In this article: Get the absolute BEST royal icing recipe; great for decorated cookies, gingerbread houses, and making flowers!

I’ve been a baker my whole life- from the helping my mom in the kitchen as a little girl to making homemade treats for my own kids.

** This blog contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of these links, I may earn a commission. Please click here for more information about cookies collected and our privacy policy **.

One of my favorite things to make is cookies- specifically rolled and cut cookies. They allow to me tap into my creative, artistic side and make fun designs.

And the best way to decorate rolled cookies is with royal icing!

This is the only royal icing recipe I use and it’s easy to make and create smooth designs. Even my kids have made beautiful ( blue ribbon-winning) decorated cookies using this icing. It dries hard to the touch but keeps just a bit of softness on the inside.

 

best royal icing recipe

 

The BEST Royal Icing Recipe ( for Rolled Cookies)

 

Here’s what you need:

3/4 cup warm water

5T meringue powder

1 tsp cream of tartar

2 lbs powdered sugar

gel based food coloring (optional)

plastic icing bottles (optional)

 

Instructions:

Mix the water and meringue powder in a large mixer bowl with a whisk until it’s frothy. This should take about 30 seconds.

Add in the cream of tartar and mix for another 30 seconds.

Add in the entire 2 lbs of sugar at once. Place the paddle attachment on your mixer and turn it on lowest speed.

Mix the royal icing for 10 minutes. A FULL 10 minutes. Set a timer and walk away and let it mix.

 

best royal icing decorated cake cookies

 

Once the timer is done, stop the mixer and scrape the paddle and edges of the bowl.

Now it’s time to color your icing and get the consistency right.

Divide the royal icing into different bowls. 1 bowl for each icing color you want.

Drop 2-3 drops of your paste food coloring into the bowl and stir gently until the color is evenly distributed.

Get a cup of warm water and slowly add very small amounts of water to your icing until it reaches the consistency you need.

For basic decorating with icing bottle, you want it pretty runny. Hold the spoon above the bowl and drizzle the icing back in. If the ribbon sinks in and disappears within 3-5 seconds then you have the right consistency.

If you want to make more 3-d designs like flowers then it needs to be thicker.

And if you are using royal icing to construct a gingerbread house, you won’t need to add any additional water since you need very stiff icing.

If your icing gets too runny you can always mix in a little more sugar.

 

heart sugar cookie with icing (1)

.

Tips for Decorating with This Royal Icing

 

I like using plastic icing bottles for decorating sugar cookies with this royal icing recipe. These bottles have a nice small tip that allows just the right amount of icing out at once.

 

Here are some decorating tips:

Draw an outline first. This helps create a barrier and reduces overflowing icing. This is especially important when decorating with kids. Draw the outline and then allow it to sit for a few minutes.

Fill in the center of the cookie with icing and use a toothpick to spread into the corners and nooks and crannies.

 

best royal icing decorated by kids

Cookie decorated by a 7 year old child

 

Use a toothpick to create lots of fun designs. Such as:

  • Make a dot of icing on top of wet icing. Drag at toothpick straight down through the dot to create a heart.
  • Draw lines on a wet cookie. Drag a toothpick up and down through them to create fun lines.
  • Draw concentric circles on a wet cookie. Drag a toothpick from the center out around in a circle to create a spiderweb design.

 

You can also let the base coat dry for 10 minutes or so and then layer another color to create more depth.

 

christmas cookies decorated with royal icing

Christmas cookies designed by kids ages 7-15

 

Please note that this royal icing does dry and dries pretty hard, so if you need to leave bowls out for more than a few minutes you should cover them with a damp paper towel to keep the icing from hardening.

Also be sure to cover or cap the lids of the plastic icing bottles to keep dry icing from blocking them.

 

Not sure what cookies to make to go with your royal icing? Try one of these family favorites:

Swedish Spice Cookies

The Best Sugar Cookie Recipe for Cookie Cutters

 

heart sugar cookie with icing (1)

The Best Royal Icing Recipe

The best royal icing recipe to use for decorated cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 5T meringue powder
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 lbs powdered sugar
  • gel based food coloring (optional)
  • plastic icing bottles (optional)

Instructions

    1. Mix the water and meringue powder in a large mixer bowl with a whisk until it’s frothy. This should take about 30 seconds.
    2. Add in the cream of tartar and mix for another 30 seconds. 
    3. Add in the entire 2 lbs of sugar at once. Place the paddle attachment on your mixer and turn it on lowest speed. 
    4. Mix the royal icing for 10 minutes.
    5. Divide the royal icing into different bowls. 1 bowl for each icing color you want.
    6. Drop 2-3 drops of your paste food coloring into the bowl and stir gently until the color is evenly distributed. 
    7. Get a cup of warm water and slowly add very small amounts of water to your icing until it reaches the consistency you need.  

Notes

Please note that this royal icing does dry and dries pretty hard, so if you need to leave bowls out for more than a few minutes you should cover them with a damp paper towel to keep the icing from hardening. 

Save & Share!