Haniela's: Royal Icing FAQ

Royal Icing FAQ

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How do you make Royal Icing, do you have a recipe?

Here is the recipe for royal icing I use the most.

I can't find meringue powder, can I use something else instead?

Though I don't recommend (because of the salmonella poisoning risk) you can use fresh egg whites or  if you can find use pasteurized egg white instead. If using these don't add liquid when making the icing, thin it down after it's made with water to achieve desired consistency.

What is meringue powder and where can I find it?

Meringue powder comes in a powder form, it consists of dried egg whites, cream of tartar and some corn starch, that keeps it from clumping.

Why are you adding cream of tartar?

If you don't have it don't use it. I add to further stabilize royal icing.

My royal icing is not stiff, should I add more powdered sugar?

Yes, try adding more powdered sugar.

What if I don't like lemon flavor, can I use something else instead of lemon juice?

Use water in place of lemon juice.

How do you store royal icing?

Store it in the airtight container, covered with a plastic wrap and a lid.

Where do you store royal icing?

 Fridge but it can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 weeks, you will have to remix it before using.

How long does the royal icing keep?

For up to 2 weeks, beyond that it is still good for certain applications but ii loses some of its qualities, so I wouldn't recommend it for delicate piping.

How do you make dark red royal icing?

If starting with white icing, I add Red Gel Food Coloring( I use Americolor Brand) until the icing turns dark pink and turn light red. I then cover icing and I let it rest overnight or even for several day. Letting the icing rest allows the dye to mature and color deepens overtime. If needed add more food color.

How do you make black royal icing?

If starting with white icing, I add Black Gel Food Coloring( I use Americolor Brand) until the icing turns dark gray I then cover icing and I let it rest overnight or even for several day. Letting the icing rest allows the dye to mature and color deepens overtime. If needed add more food color.

How do you dry cookies decorated with royal icing, do I need to cover them, or put them into the fridge?

 I place cookie on a tray and I air dry them, it helps to have a fan running close by to promote air circulation, it helps with faster drying, achieving nice smooth sheen finish on the icing. Don't cover drying cookies and don't put them into the fridge.

It's really humid, how do you speed up the drying process, icing is not drying fast enough?

When it's humid I use dehumidifier to help manage moist air. You can also speed up drying process by baking icing cookies at the lowest oven setting(mine is 170F) for about 10-15 minutes) A nice crust will develop on the top. Icing maybe still wet under the crust, but you can continue with a second layer of royal icing decorations. If you plan on writing on cookies using edible markers, wait till the icing has dried through.

Why is my black icing bleeding and how can I prevent it?

When icing takes longer to dry, or when it's humid  you can experience bleeding issue, especially with dark colors, like black and dark red. Try letting dark color icing rest/mature overnight before using on cookies. You can also add little bit of corn syrup to the icing, I find it helps with bleeding as well. I'd say  1 tsp per 1 cup of icing.

Does royal icing stay soft or does it get firm as it dries?

It dries firm, it's not soft.

Decorated cookies with royal icing have spots on them, what happened?

Blotching or butter bleed happens, again this is related to humidity and climate. I find it pretty much impossible to fight. Dehumidifier helps or try drying cookie in dehydrator if you own one.

How do you thin down royal icing, do you use water to thin it down?

Yes I use water, here is a quick video how it is done.

What does it mean : 10, 15, 20 second consistency?

Here is a video that explains 15 second consistency, same applies for different consistencies.

Depending on the design you may need different consistencies to ice the cookie.

How do you store decorated cookies?

Store cookies, away from the direct sunlight, in the airtight container layered between wax paper sheets.

How long do decorated cookies last for?

Generally 2-3 weeks, if stored properly. You can prolong their shelf life by adding  glycerin to the cookie dough. About tablespoon per 3cups of flour.

How do you package decorated cookies?

Cookies are generally individually wrapped into clear bags.  You add festive tags bow ets. You can heat seal the bags using Impulse Heat Sealer.  I demonstrate how to do that here .

How to prepare cookies for shipping?

Chose shapes that are less prone to break, like rounds, hearts, squares, plaques. Pointy shapes like stars or long thin shapes are more likely to break in the transit. Cookies are layered between  sheets of bubble wrap, keep little room between each cookie so they are not touching. Make sure to fill in every corner really well, so that when you close the box and shake it you don't hear anything shifting.  Make sure the inside walls are well protected with the bubble wrap, so that the cookies are not touching directly the box but the bubble wrap is between the box wall and the cookie. Label box Fragile, Handle with Care.


  1. Thank you so much for this. It really came in handy today. Really enjoy your site by the way.

  2. Good day just want to know my biscuits comes out nice and hard but once i royal iced yhem and let them dry at room temperature the biscuits goes soft.What am i doin wrong.I stay in Cape Town South Africa
    Kind Regards

  3. Thank you so much all this info is amazing!

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  5. BTW i live you and you have helped me to bevome a better cookie maker! Decorator! Thank you! Is there a way to strengthen your sugar cookie, i have these beautiful dress cutters but the cookie breaks at waist? What should i do?Linda Vassallo

  6. So yes the cookies break at the waist using your recipe for a long time now never had sny problems

  7. Im sorry i dont kniw how to get to the sugar cookie recipe from here, can i check back here at the royal icing which i also use! Both lemon and without!

  8. Hi Haniela! You’re the best and my favorite I’m still wondering l wondering on the answer for the cookie question I asked? Also I was told I could freeze royal icing and thaw out in fridge but how long do you let it Thaw in refrigerator and how long can you keep it in the refrigerator before you use it? I have some cookies to paint in exactly 2 weeks from today please help I count on you you’re my favorite cookie maker and Baker please help?!Love you Linda

    1. Hi Linda, I'm thinking maybe try baking them for little longer, I wonder if they are still little soft inside and that is why break. Yes you can freeze icing. I usually let it come to room temperature before using previously frozen icing. Frozen icing become a little more fluid so I usually add little bit of freshly made icing to restore the consistency I need. Fresh icing, keeps well for at least 2 weeks in the fridge, always let it come to room temperature before thinking with water. Decorate cookies are good for 2-3 weeks. You can add 1tbl food grade glucose or agave syrup to keep them fresh for a little longer. Hope it helpw.

  9. Hi Haniela, when decorating your cookies, when you have to leave them out to dry because you may be doing a lot of decor and flooding on a cookie. from the cookie sitting out for hours to dry, does your sugar cookie dry out?? will your cookie still be soft and tasty?

  10. my biscuits comes out nice and hard but once i royal iced them and let them dry at room temperature the biscuits goes soft.icing gets hard but biscuits get soft.how to overcome it...pls help