Easy Royal Icing

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With millions of page views and nearing triple-digit 5-star reviews since 2020, this easy royal icing recipe has been so many people’s solution to making royal icing without meringue powder. My trusted easy royal icing recipe for sugar cookies will totally change the way you think about royal icing. It comes together super quick and you don’t even need a mixer! Best of all, this is royal icing is made without meringue powder.

spatula dripping royal icing into a bowl

Many years ago, when I started learning how to bake from scratch, I began with a cake decorating class.

It was in that class I learned how to, first and foremost, decorate a cake with simple buttercream, but it’s also where my baking skills blossomed and I learned many more crucial skills surrounding cake decorating.

Believe it or not, I brought a cake I made from a box to my second cake decorating class. But by the third class, I had tried my hand at doing it from scratch, and I believe that’s where my passion for baking was born.

It was my science away from science, when science was still my full time job, and it was interesting, fun, therapeutic, and something that made me really proud.

chocolate heart sugar cookie decorated with white royal icing and pink, purple, and blue sprinkles

When I started taking the second set of classes which covered decorating cakes a little more in depth, I learned all about traditional royal icing, which in the grand scheme of cake decorating is fairly simple, but to a beginner can be a little intimidating.


Traditional royal icing consists of powdered sugar, water, and meringue powder, which is simply an egg white substitute made primarily of dehydrated egg whites and stabilizers.

a hand decorating a sugar cookie with royal icing

It can be finicky and hard to navigate at first, and it requires the use of a mixer. It is absolutely perfect for piping intricate royal icing flowers and other components to cakes and cupcakes, but when I started working with cut-out sugar cookies, I didn’t love the extra work that went into traditional royal icing.

“We made this to decorate shortbread Christmas cookies this year. We divided it into three bowls & colored it. Super simple, worked great, and tasted good.”

Melissa, reader

Though cut-out sugar cookies aren’t all that difficult, they can take up some time between rolling, baking, cooling, and drying (I prefer to decorate day-old cookies, personally). 

I longed for a simple and easy cookie icing that was made without meringue powder and didn’t require me to get out my mixer again.

Did you also know that the enemy of traditional royal icing is grease? So ensuring all of your equipment is completely spotless is one more thing to think about and prepare for. Not into it for my cookies.

And thus my easy royal icing recipe was born!

Once I made myself this easy recipe for decorating my sugar cookies, I’ve never looked back.

And I’m sharing all my tips and tricks with you here so that you, too, can have the best icing to decorate your next batch of sugar cookies. 

aerial photo of gingerbread cut-out cookies in a christmas tree tin

This is also a great gingerbread house icing recipe that’s easy and can involve the kiddos. AND! It’s an easy Christmas cookie icing which means more time for baking and less time for standing over the mixer. 

gingerbread house with royal icing drips

Gingerbread house photo courtesy of Renee of Kudos Kitchen By Renee


You only need a few ingredients for this recipe, and you may already have them all on hand.

For this quick royal icing, you will need:
 light corn syrup
 powdered sugar
 vanilla extract
 warm water (hardly an “ingredient!”)

a glass bowl of powdered sugar with vanilla, corn syrup, and a measuring cup of water sitting behind it

Because this royal icing is made with corn syrup, it’s not ideal for piping flowers and intricate pieces to adorn your cakes and cupcakes. But it is an ideal royal icing recipe for cookies because it outlines and floods (fills in) quite easily with just a simple addition of water.


If you haven’t already seen the video floating around on this post, the video shows you exactly how to make this royal icing. It really is as simple as stirring together the ingredients, but there is one teeny tiny catch…

You’ll need to test the viscosity of the icing before it’s ready to use. 

Now, don’t let that terminology scare you. This simply means you’re going to stir your royal icing up, drip some of it right back into the bowl, and then count to see how long it takes the drip to dissipate.

I aim for 12 seconds. Which I think is perfect for making a general outline that will seamlessly blend with your flood (the icing you use to fill in).

You can see in the video that I like to make a sort of squiggle so I can see a large area of dissipating icing. 

