Royal icing is beloved by professional cake decorators and expert home bakers alike. Its malleable consistency and smooth, hard finish allows it to be used for everything from cakes to Christmas cookies. This classic royal icing recipe is made with just two ingredients: egg whites and confectioners' sugar. We also have recipes that use meringue powder rather than raw egg if you prefer. 

Martha Stewart Living, May 1995


Credit: Johnny Miller

Recipe Summary

Makes about 4 cups


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Place egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat using the whisk attachment until frothy. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar and mix well. Gradually add the remaining 3 3/4 cups sugar, beating on low speed and scraping down the sides.

  • Increase the speed to high and continue to beat the mixture until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. At this stage, the icing will be very thick. Add water, a few drops at a time, to thin it to the consistency appropriate for the kind of decorating you are doing. As a rule, the icing should be stiffer for lettering, more malleable for making petals -- but you will need to experiment to find the consistency that works best for you. Store icing at room temperature in an airtight glass or metal container. It should be used within two days.

Cook's Notes

Raw eggs should not be used in food prepared for pregnant women, babies, young children, the elderly, or anyone whose health is compromised.