Vegan Royal Icing

Fiiiiinally I’ve got this recipe posted for you all! Thanks for your patience, and sorry for the delay – but I think you’ll find it worth it!

This is my version of a vegan aquafaba royal icing. It dries hard and is suitable to decorate my no-chill, no-spread, vegan rolled sugar cookies with, can hold together a gingerbread house, can be used to decorate cake, can be painted on with edible paints or gel colors mixed with strong alcohol, and is easily colored, flavored, and manipulated to suit your needs (as I’ll get into in a later post).

Scroll down to get the recipe or just take a look at the video here if you prefer that method:

Some gorgeous cookies I made with royal icing for a baby shower; these were actually colored with homemade Skittles vodka!

Equipment:

So here are the things you’ll need:

Stand mixer with the balloon whisk attachment OR hand mixer with a large bowl
Rubber/silicone spatula (more than one is preferred if you’ll be mixing multiple colors)

Ingredients:

One can of garbanzo beans
Vegan powdered/confectioner’s sugar
Vinegar, lemon juice, or cream of tartar
Water or lemon juice
Gel or powdered food coloring, if using

The Method

The method is really quite simple:

1. Drain (and keep!) the water from your garbanzo beans. This is known as “aquafaba” and is our egg white substitute in this recipe. Put the beans away for something else.

2. Add about 1/4 cup of the aquafaba to your mixing bowl. The rest can be put into the fridge for up to a week or the freezer for three months.

3. Add about 1 tsp of vinegar (or a 1/8 tsp cream of tartar or 1 tsp lemon juice if you don’t have it) and the aquafaba and mix with a whisk attachment (you’ll see in my photos I have the paddle attachment connected – these photos are from before I knew better) just until frothy.

4. Add about a pound of powdered (confectioner’s) sugar to the bowl, and mix on low until incorporated.

5. Stop the mixer and add in another few cups of sugar, and mix on low until incorporated. Add more powdered sugar to the bowl a cup at a time, mixing on low between additions, until the mixture is about the consistency of school glue. Add in your 1 tsp of vanilla and white gel coloring at this stage.

6. Turn your mixer on medium high and let it go for about 8 minutes. You’ll end up with the perfect stiff consistency royal icing for piping words and fine details.

7. Thin your royal icing with water or fresh lemon juice (my favorite) to desired consistency. Thicken it with powdered sugar if you need to pipe flowers, use stencils, or glue gingerbread. You can also add any gel or powdered food color at this stage. I’ll add another post later getting more into coloring and consistencies, so be on the lookout for that.

That’s it! It’s that easy! You can keep the prepared icing at room temperature in a sealed container or bag for up to a week, in the fridge for a month, or in the freezer for pretty much forever. Just make sure to stir it well before you use as the water will start to separate from the marshmallow fluff you’ve created.

Consistency Tutorial:

This recipe will make AT LEAST a couple dozen cookies’ worth of icing. Us cookiers are always making too much icing because we really have no idea how many cookies it covers. Lol.

Have fun and please share your creations with me on Facebook!

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vegan royal icing cover photo
5 from 4 votes
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Vegan Royal Icing

An eggless royal icing made with aquafaba. It can be used in all the same ways as tradition egg white royal, including decorating cookies, gluing gingerbread houses, decorating cakes, and making sprinkles and royal icing transfers.

Course Dessert
Prep Time 12 minutes
Total Time 12 minutes
Author Meggan Leal

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup ish Aquafaba (the cooking or canned liquid from beans; I prefer garbanzo)
  • 2 lbs ish Powdered/Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1 tsp ish Vinegar (may be substituted with cream of tartar or lemon juice)
  • 1 tsp ish Vanilla (I use clear for bright white icing, but you can use natural)
  • 1.5 tsp ish Gel or Powdered Food Coloring (optional, though I always add AmeriColor Bright White to mine)
  • Water or Lemon Juice to thin prepared icing

Instructions

  1. Add about a teaspoon of vinegar to your mixing bowl

  2. Pour in about a 1/4 cup of aquafaba

  3. Mix on medium to high speed with a whisk attachment just until the top of your aquafaba is frothy/foamy

  4. Turn off the mixer and add in about a pound of your powdered sugar (half a standard sized bag)

  5. Turn the mixer on low until the sugar is mostly incorporated into the aquafaba

  6. Turn the mixer off and add half of what’s remaining of your powdered sugar

  7. Turn the mixer on low until everything is incorporated

  8. Turn the mixer off and lift the whisk to check the consistency of your icing. We are trying to get a school-glue type consistency. If it’s not there yet, add more powdered sugar about a cup at a time until you achieve it

  9. Once you achieve the school-glue consistency, add about a teaspoon of vanilla and a teaspoon and a half of white gel coloring (if you’re using it)

  10. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and let it go for about eight minutes

  11. After eight minutes or so, turn the mixer off. You should have nice, stiff royal icing! It’s perfect for coloring and thinning out to decorate cookies or thickening up for flowers, or using as is for writing and other fine detail work.

