Royal Icing | Midwest Living

Royal Icing

Royal Icing

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  • Yield: 3 cups icing
  • Start to Finish 15 mins

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Compared to buttercream or canned frosting, Royal Icing has the benefit of hardening completely (and being fat-free). It's a must for gingerbread houses or intricately decorated holiday cookies. Find meringue powder at crafts stores.


  • 4 16 - cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Desired color food coloring (optional)


  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat powdered sugar, meringue powder, cream of tartar, the water and vanilla with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Beat on high speed for 7 to 10 minutes or until mixture is very stiff. Stir in more warm water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until icing reaches desired consistency. (If the icing ever gets too runny, just add powdered sugar.) If not using immediately, cover bowl with a damp paper towel and then with plastic wrap. Icing can be chilled for up to 48 hours.


  • When not using the icing, keep it covered with clear plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.


  • Three Ways to Apply Royal Icing Whichever method you choose, let the base coat dry before piping or painting on additional decoration. Spoon: The simplest method is to spoon the icing over the cookie and spread it with the back of the spoon. This can be messy, but it doesn't require any special tools.
  • Three Ways to Apply Royal Icing Brush: Spoon icing onto the cookie, but then spread it with an artist's brush. This method affords some control without the pastry bags and two-step drying process of piping and flooding (below).
  • Three Ways to Apply Royal Icing Pipe and Flood: Using a pastry bag fitted with a narrow tip, pipe a rim of icing around the cookie. Let it set for an hour or so, then flood (fill) the center, using a brush, piping bag or squeeze bottle. Spread icing into tight corners with a toothpick. This method is fussier but offers the most precision.

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