This post contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.
Royal icing is an easy and impressive way to transform a simple sugar cookie into a little work of art.
When it’s just the right consistency, the icing can be used to outline and “flood” the cookie. It self-levels, resulting in a perfectly smooth layer of icing. The icing dries firm to the tough with a matte sheen. With a little patience, you can create multi colored or layered designs that are almost too nice to eat!
What you need:
Egg Whites – Be sure to use pasteurized egg whites. If you are concerned about using raw egg whites, you can use meringue powder (see alternate recipe below).
Powdered Sugar – Sifted powdered sugar quickly dissolves into the egg whites, perfect for this icing.
Water – Water is added to the mixture one tablespoon at a time until the perfect consistency is reached.
Food Coloring – gel food coloring is the best option here.
How to make the icing:
Whisk the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer until foamy.* Add half of the powdered sugar and mix with the whisk attachment for 1-2 minutes. Add the remaining sugar and mix for another minute. One tablespoon at a time, add in the water until the mixture is thin enough for the peaks to settle back into the bowl. Mix on high for 1-2 minutes, adjusting the water content as necessary. Divide the icing into small bowls and tint with gel food coloring. Transfer the icing to piping bags fitted with size 2 piping tips.
To close the bag, I use a zip tie. Because it closes so securely, you can apply a good amount of pressure when piping and it prevents any of the icing form leaking out of the top.
*As an alternative to raw egg whites, combine the meringue powder and warm water in the stand mixer and whisk until foamy. Add the powdered sugar and continue as above.
To decorate the cookies:
For these cookies, I started with my Perfect Sugar Cookie Recipe and cut out Boston Terrier shapes with this adorable cookie cuter. Always begin decorating with the lightest color to prevent the colors from bleeding. Create a thin outline with the starting color. “Flood” the area by filling in the outline with the icing. If the consistency is just right, it should level out and form a perfectly flat shape. You can use a toothpick to encourage the icing into the corners/gaps or to settle any stubborn peaks. After about 30 minutes the icing will have hardened enough to move on to the next color. Allow the cookies to air dry overnight before packaging or storing in an airtight container.
- 2 egg whites
- 454 grams powdered sugar sifted
- 3-4 tbsp water
- food coloring
Raw Egg White Alternative:
- 2 tbsp meringue powder
- 6 tbsp warm water
- Whisk the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer until foamy.
- Add half of the powdered sugar and mix with the whisk attachment for 1-2 minutes. Add the remaining sugar and mix for another minute.
- One tablespoon at a time, add in the water until the mixture is thin enough for the peaks to settle back into the bowl.
- Add the food coloring and mix on high for 1-2 minutes. Adjust the water content if necessary.
Raw Egg White Alternative:
- As an alternative to raw egg whites, combine the meringue powder and warm water in the stand mixer and whisk until foamy. Continue with step #2.