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Ridiculously Easy Royal Icing Recipe For Sugar Cookies

This easy royal icing recipe for sugar cookies is SO ridiculously simple to make! No egg whites, no meringue powder, just four simple ingredients whipped up with a hand or stand mixer. So you can get down to decorating cookies with your kids with less mess and fuss…

easy royal icing recipe for sugar cookies

This recipe was created in partnership with Tum-E Yummies — a fun, fruity drink option made with kids in mind. Thanks for supporting me and the brands I love!

Easy Royal Icing Recipe

Iced sugar cookies — yay or nay?!? If I’m being completely honest, I’d have to say I’ve never been a huge fan. I feel like such a Grinch saying that, but I prefer my sugar cookies not-too-sweet, soft, and fluffy, like these old-fashioned sugar cookies I shared years ago.

On the other hand, I LOVE decorating sugar cookies. As do my kids — they adore gathering around the table to decorate cookies as a family during the holidays! We make it into a party with fun color-coordinated drinks and other snacks to nibble while decorating.

But let me clarify — we’re not talking the ultra detailed, royal icing piped cookies you’re probably seeing all over Pinterest right now. Those are totally amazing and beautiful, and I could literally spend all day watching videos of talented bakers decorating them. However, this mama does NOT have the time or patience for that, nor do my kids…

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royal icing without meringue powder without eggs made with corn syrup in a stand mixer

Royal Icing For Sugar Cookies

We keep our cookie decorating FAR less ornate, with just a few simple strokes of icing and sprinkles to highlight the shape of the cookies. We DO use royal icing — but it’s a bit of an unorthodox recipe. It doesn’t use egg whites (no stressing over what to do with all those leftover egg yolks), and it doesn’t use meringue powder (I really hate one trick pony ingredients).

Instead, it uses corn syrup to give it a crusty finish that has the most gorgeous glossy sheen. I bet you have some in your pantry right now, yes? Try it — you may just ditch your classic royal icing recipe for good. Seriously, this icing is SO ridiculously easy to make when you eliminate the eggs whites and/or meringue!

best royal icing recipe tips piped on snowflake sugar cookies

Best Royal Icing Recipe Tips

While I’m far from a royal icing expert, I do have a few tips to share that will help you get the best results from this easy royal icing recipe:

1| The icing will be very thick to start, like surprisingly thick. This is OKAY! It’s easier to thin it down than it is to thicken it back up. Just add water, a tiny bit at a time, to thin it down. A simple spray bottle of water works wonders for this task. If you thin it too much, add more confectioners sugar as necessary.

2| Not sure what the consistency should be for piping? An easy way to check is to simply use a spoon to scoop up some of the icing and drizzle it back into the bowl. If ten seconds have passed and you can still see where you drizzled it, it’s too thick. On the other hand, if it combines before ten seconds have passed, it’s too thin.

3| Royal icing sets up very quickly. Keep the bowl covered with a piece of plastic wrap pressed down directly on top of the icing in between uses. This also means that if you’re using sprinkles with your royal icing, you should apply them immediately after piping or the icing will set up, and they’ll just bounce off.

4| For novice cookies decorators (like me!), skip the fancy piping bags and tips. I achieved these gorgeous snowflake cookies with just a standard ziploc bag. I spooned the icing into the bag, zipped it up, and then snipped a small piece off the corner to pipe.

Ziploc bags can be a bit difficult for younger kids to manipulate, though, so I have another fun hack to share for them…

squeeze bottle royal icing hack for kids to decorate snowflake sugar cookies

Squeeze Bottle Royal Icing Hack For Kids

Piping royal icing onto sugar cookies with plastic ziploc bags works great for adults and older kids. But I noticed my younger kids getting frustrated with this hack. The ziploc bags were hard for them to control, and the icing ended up flowing too quickly.

As I looked through the cabinets trying to find a solution, I noticed the Tum-E Yummies drink bottles they were sipping from while decorating. Maybe they would work in a pinch?

I grabbed a few empty squeeze bottles, washed them out, and used the plastic bags to squeeze the icing into the mouth of the bottle. Then I replaced the squeeze top, and voilà — an instant DIY cookie-decorating tool for kids! The tip makes it much easier for them to control placement of the icing, and when they need a short break, they can just close the top and return to it when they’re recharged.

If your cookie decorating party is a bit less spontaneous, you might consider picking up several of these mini squeeze bottles. The tops snap closed tightly, which will help keep the royal icing fresh, and the size is perfect for splitting up a batch into multiple colors. Note: If you’re planning to color this royal icing, I highly recommend using gel food coloring to get the most vibrant colors without thinning the icing too much.

