Royal icing adds that special something to light and crispy sugar cookies. The perfect amount of sweet with the perfect texture will add enjoyment and satisfaction to any holiday.
Hey y’all, I have a treat for you today with this royal icing for sugar cookies recipe and a tutorial on how to make it. I am definitely not the best baker in the world, but with this straightforward recipe and a bit of practice, I got better and better at making and decorating sugar cookies with royal icing. The top two pictures are right from our very own Southern Plate photographer and the bottom two images are additional ideas for y’all in case you wanted to branch out and have some fun with this recipe.
I particularly like this royal icing recipe because it didn’t break a tooth off when I bit into the finished sugar cookie and keeping my pearly whites as long as I can is a top priority.
So, when should you use royal icing? I’d recommend using it when you want your sugar cookie to dry hard, if you want to ice the cookies ahead of time and store them in the freezer, and if you want to decorate your cookies in a multi-colored design.
Now, this royal icing recipe doesn’t include a sugar cookie recipe. But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Check out my heart-shaped Valentine’s Day cookies, Italian sugar cookies, chewy sugar cookie recipe, and my recipe for spritz cookies. That’ll keep you busy!
A Bit of History About Royal Icing
According to Wikipedia, the first mention of royal icing was back in 1770. Piping the icing for decoration didn’t happen until later, around 1840. So this icing sure does have some staying power.
Enough with the short history lesson, let’s get to it!
- Powdered sugar
- Meringue powder
- Vanilla extract or flavoring of your choice
- Food coloring (optional)
How to Make Royal Icing for Sugar Cookies
Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine all of the ingredients.
Mix together until you form a hard icing (about 8-10 minutes).
This is a good starting point for making decorations with the royal icing.
To thin the sugar cookie icing for piping
Add in the extract flavoring and mix. Slowly add in water, 1 teaspoon at a time, and continue mixing the white icing until the desired consistency is reached.
Mine looked like this.
To add food coloring
If one color is being used, add it directly to the mixing bowl.
Gently stir the gel food coloring in until blended.
If multiple colors are being used, pour the desired icing into separate bowls, drop in the coloring and gently stir the icing until the colors blend.
Scoop the sugar cookie icing into a piping or pastry bag to begin .
Start creating your design.
I got creative with some polka dots here, but you can make any kind of
If using, add them as soon as you’ve finished the , as it will dry quickly.
Here are a couple of other examples. You can use this royal icing for sugar cookies recipe for all occasions: Valentine’s Day, Christmas (it’s perfect for decorating a gingerbread house), Easter, 4th of July, you name it! The possibilities are endless. Just keep practicing.
Here’s our finished sugar cookie. Aren’t those polka dots cute?
- You can use regular gel food coloring or I have also used this plant-based food coloring as well from Amazon.
- You will need extra water for thinning the icing for piping. And the humidity in your home will affect how much water you will need, so be flexible regarding the amount listed in the recipe card. Now I’m not talking about the kind of flexibility ya need to exercise (hehe). You know what I mean!
- When you aren’t using the icing, cover the piping bag and piping tip with a damp towel to prevent it from hardening too soon.
- Besides vanilla extract, I recommend using almond extract. Alternatively, if decorating sugar cookies for the holidays, why not try peppermint extract?
- Use a toothpick to smooth the sugar cookie icing and get rid of any air bubbles.
- To make a standard , you need , , , salt, egg, baking powder, milk, , and a
Can you freeze royal icing?
Yessiree! Store leftover icing in the freezer for up to 3 months or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Store it in an airtight bag, an , or wrapped in . When ready to use, place the icing back into the mixer and mix until you reach the desired consistency.
You can also freeze sugar cookies with royal icing for up to 3 months. Thaw them in the fridge or at room temperature before serving.
Can I use any type of electric mixer?
It turns out better and it’s much easier to make if you use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
Here is a best-seller on Amazon that is priced a lot better than the one I have:. You can click on the picture to see it on Amazon and if you purchase it Southern Plate will be eternally grateful as we receive a small commission that goes towards creating new recipes like this one.
How do I know when the icing is mixed well enough for piping?
Well, here’s a little inside tip! To find a good piping consistency, spoon some icing out of the bowl and pour it back into the bowl. If the icing takes 8-10 seconds to melt back into the bowl then it is ready to use. I usually sing Dolly’s “Jolene, Jolene” and let the last Jolene go a little long and that usually does it.
Why should you use meringue powder in your royal icing recipe?
Meringue powder allows you to make royal icing without raw egg whites, which is a big win in my books! It also helps the icing dry quickly, so you can package and stack them in a hurry. You’ll find meringue powder in the baking aisle or on Amazon.
You may also like these icing and frosting recipes:
- 7.5 cups powdered sugar equals 2 pounds
- 1/2 cup water *extra water for thinning the icing will be needed for piping*
- 6 tbsp meringue powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract you can use whatever extract flavoring you like
- food coloring, optional
- Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine all of the ingredients and mix together until a hard icing is formed (8-10 minutes).7.5 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 cup water, 6 tbsp meringue powder, 1 tsp vanilla extract
To thin the icing for piping
- Add in the extract flavoring and mix. Slowly add in the water, 1 teaspoon at a time, and continue mixing the icing until you get it to the consistency you want. See notes for how to find a good piping consistency.
- If only adding one color, add it to the mixing bowl and gently stir the food coloring in until blended. If you are using more than one color, pour the desired icing into separate bowls, add in the coloring and gently stir the icing until the colors are blended. Scoop the icing into a piping bag for use.food coloring, optional
- This recipe is best done in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
- Humidity will affect how much water you might need.
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