Modern Mountain Flour Company - July 14, 2023

The Ultimate Guide to Royal Icing


Pouch of Modern Mountain Meringue Powder next to royal icing cookies

Royal icing is a remarkably versatile and essential element in the world of baking and decorating. It’s used for outlining and flooding some of the most amazing sugar cookie designs imaginable, creating intricate designs on gingerbread houses, and crafting elaborate cake creations. One of the key ingredients to making the perfect royal icing is meringue powder, an egg white substitute that offers a stable, easy-to-work-with consistency without the headaches and hassles associated with raw egg whites. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll uncover our top tips and tricks for making an exceptional meringue powder royal icing and learn how to use it to elevate your baking creations. Ready? Let’s get going!

Royal Icings with Meringue Powder

Our royal icing recipe (and most others you’ll find online) rely on meringue powder as the star ingredient for creating tasty icings that are manageable, dry well, and hold their appearance. We'll focus on royal icing made with meringue powder in this post. Let’s dive a bit into the specifics about what meringue powder is and why we use it.

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What is meringue powder?

Meringue powder is most often a blend of sugar, egg whites, starches, stabilizers, and flavorings. It’s often used as a substitute for fresh egg whites in royal icing recipes. It provides the same sturdy and stable consistency as traditional royal icing made with raw egg whites, without the risks and difficulties associated with working with and consuming raw eggs.

Meringue powder can be found in the baking aisle of most grocery stores, craft stores with a baking section, or easily on Amazon. Meringue powder can also be used for whipping up meringue for cookies and pies, but you’ll want to make sure that you’re purchasing a “complete mix” meringue powder if you’re looking to have this option.

Not all meringue powders are created equal, so you'll want to follow the meringue powder recipe offered by the brand that you purchase from. Here at Modern Mountain, we’ve formulated a premium, non-GMO, complete mix meringue powder with royal icing in mind, helping cookie decorators to easily achieve delicious and easy-to-use icing that ultimately enable them to offer their cookie customers uncompromised quality that keeps them coming back quick.

Why use meringue powder in royal icing?

There are several reasons to choose meringue powder when making royal icing:

Consistency: Meringue powder yields a consistent texture and stability in royal icing, allowing for precise control over the icing's thickness and flow. Being able to easily adjust consistencies is what allows decorators to make incredibly complex, multi-layer sugar cookie designs.

Taste: What’s a beautiful cookie count for if it doesn’t satisfy that cookie craving? Since meringue powder often has various additional flavorings included, it can help to create delicious icings that add a tasty touch to sugar cookies and more.

Convenience: Scooping a few tablespoons of meringue powder is much simpler than cracking eggs and separating egg whites. Meringue powder is easier to store and handle than fresh egg whites, as it doesn't require refrigeration and usually has a shelf life of 18-24 months. The shelf life of icing with raw egg white is much shorter than icing made with meringue powder, giving your customers or cookie consumers less time to eat your cookies.

Safety: Dealing with raw eggs can create some concerns in the kitchen. Using meringue powder eliminates the risk of salmonella and other foodborne illnesses associated with raw eggs, making it a safer option for pregnant women, young children, and people with weakened immune systems.

Understanding Royal Icing Consistencies

The key to successful decorating with royal icing is mastering the different consistencies required for various applications, slowing adding water to your royal icing until you achieve different rates of flow. Here's a quick overview of the four main consistencies, how to achieve them, and when to use them:

Stiff Consistency: This is the thickest form of royal icing, ideal for creating three-dimensional decorations such as flowers, borders, and gingerbread house components. It holds its shape well and can be piped using larger tips. It should not flow off of the whisk at all.

Medium Consistency: Slightly thinner than stiff icing, medium consistency is perfect for outlining cookies and adding details to your designs. It should level out in about 17-20 seconds when drizzled back into the bowl.

The key to successful decorating with royal icing is mastering the different consistencies required for various design strategies.

Border & Fill Consistency: This is a versatile consistency that can be used for both outlining and flooding cookies. It should level out in about 10-15 seconds when drizzled back into the bowl.

Thin/Flood/Flow Consistency: The thinnest consistency, this icing is ideal for flooding cookies to create a smooth, even surface. It should level out in 7-10 seconds when drizzled back into the bowl.

Consistency Tips for Consistently Great Icing

  • When using our meringue powder, be sure to fully dissolve it with your whisk attachment in the first step of our royal icing recipe, otherwise you may end up with grainy icing.
  • Always start with stiff icing and gradually add water to thin it as needed.
  • Use a clean spatula or spoon to stir the icing gently, avoiding vigorous mixing or beating that can introduce air bubbles.
  • Perform the "drizzle test" to check the consistency: scoop up some icing with a spatula, let it drip back into the bowl, and count how long it takes for the surface to level out. Reference our different consistencies above to determine the consistency of your icing so you can adjust it accordingly.

Storing and Freezing Royal Icing

Royal icing using meringue powder can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to two weeks or more (although, as we’ve discussed, if you’re using egg whites your icing will have a shorter shelf life).

It can also be frozen for up to two months in zip-top freezer bags. Squeeze out as much air as possible and freeze on a flat surface. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before using.

While decorating, keep icing that isn't in your piping bag(s) covered with a damp paper towel or plastic wrap to prevent drying out.

Flavor Variations and Coloring Tips

While traditional royal icing is unflavored and quite sweet, you can experiment with different flavor extracts to add a unique twist to your creations. Some popular options include almond, lemon, orange, and maple. Just be sure to avoid oil-based flavorings, as they can interfere with the icing's structure.

When it comes to coloring your royal icing, gel food coloring is the preferred choice due to its high pigmentation and minimal impact on the icing's consistency. You can also use natural food colorings, but be prepared to adjust the icing's thickness as needed.

Remember that royal icing dries darker, so aim for a slightly lighter shade when coloring your icing.

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Royal icing cookies with Modern Mountain branding

Modern Mountain’s Meringue Powder Royal Icing Recipe

Now that you’ve quickly come to know our top tips and tricks or incredible icings, check out our easy-peasy royal icing recipe:


  • 6 tbsp Modern Mountain Meringue Powder
  • ½ cup warm water 
  • 8 cups (2 lbs) sifted powdered sugar 
  • Optional: 1 tsp vanilla or almond extract for added flavor 
  • Optional: 1 tbsp light corn syrup for a softer, shinier frosting


  • 1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water and meringue powder. Using the whisk attachment, mix on medium speed until fully dissolved (about 30 seconds). Note: If you don't whisk until powder fully dissolves, you may end up with grainy icing. 
  • 2. Using paddle attachment, gradually add sugar and mix on medium speed for 5 minutes. If using, add vanilla and/or corn syrup.
  • 3. To reach the desired consistency, add water, one tablespoon at a time, mixing and checking the consistency before adding more each time.
  • 4. Divide icing into small bowls and dye with gel food coloring, if desired. Transfer to piping bags and begin decorating!

Meringue powder royal icing is a versatile and indispensable tool in the world of baking and decorating. By mastering the different consistencies, techniques, and flavors, you can unleash your creativity and achieve stunning results with your cookies, cakes, and gingerbread houses. Happy decorating!

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