An easy decorating option, this royal icing is made without meringue powder and using only common ingredients. Use this on your favourite sugar cookies!
Photography by Sophie MacKenzie.
There’s no better option for decorating cookies, and this royal icing without meringue powder is as easy as it comes. With just 3 ingredients and a super easy method, you’ll be on your way to cookie professional in no time at all.
Even simple shapes can be made beautiful with patterns piped onto the top, but this is a great way to make use of cookie cutters that might be sitting in a drawer somewhere. It doesn’t need to be complicated – take our Halloween sugar cookies or snowflake sugar cookies as examples. They’re not difficult to ice, but oh-so-cute.
Royal icing is a good basic staple recipe that every baker should know how to make. Keep scrolling for step-by-step pictures and thorough instructions so you can make it perfectly every time.
💖 Why You’ll Love This Recipe
✔️ It’s made without meringue powder!
✔️ All you need is a few minutes and an electric mixer.
✔️ You can mix it into any colours you like and decorate like a pro.
- Vanilla: you could use another extract, like a tiny amount of almond or peppermint, to vary the flavour of the icing.
- Powdered Sugar: this will be sold as powdered or icing sugar. Don’t use granulated sugar.
- Egg Whites: seek out pasteurized egg whites if possible (more on this below).
- There are no good substitutions for this recipe.
Use the JUMP TO RECIPE button at the top, or scroll to the bottom of the post to see the printable recipe card with full ingredient measurements and complete instructions.
STEP 1: add the egg whites, sugar, and vanilla to a large mixing bowl.
STEP 2: use an electric mixer to beat on low speed until very smooth and shiny.
STEP 3: divide the icing into smaller bowls and add food colouring as needed.
STEP 4: transfer the icing into piping bags and decorate!
💡 Top Tips
1. Use a very small piping tip, the smallest you can find, for easiest intricate decorating.
2. A standing mixer can be used instead of a handheld mixer.
3. Add a little food colouring at a time, mixing, until you get the desired shade.
📝 Recipe Notes
- Raw egg whites: we recommend using pasteurized egg whites to help ensure food safety. They can be found at most grocery stores in the refrigerated or baking section.
- Outline vs flooding: you can use a piping tip to create intricate patterns on cookies (outlining). To cover a cookie entirely, or part of it, make sure you outline the area first to prevent the icing going over the edges. Then fill up the space with icing (flooding).
- Storage: royal icing made with egg whites shouldn’t be stored at room temperature. Once it’s used to decorate the cookies and dries fully, they can be kept out for a couple of days.
- Refrigeration: leftover icing can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to a week. If it separates, just mix it again and it’ll come back together.
- Freezing: royal icing can be frozen for several months. Thaw in the refrigerator, then whisk again if it has separated. Thicken with a little more icing sugar or thin with a splash of water if needed.
This refers to eggs that have been heated just enough to kill bacteria that can cause food-borne illness, but not enough to cook the egg. Usually you’ll be more likely to find pasteurized egg whites sold in a carton rather than whole eggs.
Royal icing will harden as it dries, making a set icing that’s good for longer storage and more detailed decoration. Decorating icing, or plain icing, is made with just powdered sugar and water (or milk/cream) and sets soft.
The key is lots of air movement. Don’t crowd the cookies while the icing is drying and it should dry and set quickly into a nice shiny layer.
If you over mix royal icing, it won’t dry into a smooth, shiny layer. Make sure to mix on low speed and don’t beat too much air into the mix – this is icing, not frosting, and it shouldn’t be fluffy.
🍰 More Topping Recipes
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Royal Icing Without Meringue Powder
- 2 large egg whites, 4 tablespoons if using whites from a carton
- 4 cups icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Add the egg white, sugar, and vanilla to a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Use an electric mixer to beat on low speed for about 2 minutes, until smooth and shiny but not fluffy. Don't over-beat, as you don't want to increase the volume much.
- Divide the icing into smaller bowls and add food colouring as needed. Transfer to piping bags fitted with tips and decorate as desired.