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Freezing Royal Icing

Today we are going to talk about: Freezing Royal Icing.

Frozen icing in sandwich bags.

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Freezing leftover royal icing is practical and economical. I’ve been decorating cookies for the last 10 years and on numerous occasions, I’d wished I had some extra colored icing ready. But I didn’t.

3-4 years ago I started freezing my leftover royal icing. It’s been extremely useful. I’m not sure why I didn’t do it before. It saves me time and money on food colors, too.

Freezing Royal Icing in Piping Bags

When freezing smaller quantities of icing that is colored and already in the piping bags I generally leave the icing in the piping bags.

Put the piping bags into either a gallon size freezer bag or a plastic container. I do this mainly when I have a bunch of different colors. Remove as much air as possible from the freezer bag before you close the bag.

Icing in piping bags.

Freezing Royal Icing in the Ziploc Bags and Containers

For larger quantities of royal icing, I use small sandwich bags. And freezer containers for very larger quantities. Usually, I throw the sandwich bags with icing into a larger freezer bag or a container.

Frozen royal icing in sandwich bags.
Frozen icing in a sandwich bag.

If you are short on freezer space, freeze the sandwich bags flat on a baking sheet first. Then layer them into a larger freezer bag and stack them up in the freezer.

Icing in stored in sandwich bags.

How Long Can You Freeze the Icing For?

These are the bags I use. If you’ve been following me for a while you probably recognize these. I used to decorate my cookies with these exact bags. Basically, they are sandwich bags. I get them at Walmart. Once you freeze them flat, stick them into a larger freezer bag or a container and freeze the royal icing for up to 3 months.

Separation of royal icing

Defrosting Royal Icing

To thaw the frozen icing leave it on the counter. Smaller quantities defrost faster. It is important to let the thawed icing come to room temperature. Don’t skip this step. Give it at least a couple of hours.

Separated royal icing in a bowl.

Royal Icing Separates

Once the icing is thawed and at room temperature, you may notice darker and what appears like more fluid/liquid areas in the icing. For example deeper red area (see the picture below). This deeper red spot is basically liquid (water, lemon juice-I use Fresh Lemon Royal Icing recipe) that has separated from the solids(powdered sugar/meringue powder).

No worries this is absolutely normal and very frequent. I’m sure you’ve seen this happen before. If you didn’t, no worries, like I said it’s normal.  When separation occurs you just need to reconstitute icing. I often massage the bag with my fingers. If that doesn’t help I pour it into a bowl and stir well till combined.

Separation of royal icing in a sandwich bag.

Why Is My Icing So Runny?

This is another thing that happens when you freeze royal icing. When royal icing freezes water in the icing expands(approximately by 9%) and so when the frozen icing thaws it is a bit runnier.

For instance, frozen 15-second consistency royal icing will be more like 10-second consistency when you defrost it. Icing that you used to pipe leaves(see the video) will be more like 20-25 second consistency.

How To Make Icing Thicker

To make thin icing thicker we need to add stiff icing to thin icing. Though I’m not a mind reader I bet you are now questing the whole freezing thing. Why do I have to add stiff royal icing to my frozen icing?? 

Mixing stiff icing into thin royal icing.

Why I Add Stiff Royal Icing To Previously Frozen Icing

  • To remedy a frozen royal icing consistency issue I always add some stiff royal icing to my frozen and thawed icings. You really don’t need to add a lot of icing. A spoon or two is usually plenty to fix the consistency. 
  • It helps to restore texture and/or build up the consistency I need for a project.
  • Frozen and already colored icing even with added white icing to fix the consistency doesn’t require as much food coloring as a brand new uncolored batch of icing does.
  • Generally, the color of frozen icing becomes more intense.  After I fix the consistency by adding some stiff icing I usually add just a tiny bit of gel food coloring if needed. 
  • Often I don’t have to use any food colors. If working with multiple frozen icing colors you can mix royal icing colors without having to use additional food colors.

How Many Times Can You Re-Freeze Royal Icing?

There is such a thing as frozen too many times. Not everyone may have this experience but I’ve noticed that after the same icing has been frozen 3 times or more it starts to develop a coarse texture. Sandiness like feel when you rub the icing between your fingers.

