Bold Baking Basics, Homemade Ingredients

Easy Royal Icing for Cake Decorating

4.64 from 149 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

4.64 from 149 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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Jo Al Eisri
Jo Al Eisri
11 months 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
6 months ago

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

Pooja
1 year 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.

Maria Salerno
Maria Salerno
1 year 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?

Eileen Johnston
Eileen Johnston
11 months 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?

mannal
mannal
4 months ago

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

Rachel
Rachel
4 months 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?

Marilee Wright
Marilee Wright
4 months 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.

Gloria
Gloria
4 months ago

What else could be used if there is no lemon juice

Charlie Stocks
Charlie Stocks
4 months ago

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

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 my FREE weekly emails and join millions of other Bold Bakers in the community for new recipes, baking techniques, and more every week!

Buy the Bigger Bolder Baking Cookbook by Gemma Stafford