What is “Royal Icing” Anyways?

I was definitely raised in a buttercream frosting household.

Don’t get me wrong, I love buttercream for its versatility… you can add a zillion different flavors of extracts, lemon or lime for an endless variety of flavors. You can always easily add things like cream cheese, peanut butter, etc. to change up consistency and taste. It is just easy to work with and flavor possibilities are endless.

I however have always admired those sugar cookies sitting in the window at the pastry shops that look like a glossy painted piece of artwork with fun seasonal designs, and wondered how they accomplished such detail just with icing.

Well, the secret my friends is this magical stuff called “Royal Icing”.

Okay, so, what is Royal Icing?

It is a very basic combination of egg whites, water, and powdered sugar that create an a glossy icing that hardens to stay in place. If you add more water you will have a runnier consistency icing where you can in-lay designs. With less water you get a thicker consistency that can be used as a border to hold in icing designs, as lettering, or to hold pieces of cake/cookie together (think gingerbread houses!).

If you are still having a hard time visualizing what I am talking about, check out Sweet Ambs website… she is the goddess of Royal Icing and makes the most intricate designs.

If you are anything like me, an opportunity to make something with egg whites is an opportunity for failure… I never seem to get the amount of whipping quite right. So if that sounds like you, you should be excited to hear there is a way to make Royal Icing WITHOUT egg whites!

In place of the egg whites you can use this magical fairy dust called “Meringue Powder”, which is a mixture of dried egg whites and cornstarch. It is a boutique grocery store find, but is easily ordered online… Here is where I get mine on Amazon: Wilton 702-6020 Meringue Powder


The Wilton website lists a simple recipe using their meringue powder:

  • 3 Tablespoons Meringue Powder
  • 4 Cups Powdered Sugar (Sifted to remove bumps)
  • 7-8 Tablespoons Water

All you do is mix the ingredients together with a stand mixer until the consistency starts to firm up and peaks form in the icing. It does dry out relatively quickly, so you want to be ready to start frosting right away. If you aren’t able to transfer immediately to a piping bag, cover your bowl with a towel to prevent it from drying out.

Here is a new tip I learned in regards to using a piping bag that I just learned and LOVE!

Cut a sheet of saran wrap and pour your royal icing in the middle. Then, twirl it up like a tootsie roll and drop it into your piping bag.

You can see my little saran wrap enclosure inside the piping bag. Lots less mess!
The Wilton Meringue Powder I used

Funny enough, I went to order the Meringue powder on Amazon Prime Now and didn’t have enough in my cart to complete the purchase. I then found this Wilton “Performance Color System” which is this awesome set of concentrated food coloring that comes with 8 colors (note that there are ones like bright pink, black, brown) along with this super cool guide on how to mix them to accomplish super custom colors!

I feel like my red velvet cakes never turn out red enough so I have been on the hunt for new colors anyways so I scooped these up and am beyond excited to try them out!

Here is a link to where I found the food coloring kit on Amazon: Wilton Color Right Performance Color System, 601-6200

Look at these crazy awesome colors you can mix up with this set! That teal is beautiful! Can’t wait to get more adventurous with these 🙂

So, are you guys excited to see what I made with my Royal Icing last week? You will just have to tune in tomorrow! 🙂


Disclaimer: I am a member of the Amazon Affiliates program… I am not sponsored by any of these products, I just really like them! I do however get a little kick-back if you purchase anything through the links provided. Prices are no different than if you were just shopping on your own 🙂

22 Replies to “What is “Royal Icing” Anyways?”

  1. I’m lucky enough to be from a house hold that uses both!! Having both up your sleeve comes in handy as it gives you freedom to move between them…. Esp if the ingredients you have match one better!! Another cheat product I love are those cartons of egg whites!! Pre separated!! Anything that makes life easier!! 😍

    1. Ah that is a great idea! I am not the master of whipping egg whites so that meringue powder was magical for me. But surely something that you may not have on-hand all the time, so i need to get better at the alternative!

      1. I’m amazing with a whisk… shockingly bad free hand… actually more so embarrassing 😂 Practise makes perfect! You’ll just have to make loads of cookies 😂 xx

    1. I agree buttercream is my fav 🙂 My hubby told me he liked the royal icing flavor better and I was surprised…. I was like “you realize it is just sugar and water, right?” haha

  2. It is my moral responsibility as a buttercream hog to weigh in in favour of it 😉 Royal icing does look so pretty but I cannot abide its sugary texture. But your cookies look so charming that I might be tempted to switch off my buttercream obsession and devour them xx

    1. Don’t get me wrong, buttercream is my preference too! I think I have been attracted to the icing lately just because of how pretty and intricate it can be to decorate. My husband told me he liked this icing better than buttercream and I was like… bro, its just water and sugar, that’s not possible, haha!

      1. It does give you leeway for decoration. Far better than buttercream, and well, if your husband is asking for icing then why not take advantage. Just till your daughter grows up and has her say 😉

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