  12. Store the icing in an airtight container right away – it dries out very quickly – at room temperature for up to a week, in the fridge for a month, or the freezer for pretty much as long as you want

Recipe Notes

Find a video tutorial on our YouTube channel!

Allergy-Friendly and Vegan Pastry Recipes:

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49 thoughts on “Vegan Royal Icing”

  1. Thank you for sharing tis recipe with us. I saw it on the AF facebook group and ran right over. Your blog is lovely. I pinned this to try at a later date. Cheers-Hanne

    Reply
    • I’m glad you found it! And thanks for the complements, they mean the world. Please share whatever you make with us over in the AF group so we can ooo and aaaahhh over it!

      Reply
      • Hello! I was wondering if you had any issues with the royal icing colors bleed into each other when decorating the cookie? Of does the aquafaba help this? I had a terrible bleeding issue when I used to make royal icing without meringue. Also, have you had any issues with craters and air bubbles from your royal icing recipe? Thanks for your help!

        Reply
        • Hi, Kase!

          I find that whipping the icing faster and longer helps a TON with the bleeding issues. I used to struggle a lot with it because I live in a very humid area, but once I started whipping on high for longer, the bleeding was reduced.

          I also use a dehydrator and pop the cookies in after piping each section and I don’t have any problems, anymore. That also took care of any craters or pits!

          Reply
    • Hi! I just found your blog. I made cookies with this recipe and the black icing bled, do you know how to prevent it or why does it happen? I asked in other groups but they have non vegan solutions 🙁

      Reply
      • Hi, Isabelle!

        Things I do to prevent the colors bleeding:

        1) add white to the base icing
        2) use less black (or red or blue or whatever) and let it develop for two or three days. I also like to mix in things like black cocoa powder or espresso powder to help pump the color saturation up without extra gel.
        3) don’t wait too long between piping the colors next to each other. If one is totally dry, it will suck the liquid from the wet side and the color will bleed.
        4) using a dehydrator has saved my sanity. I highly recommend one!

        I hope this helps. <3

        Reply
  2. I have to say, though your pictures are awesome and the texture of icing I got using this recipe was nice, the flavor was terrible! I think the problem was way too much powdered sugar, perhaps there’s another way to achieve that texture without it? I also had problems with the sugar cookie recipe initially (far too crumbly, couldn’t even form a ball with it using the given measurements), but after adding a lot of extra vegan butter it worked well! Cookies tasted great.

    Reply
    • Hi, Annemarie! Thanks for the feedback, and I’m sorry to hear you don’t like the flavor! Unfortunately royal icing is basically pure sugar and there isn’t much way around that. I prefer to use lemon juice instead of water to thin it out because I’m not much of a sweets person myself and I find the citrus cuts the sweetness a bit. I also always use salted chickpeas for the same reason.

      I’m working on a couple of recipes right now that will hopefully resolve this issue for myself and others like me who don’t enjoy eating spoonfuls of sugar. 😉

      As for the cookies, if the dough comes out crumbly then go ahead and add more aquafaba to it a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the play-doh consistency. More butter will definitely work, but could cause butter bleed issues with the icing on top.

      Cheers and I hope you have a wonderful new year!

      Reply
    • Hi! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe! Do you know how/why it’s safe to store this without refrigeration? I’m always nervous about making people sick! I’m thinking the sugar content is too high for it to spoil, but I thought I would get your take on it too 🙂

      Reply
      • Hi! That’s a good concern to have when you’re preparing food for others!!

        The sugar content in this is extremely high, and that prevents it from spoiling. I did an experiment where I kept some of my icing in a sealed piping bag and left it at room temperature to see how long it took for anything to “grow” in it (this is not super scientific, and I know not all pathogens are visible) – but after fourteen months I finally decided to throw the bag away after nothing happened to it. 🙂

        If in doubt, you can always keep it in the fridge or the freezer, though!

        Reply
  3. Hi there! Thanks for sharing! I’m a bit confused about the amount of sugar to add. How much sugar do you need in total ? Thank you

    Reply
    • I found the icing is awesome but when it dries it crumbles and breaks off the cookie. Can you think of any ideas to help it stick to the cookies better? (We were piping this in thin strips on gingerbread cookies.)

      Reply
      • Hi, Jocelyn!

