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Royal Icing

For an especially glossy icing, mix in a few drops of glycerin (available at drugstores).

  • Yield: Makes about 2 1/2 cups
Royal Icing

Source: Martha Stewart Living, February 1996


  • 2 large egg whites, or more to thin icing
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar, or more to thicken icing
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 drops glycerin


  1. Beat the whites until stiff but not dry. Add sugar, lemon juice and glycerin (if using); beat for 1 minute more. If icing is too thick, add more egg whites; if it is too thin, add more sugar. The icing may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Cook's Note

You can substitute 5 tablespoons meringue powder and 1/3 cup water for raw eggs. Raw eggs should not be used in food prepared for pregnant women, babies, young children, or anyone whose health is compromised.

Reviews (19)

  • noel_marie_becker 23 Dec, 2012

    This was very easy (except for grinding sugar in the coffee grinder because I didn't have powdered sugar), and it came out perfectly for my gingerbread house.

  • christopherpatti46 22 Dec, 2012

    Loved it! Have to say I love farm fresh eggs moreso over the bleached store brands. I don't think once in the past few years have I gotten a actual white egg haha. Usually they are red, blue, green, dirty ecru etc, and the yolks are so dark and rich. One reason I hate being back in NJ miss my eggs. But over all this recipe is a winner came out perfect!

  • cakemakingkat 2 Jul, 2012

    this recipe was really good it had the perfect consistency but it was really sugary and griddy overall it was ok

  • cakemakingkat 2 Jul, 2012

    this recipe was really good it had the perfect consistency but it was really sugary and griddy overall it was ok

  • psofey 12 Dec, 2011

    I'm so glad Martha offers this recipe as an option; meringue powder is not easily found in my small town, but I always have eggs on hand. It's a great base to start with stiff icing for piping -- add water in small amount to get smoother icing for flooding. I enjoyed the hint of lemon flavor on the gingerbread as well. Happy decorating!

  • wkshank62 8 Dec, 2011

    sorry - posted my gingerbread snowflakes review on this page by accident - but I did use this icing for them as directed, and it piped very well.

  • wkshank62 8 Dec, 2011

    I made this recipe for smaller star-shaped cookies, following the recipe exactly. I had my doubts about the pepper too, but the taste is really good & spicy. To decorate as shown is VERY time consuming (3-4 mins. per cookie?) but this recipe is worth doing if you need some "wow" factor for a gift-box of cookies: you can just put a few on top of the stack and they will class up the gift. I wish I had made a half batch, which would have been plenty for several dozen normal-size cookies.

  • ericamarie1023 26 Jul, 2011

    can you subsuite the lemon juice for almond or vanilla extract?

  • flower_rosey 23 Feb, 2009

    I wouldn't bleach your eggs, eggs have a semi permeable membrane and bleaching them could be harmful to you and your family. If you wouldn't normally consume it-don't use it on your eggs. If you buy unpasteurized eggs, wash them thoroughly to remove any potential lingering salmonella.

  • lattedeb 14 Dec, 2008

    I used "All whites" 100% liquid egg whites. They are pasteurized. Martha has an icing recipe with meringue powder, but at my grocery store it was $7.78. That;s why I chose to use the liquid egg whites.

  • Cherio 14 Dec, 2008

    well if bacteria come from the outer shell then can I put the eggs in bleach for a min or 2 to killed any bacteria then pull them out of the bleach then in water and let air dry?

  • sparklypinkcupcake 28 Nov, 2008

    I am a pastry chef; salmonella is not contained in the egg, it is located on the outer shell, if there at all. We are taught very little about the bacteria, just that it comes from raw reality, if you do not allow your egg to touch the outer shell; you will NEVER get sick from raw egg. It is also rare that it will be on your eggs at home. Do the research. If you're still paranoid, just pasteurize the egg.

  • angelam 29 Oct, 2008

    While lemon juice may curdle the egg, it does NOT kill salmonella, the bacteria responsible for most food poisonings.

  • myjadedkarma 11 Sep, 2008

    Actually...the lemon juice "cooks" the eggs.. you don't have to worry about food poisoning

  • Sweetmoonboots 19 Dec, 2007

    I bought some Wilton's Meringue powder at Wal Mart in the cake/baking section of their craft department.

  • Tawki 17 Dec, 2007

    Where do I find "meringue powder"?

  • gailgirl87 17 Dec, 2007

    Meringue Powder comes out with a more predictable consistency, is easier than separating eggs and finding something to do with the yolks, and is food-safe, because you don't bake the frosting, so you would be eating raw eggs.

  • Chef 14 Dec, 2007

    I haven't made this yet- however, I've noticed that the recipe in the MSmagazine calls for "meringue powder", instead of eggs. I guess I'll have to run the experiment through the oven in order to find what works best.

  • dustieraye 13 Nov, 2007

    I used this recipe for my halloween sugar cookies. This was also my first time making icing. 100% perfect. I don't like gobs of icing, but I thought the hint of lemon will be a surprise and it was. By far the biggest hit of the party. I guess I have found my 'signature' icing.

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