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Royal Icing for Christmas Sugar Cookies

11 Reviews

Royal Icing for Christmas Sugar Cookies is here! Want to know every detail on how to make decorated sugar cookies with royal icing for Christmas? Me too, so I pulled in a sweet friend to teach me all of her magical ways. 

 

I know you need the best sugar cookies recipe, done. Made it last year and we’ve had totally rave reviews. But those were for Valentine’s Day so I needed a little oomph for Christmas. You’ll want to head over to our sugar cookies post for that soft but stable cookie recipe, this one is all about the decorating. 

Christmas Sugar cookies with royal icing. There is a snowman with a green scarf, a tree with green icing and white accents like snow, and a white star with red designs.

Except, I’m not artistic. 

I can’t draw stick figures. 

“Ohhhh, you’re so funny Carrian, anyone can!” 

No, really, even my stick figures look broken and sad. So the thought of holding my hand still while I tackled Christmas sugar cookies has had me overwhelmed for an entire year!! I never procrastinate! But I’ve had decorating anxiety, who cares about face coverings causing acne, I’ve been anxious about royal icing!

Christmas sugar cookies with royal icing. There are two snow flakes, one has white accents and one has red accents.

So I did what any genius would do, I called in Camille from Baker Street Society who is the most incredible food blogger, and perfectly talented cookie decorator I know. And guess what, she totally busted out the most gorgeous cookies for you AND is showing how to do it on her Instagram channel. Seriously, you’re going to get sooooo sucked into her tutorial stories. She’s unreal in the kitchen and I totally want to be her. 

 

A plate with Christmas sugar cookies decorated with royal icing. There is a snowman with a green scarf, a white mitten with red trim, a green tree with white snow accents, and a white star with red accents. A red ribbon is draped over the edge of the plate.

The mittens are hands down my absolute favorite, dang, or the trees, ok it’s the snowman. Isn’t that little nose the best?

Actually, the best part is that I had Camille from Bakerstreet Society do it all. She’s brand new in the blog world and kind of like that first person that told you about pinterest, I’m telling you right now that she’s going to be a really big deal and her instagram stories alone should sell you. I love watching her step by step videos on there! 

 

Christmas sugar cookies decorated with royal icing. There is a thin red ribbon on the table next to a white snowflake cookie with white accents, a white mitten with red trim and a green tree with white snow accents.

 

Which Frosting for Christmas Sugar Cookies?

Royal Icing all the way!! Unless you’re just looking for a soft buttercream or cream cheese frosting, which is fine. It’s not going to hold to decorating though, just an fyi. 

Egg Free Royal Icing

I actually have two royal icing recipes I’ve been using because I have a friend with a kiddo that can’t have eggs and it’s just a quick egg free royal icing recipe. However, when I’m really trying to impress I stick with this recipe that has been hanging around in my old cooking world for forever. 

What Is Royal Icing?

Royal icing is a thick, but completely smooth when set icing that is easy to dye whatever color you want and the best backdrop for all decorating needs, from sprinkles to piping.

Royal icing is made from a combination of egg whites, powdered sugar, cream of tartar and water.

Many recipes call for meringue powder but I’ve had trouble finding it occasionally so we eventually ditched it for the actual egg white. 

Why Cream of Tartar in Royal Icing

Cream of tartar acts as a barrier, or an interfering agent against the crystallization of the sugar.

 

Christmas sugar cookies. White snowflake with white accents, and a green tree with white snow.

Royal Icing Ingredients

I’m pretty sure this royal icing was long ago shared on All Recipes, but it’s been adapted enough over the years I’ll never really know. 

  • Egg Whites
  • Cream of Tartar
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Vanilla and Almond Extract
  • Pinch of Salt

Christmas sugar cookies decorated with royal icing. There is a snowman with a green scarf, a red mitten, a snowflake with red accents, a green tree with white snow.

How To Make Royal Icing

Royal icing is a cinch to make, but you’ll want to separate it into bowls so that you can make two different consistencies. Which Camille totally pointed out was my issue, I’ve been using the same icing for all of the cookie. Oops! 

  1. Place the egg whites in a standing mixer and whisk until frothing. 
  2. Add only half of the powdered sugar to avoid sugar explosion. Every year for years I tried to just go for it, but it’s not worth it, do only half. 
  3. Add the extracts and remaining powdered sugar and beat until thick, but if it’s looking like cement add a little water. We are looking for a thick toothpaste consistency. 
  4. Once separated, add a little water to the other bowl to make a thinner ribbon consistency, counting to ten until it all melts back together, that’s when it’s good to go. 

Christmas sugar cookies decorated with royal icing. There are white snowflakes, red mittens, white mittens with red trim, and a green tree with white snow.

Looking for more details and tips about Royal Icing? You can check out Camille’s blog for all of her sugar cookie decorating expertise. 

Royal Icing Tips

All tips are from Camille herself, but I approve this message. 😉 Ha!

1. Fill cookies so that the flood icing is pillowy and comes above the outline icing. Most people have a tendency to under-fill, which makes the cookie look flat. An under-iced cookie can sometimes shows more imperfections as well. We aren’t filling evenly with the edge of the piped edges, but ABOVE it.
 
