Recipe: Sugar Cookie Icing, two options

Royal Icing

When I found out my parents had successfully navigated the internet enough to read my blog- and were actually enjoying it- that made my day! So when my maman, via my more internet-savvy father, actually figured out how to leave a comment and request a recipe… well then, recipe it is!

Reminds me of the family doc I worked for through high school: a little high-strung but one of the best people you could ever know. His mother also worked in his front office. I distinctly remember the day he fired his mother. You don’t just fire your mother. And when she requests a recipe, you definitely oblige.

Two basic cookie icing recipes follow. The egg whites in the Royal Icing dry into a smooth, shiny shell creating a beautiful look and easily storable, or sharable, iced cookie. Decorations when added while the icing is still wet will become set as the icing dries. The Traditional Frosting is similar to cake icing: messier, probably more kiddo-friendly, and just a little tastier. Thank you, butter.

ROYAL ICING, makes about 2 cups (can be done by hand with a wire whisk if you’re not afraid of a little work; may take slightly longer)


  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 5 cups powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy
  • liquid or paste food coloring as needed


  1. Whisk egg whites in a clean bowl of a stand mixer until they become loose, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the cream of tartar and continue to mix at low speed until the egg whites become frothy, another 2-3 minutes.
  3. On low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar and mix until the icing becomes dull in appearance and forms very soft peaks.
  4. This consistency should hold a line when piped without running. If it’s too thick to pipe, add a very small amount of water. If it’s too thin, more powdered sugar can be added.
  5. Icing can be colored and piped through a pastry bag or a sturdy zip plastic bag with the corner snipped. Easier still, plastic squeeze bottles with small tips can be filled, cleaned and reused. Icing for outlines should be a little thicker to avoid running. Once an outline has dried, the center can be flooded with a thinner version of the icing.
  6. Icing can be covered and refrigerated up to 5 days. Pasteurized egg whites can be used if you prefer for food safety concerns.



  • 6 oz (3/4 cup) butter, room temperature
  • 32 oz (2 lbs) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • liquid or paste food coloring as needed


  1. Cream butter in mixer until lightened in color and smooth.
  2. Add vanilla. Add powdered sugar and milk alternately until well blended and spreadable.
  3. Color as desired, spread and decorate.
  4. Icing may be kept chilled for a few days but will need to return to room temperature before spreading.

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