Small Batch Royal Icing

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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

This icing dries very stiff and can be used for gingerbread houses and decorated cookies.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 2 cups frosting


  • 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


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


- Katrina

27 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. #
    [email protected] — 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 13, 2013 at 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!!!

    • #
      Katrina Bahl — July 25, 2014 at 3:39 pm

      So glad you liked it! Thanks for stopping by.

  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 🙂

    • #
      Katrina Bahl — July 25, 2014 at 3:38 pm

      Hi Toni. I would love to troubleshoot on this with you. I have made this recipe many many times and it hardens enough to use as gingerbread house “glue” and for cookie to be stacked, shipped, etc. Can you tell me how long you waited? Any Royal Icing recipe typically takes overnight (24 hours) to harden completely.

  14. #
    Margaret Gauthier — December 10, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    If you do not use all of it will it keep for later use?

  15. #
    Margaret Gauthier — December 10, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    If you do not use it all will it keep for later use?

  16. #
    Nicole — May 26, 2015 at 8:46 am

    @Toni @Katrina – My icing is still soft after drying overnight (from 5 pm to 9 am). I’m going to leave it to dry for the rest of the day and see. I’m wondering if it is the humidity that is not allowing it to dry fully? It’s been unseasonably warm here in Toronto.

  17. #
    skrambldeggs — May 30, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    Thank you!
    I actually halved this recipe because I needed a very small amount of icing, and it worked great. I got just enough icing to fill my piping bag, which was still more than enough …
    I can’t believe how easy this recipe is to follow, and how “not scary” royal icing is if you thin it slowly and take it slow when decorating. I kept it thick and piped this time, but next I’ll try flooding. And I’ll do small batch 🙂

  18. #
    Brandon butler — September 24, 2015 at 4:35 am

    What could you use instead of mirangue powder could you just use a white of an egg

  19. #
    Mary Fitzgerald — December 1, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    Thanks so much for your small batch icing recipe! I wondered if you had an opinion on pourable icing made with Karo syrup? It dries shiney & quite pretty, but is really hard to work with for finer detailing ….
    On the royal icing, what type of colorant do you like to use?

    Thanks again,

  20. #
    Martha Griffin — December 4, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    Where can you buy maringue powder?

  21. #
    Autumn — December 13, 2016 at 6:58 am

    How far in advance could you make this and how should I store it? I’m have a decorating party for the family kids on Christmas eve. Could I make that morning and store in the unopen decorating bottles?

    • #
      Katrina Bahl — December 13, 2016 at 9:57 am

      Yes- keep it covered though (closed decorating bottle). I make mine days in advance actually.

  22. #
    Ginger Youngbar — November 10, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    Hi. Can I just make my own meringue with egg whites in place of the meringue powder? How many egg whites would you estimate to make enough for this recipe? Also how much sugar would sweeten the meringue just enough to not over power the rest of the icing? Sorry so many questions. This will be my very first time attempting to make a homemade icing on my own.

  23. #
    Karin — December 13, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but apparently nothing because I followed the recipe exactly…consistency was perfect but it tastes horrible. Maybe I just don’t eat enough sweets because this was over the top sweet. Although I don’t know what I expected being that it’s almost entirely sugar. I’m sure it’s a wonderful result for those who are used to it.

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