Royal Icing Consistencies

royal icing consistencies


When it comes to cookie decorating, having the right consistency is the most important skill to master. Not having the right royal icing consistency can leave you frustrated and yelling something like, “I’ll never decorate another sugar cookie in my life!” Trust me, I’ve been there. But then I figured out how to get the right consistencies and how to use them and my cookie decorating life became much easier. In this guide I will show you how to get the right consistency for your royal icing and how to use them. So get out your piping bags and keep reading!


What is royal icing?

Royal icing is made from meringue powder or egg whites, confectioners sugar, water, and flavoring. Royal icing is used to decorate sugar cookies and cakes. For cookies, royal icing dries smooth, and after achieving the right consistency, is easy to use for creating small details.



How do you get different royal icing consistencies?

To create different consistencies you will add water or more stiff consistency icing depending on the consistency you are going for. To get a thinner consistency you will add water in very small amounts until the right consistency is achieved. If you have added too much water and your royal icing is too thin, you can add more stiff consistency icing or confectioners sugar to thicken it back up.

Royal icing 3 bowls


What is Stiff royal icing consistency.


Stiff consistency is the consistency your royal icing will be immediately after mixing it in your mixer. We call this stiff consistency because of the stiff peaks that form and stand straight up when the beaters are lifted. Stiff consistency icing does not have much movement at all.

royal icing in mixer


What is stiff consistency used for?

Stiff consistency icing is used for adding details that need to hold their shape. It is used for details such as flowers, stenciling and brush embroidery.


What is piping royal icing consistency?


Piping consistency is thinner than stiff consistency, but still holds its shape. It it close to the consistency of toothpaste and should come out of your piping tip smoothly with no breaks. Piping consistency will have soft peaks. The peaks will still stand up, but will have a small curve on the end.

piping consistency royal icing


How to get piping consistency and what is it used for?

To get piping consistency from stiff consistency add very small amounts of water and mix until your peaks form with soft curves on the ends. Piping consistency is mostly used for outlining, piping small thin details such as borders, and writing on cookies.

piping royal icing on a spoon


What is Flood royal icing consistency.

Flood consistency icing is very thin and runny. There is only one purpose for flood icing, filling in or “flooding” your cookie. You will need to “outline” your cookie with piping consistency icing before using flood consistency icing. If you don’t, the flood icing will run off the sides of your cookie and you will have a giant mess.


How to get flood consistency royal icing?

To get flood consistency icing you will need to continue to add small amounts of water until the icing freely flows off your spoon. This is the thinest consistency. You’ll know when you’re there!


flood consistency royal icing


What is 20 second icing consistency?

Disclaimer: You should master the above consistencies before trying 20 second icing.

20 second icing is a royal icing consistency that can be used for outlining AND flooding your cookies. It is thick enough to stay on your cookie, but thin enough to fill it in too.  This saves time in both mixing your icing and in decorating your cookies. BUT it is harder to achieve this consistency and takes some practice.


How to get 20 second icing?

This icing is called 20 second icing because that is how long it should take a line drawn through the center of the icing to disappear. Starting with stiff or piping consistency icing, add small amounts of water to get a consistency somewhere in between piping and flood. To check if yours is “20 seconds” grab a timer, draw a line through your icing and time how long it takes the line to disappear. If it takes 20 seconds or really close to it, you are golden. If it disappears faster, add more stiff consistency or confectioners sugar. If it takes longer than 20 seconds to disappear add a small amount of water and time it again.

20 second royal icing


Royal icing consistencies take time and practice to get right, but once you do you will be decorating cookies like a pro in no time! Now that you have the right cookie decorating tools, you know how to make the perfect cut out sugar cookies and you have master royal icing consistency, it is time to get decorating!



Happy decorating!



Royal icing consistency



A Happy Baker
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