Royal Icing That Doesn't Dry Rock Hard





Introduction: Royal Icing That Doesn't Dry Rock Hard

There is one thing every cookier needs in their arsenal… a favorite royal icing recipe. The royal icing recipe that I’m sharing with you today is my favorite because it is not only yummy (of course!) but it is the perfect texture. There is a not-so-secret ingredient that allows the icing to harden enough for stacking and shipping while remaining soft on the inside. No more biting into a beautifully decorated cookie and cringing because the icing is rock hard!

Step 1:

Begin by using a whisk to mix 5 tablespoons of meringue powder and 3/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar with 3/4 cup of warm water. Mix it for about 30 seconds, making sure that you get rid of all lumps.

If you are not familiar with meringue powder, it is used in royal icing as a substitute for raw eggs whites. Look, Mom, no Salmonella! It also helps to stabilize the icing and give it a nice texture. You can find it at your local craft store in the baking section or online. I started out using Wilton brand meringue powder, but have found that I prefer the taste of CK.

Step 2:

Now, get ready for a vicious arm workout! In a separate large bowl, sift two pounds of powdered sugar. I always make a mess doing this, so if you figure out how to do this without getting sugar everywhere, you’re a superstar in my eyes! Pssst… I heard an unconfirmed rumor that you can skip the sifting as long as you’re not doing piping with a really small tip.

Step 3:

Next, add the water mixture to the powdered sugar and mix it for about a minute to get it all combined. Then, add 2 tablespoons of light corn syrup, 1 teaspoon of glycerin, 12 drops of white gel food coloring, and your flavorings (I like to use 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon almond, and 1/4 butter). The corn syrup is an ingredient that is usually mentioned as optional in classic royal icing recipes. It adds a little gloss and elasticity to the icing. The glycerin is the not-so-secret ingredient that keeps the icing from being rock hard. You can find it in the baking section at craft stores or online. The purpose of the white food coloring is to make the icing a pleasant bright white instead of off white.

Now, put your mixer to work! Beat the icing on medium for about 6 to 8 minutes, until you can make a stiff peak that holds its shape. Pause and scrape down the sides of the bowl while mixing if needed.

Step 4:

If you are saving the royal icing for later use, I suggest storing it in Tupperware containers (that you use for icing only, see Keep Oil Out of Royal Icing for the lesson that I learned the hard way), covered with plastic wrapped, and sealed tightly.

If you are ready to start decorating, separate your icing into smaller bowls, color with gel food coloring, and add water (a tiny bit at a time) to get the consistency you want.

Well, what are you waiting for? Now that you’re a royal icing ninja, grab your sugar cookie recipe and get baking!

For a printable version of this recipe, visit Royal Icing Recipe at

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    Can you freeze cookies made with this royal icing or will it be blotchy when it's defrosted?????

    I have made this recipe and the icing is hard. Cream of tartar is a stabilizer as well and tends to create a hardening to royal icing. Cream of tartar is okay in buttercream, SMBC or IMBC. However, this is a hard icing. I tried it with and without cream of tartar. The only difference was the color of the icing. With cream of tatar, the icing color was more vibrant but if it's hard, it doesn't matter what the color is.

    Mine dried hard as well...

    I am SO excited to try this recipe. I usually use Royal on my sugar cookies, but I had extra buttercream from a cupcake order recently and I used it to frost a sugar cookie order. It crusted hard enough to package and line the cookies upright in the box. Well, those were amazing cookies and now I'm getting orders from people who were at that event. I can't do a bait and switch and give them super hard royal now, but I can't do buttercream transfers for every order. I'm hoping that this royal recipe with the glycerin and butter extract will give me a 'close enough' result. Of course, I'll still let people know in advance that it won't be exactly the same as what they had, but the cookie itself is so good, I don't think I it'll be a deal breaker. Thank you for posting this and wish me luck!!

    Great instructable. In step 3 you mention "1/4 butter" as a flavouring. is that butter or butter flavouring and how much 1/4 tsp? Tbsp? I hope to get to use this soon. Thanks.

    Sorry about that. It's 1/4 tsp butter flavoring.

    I have a couple of tips for no mess sifting. First empty the bag of confectioners sugar into a container that you can store it in and more importantly dip out with either a measuring cup or large spoon.

    Second use an old fashioned sifter. This is the kind with a crank on the side. Fill it over your sugar container, move it to your mixing bowl and slowly turn the crank. You won't have any mess.

    Thanks for the nice instructable.

    Thanks! Those tips totally make sense. I will give them a try.

    I use a sieve, about 4" across, to sift ingredients when I bake.

    Great recipe!