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Small Batch Royal Icing

I realize not everyone has royal icing laying around  in their kitchen 24/7. What if you only need a little bit of icing but don’t want make the whole big batch?  Here is a recipe for a Small Batch Royal Icing.


This recipe for Small Batch Royal Icing  makes only  1  1/2 cups of royal icing so in case you are in the need of a bigger batch you can hop over to my Fresh Lemon Royal Icing Recipe.

Recipe for small batch roayal icing


  • Powdered Sugar
  • Meringue Powder 
  • Liquid – I’m using water in this recipe.
  • Vanilla, Almond and Lemon Extract
  • Note : I often substitute some of  the water for a freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice. When using lemon juice I don’t add lemon extract. I explain more in the printable recipe below.
ingredients for royal icing


This icing is really easy to make. I combined together powdered sugar and meringue powder. You can use a whisk or a hand held mixer works great, too.

meringue powder and powdered sugar in a bowl


Stir Vanilla, Almond and Lemon extract into lukewarm water.

water and extracts in a bowl


Pour wet ingredients into the dry and beat with hand held mixer. Start on low speed. At first mixture will be thin. Continue beating and increase speed to medium. Beat for about 5-8 minutes. Mixture will thicken gradually and once royal icing holds a stiff peak it’s ready.

royal icing mixed with hand held mixer


If you haven’t made royal icing before you maybe not familiar with the fact that this icing crusts quickly. When exposed to air icing forms a crust on the surface within 5-10 minutes.

To prevent this from happening you need to cover royal icing. For a short term you can cover the bowl with royal icing with a damp kitchen towel or damp paper towel.  

stiff royal icing on wire beaters

Crusting time highly depends on the consistency of icing and also on your ambient temperature and/or humidity. I answer a lot of common icing questions in my post Royal Icing FAQ.  

freshly beaten royal icing in a bowl

Problem with crusting is that while it doesn’t affect taste it can make for an unpleasant decorating experience.

This is especially true when crusted icing gets mixed into soft icing and then all the little hardened particles get spooned into a piping bag. Later they clog up your piping tip while you try to decorate and have fun.


I store royal icing in a food safe plastic containers or glass containers work, too. I cover icing tightly with a plastic wrap and then I secure a lid on. Icing is good for up to 4 weeks, either stored in the fridge or on the counter.

royal icing stored in containers

Over time royal icing separates and it has to be mixed again.

Separated royal icing in a plastic container.

For a long term storage you can Freeze Royal Icing.  


Recipe for small batch roayal icing
Print Pin
5 from 6 votes

Small Batch Royal Icing

Makes  1 and 1/2 cups of royal icing. This icing is suitable for cookie decorating, making royal icing transfers and more.
Serving: 2 tablespoons
Course Cookies, Dessert, Frosting
Cuisine American, French
Keyword royal icing recipe, small batch royal icing
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 120kcal
Author Hani B.



  • 2 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp meringue powder
  • 3 tbsp lukewarm water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • 1/8 tsp lemon extract (optional)


  • Make sure all your tools are grease free! I wipe my tools with a piece of paper towel and vinegar. Wipe dry with a clean towel.
  • Into a clean bowl add powdered sugar (2 cups and 1/4 cup). If you see lot of large clumps in the sugar, make sure to sift it first.
  • Into the powdered sugar add meringue powder (1 tablespoon). Whisk well or use your hand held mixer with clean beaters to combine dry powders well.
  • Measure water (3 tablespoons) into a small bowl. Add vanilla (1/2 teaspoon), almond (1/8 teaspoon) and lemon (1/8 teaspoon-optional) extracts into the water.
  • Pour liquid into the powdered sugar mixture and beat on low speed using a hand held mixer. Mixture will be thin at first. Keep mixing, increase the speed to medium and beat until royal icing thickens and holds its peak. About 3 minutes.
    TIP : This recipe makes thick icing. This icing can be then used to create piped decorations or icing can be thinned down with water to decorate cookies.


  • At this point you can use your icing for your project. Color it with gel food color. And thin it with water as needed to desired consistency. Fill piping bags and decorate.


  • Leftover icing can be stored in plastic container, covered well with a plastic wrap to prevent it from crusting. Use a lid to close the container. 
  • Refer to Royal Icing FAQ to learn more about royal icing


  1. HOW TO MAKE FRESH LEMON ROYAL ICING? – Substitute 1 tbl water for 1 tbl freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice. If you like stronger lemon flavor substitute more lemon juice for water or use lemon extract in addition to lemon juice.
  2. HOW LONG DOES ROYAL ICING KEEP? – meringue based royal icing keeps for up to 4 weeks. It can be stored at room temperature but I prefer storing it in the fridge.
  3. DO YOU HAVE A VEGAN VERSION OF ROYAL ICING? – Yes, I do. Vegan/Eggless Royal Icing Recipe
  4. CAN I ADD CORN SYRUP TO MAKE ICING DRY WITH A SOFTER BITE? – yes you can. I have done so many times. Add  tablespoon of corn syrup.