You can somewhat amend it by adding some fresh royal icing to thawed icing. I wouldn’t recommend using this icing for piping swirls and other delicate details as icing seems to lose some of its elasticity. However, you can still use it to flood your cookies. 

 Favorite Colors To Freeze

We all know certain colors are easier to attain than others. For this reason, I always freeze my leftover reds, pinks, black, purple, brown, royal blue, and dark green.

How Do You Seal Piping Bags?

I love using tape sealer to seal my piping bags. It’s really easy to use and it saves me a lot of time when preparing for decorating. If you decide to get one yourself be sure to get the tape as well, it doesn’t come with the sealer. I use disposable piping bags.

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  1. Hello Hani. This is such a helpful article and thank you. When reusing the thawed royal icing that has thinned too much, is there any reason why you can’t thicken it with powdered sugar instead of thick consistency royal icing?

    1. Hi Jill,

      You can use some powdered sugar but, you don’t want to use to much as it can throw out the ratio of powdered sugar and meringue powder/dry egg whites. It can then lead to
      drying issues and how icing behaves. Thank you and Happy Holidays.

    1. Hi Susan,
      you need to defrost icing before using, and as mentioned in the post you’ll most likely need to remix some to get the consistency you need. And that will require you to pour the icing into a piping bag. If you are using piping tips with tipless bags you can either drop the tip into the bag directly or if you plan on using several tips with the same color and consistency then
      I’d recommend using a coupler and attach piping with the coupler and the ring.

  2. Hi Hani,

    I really love your thorough instructions.

    Have you tried substituting cane sugar with any of the natural sweeteners; i.e. Allulose or Swerve Confectioners Sugar, to make Royal icing? I am trying to eliminate added sugar from our diet. My husband has diabetes.


  3. My daughter is allergic to Red dye in food coloring. I have found a small amount of dye free food coloring but am looking for recommendations on products that have been tried. So many colors require some red added to it and it is a challenge to make the other colors with using only dye free.

    1. Hi Karin,
      Have you used Supernatural Food Colors? You can also try using pulverized freeze dry fruits, like cranberries, raspberries, strawberries or beet powder. With most natural food colors it is super hard to achieve really vibrant colors and so often using pulverized freeze dry fruit can help achieve brighter colors.

  4. Hi, I’m wanting to prep royal icing for a cookie party coming up. Would you say that I can freeze white icing and then add the food coloring after its thawed? Or is it just as easy/efficient to color it, freeze then thaw, and then get it back to consistency with new royal icing? Thanks!

    1. Hi Kaitlyn,
      May I ask when is your party? Meringue based royal will be good for at least 3 weeks and up to 4 weeks, stored in the fridge. When freezing it you can do it either way. I usually freeze leftovers so it’s mainly colored. If you freeze a fresh batch, freeze it thick, either colored or uncolored. Then let it defrost and see what it looks like in terms of consistency that you need for your decorating. Have fun decorating.

      1. The party is the 2nd weekend in December, so if I make it next week like I was planning, I can just leave it in the fridge? That’ll be about 3-4 weeks. That way I could color it and then adjust consistency the day before the party. Thanks!

  5. Hello – When you seal the piping bags (before freezing), can I use my heat sealer vs. the tape? If so, can I just leave it sealed and not have to use a twisty or rubber band?

  6. Hi Hani!
    I have one question. When you freeze your icing flat, how come that later when you put it up it keeps being flat if icing doesn’t freeze into rockk hard? I kept my icing in a freezer for a few weeks and when I took it out it was still soft.

    1. Hi Gosia,that I’m not sure. All my royal icing freezes rock hard. I’m not sure why yours wouldn’t. Do you add any corn syrup or anything like that to your royal icing? I use wilton meringue powder to make royal icing. Sorry I wasn’t much help here.

      1. I had have the same experience and I think that it have to be with the corn syrup that I add to the royal icing.

  7. I also freeze icing and will mix leftover colors to use as a base for black. It doesn’t take as much gel color to achieve black when I start with a color.

      1. Love your site, and your freezing is just what I do. Thank you for the freezer tape tip, I use it a lot for other things in our Food Cart, but never icing bags. Great tip!! You are much appreciated!

  8. Great information. I love freezing left over icing. I get so excited when I need just a small amount of a certain color and it’s in the freezer!

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