How to make Royal Icing

No matter what time of year is, you don’t really know when some cookies need to be decorated real quick. There may be some Christmas cookies or birthday sweets, but in either case, you just have to know an easy and quick recipe of royal icing. Many of you already know how to make royal icing, as I read in the comments section, but I noticed that not so many succeeded in making its consistency good for piping or flooding. Therefore, I decided it is time to teach you my sweet secrets about this recipe. Do not worry, it is more about the technique than the extra time or the complexity of the ingredients. 

So, if you already know how to make royal icing, but are having trouble getting it runny for flooding your cookies, this step-by-step instruction might be really helpful. As a personal secret, I always start out with a stiff royal icing, and then I thin it down with water so it is either soft for piping or runny for flooding. I am truly in love with my sweet recipe and won’t use any other method, since this brought me so much success.

As a first tip, always remember to cover up your royal icing with either cling film or a wet cloth as this will prevent it to dry out. However, if your icing gets too thick, add water, or if it is too wet, add more icing sugar.

With no further introduction, let’s take a look at the list with the ingredients and tools. After that, we will make this simple and fun recipe together, step by step.

This is what I use:

  • 2 egg whites

I make this recipe using egg whites (pasteurized) since meringue powder and dried egg white powder is not very common here in Denmark. Some of the cake decorating shops may have it though, but I stick to the egg whites as a personal preference.

  • 2 lb icing sugar sifted (Not all may be used)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Large bowl
  • Handheld mixer with hooks or stand mixer with a paddle attachment
  • Cling film

Preparing the Royal Icing:

Step 1: First of all, combine egg whites and lemon juice in a large bowl. Then, you just add some of the sifted icing sugar to the mixture and start the mixer.

Combinig egg whites and lemon juice
Adding shifted icing sugar

Step 2: Keep adding the icing sugar a little at a time.

Here is a key piece of advice: When the mixture looks like thick whipped cream and makes soft peaks the moment you push down the hooks/paddle in it, you can use it for piping.

The mixture is ready for piping
Royal Icing for Piping

Step 3: When you have the soft peak icing, you start to only add 2 tbsp of icing sugar at a time. Keep in mind that from now on the icing will get stiffer.

Finally, when you can pull out small stiff peaks the icing is ready. Cover the icing with cling film and a lid or wet cloth and store it in the fridge.

How to Make Royal Icing Runny

If you want to make runny icing for flooding cookies or making run-outs, here are the steps you have to follow. The previous three steps will be also followed when making the runny icing, so I would just add some more:

Step 4: Take some royal icing (stiff made) into a bowl and start mixing it with water. Remember to add only a few drops at a time!

RELATED ARTICLES: How to Make Daisy Cookies with Royal Icing

How to Make Royal Icing for Flooding

Step 5: Continue this until the icing is thin and liquid. It should be smoothing out when you lift the spoon.

Moreover, feel free to add 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite flavored extract, such as maple, lemon, maple, peppermint, orange, etc. when you add the water. I also use 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, for some recipes.

Another insight: if you make your icing too watery you can usually fix it by adding more icing sugar. (Also, if the term “icing sugar” is new to you, don’t worry! Remember that is just another name for powdered sugar or confectioner’s sugar.)

Step 6: The mixing with the water will most likely cause many air bubbles in the icing. In order to reduce that, I always cover up the icing and let it “rest” for 30 min. Then I give it a slow stir and, eventually, the number of air bubbles in my icing decreases.

Finally, you can use this royal icing for cookies! As mentioned before royal icing is great for flooding cookies. So, if you want to learn some decorating techniques, go and read my “How to Flood Cookies with Royal Icing” tutorial. You can also visit my tutorial section if you want to learn how to make other icings and frostings.

Happy Baking!

I hope this piece on how to make royal icing for flooding and other occasions was helpful! I know how tricky it can be to keep your royal icing runny and useable. However, the secret is to keep adding water to the icing to thin it out to the correct consistency. I believe that if you closely follow the previous steps there won’t be any problems.

I know that dry royal icing is a pain to work with and it can be tricky to decorate a cake with icing that isn’t applying right. Perfecting royal icing can take time but don’t get frustrated. You will find out that it is easy to work with, sets quickly, and won’t break your teeth when it dries. It has the most delicious taste and texture and makes decorating sugar cookies a simple and fun Sunday activity.