Royal Icing Recipe

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 Updated 02/04/2017

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When I want to make a really posh cake that requires decoration and a wow factor I use Royal icing. What sets Royal icing apart from other icings like water icing or fondant icing is that Royal icing will set hard. This makes it the best option for a highly decorated Christmas cake for example as it will hold its shape in peaks and swirls and also secure small figures and decorations firmly on the cake. You can pipe it and the rosettes etc. will hold their shape. It's also very easy to make, just requiring sugar, egg whites, some lemon juice and glycerine. The lemon juice cuts through the extreme sweetness of the icing sugar and the glycerine prevents the icing from becoming too hard.


  • 12oz icing sugar
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon glycerine
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
(see measure conversions for more information on quantites)


  1. Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl and add the glycerine and lemon juice.
  2. Whisk the egg white slightly so that it pours more easily and then add gradually to the other ingredients, stirring at the same time. You are looking for the ingredients to come together to form a smooth, workable icing. You may not need to use all the egg whites to achieve this.
  3. The royal icing is now ready to use. If you are using it on top of marzipan (almond icing) you must make sure that the marzipan is thoroughly dried out - this can take a week or longer.
  4. When applying the royal icing use a flat, blunt bladed knife or spatula/palette knife.
  5. Dip the knife into a jug of hot water to enable you to keep the icing smooth.
  6. This is the process you would use for decorating a Christmas cake - cover the top and the sides of the cake with the royal icing.
  7. Decorate with Christmas cake decorations or let your imagination run wild.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: NA

Yield: enough to cover a cake


Should I mix the egg white, sugar and glycerine for 10 minutes to ensure a hard sugar flower or royal icing for a Christmas cake? Thank you for your time.
#19 - llinos jones - 05/04/2015 - 12:21
I would like the recipe for a soft royal icing
#18 - - 12/12/2012 - 05:58
Great :) ;)
#17 - Marton Bianka - 03/19/2012 - 10:36
Help!! What can I do to keep my royal icing from melting. I tried making some small flowers and the royal icing began to melt. What can I do?
#16 - luz ocasio - 06/17/2011 - 13:13
Made royal icing adding glycerine. The icing is still soft. Is this because of the glycerine?
#15 - caroline mcquiggan - 12/03/2010 - 07:50
I've just brought Glycerine in Asda's in little bottle the same as you buy food colourings.
#14 - wendy - 11/27/2010 - 19:18
I need a recipe for a soft royal icing so I can cut easily thougth tha cake. Tank you.
#13 - Furtado - 06/10/2010 - 18:14
Glycerine is impossible to find! give us a proper recipe!
#12 - icecream - 05/20/2010 - 14:00
You might be better off using water icing ie icing sugar mixed to a paste with hot water. It makes nice peaks!
#11 - Jane - 01/10/2010 - 05:26
How do I stop Royal Icing from getting too hard so that it can be easily cut through as the cake is sliced....and so that teeth aren't broken with the first bite! I don't want to pipe with it...just to create a 'peaked' snow scene with holly decoration. Any useful comment greatly appreciated...thanks..
#10 - Elaine - 01/09/2010 - 11:38
can i make icing to look like royal icing without using egg whites
#9 - nunulyn - 12/23/2009 - 07:14
Can i make plastic icing without glycerine? will it have a huge effect if I leave it out?
#8 - cayley - 12/23/2009 - 03:11
Is Glycerine and liquid glucose the same thing? Can I use liguid Glucose instead of glycerine in a royal icing mixture?
#7 - vic - 12/21/2009 - 11:49
It is never too late to scrape off the icing (very carefully) and try again. Make sure that the icing is really stiff before using.
You have done everything extremely early so there is still plenty of time to put things right if the icing doesn't set after a couple of days.
#6 - mary - 11/29/2009 - 06:03
Please advise me I'm panicking I've just covered 2 Christmas cakes using the recipe for Royal Icing from my Bee-ro book and I used the glycerine option but my icing is still really soft and its been on the cakes for 3hours will it ever set or will I have to start again? I used an electric mixer and mixed until it formed peaks.
Many Thanks Zena
#5 - zena Titchen - 11/27/2009 - 09:18
#4 - CATHY JACOBS - 09/07/2008 - 07:22
The icing really does need to be pretty stiff. As you know you can alter the texture by adding more icing sugar or more water etc. Royal Icing for piping is so stiff that it will crust over very quickly if left in the bowl. The base icing must be allowed to dry thoroughly before attempting decorative piping or the piped icing will just melt into it. It is best to carry out the icing in a cool room.
#3 - mary - 12/06/2007 - 14:50
my royal icing melts when I am piping,no matter how stiff I make it!Any solutions please.
#2 - edward tucker - 12/04/2007 - 02:41
You should be able to buy glycerine in a drugstore or chemist. Failing that have you tried cooking ingredient shops on the internet? The icing would work fine without the glycerine it is just that the glycerine keeps it soft.
#1 - Mary - 09/29/2007 - 13:45
I want to make royal icing but i cant find Glycerine is there a way to make royal icing
#0 - - 09/28/2007 - 21:12
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