Small Batch Royal Icing

My very favorite Gingerbread House Icing – the perfect small batch Royal Icing recipe for decorating cookies or holding gingerbread houses together!

I have already given you my Best Soft Cut Out Cookie recipe and my preferred Buttercream recipe. Since I get lots of requests for my Royal Icing recipe I thought I would confess: I am somewhat of a Royal Icing newbie. I still feel awkward and unsure when I’m making it. Buttercream and I are best friends but Royal Icing is more like a Facebook acquaintance. 

I call this recipe “Small Batch Royal Icing” because I often do not have use for a ton of Royal Icing so I make just enough to fill 2 large Wilton decorating bottles. But since I refer to it semi-often here I thought I should let you know my preferred method.

My very favorite Gingerbread House Icing Recipe

Use royal icing when you want a smooth surface that dries hard. This is also the frosting that is used to hold gingerbread houses together- it dries like glue. However if you flavor it correctly (lemon, almond, or vanilla, etc.) it really can taste good so don’t be afraid to try it. I make mine with meringue powder but some people use egg whites. (I am not listing a RI recipe using egg whites here because I have never made it that way.) I always make WAY too much royal icing so this small batch is the solution for me.

Small Batch Royal Icing Recipe

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Yield: 2 cups frosting

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

This icing dries very stiff and can be used for gingerbread houses and decorated cookies.


  • 2 Cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons meringue powder
  • 1/4 Cup warm water (plus more for thinning to flood consistency)
  • 1/2 teaspoon clear vanilla or almond extract


  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine powdered sugar and meringue powder.
  2. Add the water and extract slowly. Beat at medium-high speed until stiff peaks form (about 5-7 minutes).


  • This makes a very stiff icing that will harden as it dries. You will use this to outline your cookies (with a squeeze bottle or piping bag). Using the same batch of icing, add drops of water to thin the icing to flood consistency and fill in your cookie.
  • I always make WAY too much royal icing so this is the solution for me. If you need a large batch I would suggest bumping the powdered sugar up to 4 cups, the meringue powder to 3 Tablespoons, and the water to just under 1/2 cup. Flavor to your taste.


- Katrina
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14 Responses to “Small Batch Royal Icing”

  1. #
    Erin @ Dinners, Dish — June 1, 2012 at 2:30 am

    Thanks for the recipe. I have always wondered what recipe people use for RI. I haven't made it in years, it scares me for some unknown reason.

  2. #
    bakedbyrachel — June 1, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    I always make way too much too even after cutting regular recipes down. This is great. I've also never thought to really flavor it outside of with a tough of clear vanilla.
    My recent post Salade Niçoise – Julia Child

  3. #
    amanda — June 1, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    I haven't worked with royal icing in so long! I need to get back into it.
    My recent post Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza

  4. #
    Baker Street — June 2, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    I never make royal icing but this recipe sounds incredible! Should definitely give it a try. :)
    My recent post Ice Cream Blog Hop: Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

  5. #
    Monet — June 2, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Hi Katrina! My goodness, now you have me wanting to decorate cookies today (instead of cupcakes!) I love royal icing, but like you, I often make too large of a batch. Thank you for sharing with me. And thank you for the kind words on my blog! I'm glad we found each other in this blog world!

  6. #
    pam — June 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    hi you were the only one that posted a recipe for a small amount of royal icing!! thanks this is terrific

  7. #
    texydeb — June 4, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Those are fantastic!

  8. #
    jamielifesafeast — June 5, 2012 at 8:23 am

    It's funny but I've always wanted to learn to make royal icing because I think frosted cookies like this are wonderful and remind me somehow of my childhood. Yours are perfect! Thanks for sharing the recipe and tips. I love making cut-out cookies but they are always naked.

  9. #
    patti@Bakeify — June 7, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    It is so funny I found this post because I literally have 6 sugar cookies sitting in a ziploc waiting to be decorated because everytime I think about making royal icing to decorate them I think *ugh I don't need that much*. Such a great tip, and the reason it's great is I'm saying "Why didn't I think of that". :-)

  10. #
    Nicolize — December 13, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    I have never seen Meringue powder here where I live in South Africa, is there a substitute for that? Thank you :)

    • Katrina Bahl — December 13th, 2013 @ 7:15 pm

      I’m sorry Nicolize I’m not familiar with a substitute available to you. You could possibly look for a recipe using egg whites?

  11. #
    Stephanie @ Macaroni and Cheesecake — December 16, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    What a great idea to make a small batch. I’ve never made/used royal icing before so I’m excited to try this!

  12. #
    gigi — July 13, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    This icing is really yummy! And, it really makes decorating feel so on-the-fly do-able when you can just make a small, very easy batch! Thank you so much for this recipe!!!

  13. #
    Toni — July 17, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Hello – My daughter and I tried this small batch icing recipe EXACTLY as written, but the icing never harden. It tastied great but I couldn’t try decorating any further than my bottom layer because it was still soft to the touch. Can you tell me what might have happend, or what I should look out for the next time I try it? Any helpful tidbits would be appreciated. Thanks :-)

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