Bold Baking Basics, Homemade Ingredients

Easy Royal Icing for Cake Decorating

4.41 from 49 votes
Cake decorating doesn't have to be hard, and with my Easy Royal Icing for Cake Decorating you'll be able to make your cakes as beautiful as you've always wanted!

Hi Bold Bakers!

While I’m not a pro cake decorator, I have all the tricks up my sleeve to make you think I might be! My recipe and method for making Easy Royal Icing for Cake Decorating is one of my go-to for making cake decorating easy as can be. Made with only 3 ingredients, royal icing is a classic for a reason— it’s simple to make, easy to use, and is the first step in making a cake (be it a Christmas Cake or otherwise!) beautiful.

What is Royal Icing?

Royal icing is made of egg whites, powdered sugar, and a dash of lemon juice. This ratio of egg white-to-powdered sugar, when whipped to perfection, transforms into a light, fluffy, and very sturdy icing. This frosting can even be used as a glue to decorate gingerbread houses and cakes like my Irish Christmas Cake.

How to Heat Treat Egg Whites

While this step is NOT necessary to making royal icing, it’s a good method to know when working with raw egg whites in case you’re worried. To heat treat the eggs, cook them in a bain-marie over low heat for 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly. Do this just until the egg whites have become warm — but are not hot. This will kill any potential bacteria in the eggs, making them safe to use when raw, and with the addition of the lemon juice, you’ll be as safe as can be! IF you don’t want to use egg whites at all then you can use meringue powder to make this frosting also.

Cake Decorating with Royal Icing

I love to use this thicker form of royal icing to smooth over cakes and create a blank snowy slate for other decorations. Additionally, my easy royal icing is the perfect consistency for creating a really fun texture. To do this, I get creative with an offset spatula and go to town, creating lovely swirls and peaks.

How Long Does it Take for Royal Icing to Dry?

Royal icing will begin to set after one hour, forming a nice skin. After 4-6 hours, the icing will harden completely — holding whatever form you give it while decorating.

How long does royal icing last?

Before using royal icing, keep it covered tightly at room temperature (cling wrap works wonders, just make sure it’s touching the surface). Once used and dried, royal icing will remain intact for up to one month preserving all of your beautiful decorations.

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Watch The Recipe Video!

Easy Royal Icing For Decorating Cake

4.41 from 49 votes
Cake decorating doesn't have to be hard, and with my Easy Royal Icing for Cake Decorating you'll be able to make your cakes as beautiful as you've always wanted!
Author: Gemma Stafford
Prep Time 20 mins
Cake decorating doesn't have to be hard, and with my Easy Royal Icing for Cake Decorating you'll be able to make your cakes as beautiful as you've always wanted!
Author: Gemma Stafford

Ingredients

  • 4 (5 1/2 oz/160g) egg whites* (egg sub in notes)
  • 6 cups (24oz/690g) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

Instructions

  • First heat treat the egg whites if you choose to do so. Warm the eggs in a bain-marie over low heat for 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly. Do this just until the egg whites have become warm but are not cooking. This will kill any bacteria in the eggs making them even safer to use when raw.
  • On a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites in a clean, large bowl with the mixer at high speed until foamy, around 2 minutes.
  • Gradually add sifted sugar spoonful by spoonful followed by the lemon juice.
  • Beat at high speed until thickened.
  • The icing at this stage will be at a good consistency for flooding cookies. If you want it stiffer for frosting a cake, or writing on cookies, add more icing sugar until you get the consistency you desire.
  • Place the icing into a bowl and cover with cling wrap. Make sure you allow the cling wrap to touch the icing so there is no air in the bowl. This stops it from going hard while you are waiting to use it.
  • Use it straight away or store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. This will be enough to cover 1 large cake.

Recipe Notes

How to make Royal Icing Vegan? you can use aquafaba and you will get similar results. 

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Comments & Reviews

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Eileen Johnston
Guest
Eileen Johnston
1 month ago

Hi Gemma. The recipe I have for fruitcake uses almond paste as a base for the royal icing. Do you recommend this? If so, should I use flour or powdered sugar to prevent the almond paste from sticking?

Jo Al Eisri
Guest
Jo Al Eisri
1 month ago

Hi Gemma. Merry Christmas. I want to ice my Christmas cake, but the icing I need for that is a rolled icing. Do you have a video or a recipe for that? xx

Bakeology
Member
Bakeology
1 month ago

Hi Gemma,
Its a give a pleasure to watch ur videos with sharing each and every small details related to baking.

Can you give the subsitute of egg white for royal icing ?

I do not egg as am vegetarian.

S P
Guest
S P
19 days ago

Hi Gemma, it’s new year’s eve here and I was desperately looking for an easy recipe for my sponge cake and I found this!!!!! Perfect timing- can’t wait to make it!!!

Doris
Guest
Doris
28 days ago

Hello Gemma i will like to know if i use meringue powder how much i need?

Thank you

michella
Guest
michella
1 month ago

Hi Gemma, Ive not done a xmas cake in 20 years and referred to my old recipe for icing, mine included icing sugar, glycerine, lemon eggs and rosewater..I cant find rosewater over here or order in a hurry, Im thinking, we can survive without it, what do you think?

Heidi Kiyara
Guest
Heidi Kiyara
1 month ago

Thank you

emmz
Member
emmz
2 months ago

Hie gemma ,thank you for the easy recipes am frm zimbabwe .i wld rilly wnt to knoe if i can put this royal icing for those matured fruit cakes ..will the royal icing last for a long tym

Maria Salerno
Guest
Maria Salerno
3 months ago

Hi Gemma, Just ran onto your site and so far I love it, I may try several of your recipes.
However I have a couple of questions. would the Royal Icing for cakes harden to much on a cake?
I have never seen a cake with a hard icing and I use royal icing for my cookies and in my opinion its to hard for a cake.
Or is it that the way you make your royal icing for cakes not harden as much?

Chukwudi
Guest
Chukwudi
3 months ago

Hello Gemma,
I want to thank you for your services.
I want to know if vinegar could be used instead of lemon juice.
Thanks.

About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere! No matter your skills, I have you covered. Sign up for a FREE profile and join millions of other Bold Bakers in the community for new dessert recipes, baking techniques, and more every week!

Buy the Bigger Bolder Baking Cookbook by Gemma Stafford