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How to Make Royal Icing

Royal icing is a hard white icing used by professional bakers to decorate cakes, especially specialized cakes such as Christmas cakes and wedding cakes. Royal icing will be stiff and crisp when it has set, making it very ideal to form flowers, ribbons, and other edible decoration on cakes. It can also be used to layer cakes. Cover the cake with marzipan before layering the cake with royal icing.

Royal icing is originally made from egg whites, icing sugar, and lemon juice. Recently fear of salmonella made people turn to meringue powder as egg whites substitute. Use food extract to make the taste more palatable. It is more practical to use electric beater when making the icing. Also, make sure the bowl is perfectly dry from any liquid or the egg whites won’t expand.

To color the royal icing, you can use any sort of FDA approved food colorings. Royal icing also sets very quickly, so use it immediately or cover with plastic wrap or wet towel. You can also add a drop of glycerin to prevent it from drying out too fast.

Here are two recipes using white eggs and meringue powder:

Royal Icing with white eggs:


500g icing sugar

2 egg whites

1 tsp lemon juice


1. Beat the egg whites until foamy. Add 1 tsp of sugar at a time while beating the eggs until all the sugar is dissolved.

2. Add the lemon juice and continue beating until it forms peaks and smooth.

3. Use immediately, or cover with plastic wrap.


Royal Icing with Meringue Powder

500g icing sugar

3 tbsp meringue powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

160ml- 180ml warm water


1. Beat the icing sugar with the meringue powder with electric mixer. Add the water and beat until it forms stiff peaks and glossy.

2. You can add more sugar or water if necessary. The proper consistency is when the mixture have soft ribbon trail when the beater is lifted.

3. Use immediately, or cover with plastic wrap.

To cover a cake, spoon the royal icing to the top of the cake gradually, smoothing it with metal spatula. If you want to cover fruit cake with royal icing, first layer it with marzipan so the fruit will not spoil the royal icing. For more information on covering cakes with royal icing, you can take a look at this online lesson.

To use royal icing as decorations, spoon the icing into a squeeze bottle or piping sets and pipe it slowly, making the shape you want on the cake. Be careful of always covering the unused icing with plastic wrap or wet cloth to prevent it from drying out.