There's no better option for decorating cookies, and this royal icing without meringue powder is as easy as it comes. With just 3 ingredients and a super easy method, you'll be on your way to cookie professional in no time at all.
Even simple shapes can be made beautiful with patterns piped onto the top, but this is a great way to make use of cookie cutters that might be sitting in a drawer somewhere. It doesn't need to be complicated - take our Halloween sugar cookies, cinnamon sugar cookies, or snowflake sugar cookies as examples. They're not difficult to ice, but oh-so-cute.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Vanilla: you could use another extract, like a tiny amount of almond or peppermint, to vary the flavour of the icing.
- Powdered Sugar: this will be sold as powdered or icing sugar. Don't use granulated sugar.
- Egg Whites: seek out pasteurized egg whites if possible (more on this below).
Step 1: add the egg whites, sugar, and vanilla to a large mixing bowl.
Step 2: use an electric mixer to beat on low speed until very smooth and shiny.
Step 3: divide the icing into smaller bowls and add food colouring as needed.
Step 4: transfer the icing into piping bags and decorate!
1. Use a very small piping tip, the smallest you can find, for easiest intricate decorating.
2. A standing mixer can be used instead of a handheld mixer.
3. Add a little food colouring at a time, mixing, until you get the desired shade.
Raw egg whites: we recommend using pasteurized egg whites to help ensure food safety. They can be found at most grocery stores in the refrigerated or baking section.
Outline vs flooding: you can use a piping tip to create intricate patterns on cookies (outlining). To cover a cookie entirely, or part of it, make sure you outline the area first to prevent the icing going over the edges. Then fill up the space with icing (flooding).
How to Store
Storage: royal icing made with egg whites shouldn't be stored at room temperature. Once it's used to decorate the cookies and dries fully, they can be kept out for a couple of days. Leftover icing can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to a week. If it separates, just mix it again and it'll come back together.
Freezing: royal icing can be frozen for several months. Thaw in the refrigerator, then whisk again if it has separated. Thicken with a little more icing sugar or thin with a splash of water if needed.
What are pasteurized eggs?
This refers to eggs that have been heated just enough to kill bacteria that can cause food-borne illness, but not enough to cook the egg. Usually you'll be more likely to find pasteurized egg whites sold in a carton rather than whole eggs.
What's the difference between decorating icing and royal icing?
Royal icing will harden as it dries, making a set icing that's good for longer storage and more detailed decoration. Decorating icing, or plain icing, is made with just powdered sugar and water (or milk/cream) and sets soft.
How do you make dry royal icing shiny?
The key is lots of air movement. Don't crowd the cookies while the icing is drying and it should dry and set quickly into a nice shiny layer.
Can you over whip royal icing?
If you over mix royal icing, it won't dry into a smooth, shiny layer. Make sure to mix on low speed and don't beat too much air into the mix - this is icing, not frosting, and it shouldn't be fluffy.
If you make this Royal Icing recipe or any other icing recipes on the Baked Collective, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe. For more baking, follow along on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
Royal Icing Without Meringue Powder
- 2 large egg whites 4 tablespoons if using whites from a carton
- 4 cups icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Add the egg white, sugar, and vanilla to a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Use an electric mixer to beat on low speed for about 2 minutes, until smooth and shiny but not fluffy. Don't over-beat, as you don't want to increase the volume much.
- Divide the icing into smaller bowls and add food colouring as needed. Transfer to piping bags fitted with tips and decorate as desired.