How to Thin Royal Icing for a Perfect Consistency
Do you ever stop to think about royal icing? How does it work and why is it so hard to understand the consistency? I’m going to take a really deep dive into royal icing so we can understand how to achieve the right consistency that will help us make beautiful cookies. We’ll cover topics like how to thin royal icing, whats the right consistency for writing on cookies, and how do I make royal icing flowers and borders. Do I have to use an “outline” and a “flood” royal icing or can I use 15 Second icing for both?
Together we are going to answer those questions so we can understand this magnificent icing and make beautiful cookies so let’s get started.
How to thin royal icing to a perfect consistency for outlining and flooding a cookie was a big challenge for me when I was a new decorator. I search the web trying to find a “magic recipe” that told me exactly how much water I needed to add to make the icing perfect. I couldn’t find anything. There weren’t any charts or videos that told me exactly what to do.
The only information was to make your royal icing by following your recipe and then start thinning it down with one teaspoon of water at a time. Okay. Sometimes one teaspoon took my royal icing from “this might work” to “Oh no! I just made colored water!” Does this sound familiar?
I’ve learned a lot along the way and I want to share everything I know with tips that actually work. Like this tip on how to thin royal icing with a spray bottle. Gail over at One Tough Cookie shared this tip and my mind was blown. She told us to use a simple spray bottle to thin the icing. It was simple. Spray a little water, stir the icing and repeat until you get the royal icing consistency you desire. BRILLIANT!
Her words that day changed my decorating skills in the best possible way I could imagine. Her spray bottle tip was the “magic answer” I’d been searching for. Every time I make royal icing I use Misty. Yes, I named the spray bottle Misty, my airbrush is Wendy, and my KitchenAid mixer is Arnold Schwarzenegger because he beats things up for me. I know. I have issues! Let’s stay on topic, shall we?
I don’t know if Gail realized how she single-handedly changed the way I decorated cookies, but she gave me the information I’d been searching for since the beginning. It wasn’t a magic wand, but it was the next best thing. It works! This is the way many decorators thin royal icing because it’s simple and the results are in the icing. I will forever be grateful Gail. SMOOCH!
How to Thin Royal Icing for the Perfect Consistency
If you want your icing consistency to be perfect you need to buy a spray bottle because it works! Go buy one and watch your icing consistency improve immediately because this tool is amazing! Place some icing in a bowl and spray a little water with your spray bottle, stir and check the consistency. Do you like your royal icing thick or do you like thin royal icing? No matter what consistency you’re looking for Misty will help you make it because she and Gail just made your life easier with this one amazing tip.
Great tip. I will certainly be ready the next time I use royal icing
Oh, Lisa…you’re the sweetest, ever! Thank you SO MUCH for all the kindest, most glowing accolades.
Hi Lisa, I picked up the spray bottle tip from Callye who picked it up from Gail. I discovered the hard way that if the spritzer is set wide open, too much water comes out at a single spray diluting the icing too much. This can cause the icing to separate and not dry completely. Gradual is the key along with patience and practice. Great post!
Oh, how wonderful–a whole series dedicated to that elusive royal icing consistency thing. I struggle with it constantly! I do use the spray bottle (what an amazing idea!) and it makes a huge difference. I can’t wait to see what you talk about next!
Misty….love it! I have “Squirt”.
I have used this tip many times and it really does make life less stressful to squirt a controlled amount of water into your royal icing bowl than trying to get just a few drips out of the faucet or an eyedropper. If I may, I would like to add that you should empty/clean your spray bottle and allow it to air dry completely so bacteria doesn’t grow. If you don’t use it daily….or several times a week….I would do this after each batch of cookies has been decorated. Look forward to more life changing tips, Lisa! 🙂
I tried to make your 15 second &
30 second icing but what began as 30
Second, turned into 15 second consistency once i began to pipe. In addition, I had A LOT of air in my icing because i had a lot of trouble getting it out of piping bag with a #2 tip. Do you let the icing sit after mixing water into it to get accurate consistency and what do about air? Thank you!!! Love your cookies!?
You may need to start with less water in the recipe. The best way to tell is by dragging the knife through the icing and do a “one Mississippi, two Mississippi” count until you get to 15 Mississippi count. If your icing is thin to begin with, you will need to add a little to no water. If it’s thick, add the water with a spray bottle until you get the right consistency.
I’m not sure about the air. If you mix the icing a lot it will make air bubbles in the icing. So maybe mix it less and see if that helps.
Lisa, Thank you for this tip. I do struggle with RI consistency. What I counted as 15 second icing might turn out to be 8-10 second icing when I start to decorate…too thin and running off my cookie! I also did not know how fast/ slow to count, either. Your tips will really help me make pretty holiday cookies. I got your survey in my email regarding wanting to know our needs with help in cooking and baking. I’m impressed that you value your readers’ opinions! I, like all your readers, appreciate all your expertise. Love your blog.
Thank you so much for this tip. I have a plastic bottle with a tiny nozzle that I use at the moment, but definately going to get myself a spray bottle. Can’t stand the name ‘Misty’ as an ex-neighbour-from-hell of mine was called Misty. However, now I shall think of a spray bottle when I hear the name, rather than a skanky anti-socialite. I shall call mine ‘Squishy’ and she will be my Squishy (Finding Nemo reference there) 😀
I’m wondering where to find the tips on how to thin the icing for various uses? I see people referencing 15 Mississippi, etc. but can’t find that tip on the website?
I am so glad I found your site. your tips are awesome
Is it a ,”squirt” or a “spray?”
I guess it depends on the spray bottle. I usually give it a full “spray” at the beginning but as it gets close to the consistency I’m looking for I gently pull the trigger to add a super small amount until I get the desired consistency.
I hope this helps.
Hi! Just saw this answer. Thank you, I’ll be trying this soon. 🙂