        Unfortunately, that is the nature of royal icing. It’s quite fragile when piped thinly, as in essence it’s just sugar once it dries.

        If you want it to be a bit more resistant to breakage, you could try adding a couple of tablespoons of corn syrup to it. This would make it a hybrid between glaze and royal icing, and gives it some flexibility.

        Reply
    • Of course! It was actually because I had run out of food coloring and didn’t want to run to the store. Lol

      I separated a bag of skittles into its various colors, and poured each color group into a small glass. I then poured straight vodka over the skittles and swirled until all the color came off of the candy into the vodka, then strained it. I allowed the vodka to evaporate until I was left with a small amount of concentrated color, which I stirred into the royal icing. 🙂

      I hope that helps!

      Reply
  4. Has anyone tried freezing the cookies AFTER they are decorated? Does the icing remain in tact like regular royal icing, and do the colours bleed?

    Reply
    • Hi, Alison!

      This icing behaves just like egg white royal. It freezes well, and as long as you have whipped it well and not oversaturated it with color it will thaw in tact. Just make sure it’s done in an airtight container and leave it to come to room temp before opening. 🙂

      Reply
  5. OMG Meggan your vegan sugar cookie recipe and vegan royal icing are dreams to work with and I created beautiful/tasty cookies! Thank you so much for providing such amazing recipes 😁

    Reply
  6. 5 stars
    We used this for our “Easter eggs” this year. My daughter’s allergic to eggs, so we frosted egg-shaped shortbread cookies and stuck on fun sprinkles. It tasted good and worked great. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  7. I read that this happens (the Royal icing turning Yellow). Apparently you can stop that from happening by putting a layer of marzipan under the icing That’s what the glycerine is for actually. So I’d recommend using it next time as it stops the icing from going yellow!

    Reply
  8. Hi There!

    I haven’t made this recipe yet (although it looks amazing!!) as i have a question to ask.
    I’ve made quiet a few vegan recipes using aquafaba, however I always find that my flavour turns out to be extremely salty and beany/chickpea-ey. I’m just wonder if you have any tips on how to override this flavour, or whether i should use a different kind of bean?

    Can’t wait to try this recipe!! x

    Reply
    • Hi, Zoe!

      Some folks are extra sensitive to the beaniness of chickpea aquafaba – and while I’ve never had anyone notice it in this particular recipe, if you’re a super taster you may want to give white bean aquafaba a try instead. For me, the super sugariness and vanilla seems to override any beany/briny flavor. And if even using white beans doesn’t cut it for you, try using lemon juice instead of water to thin it out and I promise all you’ll taste is lemonade. 🙂

      Reply
  9. thank you for this recipe. I never had any luck with making royal icing until using this recipe, it worked up wonderfully and is my go to for royal icing.

    Reply
  10. Hello! I just came across this recipe and I am super excited to give it a go! However, I feel like this is a silly question…what kind of vinegar should I use? Apple cider? White? Thanks!!

    Reply
  11. 5 stars
    I made this icing for decorating gingerbread cookies today and it turned out wonderfully! This was my first experience with vegan royal icing and I was a bit wary but I feel like I could be more adventurous with cookie decorating in the future. I halved the recipe to suit my needs. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Reply
  12. I’m so excited to try this! If I don’t have white gel coloring, are there any other tips for getting the base to white when using aquaphaba and natural sugar?

    Reply
  13. 5 stars
    I have a question, I haven’t been able to find a good answer online. I’m not sure if it’d be different for this vegan one, but if I made small flowers and put them in a container, after being air dried, how long would they last? I read online to specifically not freeze them because they would get soft, so I’m not sure what to do! I would love to start experimenting with it but I don’t want them to go bad.

    For my review, I loved it! It was my first time decorating cookies. I thought it was very tasty! With the chai sugar cookies, it really added the sweetness they needed. Too good, thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    • Hi, Victoria! I’m glad you loved the recipe! Thanks for your feedback!

      Some really great news regarding the icing flowers – the answer is…. Forever.

      Royal icing decorations, when fully dried, really never expire. Keep them in an airtight container with some white rice to absorb any moisture, and store them somewhere dark and dry until you need them. 🙂

      Reply
  14. I’ve come across a bit of a problem when I thin the royal icing to flooding consistency it begins to crust almost immediately makes it hard to work with when doing wet on wet or even just trying to use the scribe to move icing around or pop air bubbles.
    Any idea of what I could be doing wrong?

    Reply
    • I was really struggling with this for a while and couldn’t figure out what was happening. I realised I was sitting under an A/C vent and it was speed drying my cookies without me knowing it! Is that possibly what’s happening with yours?

      Reply

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