Royal Icing

By Ann

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Making gingerbread houses–well, actually, graham cracker houses –is an annual holiday event in our house.  The first year I thought of doing this, I offered to make enough “bases” for my son’s entire pre-school class.  It was a bit overwhelming at first.  I wondered what the heck I had gotten myself into!  But once you get a feel for putting the houses together (instructions may be found by clicking here it is really quite easy.

These days, I make enough for my family and a few of the kids’ friends.  The houses don’t take too long to assemble and they can be made several days — I think I have made them up to two weeks in advance during the busier years — before being decorated.  For a Sunday School activity, I have assembled the crackers into an open sort of building and a manger using two graham  cracker quarters put together in a long “V” shape.  They look pretty good!

Younger children often to do well spreading the icing from a small cup or bowl with a smooth, plastic knife. Older kids and adults can be more effective using a zipper top bag to pipe the icing. Simply spoon in the icing, cut a tiny piece off the corner of the bag and squish the icing toward the corner. Too much pressure toward the opening may pop the bag open. The icing will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. Bring to room temperature before using.

Royal Icing
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 2½ cups
This icing will dry candy-hard so it is not suitable for icing cakes. It makes perfect “glue” for gingerbread houses and may be used for making decorations, like flowers, on other baked goods. Meringue powder can be found in the baking aisle of most large grocery and craft stores.
  • 1 pound confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 5-6 tablespoons warm water
  • Optional: food coloring (gel colorings offer the most vibrant hues)
  1. Add sugar, meringue powder, and 5 tablespoons water to a mixing bowl.
  2. Beat until the icing is thick and of good spreading consistency, adding a few drops more water at a time, as needed.
  3. If you mistakenly add a bit too much water, simply add more sugar and beat again.
  4. Storage: Transfer the icing to plastic zip-top bags or covered bowls. Refrigerate until ready to use. When stored in an airtight container, the icing will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator, offering prep-ahead convenience.

To pipe the icing: I like to pipe the icing from a zip-top bag. Carefully snip a small corner off the bag and gently squeeze like a toothpaste tube. Better to start with a very small hole, as you can always make it bigger if need be.

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If you’d like to add color to some of the icing, remove a portion of icing from the mixing bowl and stir in the desired color. For the final color, you can easily do this in the main bowl.


These are the reason I typically make royal icing and are SO MUCH FUN–for adults and kids alike! If you click on the photo, you will find the easy how-to and a photo of the finished product.

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  1. Jessica

    Such a hit. This was the third recipe I tried when trying to find the perfect egg free royal icing recipe for my daughter’s kindergarten class and it was perfect! I made 12x the recipe in total which was plenty for assembly of 40 houses and icing to decorate. Id recommend no more than 4x the recipe in a standard kitchen aide mixer and be sure to have a guard on the bowl when you make a bigger batch or you may get covered in sugar . Thank you again Ann ❤️!

    1. Ann

      Such great feedback, Jessica. I’m so happy the recipe worked well and major kudos to you for assembling 40 houses. That is no small feat and I’m sure the kids loved it!

    1. Ann

      Definitely, Amber. I cover the surface with a piece of plastic wrap — right on the icing — and then refrigerate. Just let it come to room temperature before using and give it a quick stir.