How to Make This Super Red Royal Icing
I often get asked how I make my red royal icing “look so red.” Red is one of those colors that can make you want to pull your hair out. We live in a world where we want things “right now!” We don’t have to wait until we get home to make a phone call, we don’t have to sit by the mailbox waiting for the mailman, and we don’t even have to wait for our boss to hand us our paycheck. Do you remember what money looks like?
We want instant gratification. We want everything right now, but unfortunately, no one told the red royal icing to move into the 21st century. It still lives in the dark ages and is perfectly content to wait until it good ready to turn red. Don’t give up. There are a few things we can do to get that deep red royal icing we’re all hoping to find.
- The first mistake we make is not being patient. We try to make the perfect shade of red royal icing by adding so much color that you have to make three trips to the store because you keep running out of food gel. You don’t have to add a ton of red food gel to get a deep red color. You do however need to be patient. Adding a bottle or three of food gel will cause more problems than your red not being the right or dark enough shade. It will cause your icing colors to bleed (which means run together) long after you stop decorating your cookies. The less is more thing really works well in this situation.
- Making the icing the day before you need to use it will really help the color develop. It’s like cheese, it needs time to mature into that beautiful color your looking for.
- As a beginner decorator, I used Wilton Red Food Gel and it had a really bitter taste. Some people aren’t bothered by that, but unfortunately, I’m not one of those people. Sugar cookies are supposed to be sweet, hence the word ‘sugar’ in the title. Adding bitter icing to my sweet sugar cookie isn’t something I’m going to do. Other colors like black food gel paste are also bitter but that’s a story for another day. Today we will talk about red.
- One day I noticed Wilton carried “No-Taste Red” so I bought every container the store had. No one told me it would take the entire bottle to make a pretty red color. Who wants to eat that much red color? Not me!
- Then one day Sweet Sugarbelle did a tutorial and told us her secret to beautiful red icing. She didn’t use the Wilton Red or the Wilton No-Taste Red. She shared with us that AmeriColor Tulip Red Soft Gel Paste Food Color didn’t have that awful bitter taste. WOW! Once again she blew my mind. I never knew we had an option to use anything else.
- The only problem for me was the red didn’t get as “deep” as I liked it.
- I quickly learned if you add a drop of Chocolate Brown or Warm Brown to your icing, it will turn it into a nice deep red that would be a perfect shade for any Santa costume.
- If you want to make an even deeper red, don’t add the brown food gel colors. Try using a touch of blue food gel. I think you will like what you see.
How to Make Red Royal Icing Video:
The video is short and sweet. Enjoy!
So let’s wrap this up.
- Adding color-less is more if your patient and wait a day before you use your icing.
- Try Tulip Red-it tastes better.
- Bleeding Icing Colors-Be patient and let the colors develop.
I hope this helps and I can’t wait to see your Santa cookies!
I always let mine rest and it gets redder with time. Love your tips!
I am so glad that I “red” this!
Didn’t know about the “brown” or “blue” food color tips. I would have tried “black” and got a big old bitter mess!
Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Thanks so much! I knew about the tulip red -as I live in the south and the humidity is such a problem with red causing the cookies to make dark spots as the butter comes up through the royal icing. However (to me) the tulip red has an orange-ish tint to it but I didn’t care because I was so grateful that it wasn’t affected by the humidity. NOW I can truly have beautiful red royal icing thanks to your tips?
Awesome! If I want to add blue should I use sky blue, Royal blue or navy blue?
On the video, your icing looks like a great red already without the wait. I’m trying it now and I am wishing for a description of the color BEFORE the wait time. I stopped adding the tulip & chocolate brown when the color seemed to be more orange than red. I’m hoping it will turn an actual red overnight. To make black, I remember being advised to stop adding black color when the icing was a dark gray, then it would go to black with wait time. And it did. My fingers are crossed for this red.
Hi Lisa, Great tip! I try to avoid red because of red lips and tongues but I like it for an accent color. I was surprised that brown was the secret to achieving a deep red as I would have guessed black. Thank you for your generosity in sharing your cookie decorating tips. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.
I tied this and those colors really work!!!??Happy dance!!!
Thanks for all your decorating tips.
I’m glad it worked for you! Let’s happy dance together! (((Happy Dance)))! 😉
How many drops do you usually use of the red BD brown?
It depends on how much icing I make. I usually get the red the way I like and then add a tiny amount of brown until I get the color I need. I wish there was a magic formula but I don’t. I just do it until I get it right. 😉
Approximately how many drops of tulip red for a single batch of icing. I added about 7 and let it sit overnight and it is still not close to bright red. Please help.
It’s hard to tell how many drops of red to use because I don’t know how much icing you have. If your red isn’t bright enough, check out this post by Sweet Sugarbelle: http://www.sweetsugarbelle.com/2011/07/tulip-red/. I like the way she explains things.
Also, don’t be afraid to use more red food gel paste color. Sometimes it takes more than you think it will.
I have followed your instructions on making true red and black royal icing. The colors are still not right. I do cover and put in fridge to rest. Is that the reason my colors do not darken? Will the icing be okay to leave out on the counter over night?
I added a bit of brown to my royal icing after adding Wilton Xmas red and wasn’t getting redder and then I added a bit of blue and….. disaster!!! It has become pink purple…. I’l have to start a new batch. It definitely didn’t work for me
Thank you so much for that tip. I have been struggling to get my icing to be red and wasted so much time.
Hi! How do you let it rest? In a piping bag? In a bowl with Saran Wrap over it? I’m new to this. Thanks!!
I think everyone has their own way of doing things so you may want to try a few different things to see what works for you. I place mine in the piping bags I’m going to decorate with, tie them off at the top, and let them rest there until I’m ready to decorate. It works well for me.
Some people put them in a bowl and cover them with plastic wrap. When I did it this way I made sure the plastic wrap was touching the top of my icing. Then, I placed a lid on the bowl. The key to this is to make sure no air is touching the icing. If the air hits the icing it will start to dry and get hard so be sure tokeep the icing covered so it doesn’t dry.
Hope this helps!