2. Dry royal icing cookies in front of a heater fan for at least 1 hour so that the icing is beautiful and shiny. Cookies that are just air dried will be dull and matte on the surface.
 
3. Do not do any detail work on top of the royal icing until the royal icing has dried for 2 hours. Otherwise, there may be some weak spots in the icing that might dimple under the pressure of the detail work.
 
4. Use a lazy susan so that you can spin the cookie as you work. This allows you to turn the cookie without accidentally smudging it. 
 
Ok, off you go to check out Baker Street Society. She’s amazing and I’m so grateful she taught me her ways. 

 

Christmas sugar cookies decorated with royal icing. There is a snowman with a green scarf, a green tree with white snow, a red mitten and a white mitten.

Tools for Making the Best Royal Icing Sugar Cookies

In addition to the heater fan and lazy susan that I previously mentioned, here are a few other tools you will want to have to decorate the most amazing sugar cookies with royal icing:

Shhhhh…don’t tell anyone, but I’ve already bought everything for myself. I think I’ll wrap them up for myself for Christmas. Ha! Any other moms out there do that? Just me?

Need to watch it happen? Watch Camille show us exactly how to pipe and decorate sugar cookies! 

A plate of Christmas sugar cookies decorated with royal icing. There is a snowman with green scarf, a snowflake with red accents, a green tree with white snow, a white mitten with red trim, and white snowflakes

 

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A plate with Christmas sugar cookies decorated with royal icing. There is a snowman with a green scarf, a white mitten with red trim, a green tree with white snow accents, and a white star with red accents. A red ribbon is draped over the edge of the plate.

Royal Icing Recipe

4.37 from 11 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 24
The most flavorful Royal Icing that turns out perfect every time.

Ingredients

  • 3 3/4 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 3 Large Egg Whites
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Almond Extract
  • 1 Pinch salt
  • water as needed
  • Food Gel Coloring of choice

Instructions

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until foaming.
  • Turn the mixer off and add half of the powdered sugar. Whisk on low then turn off and add remaining powdered sugar, cream of tartar extracts and salt. Turn the mixer and on and once incorporated, turn up to high and beat until the mixture is thick.
  • Divide the coloring into small, plastic bowls. You'll want the thick icing (like toothpaste) for the outer edge and slightly more runny for the flooding of the center of the cookie.
  • Using a very small tipped bag, (watch Camille's reel on how to fill a bag the most incredible way ever ) carefully draw around the cookie by touching the tip to the cookie, lifting up into the air and gently laying down in a straight line on the other end of the cookie, stopping to touch down at corners.
  • In another bowl, add a little water (Camille taught me to spray with a misting water bottle like this one) to thin it out a little and flood the inside of the cookie, being sure it's taller than the outer edge you just created, yes, that's a lot, do it though!
  • Place the cookies aside to set completely if you want to add piped decorations, otherwise add sprinkles etc now. Also, if you're going to drag through and create a swirled design you'll also do it now while it's still wet.

Notes

  • Royal icing can be refrigerated for 5-7 days, however make sure it is stored in an airtight container or it will quickly dry out. 
  • To use stored icing: Using a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the icing until it's back to its original state. I like to set mine out for 10 minutes before doing this. 
  • Always use gel food coloring as the liquid does not work the same nor give off vibrant colors.
TOOLS:
Nutrition Facts
Royal Icing Recipe
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 76 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Sodium 9mg0%
Potassium 17mg0%
Carbohydrates 19g6%
Sugar 18g20%
Protein 1g2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Snowman and snowflake sugar cookies with royal icing

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Our Family’s Christmas Favorites! 🎄

About the authors

carrian feik cheney oh sweet basil

Cade and Carrian have three children and love to spend time together whether it’s vacationing or snuggled up on the couch for a good movie.

And this family especially loves to eat.

They love everything from the keep you fit and healthy to the get out your sweat pants indulgent and everything in between.

But most of all, they love the memories made, shared and treasured and it’s all thanks to a meal shared together with loved ones.

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Recipe Rating




4 comments

  • Raw egg in cookie icing is a potential health hazard and can cause severe illness. Raw egg can contain bacteria such as salmonella or campylobacter.

    • Reply
    • With pasteurized eggs you’re extra safe because it’s the egg YOLKS that can occasionally have salmonella not the whites. Also, beating the heck out of them can help to kill any bacteria.

      We have another royal icing recipe in our sugar cookie post that doesn’t use egg if you want to avoid raw egg whites. https://ohsweetbasil.com/sugar-cookies/

      • Reply
      • Hi there,
        I see you have cream of tartar listed as one of the ingredients but it is not mentioned at all in the steps section. Is it part of the recipe? If so. When is it added? Before the 1st batch of powdered sugar is added or with the 1st batch??

      • Hi Kay! It is listed in the middle of step 2 when you add the second half of powdered sugar. Enjoy and happy holidays!

Our Family’s Christmas Favorites! 🎄