If you’re looking for more of a traditional outline royal icing that you want to allow to dry before you fill it in, aim for 14-15 seconds. This is also the viscosity you’d want for piping details on top of already dried icing. 

bowl of royal icing with a gray spatula sitting in it, testing to see if the drizzle is disspiating

I will, however, warn you that at the 14-15 second range, it becomes quite difficult to press through a piping tip, and I find it works best to keep a warm compress or cup of warm water close by to loosen up the corn syrup as needed, especially in colder weather.

a toothpick spreading royal icing around on a sugar cookie

The best part about this icing is that since you don’t need a mixer, if the viscosity is wrong, dump it back into the bowl, add more water to thin it out or more powdered sugar to thicken it up. No big.

See? Easy!

“The icing was so easy to make thanks for the recipe. I have always been so scared to try it but you made it simple so thanks for that.”

Sheri, reader


When it comes to actually using this royal icing, I tend to use decorating bottles for my flood icing, but I always run the risk of the icing getting low and an air bubble blasting through the tip and ruining my hard work. So sad!!

I find it best to use piping bags, either disposable or reusable, fitted with Wilton tips #2 or #3

You can also use larger tips like a 1A if you’re using it for something like a gingerbread house and you need a little more volume in your squeezes. 

And, for coloring royal icing (and any icing or frosting, really), I always always always recommend gel colors. My favorite are AmeriColor and they are seriously the best.

mise en place for a rainbow cake: a plate of butter, cake pans, gel coloring, a spatula, a measuring cup of milk, and a plate full of eggs

(AmeriColor gel colors pictured here with ingredients to make my rainbow cake)

They won’t water down the icing you worked so hard to get juuuust to the right consistency, and the color selection is huge and gorgeous. Find them in a 12 pack or a 50 pack (the one I have!). 

So there you have it. My super easy and quick royal icing that doesn’t require much work for you. It’s reliable, it’s stable, it actually tastes good, and it’s the perfect way to decorate any and all of your cookies, not just ones that you roll and cut out. 

Truly, it is the best royal icing recipe I know that isn’t the traditional.

I’ve also used this royal icing to decorate things like bundt cakes, when I want to make a royal icing drip cake. The viscosity of this icing makes a gorgeous drip!

bundt cake with royal icing drips

Beautiful royal icing drip cake courtesy of Lindsay from The Live-In Kitchen

aerial photo of star shaped funfetti sugar cookies decorated with icing and rainbow sprinkles

I hope you’ll give my simple royal icing recipe a try and I can’t wait to see all your beautiful cookies!

Here’s a list of all of my roll-out/cut-out cookies this royal icing goes great with:
easy cut-out sugar cookies
funfetti cut-out sugar cookies (pictured above this list)
spiced gingerbread cut-out cookies
pumpkin spice cut-out sugar cookies
peppermint cut-out cookies
chocolate cut-out sugar cookies



All you need to know to make perfect buttercream in your own kitchen. Top your cakes, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, and more with the 25+ recipes in my book and all the success tips that you can only find in my book!


Yes, this royal icing dries hard, and you will be able to stack your cookies. Just be sure they have had ample time to dry, about 24 hours.

Yes, this royal icing colors beautifully! Some folks have reported dark colors bleeding when next to white or other light colors, so just be sure you’re giving ample time for drying. If you are working in a humid environment, you may have a bit more trouble with this issue.

No, the icing will not set up the same without corn syrup.

You can make outline, flood, or piping consistency with this royal icing. As written, this recipe makes something close to outline consistency, so adjust with very small amounts of more water to thin it out or more powdered sugar to thicken it up if necessary.

More Favorites from Fresh April Flours

Easy Royal Icing Recipe

This easy royal icing comes together quickly and you don't even need a mixer! Best of all, this is royal icing made without meringue powder.
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Recipe Author Lynn April
Servings: 1 cup


  • 1 and ½ cup (180g) powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (30mL) warm water
  • ½ Tablespoon (10g) light corn syrup
  • teaspoon vanilla or almond extract


  • Place powdered sugar in a medium bowl and set aside.
    1 and ½ cup (180g) powdered sugar
  • In a small bowl, combine warm water, light corn syrup, and extract. Stir until corn syrup is dissolved.
    2 Tablespoons (30mL) warm water, ½ Tablespoon (10g) light corn syrup, ⅛ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
  • Add sugar water to powdered sugar and stir until completely combined. Mixture will be thick. The consistency you're looking for is a slowly dripping icing that disappears into the bowl within about 12 seconds. Add water by drop if you think it's too thick. If it becomes too thin, add more powdered sugar by the teaspoon. Use immediately.
  • If you need to wait to use your icing: cover tightly, and use within 1 day. You will need to stir it up again and possibly add more water before using. Re-test the consistency before using.
  • If you want to color your icing, I prefer gel colors: my favorite brand is AmeriColor. They have a huge and gorgeous collection of colors in a 12 pack or a 50 pack



  1. What do to with royal icing: this easy royal icing recipe is also perfect for gingerbread houses and royal icing drip cakes.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @freshaprilflours on Instagram or tag #freshaprilflours!

