Royal Icing: the 3-ingredient recipe to decorate your favorite sweets

Total time: 15 Min
Difficulty: Low
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Confectioner’s sugar
4 cups or 1 pound
Warm water
5 tbsp
meringue powder
3 tbsp

Make homemade 3-ingredient royal icing to expertly decorate sugar cookies, gingerbread houses, and other treats. Made with meringue powder instead of egg whites, this recipe is shelf-stable and much easier to whip up.

What royal icing is used for?

Royal icing is the pure white, stiff, sweet icing used to add detail and beautiful decoration to sweets. It’s easy to make, with just three ingredients, and holds its shape well, making it the perfect decoration for home bakers.


What is Royal Icing Recommended For?

The best uses for royal icing are to make intricate, detailed decorations for cookies, gingerbread housing, and other small details. It’s not recommended to decorate cakes, as the icing hardens and won’t be a pleasant texture on soft and spongy cakes and cupcakes. However, this icing recipe does create a smooth, neat finish with clean lines, making it perfect for sugar cookies and gingerbread houses. Plus, you can color your icing however you like with food colorings, so one batch can yield hundreds of unique cookie decorating patterns.

Ingredients to Prepare Homemade Royal Icing

Homemade royal icing is a three-ingredient, quick and easy recipe. You’ll need 4 cups, or about 1 pound of confectioner’s sugar, 5 tablespoons of warm water, and most importantly, 3 tablespoons of Meringue Powder.

Meringue Powder is the secret to perfectly smooth and stiff royal icing that cooperates when you decorate cookies, cakes, and other treats. It’s an ideal egg white substitute for baking, as it’s shelf-stable and easy to use. There’s no risk of contamination as there is when you use raw egg whites. Ultimately, using Meringue Powder t is a guarantee of smooth, white, and long-lasting icing that stays in place and freezes well.


How To Decorate Cookies with Royal Icing

To decorate with royal icing, divide your icing between pastry bags. For stiff icing, use a larger-tipped pastry bag. For flooding with thinner icing, a smaller tip will work. Then, gently squeeze the top of the bag, directing the icing onto your cookie to create designs, patterns, and even 3-D shapes that give life and height to your baked goods.

You can use royal icing as a glue to give structure to your gingerbread houses, make beautiful standing flowers in all colors and shapes, or paint flat and colorful flooded patterns across the tops of sugar cookies. When it comes to decorating with homemade royal icing, the possibilities are endless.

How To Freeze Royal Icing

You can freeze royal icing in a sealed plastic bag or airtight container for up to 2 months. To use the frozen icing, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. Then beat the icing in an eclectic mixer before using it until it’s light and fluffy again.

Don’t store royal icing decorations in the freezer. They last much better in a dry, dark place in an airtight container. This way, they’ll stay fresh for several weeks.



If your royal icing comes out too stiff and is hard to use for decorations like flooding the top of a cookie, you can easily fix the problem. Add ½ teaspoon of water at a time until your icing is pourable and spreadable. Use no more than 1 teaspoon of water per cup of icing. Rather than beating the water in, use a rubber spatula to fold it in gently.

On the other hand, if you want a stiffer consistency, simply use one less tablespoon of water than the recipe calls for. In this case, use just 4 tablespoons of warm water. This will create icing that’s perfect for stiff 3-D decorations.


How to Make Royal Icing

  1. To make royal icing, place the powdered sugar, water, and Meringue Powder in a large mixing bowl.
  2. With an eclectic mixer, beat the ingredients together until the mixture forms stiff peaks. This should take 7-12 minutes, depending on the strength of your mixer.
  3. Allow the mixed icing to rest in the bowl for 15 minutes, and up to 1 hour. This allows air bubbles to naturally rise and escape from the icing, for a smooth consistency.
  4. Color your icing with food coloring and frost your treats. Leave the iced treats to dry for up to two hours. They should be hardened and shiny before serving or storing. For faster drying, place the treats in front of a fan.



– Remember to wash all of your equipment well. Any amount of grease or fat left on a utensil can disrupt the icing and prevent it from setting up correctly.

– Also, it’s important not to overmix the frosting in the eclectic mixer. More mixing means more air bubbles, which is not good for decorating. Stop beating as soon as you have stiff peaks, and start checking for stiff peaks after about 7 minutes of mixing.

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