Royal Icing Consistency – What You Need to Know

Royal Icing Consistency and What you need to Know | The Bearfoot Baker

One of the hardest things I’ve had to do like a cookie decorator was to learn how to make royal icing, and then learn how to make “the right royal icing consistency” for decorating my cookies. I think that is the question we’ve all asked. What is “the right consistency” for my royal icing? How do I make it so my cookies look smooth and professional every time I make them?

That my friend isn’t an easy question to answer.

Royal Icing Consistency - What You Need to Know | The Bearfoot Baker


When I began decorating, I asked several cookie decorators how to make the perfect royal icing consistency. When I looked into their eyes I saw the same look I had when trying to figure out how to perfect mine. Then I realized, it isn’t something we can tell each other or help each other with a few sentences or simple words. It’s not because we don’t want to help each other, it’s because there isn’t just one perfect royal icing consistency. Why is that you ask?

It’s because humidity plays a big part in how the icing behaves. Humidity can cause the royal icing to be runny and not allow it to dry in a timely manner. It can cause the colors of the royal icing to bleed together hours after it has dried. If one little drop of grease or oil gets in the icing it can cause the icing to dry with spots or it can cause it not to set well or dry hard. It could be soft and we all know that’s not what royal icing is supposed to do.

So you see, helping each other learn how to make ‘the perfect royal icing’ isn’t something we don’t want to share. It’s just hard because we don’t know where you live and what the humidity is like at your house. So please don’t take offense to anyone that can’t answer your questions. Maybe they don’t have the words or they don’t want to confuse you.

What is 15-Second Royal Icing?

If you’ve followed my blog, then I’m sure you’ve seen the words ’15-Second Icing’ in the cookie supply list. I only use one royal icing consistency unless I’m doing something that needs a thick or thin icing. So if you follow along and want to find your perfect royal icing consistency, you might find a few tips here that will help you out.

Royal Icing Consistency What You Need to Know | The Bearfoot Baker

First things first. I make super thick icing when I make a batch. I do this for a few reasons.

  • It’s humid here! Wait…no it’s not! What is going on? Is it humid or isn’t it? Well, it’s both. Some days the humidity is awful and other days there isn’t any humidity so consistency with royal icing isn’t the only thing I’m trying to solve at my house. LOL Don’t worry, I’m not going to share an episode of Dexter’s Laboratory showing you how I’m going to control the weather or anything. Instead, I will make my royal icing behave!
  • When I make my royal icing thick it lasts longer before it starts to separate.

Royal Icing Consistency- What You Need to Know | The Bearfoot Baker

  • Color your royal icing before you thin it. Now I’m not going to tell you this is what you have to do, but it works for me. When I thin down the royal icing before I add the food gel color it dries lumpy on the cookies. Weird isn’t it? So I always add the food gel color first and then the water.

Royal Icing Consistency - What You Need to Know 15-Second Icing | The Bearfoot Baker

  • Once you add the food gel color, mix the icing well.

Royal Icing Consistency -What You Need to Know | The Bearfoot Baker

  • It should look like this. You know how Dairy Queen will bring you one of those ice cream drink things and they flip the cup upside down for a few seconds to show you it won’t fall out of the cup? The same goes for this royal icing. It should stay on the spoon without falling off for a few seconds.

What You Need to Know- Royal Icing Consistency | The Bearfoot Baker

  • Here comes the fun part. Use a spray bottle filled with water to thin down the royal icing.
  • Spray the icing and stir in the water.
  • If you need the icing to be thinner, spray it a little more and give it a good stir.

Royal Icing Consistency - What You Need to Know about 15-Second Consistency | The Bearfoot Baker

  • Do this until you think you have 15-second icing.

Royal Icing Consistency - What You Need to Know-15-Second Consistency | The Bearfoot Baker

  • Wait. What do you mean you don’t know what 15-second icing is? We can fix that right now!

15-Second Royal Icing Consistency - What You Need to Know | The Bearfoot Baker

  • Before you begin decorating with royal icing you must first get it the right consistency. The best way to do that is to do a little test to see how fast the icing will smooth out if you drag something like a knife or in my case a turkey lacer through it.
  • Place a small amount of royal icing in a bowl and mix with your food gel color.
  • Then, pull a turkey lacer (or knife) through the center of it.
  • Count one one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand until you reach fifteen one-thousand.
  • How long did it take for the line to smooth out and disappear? Was it at nine one-thousand? Was it at twelve one-thousand? If it was at anything but fifteen one-thousand you need to continue working on it.
  • Add a little more water and repeat the steps above. You want the line the turkey lacer made to disappear completely when you reach 15-seconds.

That’s all there is to 15-Second Icing!

But let’s say you need your icing to be ten-seconds. Repeat the steps above, but this time, stop when you get to ten-seconds. EASY!

15-Second Royal Icing Consistency and What You Need to Know | The Bearfoot Baker

  • I know, I know. You all have a question. What happens if you add too much water and your icing is only at seven one-thousands? That means you have 7-second royal icing consistency. Don’t panic! Just add a little bit of powdered sugar to the icing and mix it until there are no lumps.
  • Then repeat the turkey lacer test until you reach 15-second royal icing.

Royal Icing Consistency – What You Need to Know

15-Second Royal Icing Consistency - Things You Need to Know to Help Decorated Sugar Cookies | The Bearfoot Baker

Now that wasn’t very hard, was it?

If you want 10-second royal icing consistency or 15-second royal icing consistency this is a good way to test it. I think it’s brilliant and no, I didn’t think of it. I think decorators have been doing this since the beginning of time and I’m thankful they shared it with the rest of us.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Bear hugs,