Can You Make Royal Icing Ahead of Time? [7 Factors for Storing It]

Chef making royal icing

Royal icing is the best choice for decorating gingerbread houses, cookies, or even wedding cakes because of its seamless, glossy look.

However, making perfect royal icing takes time. So it’s easier to whip up a big batch at once and store it.

But can you make royal icing ahead of time?

Does Royal Icing Hold up If Made in Advance?

Royal icing is made from raw egg whites and confectioner’s sugar. Alternatively, it may also use processed egg substitutes like meringue powder and sugar. Regardless of the recipe, you can make it in advance and store it.

This can be very helpful when you want to decorate several batches of cookies or desserts for the holidays.

Here are some factors to remember when preparing it ahead of time.

Factors to Remember When Preparing and Storing Royal Icing for Later Use

Using fresh royal icing is the best way to use it.

However, if you don’t have time, make the icing in advance, and refrigerate it.

Royal icing holds up in the refrigerator for a week or slightly longer when properly stored.

The longer it sits, the more likely it will separate.

Here are some practical ways to overcome this problem and ensure that your royal icing is in top condition when you use it.

1. Make Royal Icing with Meringue Powder

You can make royal icing using raw egg whites or meringue powder.

However, if you wish to store it for later use, we recommend using meringue powder or processed egg white powder.

Meringue powder stabilizes the icing and is more durable.

Similarly, processed egg white powder is pasteurized and hence holds up better than raw egg white.

It’s also unaffected by salmonella and other germs that affect raw eggs.

Hence, leftover royal icing made with meringue powder or processed egg whites will be good at room temperature for a few days.

Meanwhile, those made with raw egg whites deteriorate faster.

2. Reduce the Exposure to Air During Use and Storage

While using royal icing for decoration, you may have noticed that it dries up in mere seconds.

This leaves a very small window for error. Additionally, it also affects how you store the icing for later use.

Royal icing remains usable for longer when you limit its exposure to air.

Soon after preparing the icing, cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap.

It will help control the loss of moisture and keep it pliable for longer.

Alternatively, you can also use a damp paper towel or cloth to cover the bowl and keep the icing moist.

When storing royal icing for later use, limit the exposure to air by storing it in an airtight container or bag.

3. Beat the Icing with A Hand Mixer to Restore the Original Texture

As we mentioned earlier, royal icing hardens quickly when it’s in contact with air.

Even when you store it in an airtight container or cover it with plastic wrap, it can harden.

If you are tackling an extra-long project or using icing from the refrigerator, the texture may not be suitable for spreading and decorating.

Fortunately, you can easily restore the original texture.

Beat the royal icing either using a hand mixer or a stand mixer at a low speed.

This will make the icing smooth and glossy again.

You can then decorate with it just like you use a fresh batch.

4. Bring Refrigerated Royal Icing to Room Temperature Before Using It

Royal icing at room temperature

Royal icing holds up in the refrigerator for one or two weeks in an airtight bag or container.

So you can make your icing ahead of time and store it until it’s needed.

When it’s time to use the icing, take the container out of the refrigerator and leave it on the counter till it reaches room temperature.

If you have wrapped the icing properly and minimized exposure to air, the texture may turn out just right for use.

In this case, stir the icing together and use it as usual.

However, if it has separated, beat it with a mixer to restore the original texture.

Make sure to wait till the icing is no longer cold but is at room temperature to start beating and make it ready for use.

5. While Mixing, Add Icing Sugar or Water as Required

When you store royal icing for a few days, it will dry. The water and the solids in the icing separate.

It makes the liquid pool on the surface with dry powder at the base.

In this case, you must whisk the mixture to make it smooth again.

By whisking at a low speed, you can get all the lumps out and prepare a homogeneous mix.

However, at times, the icing may end up dry or too wet.

If you had stored it in a humid environment, the icing can end up becoming too runny.

Meanwhile, if it was exposed to air and cold, it may be too dry.

If it’s too wet, add a little icing sugar to the mixture and mix thoroughly till you get the desired consistency.

Alternatively, if the royal icing is too dry, add a little water at a time and mix it well till combined.

Beating the icing with a hand mixer or stand mixer with enough amount of water will add air and volume, making the mixture rise and become soft.

Continue the same process till the icing is as runny as you like.

6. Knead the Piping Bag if The Contents Separate in It

We recommend adding only as much royal icing as you need to the piping bag at a time.

If you leave the icing in the bag for too long, the mixture can separate, and the water will pool near the nozzle.

The runnier your icing is, the faster it will separate. It will result in too much runny liquid in the nozzle area.

To restore the original consistency, take the icing out of the bag and mix it with a spoon.

However, if you will be using the icing immediately, you may not wish to transfer it out of the piping bag to mix it.

In this case, knead the bag gently to help the icing mix together. Then, use it as intended.

The only problem here is that if the icing doesn’t mix well, it will come out as little pools of water with icing sugar granules that don’t spread evenly.

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7. Wrap with Plastic Wrap Before Refrigerating

If you have several royal icing sugar colors, it’s better to store them separately in suitable containers and take them out as required.

Choose small airtight containers to hold the icing and avoid exposure to air or moisture by adding a layer of plastic wrap before closing the container.

When placing the plastic wrap, take care to place it directly over the icing to prevent crusting.

Then, press down the lid of the container and place it in the refrigerator.

If you are using royal icing decorations on cupcakes or cakes, take it out closer to the time of serving.

Keeping them for several hours ahead of serving can make the grease seep out and discolor the icing.

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