Royal icing is one of those things you need to make a few times before you get it right, and you need a lot of practice to know what consistency you need for various things. It has taken me about a year, and I have finally mastered (re: started to understand) the art of royal icing, but that will be a story for another post. For now, here is the recipe I use when I decorate my sugar cookies, and I always end up with a little bit left over for a sweet little snack! You can cut this recipe in half if you are making a small batch of cookies or just need enough for outlining.
To make this royally impressive royal icing, you will need:
- 2 tbsp meringue powder
- 1/4 cup water (plus another 1/4 cup separated for later)
- 4 cups of powdered sugar (plus a little extra for later, if needed)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- hand whisk and baking spatula
- 2 mixing bowls
- gel food coloring
- spoons or popsicle sticks (one for each color of icing you’re making)
If you are going to decorate cookies, you will also need:
- piping bags
- piping tips of your choosing (there is enough to talk about here for a whole other post)
- toothpicks or a baking scribe tool to push your icing around
If you are storing the icing for later, you will also need:
- air-tight containers
To make this royal icing fit for a queen, you can:
- Begin by hand-whisking the meringue powder and water in your first mixing bowl. The mixture should start to form foam.
- Whisk in your vanilla extract.
- Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, and whisk (or stir with a spatula when it starts to get thick) until each cup is fully mixed before adding the next. I like to have my powdered sugar pre-measured and ready to go in the second bowl, but that is optional.
- Once all the sugar is added, you will have a hard mixture that doesn’t look much like icing, so slowly add small spoonfuls of water at a time and mix well until you get the desired consistency. Once it starts getting to the consistency you want, you can take it down to adding a few drops of water at a time – yes, it is that sensitive! Thin icing is good for flooding, medium thickness is good for outlining the cookie, and very thick icing is good for making shapes like little rosettes!
- Separate into other bowls, and add your desired gel food coloring. Mix these up well using a spoon, spatula, or popsicle stick.
- If you realize your icing is too thin (everyone’s first rookie mistake), just add in extra powdered sugar a little bit at a time until you reach the desired thickness.
Let me know if you have any tips or tricks in the comments below. I’m always looking for new baking tips. As always, feel free to use the hashtag #confectionqueen on your instagram or twitter so I can see your beautiful creations!