P.S. Just another #momhack I’ve learned over the years… Placing sugar cookies on a quarter-sheet cookie tray while decorating will corral those sprinkles from running all over your kitchen!

royal icing for sugar cookies on snowflake sugar cookies with sprinkles

How To Make Royal Icing

Soooooo, have I mentioned how EASY this royal icing recipe is, yet? Just kidding — but I really just can’t get over it.

Simply whip together confectioners sugar, a little milk, some corn syrup, plus a touch of pure vanilla extract, and then thin it out with a touch of water to the perfect consistency. THAT’S IT! Can’t wait to hear what you think…

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Easy Royal Icing Without Meringue Powder Without Eggs

Ridiculously Easy Royal Icing Recipe For Sugar Cookies

Yield: 2 cups of icing
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

This easy royal icing recipe for sugar cookies is SO ridiculously simple to make! No egg whites, no meringue powder, just four simple ingredients whipped up with a hand or stand mixer.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Add confectioners sugar to a mixing bowl or to the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the wire whisk attachment.
  2. Start mixing on low, and slowly add the milk, corn syrup, and vanilla extract. Continue to whip on medium until smooth.
  3. If the royal icing is too thick, thin it out by misting it with a spray bottle of water, one spritz at a time, until it reaches the proper consistency. If it's too thin, add additional confectioners sugar a teaspoonful at a time, until it reaches the proper consistency.

Notes

 If you want to color to your royal icing, I recommend using gel food coloring.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 32 Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 33Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gSodium: 2.1mgCarbohydrates: 8.4gFiber: 0gSugar: 8.4gProtein: 0g

How much did you LOVE this recipe?

Please leave a comment below or share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #unsophisticook!

I’d love to see how you’ve used this easy royal icing recipe on your favorite sugar cookies… Tag me @Unsophisticook on Instagram or use the hashtag #Unsophisticook so I can check it out. Enjoy!

P.S. Looking for a lighter and fluffier frosting for your cakes and/or cookies? Check out this ah-mazing whipped buttercream frosting recipe!

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Christina

Wednesday 14th of April 2021

Hi Tara! I LOVE your icing recipe and have used it multiple times with success, but I was wondering, if I wanted to make a maple icing (using maple syrup; I don't have extract), how could I adapt it so that I still get the right consistency? Thank you!

Tara Kuczykowski

Thursday 15th of April 2021

Thanks, Christina! You should be able to replace the corn syrup with maple syrup and maintain the consistency. However, the flavor will be pretty subtle. If you want a strong maple flavor, you're probably going to want to use an extract.

Mimi

Thursday 11th of February 2021

Good evening. I loathe and detest royal icing! I have tried making corn syrup icing in the past but mine never comes out shiny! Any suggestions? Thank you in advance.

Mimi

Thursday 11th of February 2021

@Tara Kuczykowski, Good evening, again, and thank you for responding so quickly! I've tried adding more corn syrup, more water, and it seems no matter what I do, my glaze/icing dries dull! I'll give your recipe a shot. This is now a matter of principle! I'll keep trying until I get it right or die in the process! Regards!

Tara Kuczykowski

Thursday 11th of February 2021

Hi Mimi! This is not a classic royal icing recipe, in that it does not use meringue powder or egg whites. Perhaps the recipes you tried in the past used less corn syrup? It's hard to say, but as you can see from the photos, this recipe does dry to a shiny finish. Hope you'll give it a try -- and please let me know if you have any struggles with it!

Kara

Tuesday 9th of February 2021

Does this need to be refrigerated since it is made with milk? Could water be used instead?

Tara Kuczykowski

Tuesday 9th of February 2021

Great question, Kara! No, it does not need to be refrigerated. The milk content is extremely minimal, plus sugar is a natural preservative -- and there's quite a high ratio of it in the recipe.

Jess

Friday 5th of February 2021

Hi Tara, is it possible to substitute the corn syrup with honey?

Tara Kuczykowski

Saturday 6th of February 2021

Hi Jess -- yes, you can use honey instead of corn syrup! If you scroll down a few comments on the post, you'll see one from Natalie where she details how she used honey and brown vanilla.

Cheré

Saturday 30th of January 2021

Getting ready to make some valentines cookies. Was wondering about the taste of this icing. I’ve tried some with a heavy powdered sugar taste. How is this one. ?

Tara Kuczykowski

Saturday 30th of January 2021

Hi Cheré! No, I don't think it has a strong powdered sugar taste to it. Hope you love it!

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