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royal icing in a bowl

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  1. I cut this down to a third of your recipe and it worked great! This is a great accomplishment for me, because trying to make small batches of royal icing in the past have resulted in disappointment and frustration. My secret here was to use a 1 cup narrow glass beaker and a hand whisk attachment. I’m used to looking for the right type of peaks in the icing to know when to stop mixing, so that helped too! Thanks for calling your recipe “small batch,” because that it what led me to your recipe!

  2. What weight of meringue powder for this small batch please? I’m trying to compare it to your normal batch where you specify by weight, but here by measure. Thanks!

    1. Hi John,
      it is about 13-15 grams per tablespoon.
      I’ll double check again with my scale.
      Thank you for your question.

  3. Hi, I’ve been looking everywhere for a small batch recipe! I was wondering if it is essential to use all three different extracts?

  4. Hello Haniela I have a question, most like to be more like troubleshooting… I would like to know what could have happened to my RI. When I finished mixing there were very visible sugar-like crystals. Regularly the icing is silky and creamy, not with these thousands of crystals. Has it ever happened to you?

    1. Hello Melina,
      I’m sorry to hear about this issue. Personally, I haven’t experienced this issue.
      I wonder if some of the sugar didn’t get mixed in properly and turned into little crystals?

  5. Hi! If I don’t like almond extract, can I just add a little more of the lemon or vanilla extract (or both) in place of the almond? Thank you!

  6. I tried the recipe on shamrock cookies 3 weeks ago. I added a teaspoon of lime extract and fell in love with the taste. I could have eaten it all! They dried very nicely and I froze them inside an airtight container with waxed paper between the layers. When I thawed them, they were still delicious! Thanks for the lovely recipe.

      1. I very seldom bake and these cookies are perfect for getting bake to baking. Also, I really do not care for lemon flavor, what can I use instead?’Thank you so very much

    1. Hi Desiree,
      To achieve flood consistency icing I add little water until icing when pulled up fall into into a bowl and becomes blended with the icing in the bowl in about 15 seconds.
      For the piping consistency you only want to add little bit of water, icing should be thicker than flood consistency icing, when you pull the icing up with a spoon there should be a peak that flexibly bends down but icing
      doesn’t become blended with the icing in the bowl.
      You can also find more details on consistency in my post Ultimate Guide To Royal Icing Consistency.

  7. Will the small batch of RI, once finished mixing be the stiff consistency that I can thin to what I need? Also, have you ever added a touch of light corn syrup to make the RI less brittle once it is dried on the cookies? Thank you so very much for sharing your talent and expertise!

    1. Hello,
      Yes I have added corn syrup to my icing to have it dry with a softer bite. And yes you can further thin icing with water to the consistency you need.

      1. New to cookie decorating – two questions
        Will the corn syrup give a glossier finish as well and will the cookies still be stackable if corn syrup is used. Thank you.

      2. Hi Robin,
        addition of a small amount of corn syrup makes royal icing dry with as softer bite and yes after royal icing dries you can stack cookies. Happy Baking.

  8. I’ve never decorated a cookie before but I just made your sugar cookies and want to ice bridal cookie cutouts using white and gold colours. How do I make a gold icing to outline my ring cookies? I have gold dust but don’t know how to use it.

    1. I Jody,

      gold icing is mostly made by painting over dry icing with edible gold paint or edible gold luster dust. You can also get pre-made gold royal icing mix.
      Gold Luster Dust.
      Edible Gold Paint.

  9. Hi I’m in the uk is there any chance you could convert the powdered sugar measurement from cups to grams please. I’m struggling to find the best conversion rates.
    Tablespoons and teaspoons I’m fine with but we use grams or pound and ounces for baking.
    Thank you xx

    1. Hi Amy,

      I’d use 125-130 grams per 1 cup conversion. Depending on the powdered sugar, I currently use kind that doesn’t have a lot of starch and I add little more starch to bring my icing to stiff consistency.

      Hope it helps.

  10. Excellent small batch recipe! Takes the guesswork out of trying to half a regular recipe. The consistency was perfect for us to decorate 24 large sugarcookies in BTS themes with icing left over.
    Stackable when dried.

  11. For outlining and flooding, what size tip do you use? Or, do you just cut a very small piece off the end of the bag?

    1. Hi Beverly,
      Yes indeed I mostly just cut a small opening on a piping bag. What you can do if you are not sure. Get couple of of piping tips ranging from round tip #1 to #3(those are the most common in cookie decorating for flood and piping). Place the tip of the piping bag into the piping tip. And see how much is showing through the opening. That way you can have an idea how much to cut off. Hope that helps.

  12. Attempted my first batch of sugar cookies with royal icing for my daughters gender reveal in 2 weeks. I used 2 different recipes that I found on Pinterest. This one was my favorite. I like that you add the sugar and meringue together and then add liquid. Very easy to read recipe and mine turned out really well. I am planning on freezing them, iced, until the party. Hopefully they’ll be fine. Thanks for the recipe!

  13. Hi Hani,
    I can’t find maringue powder in my area, could you plz make this recipe easier for me to replace meringue powder by any thing else.
    Waiting for your reply,

  14. Hi so for your recipe it say 1/8 lemon and almond extract, does that mean 1/8 lemon and 1/8 almond or the both of them combined together should be 1/8?

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