The Basics: Classic Royal Icing


Baking & Pastry Essentials

The Technique 

Classic Royal Icing

A simple icing glaze formula may be transformed easily into a hardworking royal icing with just the addition of meringue powder. Meringue powder acts as a stability component as when it is piped over the surfaces, the icing will stay in that desired spot. Once a good formula has been established, droplets of water may be added to thin the icing a tad while a smidgen of powdered sugar will thicken. Depending on the design element you are blending the ingredients for will determine the consistency for which to aim. Flooding is a technique by which royal icing is prepared so it may be piped in a continuous motion over cookies in order to produce a smooth surface once dry. It is the ultimate canvas when an elevated look is desired. The shape is first outlined with the icing, then quickly filled in using the pastry bag. Classic Royal Icing may be prepared in a large batch then divided between small bowls & colored with paste in order to create tiny eyes, buttons, scarves, hats or any small decoration. Learn how to make this essential cookie element & flood cookies so your Christmas baked goods look their very best.


Classic Royal Icing
makes about 2 1/2 cups

4 cups powdered sugar
4 tsp meringue powder
3 to 4 Tbsp hot water
Optional: White food coloring paste

Whisk together the powdered sugar, the meringue powder, the water & the white food paste, if desired, in a medium bowl. Add a smidgen of additional powdered sugar or a droplet of water to the royal icing, if necessary, to thicken or thin it for the desired piping consistency. It should have a slightly whipped consistency in order to hold shape once piped.

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How To Flood A Cookie With Royal Icing

Pastry bags & tips are ideal to use when decorating cookies with fine detail. A #00 or #1 icing tip by Ateco works well for tiny accents while a #5 to #7 may be used to flood icing over the surface. Gage the tip size & snip the pastry bag at the end with scissors. Begin with a small cut then snip again, if necessary, so that the tip doesn’t fall through the opening. Slip the pastry tip into the bag & be certain the fit is snug. Tug the bag upwards to ensure that is indeed the case.


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The initial measurements will at first seem stiff & full of lumps. Keep whipping the mixture in order to make it as smooth as possible. A tiny whisk works very well for this task. Add droplets of water to loosen it. Conversely, powdered sugar will make it more stiff. Proper flooding consistency should produce a slow ribbon that eventually disappears when a spoon is held over the bowl & allowed to flow. When you are satisfied with the result, load the pastry bag. Fold one third of the piping bag over & hold it upright in one hand. Fill it with the icing using a rubber spatula. Do not to overfill the bag as you’ll have better control. If there is any remaining icing left in the bowl, cover it with a damp paper towel to keep it from forming a crust over the surface. Unfold the bag & push the frosting down into the tip. Simultaneously, press out any air bubbles. Twist the empty portion of the bag & allow it to rest just above the icing. Hold the bag over the cookie & apply steady, even pressure. Guide the bag with your forefinger from the other hand. Outline the cookie with the Classic Royal Icing, then immediately fill it in. Use a wooden pick to pop any air bubbles over the surface before it begins to set.

 The Tune
“Too Marvelous For Words” Ella Fitzgerald

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About Rebecca Gordon

* Southern Born * Southern Bred * Tailgate Queen * Football Fanatic * Buttermilk Lipstick Culinary & Entertaining Techniques Instructor * Cooking & Baking Tutorials * Media Personality * Baking & Pastry Artist * Gardener * Runner * Retainer of Useless Pop Culture One Liners * Terrible Dancer * Even Worse Singer * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Rebecca Gordon shares over 20 years of cooking knowledge in the instructional filled original editorial content on Buttermilk Lipstick as well as the cooking class format videos that can be found on her YouTube channel through regular collaboration with numerous media outlets. Gordon draws from an extensive background in corporate publishing spanning over 13 years on both the business and editorial side focusing on women’s southern lifestyle. She is a classically trained pastry chef and draws from fine dining restaurant experience from a James Beard award winning chef as well as her southern roots upbringing to share cooking, entertaining & style content relevant to today’s modern woman.

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