Nutrition Disclosure

All nutritional values are approximate and provided to the reader as a courtesy. Changing ingredients and/or quantities will alter the estimated nutritional calculations.

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 733kcal | Carbohydrates: 188g | Fat: 0.02g | Sodium: 12mg | Potassium: 4mg | Sugar: 185g | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 0.1mg

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  1. Looks great!
    Want to try out your recipe this. My question is, i live in the tropics. How do i prevent the cookies from becoming soft whilst waiting for the icing to dry before stacking them? Hope to hear your reply soon:)

    1. Hey, Christina– a question I’ve never had! If you can make the environment as low humidity as possible, that will help!

  2. Hi Lynn I was wondering when you do the x2 for doubling the recipe it says 2 and 1 cup. What does that ,Ean. I know not a lot about baking. But I want to learn. Thank you!

    1. Hi, Nikylee– you’re right, because it sees “1” and “1/2” and doubles them separately. You’ll use 3 cups to double this recipe, so “2 and 1 cup” is essentially telling you to add double of each separate number. Sorry if that’s confusing!

    1. It doesn’t take very long! Maybe an hour or two, but I’d be sure to give ample time for gingerbread houses. Enjoy!

  3. Hi, Lynn I was wanting to know how to store the ice cookies to take to Church the next day and how long do the cookies stay good

    1. Hi, Jeanette– I would stack them with wax or parchment paper between them. You’ll want them to dry at least 24 hours before stacking.

  4. Hi,
    This is my first time every making sugar cookies with royal icing and my kids are really excited to decorate them (so I don’t want to mess up, lol!
    One question, is this icing the same recipe for both the outline and flooding? or do you have another recipe for ouline icing?
    Thank you so much! Happy holidays!

    1. Hi, Leigh– you’d use the same recipe, but just adjust the consistency like you would with traditional royal icing. Hope that helps!

    1. Hey, Sick. Thanks for stopping by! There is a “jump to recipe” button so you can skip my life story. Judging by your report of the content of the story, you actually didn’t read it. If you did, you’d know that I developed the recipe while living in a quant little village in Pennsylvania where ghosts of queens past picked out each grain of sugar for my icing so that it was TRULY the ROYALEST royal icing you ever had. Sorry you missed out on the story, because only then could you fully appreciate the specialness of this recipe that you discovered here on this website where I offer FREE recipes for the world. By the way, stopping by and scrolling all the way down to where you felt the need to leave this comment earned me significant income on this full time job I do, again, so you can have these recipes FOR FREE. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

    2. Best response ever! I have never made Royal icing with corn syrup but after that witty response I am giving it a try!

    3. 5 stars
      How funny—I usually hit “Jump to Recipe” every single time on every post from anybody. This is the first time EVER that I’ve read the non-recipe content. I loved it and clicked a few times so I got to see the Utah cake and the wedding picture 🙂 When I disagree with content I’m careful to avoid interacting with the post so I don’t encourage more. I liked this so much I wanted to interact all day.
      Big love from Boise ❤️

    4. Hi, Carla– thank you so much for your sweet comment. It will go down in history as the sweetest comment I’ve gotten in 8.5 years of blogging. I appreciate you so much for being here and hope you have a lovely New Year 🙂

  5. I’ve made a few batches of iced cookies using eggs and more using meringue powder. Will your recipe dry with a sheen once flooded? I’ve been asked to make cookies for my neighbor’s baby’s first birthday and this recipe seems so much easier!!!

    1. Hi, Janice! It does have a bit of a shine because of the corn syrup. It is not a matte finish like traditional royal icing.

  6. 1 star
    Total frustration! In a major time crunch and needed a royal icing quickly. The amout of unnecessary blah blah maed it hard to find the actual recipe on the page and then i find out that i need to watch a rambling video to find out how much of what i need!!! Waste of my time!!

