

  • When you first make a batch of royal icing, it will start at a stiff consistency. This will be your base and you will add water to get the consistency you are looking for.
  • If you don’t have a stand mixer and whisk attachment, feel free to use a handheld mixer. 
  • Using a spray bottle to add water to the icing allows you to better control the amount of water added at a time to the icing. This was first introduced to the baking world by Gail of One Tough Cookie NYC.

Ways to use Royal Icing

Sugar Cookies

Holiday Cakes & Cookies

Wedding Cakes

Biscotti

Gingerbread House

for Detailed Decorations

royal icing dyed with gel food coloring and placed in piping bags

Decorating with Royal Icing

Gel Food Coloring: Only use gel food coloring when mixing new colors. If you use liquid drops, it will thin down the icing and give you a different consistency. 

Piping Tips: Be sure to fully cover the decorating tips with a warm, damp towel to prevent the icing from getting crusty and drying out.

Thinner Icing: Make sure when thinning the icing, to mix using a spatula. Be sure not to whisk vigorously. Mix icing in a figure-8 motion. Also, allow the icing to sit for 30 minutes or so and remove any bubbles that form by stirring the icing one more time. 

Alternative Decorating Methods: You can use tips or just cut a small slit in the bag to decorate. I recommend doing the following:

  • For flooding consistency, use a tip 2, or no tip at all. If you don’t use a metal tip simply snip the tip off disposable plastic cones. Start small and cut more if needed and don’t cut at an angle.
  • For piping consistency, use a metal tip 1-1.5 or again no tip at all. Just snip a smaller amount of plastic off the piping bag. As for stiff icing, you can use really fun decorative tips such as star shapes, flowers, or ruffle shapes.

Less is More: Remember, as the icing dries on the cookies, the color will be darker. always start small when adding in the gel food coloring.

Drying: To speed up the drying process, place the cookies in front of a fan. Usually, it will take up to 3-4 hours for cookies to dry.

water to thin out the royal icing

Common Reader Questions

How do I store royal icing with meringue powder?

Store royal icing in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks. Be sure to re-whip before using. Using a paddle attachment at low speed, whip until it’s back to the correct consistency.

Can I decorate a cake with royal icing?

Absolutely! Decorating a cake with royal icing is very similar to cookies, you just want to make sure you are using the correct tip attachments for the decorations you want to make. You can also find royal icing transfers at your local craft store if you’d like to make and transfer more detailed decorations.

Can I make royal icing ahead of time?

Yes! Because this royal icing recipe can be stored for up to two weeks, you can definitely make it ahead of time and store it at room temperature. Because this is royal icing without egg whites, it is safe to keep at room temperature. When you are ready to use it, whip with the paddle attachment in your stand mixer until the desired consistency is reached!

My royal icing is lumpy, what do I do?

If the icing is lumpy, add a little more water to thin it out. Stir in a figure 8 motion.

What is the best way to thicken royal icing?

I recommend slowly adding a small amount of powdered sugar to your royal icing to thicken it until the desired consistency is reached. Alternatively, I recommend adding 1 tsp of water at a time to make your royal icing thinner.

sugar cookies iced with royal icing

Other Recipes to Make with Royal Icing!

The BEST Sugar Cookies

Lemon Muffins with Strawberry Glaze

Gingerbread Muffins

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Royal Icing

This easy royal icing with meringue powder includes three different consistencies, decorating tips, FAQs, & is the BEST icing recipe for sugar cookies!

  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 3 cups 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/4 cup meringue powder
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup* (Optional)

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer (using the whisk attachment) or large mixing bowl, beat together the meringue powder and warm water on medium-low speed until frothy, about 1 minute. 
  2. with the mixer on low speed, slowly add in confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla.
    Once fully incorporated, increase speed to medium speed and whip using the whisk until a glue-like consistency forms. Whip on medium-high speed for an additional 1 to 2 minutes to make stiff peaks for a thicker icing.
  3. At this point, this is the base icing and will be stiff. If the icing is too stiff, add more water, I recommend starting with 1 teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. I also love using a spay bottle to thin the icing down.  If icing is too thin, add powdered sugar, just a little at a time, until desired consistency has been reached.
  4. Once desired consistencies are reached, add the white icing to a piping bag or place in bowls and color using gel food coloring. 

Consistency Types

  1. Stiff Consistency: This type of consistency is comparable to buttercream icing. It is used for leaves, detail designs, flowers and much more. This consistency will hold its shape. 
  2. Piping Consistency: This type of consistency is comparable to toothpaste. It is used outlining and lettering. This icing count is 25 seconds. 
  3. Flood Consistency: This type of consistency is comparable to honey or shampoo. It is used for for filling large areas. This icing count is 8-10 seconds.

Notes

I don’t recommend subbing real egg whites for the meringue powder. The results or consistency won’t be the same. 

If you don’t have a stand mixer and whisk attachment, feel free to use a handheld mixer. 

Using a spray bottle to add water to the icing allows you to better control the amount of water added at a time to the icing. This was first introduced to the baking world by Gail of One Tough Cookie NYC.

For a full explanation of icing count, see above in the blog post. 

Only use gel food coloring when mixing new colors. If you use liquid drops, it will thin down the icing and give you a different consistency. 

  • Author: Ashley McCrary
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: royal icing, icing for sugar cookies, royal icing with meringue powder


 

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About Me

Welcome to Healthy Little Peach. I’m Mac, the lady behind the recipes. I believe in living a healthy lifestyle that consists of a mix of healthy whole foods, and full-fat comfort meals. Life is too short not to enjoy good food while maintaining a healthy body and mind. Here you will find gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, keto, and even full-fat comfort recipes. Let’s have fun in the kitchen together!

About Me

Welcome to Healthy Little Peach. I’m Mac, the lady behind the recipes. I believe in living a healthy lifestyle that consists of a mix of healthy whole foods, and full-fat comfort meals. Life is too short not to enjoy good food while maintaining a healthy body and mind. Here you will find gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, keto, and even full-fat comfort recipes. Let’s have fun in the kitchen together!

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1/3 cup diced cucumbers
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1/3 cup feta 
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Naan bread, crackers, or chips for dipping

Note: If you don’t want to add it to a board, this works just as yummy in a large bowl or platter. 

ENJOY!

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*3 English muffins split in half (gluten-free or regular)
*Butter (to toast muffins) optional
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*Three 5-ounce cans of white meat tuna packed in water, drained
*2 tablespoons finely chopped yellow onion
*2 tbsp dill relish or 2 large pickle spears, chopped
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*1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
*Parsley for garnish

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1. MIX THE TUNA SALAD: In a medium mixing bowl, add the canned tuna and break up the tuna with a fork. Transfer the chopped onions, relish, pickle juice, salt/pepper, and mayo. Mix together until combined. 
2. TOAST MUFFINS: You can choose to toast the English muffins with butter under the broiler for 2-3 minutes. However, if you don’t want to toast before adding the tuna, that’s okay. It still turns out great without toasting muffins first. 
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