Easy Royal Icing for Cookies


When it comes to holiday cookies, you can't go overboard on the accessorizing. Sanding sugar, candy pearls, and edible gold dust are examples of some of the "bling" you can use to top your cookies. These garnishes are all fun, colorful, and store-bought, but you can't do any better than whipping up a batch of this easy homemade royal icing. Frosting cookies with Mom or Grandma is a holiday memory many of us share. We may have baked them for the neighbors, a church potluck, a school party, or the family dinner, but bakers young and old all had a job when it came to decorating Christmas cookies. Royal icing will harden on the cookies, which means it won't be so messy when little hands are helping decorate the cookies. The meringue powder in this recipe will help the frosting to set up, so don't try the recipe without it. Beat unsifted powdered sugar, water, meringue powder and vanilla until it is smooth and stiff. Add a touch of water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until the icing has reached your desired consistency. You can also add a drop or two of food coloring gel if you would like to change the color of the icing, and blend. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and pipe icing onto cookies, either covering the entire cookie with icing or making a design, such as a monogram. This icing can keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Brown Sugar Cookie Stars
Photo: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall
Active Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
10 mins
2 cups


  • 3 cups unsifted powdered sugar

  • 1/4 cup water, plus more as needed

  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Beat all ingredients with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until blended, smooth, and stiff, 1 minute (mixture should hold stiff peaks), stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Gradually add additional water 1/2 teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with desired tip; pipe onto cookies. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

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