Royal Icing

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Royal icing is a great frosting recipe for cakes and cookies needing detailed decorations that last a long time because it dries very hard. Also works well for decorating gingerbread houses. It works as the glue to hold the house together and for attaching other decorations.

Of the many recipes for frosting, Royal Icing dries the hardest and lacks in flavor so it is not the best choice for an edible frosting recipe. It flows easily so it works well for writing, piping, and outlining when decorating cakes and cookies. Royal icing has a tendency to dry fairly quickly so it is important to take precautions while using it so it does not dry out before you are finished. It can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature. Frosting Types will provide you with for more information on how to store Royal Icing properly so that it will not dry out when you are working with it.

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Royal Icing


  • 3 pasteurized egg whites
    OR 1/4 C. meringue powder plus 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 4 c. powdered sugar
  • Combine the egg whites or meringue powder and water with the cream of tartar and beat until it becomes foamy.

  • Add about two thirds of the powdered sugar and beat into the egg mixture. Gradually add the remaining powdered sugar and almond extract and continue to beat on high until the icing holds a stiff peak.
  • If the Royal Icing seems too runny, add a little more powdered sugar. If the icing seems too thick, add a teaspoon of water at a time until it is at the desired consistency.

  • If you are not ready to use the icing immediately, dampen a dish towel and place it over the bowl of icing to keep it from drying out. Remove the towel to take some of the frosting out to work with and then replace the damp towel on the bowl.
  • If the damp towel is placed over the bowl while you are decorating a cake or cookies, the icing will remain the proper consistency. If the towel begins to dry, sprinkle it lightly with water to re-dampen. See How to Make a Gingerbread House for more information about storing the icing properly.

  • Place some of the icing in a pastry bag or a small sealable plastic bag, which can have one corner clipped off so it can be used for applying the icing. There are plastic disposable pastry bags available that work really well for applying the icing. Look for them anywhere that they sell cake decorating supplies.

  • Once the bag has been filled with icing, tie the opening tightly shut with some string. Clip the end with a scissors, being careful not to cut too much off, resulting in an opening that is too large.
  • You are ready to begin the decorating or construction process. A disposable pastry bag works well for piping and writing but you will have to use a regular pastry bag with decorating tips to make special shapes.

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