How to Make Royal Icing Taste Better

cookies with pink royal icing

Royal icing makes for the most beautiful and intricate designs on cookies. Often, they are too pretty to eat — literally! Although these decorated cookies are gorgeous to look at, many cookie fans find they lack in the flavor department. Like fondant, people can view royal icing as purely decorative. But not anymore!

Believe it or not, there IS a way to make your royal icing look top-level and taste like it too! So whether you are just trying your hand at this cookie glaze or have been searching endlessly for a way to make the flavor and texture sync up to perfection, we’ve got the answers for you right here. So keep reading to take your royal icing from hard and flavorless to fluffy and delicious!


What is Royal Icing?

Royal icing is made with three simple ingredients: powdered sugar, egg whites or meringue powder, and water. It’s a hard white icing typically used to decorate cookies, but it can also be spread on cakes, gingerbread houses, and biscuits.

There are three main types of royal icing: stiff consistency, piping consistency, and flood consistency. Each can be used for different decorating techniques to create different royal icing looks.


Royal Icing vs. Regular Icing

Many confuse royal icing with regular icing, but there are key differences. Royal icing uses egg whites or meringue powder with sugar and flavorings, while traditional buttercream icing uses milk and butter. The fats in the milk and butter create a creamy and soft icing; royal icing hardens into a candy-like texture.


How to Make Royal Icing

Royal Icing Mix

Royal icing takes little time and is extremely easy to make. The basic rule of thumb for making your own goes as follows:

  1. First, add egg whites (or meringue powder) and your flavor extract of choice to a bowl of a stand mixer and beat until frothy.
  2. Next, slowly add confectioners’ sugar and mix on low speed until combined and shiny in appearance.
  3. Turn your mixer to high speed and beat for 5 to 7 minutes or until the icing forms stiff, glossy peaks.
  4. Stir in water a little at a time to create the desired consistency.

Don’t want to make royal icing from scratch? You will find royal icing mix at Amazon or in your grocery store that is quite good.


How to Make Royal Icing Taste Better

cookies with royal icing

Ready to make the best royal icing recipe? Follow these 10 tips and tricks for sugar cookie icing with perfect consistency and the most decadent taste.


Use the Right Equipment

An electric mixer with a whisk attachment is a must for making the perfect icing. Beating your icing will allow more air into it, creating an icing consistency that is super tasty and easy to apply. However, a hand mixer will do if you don’t have a stand mixer.


Start Small with the Water

Once you’ve mixed your three icing ingredients, your royal icing will have a stiff consistency. To make it piping or flood consistency, you’ll need to add water or some flavored liquid.

Start with a couple of tablespoons at a time, mix, and test it by lifting your whisk attachment. You’ll have an ideal consistency when all the icing drips off into the bowl within 10 seconds.


Add Flavor Extracts

Sugar only sometimes tastes great on its own. You’ll need to add oil-free flavor extracts such as almond, butter, lemon, maple, or peppermint to get a delicious royal icing. Only add a little bit of extract at a time and taste the icing before adding more; you don’t want to overdo it!


Use Liquid Alternatives

You can use many other liquids in place of water that will significantly boost the flavor of your royal icing. For example, fresh lemon, pomegranate, or beet juice will add color and flavor, as well as strawberry and raspberry puree — even coffee!


Add Cream of Tartar

Cream of tartar helps stabilize the whipped egg whites, giving your royal icing the right consistency and preventing it from clumping.


Add Corn Syrup

The biggest difference corn syrup makes is that it helps soften up the icing, so it’s not unpleasantly hard to bite into. It also provides a lovely glossy finish to your icing that you can’t get without it!


Add Salt

A pinch of salt can go a long way. It is an excellent way to enhance all the other flavors in your icing. So don’t skip it!


Don’t Overmix

It’s important not to overmix the icing as it will whip too much air into your mixture. This results in icing with a more clumpy texture rather than smooth.


Ease Up on the Food Dye

Remember, food dye will get darker the longer it sets. Add a couple of drops at a time and stir until you’ve reached your desired color. The food dye can create a chalky taste if you add too much.


Add Sprinkles

Sprinkles will add a more pleasing, sugary taste and an extra layer of wonderful texture. Not to mention how cute they’ll look on your cookies!



plate of cookies with royal icing

What is the 10-second rule for royal icing?

The 10-second rule is a way to check the consistency of the icing to ensure you get the best results. Simply lift the whisk attachment that you mixed the icing with, or use the tip of a knife to dip it into the icing. Then slowly count to 10 — if the icing that falls smooths over in that time, your icing is good as gold!


How long should royal icing dry before decorating?

How long your royal icing dries depends on how thickly you apply it. For instance, thinner icing takes approximately 4 to 6 hours to dry entirely through, whereas thicker icing can take a few days.


How long does royal icing need to dry between layers?

About two hours under a gentle fan will ensure that your first layer of icing is dry before adding another layer. However, if you have more time, letting them sit overnight to dry will ensure the icing doesn’t mix.


How do you store royal icing?

Once you’ve made your icing, you can keep it at room temperature in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks. When ready to use, make sure you beat it again in a mixing bowl at low speed.


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Written by Laurie Graves

Laurie is a 50-something wife and boy mom, who loves to share easy recipes, DIY home ideas, and food hacks. She truly believes that with a little inspiration, anyone can make their home and meals feel special.