Royal Icing How-To

Christmas cookies have a very special place in my heart. While I was growing up my mom would have christmas cookie decorating parties. These parties were some of my fondest memories. I have no idea how she orchestrated very energetic, high-pitched children into a decorating army, but somehow she did. I took to it quickly, and always enjoyed the decorating part the most, and let my older sister take over rolling out the dough. Now, I have to stress that these weren’t just silly decorations. My mother took pride in coloring her own sugar, and even used food coloring in egg yolks to paint with; she was basically a rock star in the cookie decorating world. I thought egg yolk paints, and colored sugar was a normal decorating activity, but I can assure you it most definitely is not. I was just very lucky, to have such a dedicated and talented mom.

Over the years I have been experimenting with a few different styles of cookie decorating, and this year I wanted to get the hang of royal icing. For whatever reason royal icing has had a spurt of popularity on the interwebs, and because it’s important to to stay relevant, I wanted to give it a go and make sure I can actually decorate with it. I have always considered royal icing as tasty glue, sInce it hardens so well, the only time I have ever used it was for the caulking on gingerbread houses. Decorating cookies, as it turns out, involves a broader range of consistencies, not just the glue kind.

My recipe comes from my mom’s cookbook, but it seems to be widely used. The most important part is to mix the egg whites and sugar slowly. Then once it is smooth you whip it up until it forms stiff peaks. So simple and to the point. This consistency is the one I was used to, it’s perfect for glueing gingerbread houses, or edging the outline of cookies. From there you can add a teaspoon of cream at a time until the icing is thin enough to leave an indent when you run a knife through, but then quickly smoothes out. Everyone has different preferences as to what the right thinness is. So until you find yours just keep adding more cream to thin, or dust with powdered sugar if you want to thicken it back up.


Royal Icing

Serving Size: can decorate about 15 cookies


  • 3 Pasteurized Egg Whites
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 4 Cups Confectioners Sugar


Put egg whites and vanilla in bowl of standing mixer with whisk attachment, and turn to low.  Slowly add sugar until fully incorporated, and mixture is smooth and shiny. Turn to speed to high and whip until the icing forms stiff peaks this should take around 6-7 minutes. Add food coloring if desired. Transfer to a piping bag and use immediately, or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. To thin icing add a teaspoon of cream until correct consistency is reached. 





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