Royal Icing Recipes With and Without Corn Syrup

The tutorials that follow test two types of Royal Icing against each other. One I call “crispy” and the other, “soft.”

According to a survey conducted by Liesbet Schietecatte in Julia Usher’s Toolbox Talk, crispy Royal Icing is the most commonly used in online tutorials. Its basic ingredients are egg whites (or a meringue substitute) and confectioners’ sugar. The Ingredients tend to vary by instructor and the resulting frosting tastes like hard sugar candy when applied thickly.

Because of crispy Royal Icing’s stiffness, it can be flowed flat onto a cookie surface, or piped into various designs and shapes. Unfortunately, during the drying process the outcome of this frosting can be unpredictable due to handling, humidity, or slow drying time. Consequently, without proper handling, this frosting can pit, crack, or collapse.

Soft Royal Icing contains the same ingredients as crispy, plus a small amount of corn syrup and Cream of Tartar, which also varies by instructor. This results in a firm, but softer surface whose dried appearance resembles polished leather.

Because this Royal Icing is softer, it cannot be easily used to build sculptural cookies with molded or transferred parts. It does, however, create smooth surfaces, patterns and lines that don’t break. Many people like the taste of its texture over the crispy icing, but its sheen fades after a few days when not bagged and refrigerated.

Recipe for Crisp Royal Icing

This recipe is from Stephanie Kappel’s online tutorial entitled Better Basics for Exceptional Cookies,  published by

Ingredients in Stephanie Kappel’s words

  • 3​ ​tablespoons​ ​meringue​ ​powder
  • 4​ ​cups​ ​confectioners’​ ​sugar
  • Up​ ​to​ ​1​ ​tablespoon​ ​flavoring​ ​extract​ ​of choice,​ ​such​ ​as​ ​vanilla​ ​or​ ​lemon (optional)
  • Gel​ ​coloring​ ​(optional)
  • 5-6​ ​tablespoons​ ​lukewarm​ ​water


  1. Sift​ ​powdered​ ​sugar​ ​and​ ​meringue powder​ ​together​ ​into​ ​the​ ​bowl​ ​of​ ​a​ ​stand mixer.
  2. Mix​ ​contents​ ​on​ ​low​ ​speed​ ​to​ ​combine further,​ ​using​ ​the​ ​whisk​ ​attachment.
  3. Add​ ​flavor​ ​and​ ​coloring​ ​as​ ​desired​ ​and mix​ ​on​ ​low​ ​until​ ​combined.
  4. Add​ ​water,​ ​1​ ​tablespoon​ ​at​ ​a​ ​time, mixing​ ​on​ ​low​ ​until​ ​desired​ ​consistency is​ ​achieved.
  5. Whip​ ​on​ ​high​ ​for​ ​4​ ​minutes​ ​or​ ​until​ ​royal icing​ ​is​ ​thick​ ​and​ ​forms​ ​very​ ​stiff​ ​peaks. Be​ ​careful​ ​not​ ​to​ ​over mix.

Recipe for Soft Royal Icing

This recipe was submitted to Julia Usher’s Cookie Connection by Karen Anderson, owner of SugarDeaux. She entitled her article, SugarDeaux Quick Dry Royal Icing.

Ingredients in Karen Anderson’s words

  • 2 lb bag of powdered sugar ( I use Walmart’s)
  • 6 tbsp of CK Meringue Powder
  • 3/4 tsp of Cream of Tartar
  • 5 oz warm water
  • 1 tsp Clear Butter Flavor (I use Wilton’s)
  • 2 tsp Clear Vanilla Flavor (I use Wilton’s) You can also use almond, lemon or whatever you choose!
  • 1 tbsp of Light Corn Syrup


  1.  Mix your meringue powder and warm water with your WHISK attachment on medium high speed until it is thickened up and doubled in size (about 1 min)
  2. Add Cream of Tartar, Butter & Vanilla Flavors. Mix about 30 secs.
  3.  Still using whisk attachment, add half bag of powdered sugar and mix on LOW until smooth – about 30 secs. ( If you have a plastic cover- great! If not wrap a clean tea towel around mixer to keep sugar in.)
  4. Add Corn Syrup, mix in (10 secs)
  5.  Stop mixer and add remaining Powdered Sugar. Mix on medium-low for 30 secs, then scrape down sides of bowl. Mix for ONE more minute.
  6. Makes enough RI to ice about 3-4 dozen medium cookies.
  7.  Immediately store in airtight container(s)
  8.  Voila! Done with less than 4 minutes mixing time start to finish!

Next . . .

The articles that follow use these two recipes to find out how they differ from one another and provide “best practice tips” when you set out to duplicate your favorite Royal Icing designs.

Related Links

Article Series

To see a list of all articles in this series, CLICK HERE

Questions? Comments? Additions? Corrections? Write to Karen Little at


Written for by Karen Little, publisher. All rights reserved, but feel free to re-publish this article after contacting Karen so she knows where to find it.