Royal Icing in 5 Steps

The Book Cookie

Royal Icing 101

img_0982Nutmeg, Pumpkin spice, homemade pie, and fluttering leaves, are just a few of my favorite things about autumn. So what about decorating cookies? Royal Icing resembles a shiny, hard, texture, for beautiful cut out cookies, which are PERFECT for holiday decorating.

First time making homemade icing? Follow my guide below.

    5 Step Guide

  1. Awesome Recipe
  2. Perfect Consistency
  3. Mixing Colors
  4. Bottles or Bags
  5. Practice

1. Awesome Recipe

Need a simple, buttery, vanilla, yum in your tum sugar cookie recipe? Right here.








Royal Icing Recipe


  • 4 cups (about 1 lb.) confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 tablespoons warm water
  • 3 TB meringue powder


1. Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).
2. For a stiffer icing (used for outlining), use 1 tablespoon less water. For the thinned (flood) royal icing add an additional teaspoon of water at a time until you reach a good consistency.
3. Royal icing will keep at least a month. Cover with clear wrap and refrigerate.
4. Separate frosting in bowls to mix in different colors with food coloring.

Recipe from:

There are millions of frosting recipes out there. We all have one that works for us and our type of sugar cookie. This recipe from Wilton is a great starter recipe if you’re literally at Square 1 Basics with Royal Icing. Some recipes interchange between using meringue powder, egg whites, or lemon juice to mix with confectioners’ sugar. I’ve used all three and all work fantastically in their own way!

2. Perfect Consistency

img_0985Mixing the perfect consistency takes time and practice. Your main goal is to have a thicker consistency for outlining your cookie base, but also to create a loose texture for flooding, which is a watered down version of your original royal icing base.

When you initially mix your icing, you want it to look like glue. As you mix your icing, continually add a tablespoon of water until you reach your flood consistency. If you end up adding too much water…. don’t fret! You can always reverse the method by adding more powdered sugar.

3. Mixing Colors

Wee! A rainbow of colors! Hoorah!

Mixing colors can definitely be daunting at times.

Best advice: Mix everything ahead of time!

If I need three colors for a cookie, I separate icing from the main mixing bowl into three separate smaller bowls. Always start with the smallest amount of food coloring per bowl because you can always add more. I use this coloring here from: Americolor Soft Gel Paste Food Color, Set of 12

Mix your icing with a spoon until you get the color & consistency you desire. Once you flood your cookie, you can use any tool to spread out the icing, or if you get your consistency PERFECTO, the icing will fill into the edges on its own.


Note: Adding color will dry your icing out, so you may have to add small teaspoons of water to your bowl. Here are the measurements I use when creating the perfect consistency:

Outlining: 1/2 -3/4 tsp. water per 1 cup glue

Flooding: 1 1/2 -1 3/4 tsp. water

4.  Bottles or Bags?

Hmmmm….. which one? The choice is yours! Everyone has their preference. I use both. However, I learned to do my best border piping with bottles. I typically use icing bags to flood, but still I sometimes stick to bottles as well.



Pros: Easy to grip and control.

Cons: Annoying to load and remove icing once it’s in the bottle.


Pros: Quick and easy to load icing into. Holds more icing.

Cons: May be difficult to control when piping.

It’s all up to you Bookies! Both methods take some time to get a feel for and both include endless interchangeable piping tips to use for decorating. Win Win!

Happy fall season!

5. Practice

As is anything in life, practice makes perfect! From mixing your own icing recipe, to forming proper consistency, and happily decorating, Royal Icing is definitely a skill to master, so don’t worry if you feel frustrated at times. You’re still learning!

I still discover new techniques every time I whip up Royal Icing. However, once you get the hang of it, audiences everywhere will love your cutesy cookies and there will be smiles on every face at the holiday party!

Good Luck on your baking journey,

Have fun and Bake on Bookies!