Coloring and Preparing Royal Icing

I do lots of weird things.  Some of them don’t make sense until I explain the logic behind them.  The way I color and prepare my royal icing is one of these things.

Keep in mind, this is not the only way, just my way.

I begin with VERY stiff RI.  YOu can find my recipe by clicking HERE.  See how the spatula stands straight up in the icing?  It should be so stiff that even if you were to thump it, the handle would barely move.

Also, I ALWAYS mix icing in a measuring cup.  This helps me know EXACTLY how much I am mixing.  I know to use the 2 cup size if I am filling an eight ounce bottle and a piping bag.  I go with the one cup size for less. Try this.  I really think it will prevent you from over or under mixing.  Next, I choose my color.  In this case, I want a teal shade, so I am using a combination of turquoise and royal blue.?

To begin, I add the amount of color I’ll need.  This is where my printable color chart comes in handy!

At this point, I mix it thoroughly.  A few notes:

  • when I am making icing ahead of time, this is the consistency at which I make and store it.  This keeps it from becoming too thin as color is added and also prevents it from separating.
  • If I know I will be using a lot of a particular color {like orange at Halloween, red at Christmas and Valentines, green right about now} I make a large bowl of it, and take out and thin as necessary.  It allows the color to develop, and ensures that I have enough icing available to ensure all of my cookies are uniform in color.
See how stiff it is?  Is should sit just like this without falling off the spatula.
When I get ready to fill my bags, I thin the icing to piping consistency.  I used to stand at the sink to do this until I learned an awesome trick from Gail, AKA, One Tough Cookie.  Please check out her spray bottle tip {HERE}.  TAKE my word on this.  I can honestly say, it’s one of the best royal icing tips I have ever learned, and since then, I have never gone back!
Using my spray bottle, I first thin my icing to piping consistency.  This is about what it looks like.  Think toothpaste, or Softscrub cleanser.  It need to be soft enough to flow smoothly through the tube and curve without breakage, but stiff enough as not to lose it’s shape.
See how it’s thick enough to hold it’s shape but not so thick that it keeps a peak?  This is what you want!  Now you are ready to bag it,  If you don’t like to wash icing bags, you are going to LOVE the next part. I have ALWAYS used disposable bags for many different reasons.  I like that they are clear, so that I can easily see which color is which.  Also, they are a little more budget friendly then pastry bags. To me disposable does not really mean disposable.  A lifetime of being forced by my Nanny to wash Ziplock bags, made me physically unable to throw away perfectly good icing bags. However, anyone who has ever washed them knows, it’s awful, so, now I always use this nifty little trick I learned from Karen, of Karen’s Cookies.  Just follow the steps below:
When you twist the ends, do it the same way you would if you were twisting up a towel to pop someone. Horrible mental image, but it was the only way I could think of to describe it.  Slide the pouch you made into a bag fitted with a coupler, and you will be left with this…
At this point, use scissors to snip off the end
Add the desired tip and coupler, and you are ready to roll!
To keep the tip from crusting over and so that they are easy to identify and access, I place my prepared bags in a glass with a damp paper towel in the bottom.
The last thing I do is thin my icing to flood consistency using the spray bottle as before {think shower gel}
A little tip…if you will let the thinned icing sit covered with a damp towel for several minutes, all of the air bubble will rise to the top, and you can easily stir them out.
Put it in a bottle, and it’s ready to go.  This is another time the mixing cups come in handy.  The pour spout really makes is MUCH easier to transfer the icing from cup to bottle.
Repeat these steps for every color you plan on using for your cookie design.  If you would like to see this live, Karen has made a very nice video demonstration which you can view {HERE}.  As a matter of fact, she has lots and lots of helpful videos and tutorials, so bookmark her!
Keep in mind, this does take awhile.  I spend on average one hour preparing icing before I even begin to decorate cookies.  The good thing is, that once this is done, I can sit down and work on them uninterrupted, children cooperating, of course.
Like I said, there is more than one way to ice a cookie, but these simple tips should put you well on your way to coming up with your own method.  I hope everyone tries it!
Good luck and happy decorating!

Join The Discussion



  1. 81
    Jody Cowan says:

    Thank you so much for this info! I was in the kitchen tonight for two hours trying to get my icing ready. I was in tears so I decided to quit and try again tomorrow! I know what I did wrong now. So thank you!!

  2. 82
    Katie says:

    HELP! I have been asked to make Snowflake sugar cookies for a Frozen themed birthday party in Aug. Disclaimer, I have never made RI before, and I do not own a stand mixer. You have many recipes and many posts about RI, but they are the best I have seen and most informative, but I feel overwhelmed. I don’t know what posts to follow! In one post you line and fill with the same icing? Thank you for the help in advance. I plan on practicing this weekend.

  3. 83

    Oh I love, love, love your trick with the plastic wrap. I always turn my piping bag inside out to wash but this will make it so much easier and quicker to clean. I also have a little laugh with your tea towel popping.
    Thanks for the great tip.

  4. 84
    Bettie says:

    Hi, I have been making cookies for several years and I have noticed lately that my flooding is spotting when it dries. I have tried everything to prevent it but haven’t had any success. It doesn”t matter what color I use. It looks fine for several hours to overnight but then starts to get dark spots throughout the flooding. Do you have any suggestions or ideas of what might be causing my flooding to have a blotchy appearance?

  5. 85
    Alicia says:

    Brilliant!!! I too HATE cleaning my piping bags (and I’m too Dutch to throw them away), so your tip on keeping the piping bags clean with plastic wrap is nothing short of amazing! Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!

  6. 86
    Lee says:

    I find I am like others in being totally intimidated by RI. I don’t understand if when it dries, doesn’t that mean that the cookies are basically pretty little “rocks”? Yep, you guessed it, total newbie, when it comes to RI! I am so lost…. Help! 😉 Thanks!

    • 86.1
      Spriggs says:

      In my humble, non-professional, opinion the concept is daunting but not that tricky once you get into it. For me, the secret is a soft and buttery cookie. The RI is a thin layer on top of a soft, delicious cookie so it’s almost like the little crunch of a candy shell on an M&M.

      If you were to ice cookies like you ice cakes and put on a inch thick layer, then yes…they would be “rocks” not safe to eat. But a thin layer goes nicely with a thick, soft cookie.

      • Lee says:

        Thank You SO much! I truly appreciate your reply. Maybe I’ll get brave enough to try experimenting with some royal now. I meant no disrespect at all by my question, I’m just totally clueless, so your reply means a great deal.

  7. 87
    Kate Johnson says:

    OH my GOSH!!!! Where have you been all my life?!! Why I haven’t thought of this plastic wrap tip before? Great tip…great site…thanks for sharing!!!

  8. 88
    Shadale says:

    Thank you for this tip. I will start using this it will really save time on cleaning!

  9. 89
    Lin says:

    I think you could write a book and call it “Cookie Decorating According to Sweet Sugar Belle”. I see different blogs here and there about having trouble with cookie dough or icing. All they need to do is to use your recipes and they won’t have trouble. You have enough wonderful tips to fill a book.


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