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Royal Icing

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  • Prep 15 min
  • Total 15 min
  • Servings 30
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Use this traditional icing recipe on your favorite holiday cookies.
Updated Mar 8, 2019
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  • 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup plus 5 to 10 teaspoons warm water (105°F to 115°F)
  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Betty Crocker™ gel food color(s), if desired


  • 1
    In large bowl, beat powdered sugar, 1/3 cup warm water, the meringue powder, vanilla and cream of tartar with electric mixer on low speed until mixed. Beat on high speed 7 to 10 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally, until very stiff. Tint with food color(s).
  • 2
    Spoon 1/2 cup icing into small decorating bag fitted with small round writing tip; twist bag to keep closed. Keep remaining icing covered with plastic wrap to prevent drying out; set aside.
  • 3
    To pipe outlines or borders: Squeeze decorating bag firmly and steadily working counterclockwise to create an icing border. Release pressure on decorating bag to cut off flow of icing and complete border. Allow borders to set completely, 30 to 60 minutes, before filling in outlines.
  • 4
    Uncover remaining icing, and add any icing from piping outlines into bowl; mix well. Stir in warm water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until icing is consistency of heavy cream. (Make sure icing is mixed well before adding next teaspoon of water so as not to add too much.) Pour thinned icing into squeeze bottle; screw on top. Keep squeeze bottle tip and any remaining icing covered with plastic wrap to prevent drying out while decorating.
  • 5
    To flood or glaze: Using squeeze bottle, fill inside with thinned icing. Use nozzle of squeeze bottle or small metal icing spatula to fill in all areas until completely covered. If decorating with sprinkles, let stand 1 to 2 minutes before adding, so the sprinkles adhere. Let stand about 3 hours or until completely dry. Outlines and floods 30 (3-inch) sugar cookie shapes. Cover and store any remaining icing.

Tips from the Betty Crocker Kitchens

  • tip 1
    Some of the other uses for this icing besides outlining and flooding cookies include: decorating gingerbread cookies, assembling gingerbread houses and decorating wedding cakes.
  • tip 2
    Meringue powder is a pasteurized dried egg white product that is used in recipes when food safety is a concern. It also helps to make the icing dry hard. Look for meringue powder in the baking aisle of the grocery store.
  • tip 3
    An easy way to fill your decorating bag is to place it in a glass measuring cup or a large pint glass, and fold the opening down around the glass so it’s like a collar; fill the bag. Remove the bag, and bring ends together; twist and squeeze mixture toward tip, and pipe!
  • tip 4
    For best results, pipe with a small amount of this icing in the decorating bag while piping outlines. It makes it easier to control the flow as you are squeezing; just add more if needed.
  • tip 5
    Royal Icing dries quickly when exposed to air. Be sure to keep icing bowl covered with plastic wrap while you’re decorating. If piping tip or tip of squeeze bottle gets clogged, use a toothpick to loosen, and squeeze to remove clump.
  • tip 6
    Using disposable plastic decorating bags instead of canvas decorating bags make cleanup a snap! Disposable plastic decorating bags and tips can be purchased in the baking section of most craft stores.
  • tip 7
    Plastic squeeze bottles can be found in craft stores or in large grocery stores. If you don’t have a squeeze bottle, pour the thinned icing into a 1-cup glass measuring cup, and pour or spoon some into center of cookie; use small metal icing spatula to help fill in all areas.
  • tip 8
    Using a small funnel will make it easier to fill the squeeze bottle with this icing.
  • tip 9
    If any air bubbles form as you spread the glaze, pop with a toothpick or wooden skewer for a smoother surface.
  • tip 10
    This recipe makes 2 1/4 cups Royal Icing before water is added for flooding consistency. Leftover icing can be tightly covered in a container at room temperature.


80 Calories, 0g Total Fat, 0g Protein, 19g Total Carbohydrate, 18g Sugars

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 Tablespoon
Calories from Fat
Total Fat
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Total Carbohydrate
Dietary Fiber
% Daily Value*:
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
0 Starch; 0 Fruit; 0 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Skim Milk; 0 Low-Fat Milk; 0 Milk; 0 Vegetable; 0 Very Lean Meat; 0 Lean Meat; 0 High-Fat Meat; 0 Fat;
Carbohydrate Choice
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
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