Easy-to-make royal icing

Thursday, August 5 2021

Royal icing is ideal for cookie decorating. It dries hard like a candy, allowing decorators to make interesting textures and add dimension to the designs. And, once the icing is dry, the cookies can be stacked on a platter or packed in a cute treat bag without worrying about sticky icing! The key ingredient in royal icing is the meringue powder, a food-safe alternative to using raw egg whites. You can find meringue powder online and in craft stores in the baking aisle.

This homemade royal icing recipe is by cookie artist Anne Yorks, author of The Crafted Cookie book.

Yields: about 600ml (20fl oz) of icing

Active Time: 15 minutes


  • Warm water: 80ml (51/2tbsp)
  • Vanilla extract: 1tsp
  • Meringue powder: 36g (11/4oz)
  • Icing sugar: 454g (1lb)
  • Gel food colour: white


  • Stand mixer
  • Airtight container


  1. Pour the warm water into the bowl of a stand mixer arranged with the paddle attachment, or into a large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer. Add the vanilla and meringue powder. Mix for a minute on medium speed until fluffy and foamy. Scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary.
  2. Once the water and meringue powder mixture is fluffy and foamy, add the powdered sugar in stages. Keep the mixer on low, adding sugar slowly to avoid a powdery explosion. I find it is not necessary to sift powdered sugar, but you may do so if you prefer.
  3. Once all the sugar is added, increase the speed to a medium-low speed. The amount of mixing time can vary from 4–7 minutes depending on the humidity. Beat the icing until it changes from ivory to a brighter white. After a few minutes of mixing, you’ll notice the icing will form stiff peaks and will increase in size. It will go from looking pasty to smooth. Take care not to overmix, though. If the icing looks spongy and fluffy like marshmallow, it will not perform!
  4. At this stage, add 2tsp (10ml) of white gel food colouring to the icing to achieve a beautiful pure and bright white icing. This will also allow your other icing colours to pop even more.
  5. Separate the icing into a small container and seal with an airtight lid until ready to use. Do not leave the icing without an airtight cover or it will form a crust. Note that I usually adjust the consistency to piping icing and then store it. If the project requires stiff icing, I’ll take out the stiff icing that is needed first before adjusting the rest of the batch to piping consistency. It’s just easier to let the mixer do the mixing.

Top Tip

You can adjust your icing consistencies. If your icing seems too stiff, add another tablespoon of water to loosen the icing a bit. I like to mix the icing thick and then use water to bring it to a nice piping icing consistency. If your icing appears too thin and stiff peaks are not forming, add more sugar to make the icing thicker, 30g (1oz) at a time.


Reprinted with permission from The Crafted Cookie by Anne Yorks, Page Street Publishing Co., 2021. Photo credit: Elise Cellucci.

Learn more about Anne and her creations in her Talent Spotlight article in the September/October 2020 issue of Cakes & Sugarcraft.

And if you like this recipe and want some cookie inspiration, why not have a go at making her original rainbow birthday cookie set, as seen in the September/October 2020 issue of Cakes & Sugarcraft and published in The Crafted Cookie.

For more information, visit Anne's website HERE.


Homemade icing by cookie artist Anne Yorks!