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Tasty Snow – Royal Icing

Tasty Snow – Royal Icing

Royal icing is fun and easy to make and is a must have for building gingerbread structures. Plus, the whole family can enjoy this activity.

Gingerbread Science Adventure

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What I'll Learn

Royal icing makes a perfect tasty glue because it dries hard, unlike frosting.

What to Do

What I Need

What to Do: Step-by-Step Instructions


Egg whites don’t like oil, so wash your hands, bowl, whisk(s), and spatula with soap and warm water.  To make sure your equipment is completely oil free, pour vinegar on a paper towel and rub all over your bowl, whisk, and spatula.

Tips & Tricks:

It is best to avoid using a plastic bowl, spatula, or whisk, as plastic is porous, meaning small bits of grease are very difficult to completely remove.

To separate egg whites, crack an egg in half along the widest part of the shell.  Over your mixing bowl, carefully separate the shell so each hand is holding half the egg shell – make sure the egg yolk is still inside one of the shelf halves.  Transfer the yolk from one shell to the other until all of the white drips into your bowl.  Save the egg yolk for your Gingerbread Creation recipe and discard the shell.  Then repeat with the second egg (discard second yolk if only making one batch of gingerbread or save it for another recipe).  Wash your hands with soap and water.

Tips & Tricks:

If you are planning to eat this royal icing and you don’t want to use egg whites, you can use 4 teaspoons meringue powder with 4 teaspoons water instead.

Add 3 cups powdered sugar and ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar to the bowl.

Fun Fact:

Cream of tartar can be found in the baking aisle of most grocery stores. It is an acidic powder that helps to stabilize the egg whites and strengthens the structure of your royal icing. If you don’t have cream of tartar, you can substitute ½ teaspoon lemon juice.

Using your electric mixer or stand mixer (with a whisk or paddle attachment), whisk (starting on low) until stiff peaks form.  This can take 7-12 minutes, depending on the speed of your mixer.

Tips & Tricks:

You can tell your icing has a “stiff peak” when you hold the whisk up and a point sticks up. You want it to look like the top of a Hershey Kiss, not the top of a question mark. Also, be careful not to over mix the icing or it will develop a sponge-like texture and crumble when touched.

If you want to color your icing, add a few drops of food coloring, mixing by hand until you have the color you want.  To make more than one color, separate your icing into small bowls, then mix in the color.

Tips & Tricks:

Gel food coloring works better than liquid food coloring, as it doesn’t add extra liquid to your mixture. If you use liquid food coloring and the mixture becomes too runny, add a little more powdered sugar.

If you aren’t ready to use your icing, cover your bowl with a damp cloth to keep it from drying out.  Or, if you need to keep it for a couple days, transfer it to a container with a tight seal and store at room temperature or in the refrigerator – just rewhip it when you’re ready to use!

When you are ready to use your icing, use your spatula or spoon to transfer it into a piping bag.  If you don’t have a piping bag, you can use a zipper lock freezer bag – just cut a small tip off the bag when you are ready to pipe.

Fun Fact:

Royal icing acts like glue when you are making a gingerbread creation recipe or gingerbread derby car, holding all your pieces together when it dries (frosting will never become this hard). You can also use royal icing for decorations on and around your gingerbread house. In fact, it looks great as snow!
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