This simple royal icing recipe produces a white, hard icing that is perfect for decorating candies, cookies, cakes, and gingerbread houses.
Note: this is not an icing that should be used to frost cakes! Royal icing dries into a very stiff consistency. It's wonderful as a glue for gingerbread houses, as a topping for sugar cookies, or to make decorative accents for cakes and candies.
Don't miss the photo tutorial showing how to make royal icing, and see the links below for recipes that use royal icing!
- 3 egg whites, at room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- food coloring (optional)
- Make sure the egg whites are at room temperature before beginning. If you are concerned about ingesting raw egg whites, make sure that you buy pasteurized eggs to minimize risk.
- In the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer, place the egg whites, powdered sugar, and cream of tartar. Using the whisk attachment, beat all together on low speed until combined. You can use a hand mixer if you desire, but it will likely take longer for the icing to reach the right consistency.
- Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Restart the mixer and beat the mixture on medium speed until very thick, shiny, stiff and white. This should take about 7-10 minutes.
- Check the texture to ensure that it is suitable for your needs. If you require a stiffer icing, add a little more powdered sugar at this point.
- If you want to dye your icing just one color, you can add a few drops of food coloring into the bowl and mix it for a few seconds until the coloring is evenly distributed. If you want to make several different colors, divide the icing into several different bowls and stir in the food coloring by hand.
- Royal icing dries to a very hard consistency, and it will begin setting as soon as it is made. To prevent the icing from getting hard before you use it, thoroughly wet a paper towel and place it over the top of the icing in the bowl. It is very important to keep the icing covered! Likewise, if you are using a pastry bag and piping tips with the icing, twist the back end of the bag tightly, and wrap a wet paper towel around the tip when not in use so the icing will not dry in the tip.
- Depending on the temperature, humidity, and amount of icing used, royal icing should harden within 15 to 60 minutes of application. Do not refrigerate products with hardened royal icing, as the icing can become soft and sticky.
Recipes that Use Royal Icing: