Royal Icing


Royal Icing is the key to beautifully decorated sugar cookies. Unlike buttercream frosting, royal icing hardens to a glossy finish when it dries – so cookies can be stacked, shipped, and shared without worries. Royal icing is easy to make and can be stored, covered, for up to a week in the refrigerator or a month in the freezer. This is the perfect icing to decorate Betty Crocker’s Sugar Cookies.

The recipe I use comes from the Sugarbakers’ Cookie Cutter Cookbook. A key ingredient in royal icing is egg whites (raw). If you are pregnant or serving your cookies to babies, small children, or anyone with health issues, the cookbook suggests you use pasteurized egg whites, or a version made with meringue powder, just to be on the safe side. Both versions below:

Royal Icing
Version #1 with Egg Whites
Adapted from the Sugarbakers’ Cookie Cutter Cookbook


3 3/4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted then measured
3 large egg whites (or pasteurized egg whites)
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. lemon extract or almond extract
1 tsp. water


Make sure your utensils and bowl are completely clean, dry, and free from grease before you begin. Otherwise the icing won’t peak properly. Make sure, if you have separated the eggs, that there is no yolk mixed in.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all of the ingredients and mix on the lowest speed until the sugar combines with the egg whites. Turn mixer up to medium-high and mix for 6 minutes. Do not over-beat the icing or it will become stiff, dry and difficult to use!

Remove icing from the mixer and store in the refrigerator, covered with a tight lid or plastic wrap applied directly on top of the icing, for up to a week.

Note: Stir in the food coloring of your choice until the desired color is achieved. Look for gel colors, and tasteless or taste-free labels, so the icing will not take on the bitter taste of food coloring.

Royal Icing
Version #2 with Meringue Powder
Adapted from the Sugarbakers’ Cookie Cutter Cookbook 


3 3/4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted then measured
3 Tbsp. meringue powder
6 Tbsp. warm water
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Follow directions as for Royal Icing with Egg Whites (above) but only beat icing for 4 minutes.



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