How to Make Tan Royal Icing

Most icing colors are pretty easy to figure out, while others are a little more complicated.

Tan icing might seem simple, but if you’ve ever added warm brown to uncolored icing with the expectation of a pretty yellowish-brown, you know this isn’t the case.  The pinky, almost flesh-colored result isn’t even close.

Unfortunately, icing color is not an exact science.  Most of the time, my colors aren’t mixed from a pre-existing formula.  I start with tried and true combinations, then play with them until they’re right.

Rather than come up with the perfect tan, I thought I’d walk you through a day in life of an icing color.  Hopefully, with a few practical tips you’ll have the confidence to play with color and come up with palettes that are uniquely you.

The Sweet Adventures of SugarbelleHow to Make Tan Royal IcingMy version of tan icing is basically a mixture of yellow and purple.  Yes, I said purple.  Hard to believe at first, but bear with me and I’ll show you what I mean.

I start with yellow.  Except instead of straight yellow, I mixed a few colors to create a golden yellow shade, based on the palette I had in mind.

Tan Royal Icing 1The result was a very light shade of butter yellow, which was way too light, but good…because it’s a lot easier to add more color than take it away if you go overboard on the first squeeze.

Tan Royal Icing TwoI liked the way things were going so I added more of the same colors, in equal amounts.  Then I did it again…and again.

Tan Royal Icing 3When I reached a point where I felt the base was dark enough to move on, I broke out the regal purple, which in my opinion is the key to tan.

Tan Royal Icing 4Be careful with the purple.  Use a toothpick or a boo-boo stick to add it little by little, stirring in between each addition.

Tan Royal Icing 5With each bit of regal purple I got a little closer to the color I had in mind.  Then, I got impatient.  I knew a huge drop of color would likely ruin my icing, so instead I added a blob of purple icing that was leftover from Halloween.

At this point, I was close but it was still missing something.  I added a bit of dark brown for depth, and finally, I had it.

Tan Royal Icing sixThe perfect tan!  For this project at least…

Tan Royal IcingTo successfully color icing time after time, keep these tips in mind:

  • Start with tried and true color combinations {yellow+blue=green} and tweak them for completely custom shades
  • You ever heard that saying, “There’s more than one way to skin a rabbit?”  Well there is.  There are SEVERAL ways to make tan icing {red+yellow+green, blue+orange, ect.} but in the interest of keeping this reasonably short, I didn’t cram them all into one post.  If you prefer another combination, then definitely, DO YO THANG
  • Add color SLOWLY even if it takes forever.  It’s very hard to lighten a shade once you’ve gone overboard
  • Use leftover icing rather than gel color when mixing for a more subtle change.  This also means less waste
  • Tone down any color with black, ivory, or a contrasting color
  • Add a touch of each shade of icing to every color for a perfectly coordinated palette

Icing color gets easier with practice.  For more helpful tips, check out these links: