How to Make Royal Icing for Cupcakes

Written by alyssa brode
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How to Make Royal Icing for Cupcakes
Royal icing gives you many options for decorating your cupcakes. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Royal icing is popular in baking because of its pure white colour and smooth matt finish when dry. It can be easily dyed and adapts well for piping as well as frosting -- its consistency can be altered depending need. Royal icing has many possibilities in baking and knowing how to make it is a useful skill.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • 2 large egg whites or 5 tbsp meringue powder and 1/3 cup water
  • 6 cups confectioners' sugar
  • Juice of one lemon (2 to 3 tbsp.)
  • Large bowl
  • Large spoon or mixer
  • Food colouring
  • Piping tools (optional)

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  1. 1

    Combine lemon juice and egg whites or meringue powder and water in a large bowl. Mix together by hand using a large spoon or a handheld mixer.

  2. 2

    Begin adding sugar little by little. Stop when the consistency is thick enough to be piped. At this point it will form soft peaks when you poke it with a spoon and pull the spoon away. Separate icing to be used for piping.

  3. 3

    Continue to add sugar in small increments, about two tbsp at a time as the icing gets stiffer. Pulling a spoon out of the icing should form stiff peaks that retain their shape at this final stage. Icing is ready to be spread on cupcakes.

  4. 4

    Colour your icing whatever shade you choose. Separate it into smaller containers to make several different colours. Start with small quantities of food colouring and mix completely before adding more.

  5. 5

    Spread or pipe the royal icing onto your cupcakes. If you're not using it immediately, cover with a wet cloth or transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Tips and warnings

  • Adding several drops of glycerine to the icing can help slow the quick drying process of royal icing.
  • If you achieve an undesirable consistency, remember that royal icing can always be thickened or thinned by simply adding more confectioners' sugar or water as needed.
  • Consuming raw egg whites may increase your risk of salmonella contamination. Storing icing for more than three days before using can also increase this risk.
  • Royal icing dries very quickly, so be sure to properly store all icing with which you are not currently working.

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