    1. Hi, Nimue. There is a “jump to recipe” button right at the top which brings you, you guessed it, right to the recipe. Even if you decide to scroll, the recipe is in a big box labeled as such, so it’s pretty hard to miss. As far as the video goes, there’s no talking (or “rambling,” as you called it) in it at all, and is just there as a visual for how to make the icing, which many people find helpful. The recipe card has everything you need to know. I don’t appreciate you leaving a 1-star review since you didn’t actually MAKE the recipe, but I’ll leave it there so it stands out in the sea of 5-star ratings so people will stop and read your rude comment. Thanks for stopping by! Happy holidays!

    2. 5 stars
      So, just to be clear Nimue, you didn’t actually make the icing? Ive tried it and it’s great. It’s too bad that reading and watching a short video is too difficult for you. Maybe next time when you’re in a pinch you should spend less time complaining and search a little harder for what it is you’re looking for. Your negativity is not helpful and just makes you look bad.

    3. 5 stars
      major time crunch, but still had time to complain about your inability to press the “jump to recipe” button at the very top?

  7. So I tried this recipe and I have to say I am truly disappointed with results. I have been making Royal icing cookies for years so not a novice but I ran out of meringue powder and found this recipe and decided to give it a try. While it was easy to make and use it truly ruined the look of my cookies. It bled all my colors. And before anyone says you need to wait, I did. Overnight. All my hard work and hours of time just ruined.

    1. Bummer to hear that, Nancy. I have not had issues with bleeding, but I bet that’s pretty frustrating. Humidity can play a major role in bleeding, even more so with royal icing made in this manner which still has some moisture to it.

  8. 5 stars
    We made this to decorate shortbread Christmas cookies this year. We divided it into three bowls & colored it. Super simple, worked great, and tasted good 😋

    1. 5 stars
      Agreed, best and only royal icing recipe I use. Mixes and colours well and so easy to use.

  9. 5 stars
    I’m in a pinch because I can’t find meringue powder anywhere so I’m thinking of trying this recipe, but is the texture/consistency still ok for piping details? I’m not doing anything super intricate but I do more detailed work than most home bakers so I am trying to make sure I can still pipe writing, fine lines etc with this if I just stiffen it up a bit.

    1. Hi, Kelsey! Yes, you can pipe details. It’s a little thicker/stickier than traditional royal icing, but if you are familiar with the consistency you need, you should not have an issue. I know a lot of decorators go by feel, and you can do that here, but it will feel a little different than what you’re used to. Just something to keep in mind! Let me know how it goes!

  10. 5 stars
    Amazing recipe! Thank you SO much Lynn for sharing! I find the meringue recipes very finicky to work with in general, but this recipe was a fabulous alternative. I used 3 tbsp of water (differed from the 2 tbsp called for) to get the consistency I needed.
    Will definitely be using this again!! Thank you!!

  11. 5 stars
    This is an amazing recipe instead of having to purchase meringue powder or even Royal icing. I used with my favorite sugar cookie recipe for Valentine’s Day and the end product was amazing. Thank you!!

  12. 5 stars
    This is the exact recipe I’ve been using since circa 2008 when my local bake shop was out of meringue powder and I didn’t want to use raw egg whites – but it definitely isn’t royal icing, I’ve always just called it cookie icing or sugar glaze. Really tastes good with lemon juice in lieu of vanilla or almond extract, too!

  13. 5 stars
    Hi! Sooo, I made this royal icing of yours today and yeah, it’s great! It has a semi-gloss look, it is hardening perfectly, and the taste is on point.
    Thank you for sharing. I have this saved in my favorites. 😉

  14. 5 stars
    Simple yet amazing recipe, thank you!
    If I need to use it in a day or two, should I store it (covered) inside the refrigerator or at room temp

    1. Hi, Anila– no need to refrigerate, but you may have to adjust the consistency once you’re ready to use it as it tends to firm up as it sits, even if it’s covered well!

  15. 5 stars
    Hi lynn
    I love this recipe. Do you have to use it within 1 day once you’ve mixed it? I use mine after a few days and it’s still good as I’ve kept it in piping bags in airtight container
    Thank you

    1. Hi! You don’t HAVE to use it, but it will definitely change its consistency. You may just have to adjust it when you go to use it again.