Royal Icing

star rating (9) rate this recipe »
dairy free
Recipe photo
Hands-on time:
Yield: 3 cups

Recipe photo

This is the traditional icing for glazing cookies, piping decorations, or assembling the walls of a gingerbread house. It's light and fluffy; the more you beat it, the stiffer it becomes. For a thinner version, simply thin with a bit of water until you have a consistency that will flow evenly over the cookie. Let it dry to a hard, shiny surface, then you can pipe over it or use food-safe markers to decorate. To color the frosting, we recommend gel paste or powdered colors. Liquid food coloring can dilute the frosting so much it separates and becomes grainy. Be sure to store any frosting you're not using in a tightly covered container; it becomes quite hard as it dries. We make this big batch of frosting, then divide it into smaller amounts to tint different colors.

Royal Icing

star rating (9) rate this recipe »
dairy free
Hands-on time:
Yield: 3 cups
Published: 01/01/2010


  • 1/4 cup meringue powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 3/4 cup cool water

Tips from our bakers

  • To make a hard cookie glaze, thin some of the frosting with a little more water. Dip the top of a cooled cookie into the frosting, then sweep across the top with a spatula to remove the excess. At this point you can sprinkle the wet glaze with colored sugar and let it dry, or put another color on top and swirl it through with a toothpick.
  • To keep the frosting in a pastry bag from hardening at the tip, place the pastry bag inside a second, uncut bag. This will shield the open tip from the air, and keep the frosting from leaking out.
  • When decorating, here are some of the tools you may find handy to have on hand: craft paintbrushes for spreading frosting; toothpicks for drawing one color through another; tweezers for placing sugar decorations, and colored sugars for sprinkling over wet icing.
  • Here is a royal icing recipe using egg white. It is from our 200th Anniversary Cook book. 1 egg white, 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Beat all of the ingredients until it forms peaks.


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1. Place the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the cool water, and stir slowly to allow the sugar to dissolve.

2. Mix on low speed at first, increasing to high speed over several minutes. Beat until the icing is fluffy.

3. Keep the frosting covered with a damp towel and some plastic wrap until you have time to use it.

4. Divide the frosting into smaller containers and mix with food coloring for several colors.

5. To use for piping, put a tip in the bottom of a disposable pastry bag. Using a coupler will allow you to change tips with ease.

6. Use a tall, heavy-bottomed glass to hold the pastry bag while you add the frosting. Take care not to fill the bag more than half full.

7. Close the back of the pastry bag with a twist tie or spring clip, to keep the icing from backing up over your hand when you squeeze it.

Nutrition information

Serving Size: 17g Servings Per Batch: 36 Amount Per Serving: Calories: 46 Calories from Fat: 0g Total Fat: 0g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 21mg Total Carbohydrate: 11g Dietary Fiber: 0g Sugars: 11g Protein: 0g

* The nutrition information provided for this recipe is determined by the ESHA Genesis R&D software program. Substituting any ingredients may change the posted nutrition information.


  • star rating 01/06/2015
  • Hannah from New Hampshire
  • Very tasty, but I wish I had really whipped the frosting until it was a meringue like texture- the icing did not hold its shape out of a piping bag.
  • star rating 06/17/2012
  • jewelsy from KAF Community
  • Just made this for an order of sugar cookies, and it worked out perfectly. I added a bit more than 4 cups of powdered sugar to make the icing a little stiffer for letter writing. The tip about dipping the top of the cookies in a thinner icing for the glaze on top is life-changing. It's so much faster than flooding the cookies by piping.
  • star rating 01/21/2011
  • from
  • I tried the royal icing recipe Mary from KAF had suggested, consisting of egg whites, powdered sugar, salt, and lemon juice which turned out PHENOMENAL!!! This is some of the best frosting I've ever had and my family's always baking desserts. Thanks!
  • star rating 12/24/2010
  • forstegrupp from KAF Community
  • This icing worked wonderfully well for my children as they decorated gingerbread cookies. The lines held their shape and did not run. Beautiful cookies!
  • star rating 11/30/2010
  • Erin R from Blacksburg, VA
  • I used this royal icing recipe on a batch of KAF gingerbread cookies ( I did tweak it by adding 1.5tsp vanilla extract and 2tsp lemon extract to the flour/salt/meringue powder mixture (which i sifted twice for extra smoothness). Using an electric hand mixer, i beat it for about 5-7 minutes and it was great. I'm pretty sure i used less water than the recipe said too - as i was using it to detail cookies, rather than flood them. Unlike other reviewers, My icing dried VERY quickly. I finished icing my cookies within 4 hours they were dry enough to package. (though had i used enough water to make it flood a shape, i'm sure it would have taken 16-20hours at least) Anyway, with the extracts, it had a great flavor that really complemented the gingerbread. I would totally use this recipe again! I think the greater amount of meringue poweder (at least compared to the wilton royal icing recipe) really makes this icing a winner.
  • star rating 12/03/2009
  • Shirley from Boston
  • I'm changing my rating. The white icing took 12 to 14 hours to dry! Would this have been different if I used the larger portion of confectioners sugar? And the colored frosting still wasn't dry 24 hours later! That may have been due to the fact that I used liquid coloring, but the white took a long time to dry as well. This was frustrating, since I meant to mail them to someone and 24 hours after icing the colored ones still were not dry and hard.
    Sorry to disappoint. This is a perfect opportunity to call our baker's hotline to problem solve (802-649-3717). The simple answer is yes, add the larger amount of confectioners sugar. The icing should squeeze easily out of the pastry bag, the blog about decorating cookies may give hints for consistency. Irene @ KAF
  • star rating 12/02/2009
  • Shirley from Boston, MA
  • This was easy to make, but I didn't realize royal icing takes an eternity to dry. Plan in advance! I won't be able to give away these cookies today. 6 hours later, the icing's still not set. Also, it takes a LOT of coloring to get the icings to the right shade, unless you're going for pastels.
  • star rating 06/11/2009
  • from
  • NOT SPECIFIC 3-4 CUPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Depending on your use for this icing (thin to ice the cookies or thicker to pipe decorations) you may need different icing consistency. The recipe suggests you start with 3 cups, and add up to 4 cups to meet your decorating needs. Irene at KAF
  • star rating 11/18/2008
  • Nel from Poland
  • What about a recipe for Royal Icing when you don't have meringue powder available where you live? Surely there was a way of making it before meringue powder was invented?
    Here is a royal icing recipe using egg white. It is from our 200th Anniversary Cook book. 1 egg white, 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Beat all of the ingredients until it forms peaks. Have fun with it. Mary @ King Arthur Flour

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