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Easy Royal Icing For Cake Decorating

4.66 from 224 votes
My Easy Royal Icing For Cake Decorating guide provides you with an easy 3-ingredient recipe and all my favorite decorating tips and tricks.
A homemade royal icing is presented in a clear bowl next to five round cookies.

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Hi Bold Bakers!

WHO THIS RECIPE IS PERFECT FOR: Anyone, from casual bakers to seasoned pros, will love this will love my Easy Royal Icing For Cake Decorating! Not only do you get my royal icing recipe, but I’ll throw in some tips and tricks for decorating along the way! 

I won’t claim to be a professional cake decorator, but I do have enough tricks up my sleeve to make you think I might be one! My recipe and method for making Easy Royal Icing For Cake Decorating ensure that every step along the way to making a cake look beautiful is as simple as possible. 

That includes the recipe list — this is a 3 ingredient royal icing recipe. All you need are eggs, powdered sugar, and a touch of lemon juice! If eggs aren’t part of your diet, be sure to see my notes below for the best egg substitute to make royal icing. 

This simple-to-make recipe is also incredibly easy to use! I’ll give you a rundown of troubleshooting royal icing, common questions, and how to decorate a cake using royal icing.

A bowl of homemade white royal icing is presented in a clear bowl on top of a floral napkin. A plate of round cookies is served in the bottom left of the photo.

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 and sturdy icing. You could even use my royal icing to build gingerbread houses and cakes like my Irish Christmas Cake.

Based on these ingredients, you can probably assume what royal icing tastes like — a lot like sugar.

The main difference between Royal Icing and Buttercream Frosting is the texture. Buttercream is creamy, but royal icing will harden and holds its shape. 

Are Raw Egg Whites In Royal Icing Safe? How To Heat Treat Egg Whites

There is a very slight risk of contracting food-borne pathogens, like Salmonella, while using egg whites in royal icing, but it is very low.

If this makes you nervous, I suggest heat-treating your eggs prior to use. This step is not necessary while making homemade royal icing, but it’s a good method to know when working with raw egg whites.

To heat treat egg whites, cook them in a bain-marie over low heat for 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly. Do this just until the egg whites become warm — not hot. You don’t want to cook the eggs. Heating the water over a pot of simmering water (not in the pot) will kill any potential bacteria. 

With the addition of lemon juice, you’ll be as safe as can be! 

Egg Alternatives For Royal Icing

If you don’t want to use egg whites, there are a few alternatives for making royal icing. You can use aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas!) in place of egg whites for vegan royal icing. You can also use meringue powder instead of egg whites in this recipe. 

Use 2 teaspoons of meringue powder and 2 tablespoons of water to substitute 1 egg white. For this recipe, you will need 8 teaspoons of meringue powder and 1/2 cup water.

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.

FAQs And Troubleshooting Royal Icing

How long does it take for royal icing to dry?

The 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? How do I store royal icing? 

Before using royal icing, keep it covered tightly at room temperature (cling wrap works wonders, just make sure it’s touching the surface). Use it straight away or store it at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Once used and dried, royal icing will remain intact for up to one month, preserving all of your beautiful decorations.

Why isn’t my royal icing stiff enough?

If your royal icing is the consistency you’d like, add a little more sifted powdered sugar. If it is too stiff, add a bit more water! 

Can you flavor royal icing?

If you’d like to make flavored royal icing for your cake, use alcohol or water-based flavoring, like my homemade vanilla extract

Can you color royal icing?

Yes! You can add food coloring to your royal icing. I like to use gel coloring as it will give you the most color and contains just a little liquid so that it won’t throw off your icing consistency. 

Tools You Need To Make Royal Icing For Cake Decorating

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Bain-marie (or a heat-proof bowl situated over a pot of simmering water)
  • Whisk
  • Stand mixer with whisk attachment or handheld electric mixer

Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips For Making Royal Icing

Try More Icing Recipes!

Watch The Recipe Video!

Easy Royal Icing For Cake Decorating

4.66 from 224 votes
My Easy Royal Icing For Cake Decorating guide provides you with an easy 3-ingredient recipe and all my favorite decorating tips and tricks.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Prep Time 20 mins
My Easy Royal Icing For Cake Decorating guide provides you with an easy 3-ingredient recipe and all my favorite decorating tips and tricks.
Author: Gemma Stafford

Ingredients

  • 4 (5 ½ oz/160 g) large egg whites
  • 6 cups (24 oz/690 g) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

Instructions

  • First, heat-treat the egg whites (optional): 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 the 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, about 2 - 3 minutes.
  • 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 it 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 it at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. This will be enough to cover 1 large cake.
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Jo Al Eisri
Jo Al Eisri
3 years 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

Shalywealth venture
2 years ago

It’s compulsory to coat cake with butter icing before use royal icing on the cake

Rachel
Rachel
2 years ago

Hi Gemma,
I’m planning on making a birthday cake for my husband. I was wondering if I can use this recipe for piping “Happy Birthday”? If so, should I reduce the recipe by half or further?

Pooja
Pooja
3 years 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.

Eileen Johnston
Eileen Johnston
3 years 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?

Maria Salerno
Maria Salerno
3 years 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?

Marilee Wright
Marilee Wright
2 years ago

Hi, thanks so much for this recipe! My cake layers are frozen. i would like to ice w/royal icing then refreeze. Is that a mistake? Can I do it? Thanks again.

mannal
mannal
2 years ago

Can I use royalnicing directly to decorate cupcakes and also the loose consistency icing for cake pops?

Gloria
Gloria
2 years ago

What else could be used if there is no lemon juice

Charlie Stocks
Charlie Stocks
2 years ago

Hiya can I make iceing with iceing sugar and caster sugar and bicarbonate and soda egg milk flour
Please help me

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About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, a cookbook author, and the creator of Bigger Bolder Baking. I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere with my trusted and tested recipes and baking tips. You may have seen one of my 500+ videos on YouTube & TikTok or as a guest judge on Nailed It! on Netflix or the Best Baker in America on Food Network. No matter your skills, my Bold Baking Team & I want to be your #1 go-to baking authority.

 

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