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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


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


  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 it in bowls and color using ONLY gel food coloring. If you use drops it will thin out your icing and change the consistency of the icing. 

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.


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