Royal Icing for Christmas Sugar Cookies is here! Want to know every detail on how to make decorated sugar cookies with royal icing for Christmas? Me too, so I pulled in a sweet friend to teach me all of her magical ways.
I know you need the best sugar cookies recipe, done. Made it last year and we’ve had totally rave reviews. But those were for Valentine’s Day so I needed a little oomph for Christmas. You’ll want to head over to our sugar cookies post for that soft but stable cookie recipe, this one is all about the decorating.
Except, I’m not artistic.
I can’t draw stick figures.
“Ohhhh, you’re so funny Carrian, anyone can!”
No, really, even my stick figures look broken and sad. So the thought of holding my hand still while I tackled Christmas sugar cookies has had me overwhelmed for an entire year!! I never procrastinate! But I’ve had decorating anxiety, who cares about face coverings causing acne, I’ve been anxious about royal icing!
So I did what any genius would do, I called in Camille from Baker Street Society who is the most incredible food blogger, and perfectly talented cookie decorator I know. And guess what, she totally busted out the most gorgeous cookies for you AND is showing how to do it on her Instagram channel. Seriously, you’re going to get sooooo sucked into her tutorial stories. She’s unreal in the kitchen and I totally want to be her.
The mittens are hands down my absolute favorite, dang, or the trees, ok it’s the snowman. Isn’t that little nose the best?
Actually, the best part is that I had Camille from Bakerstreet Society do it all. She’s brand new in the blog world and kind of like that first person that told you about pinterest, I’m telling you right now that she’s going to be a really big deal and her instagram stories alone should sell you. I love watching her step by step videos on there!
Which Frosting for Christmas Sugar Cookies?
Royal Icing all the way!! Unless you’re just looking for a soft buttercream or cream cheese frosting, which is fine. It’s not going to hold to decorating though, just an fyi.
Egg Free Royal Icing
I actually have two royal icing recipes I’ve been using because I have a friend with a kiddo that can’t have eggs and it’s just a quick egg free royal icing recipe. However, when I’m really trying to impress I stick with this recipe that has been hanging around in my old cooking world for forever.
What Is Royal Icing?
Royal icing is a thick, but completely smooth when set icing that is easy to dye whatever color you want and the best backdrop for all decorating needs, from sprinkles to piping.
Royal icing is made from a combination of egg whites, powdered sugar, cream of tartar and water.
Many recipes call for meringue powder but I’ve had trouble finding it occasionally so we eventually ditched it for the actual egg white.
Why Cream of Tartar in Royal Icing
Cream of tartar acts as a barrier, or an interfering agent against the crystallization of the sugar.
Royal Icing Ingredients
I’m pretty sure this royal icing was long ago shared on All Recipes, but it’s been adapted enough over the years I’ll never really know.
- Egg Whites
- Cream of Tartar
- Powdered Sugar
- Vanilla and Almond Extract
- Pinch of Salt
How To Make Royal Icing
Royal icing is a cinch to make, but you’ll want to separate it into bowls so that you can make two different consistencies. Which Camille totally pointed out was my issue, I’ve been using the same icing for all of the cookie. Oops!
- Place the egg whites in a standing mixer and whisk until frothing.
- Add only half of the powdered sugar to avoid sugar explosion. Every year for years I tried to just go for it, but it’s not worth it, do only half.
- Add the extracts and remaining powdered sugar and beat until thick, but if it’s looking like cement add a little water. We are looking for a thick toothpaste consistency.
- Once separated, add a little water to the other bowl to make a thinner ribbon consistency, counting to ten until it all melts back together, that’s when it’s good to go.
Looking for more details and tips about Royal Icing? You can check out Camille’s blog for all of her sugar cookie decorating expertise.
Royal Icing Tips
All tips are from Camille herself, but I approve this message. 😉 Ha!
Tools for Making the Best Royal Icing Sugar Cookies
- Cake Decorating Couplers
- Cake Decorating Tips
- Large Piping Bag (for the flood icing)
- Small Piping Bags (for the stiffer outline icing
- Bag Clips (no icing sneaking out the back end!)
- Food Gel Coloring
- Scriber Needles
Shhhhh…don’t tell anyone, but I’ve already bought everything for myself. I think I’ll wrap them up for myself for Christmas. Ha! Any other moms out there do that? Just me?
Need to watch it happen? Watch Camille show us exactly how to pipe and decorate sugar cookies!
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Royal Icing Recipe
- 3 3/4 Cups Powdered Sugar
- 3 Large Egg Whites
- 1/2 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1/4 Teaspoon Almond Extract
- 1 Pinch salt
- water as needed
- Food Gel Coloring of choice
In the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until foaming.
Turn the mixer off and add half of the powdered sugar. Whisk on low then turn off and add remaining powdered sugar, cream of tartar extracts and salt. Turn the mixer and on and once incorporated, turn up to high and beat until the mixture is thick.
Divide the coloring into small, plastic bowls. You’ll want the thick icing (like toothpaste) for the outer edge and slightly more runny for the flooding of the center of the cookie.
Using a very small tipped bag, (watch Camille’s reel on how to fill a bag the most incredible way ever ) carefully draw around the cookie by touching the tip to the cookie, lifting up into the air and gently laying down in a straight line on the other end of the cookie, stopping to touch down at corners.
In another bowl, add a little water (Camille taught me to spray with a misting water bottle like this one) to thin it out a little and flood the inside of the cookie, being sure it’s taller than the outer edge you just created, yes, that’s a lot, do it though!
Place the cookies aside to set completely if you want to add piped decorations, otherwise add sprinkles etc now. Also, if you’re going to drag through and create a swirled design you’ll also do it now while it’s still wet.
- Royal icing can be refrigerated for 5-7 days, however make sure it is stored in an airtight container or it will quickly dry out.
- To use stored icing: Using a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the icing until it’s back to its original state. I like to set mine out for 10 minutes before doing this.
- Always use gel food coloring as the liquid does not work the same nor give off vibrant colors.