My vegan royal icing is a 2-ingredient healthy icing perfect for sugar cookies and cakes, dries hard and shiny, has no eggs, can easily be colored, and works great as a gingerbread house glue.
Vegan Royal Icing
My vegan royal icing is only 2 ingredients and perfect for icing cookies as well as cakes. It can be easily colored with commercial food colorings or fruits, and it is a strong frosting binder for custom gingerbread house building or even just mini-graham-cracker type gingerbread house projects.
Try it on my healthy easy gingerbread cookie recipe here. Even if you aren't vegan, you'll love the flavor of this icing - organic powdered sugar is so much tastier.
What Is The Difference Between Royal Icing And Regular Icing and Vegan Royal Icing?
Regular icing such as buttercream is soft and creamy and remains somewhat soft after applying to cakes or cookies. Royal icing is different because it dries hard and has a crisp shell. Vegan royal icing also dries hard and has a crisp shell and vegan royal icing does not use eggs or any animal products.
How Do You Make Royal Icing From Scratch?
But why didn't I use someone else's recipe? Because I needed to create my own. The internet served me too much variety. Most recipes to make royal icing from scratch use egg whites (not for me), some cream of tartar, some corn starch, some lemon juice, some had very complicated steps. I come from a long line of gingerbread house builders so I knew I could make a simple vegan royal icing.
To make it, just sift your organic powdered sugar into a bowl. You'll want to use organic powdered sugar, even if you are not vegan, because it tastes sooo much better than the non organic version, I think because of missing additives.
How to Make Royal Icing for Sugar Cookies
Then spoon room temperature liquid aquafaba into the sugar and mix with a hand-mixer, or full mixer if you have one. Add 3 tbsp of aquafaba at first and see if that creates the texture you want for pipable frosting.
If you are covering sugar cookies with a layer of white frosting, you'll actually want a bowl of frosting with just 3 tbsp of aquafaba added, and a second bowl with all 4 tbsp or even 5 tbsp added. The first bowl will be stickier and pipable, while the second will be more pourable.
Use the first bowl in a piping bag and use to pipe and outline around your cookie. Use the second bowl, not in a piping bag, instead by spoon to pour or "flood" the inside of the cookie within the border you just created. I will create a video tutorial soon!
Is Royal Icing Safe To Eat?
The traditional non-vegan recipe no longer requires egg whites, but instead relies on a meringue powder so it is safe to eat.
But my vegan recipe is also certainly safe. It’s made of these two ingredients: organic powdered sugar (Wholesome brand has no bone char), and aquafaba.
BUT I realize not everyone has a can of chickpeas in their cabinet so I'll give you an alternative ingredient: corn syrup.
Aquafaba Or Corn Syrup Can Work in Vegan Royal Icing
Aquafaba is the liquid from a can of chickpeas. I recommend you choose salt-free, bpa-free brand. Open the can, pour out the liquid, save/refrigerate the chickpeas for a different recipe.
You'll get about ½ cup of liquid from a can, so refrigerate the leftovers - this will last about 1 week in a jar. Or freeze for several months. This recipe - which makes about 1 cup of icing - only needs 4 tbsp.
If you'd prefer to use corn syrup, just reduce the amount. Use only 3 tbsp of corn syrup, while aquafaba calls for 4 tbsp.
How to Use Vegan Royal Icing
First, you should know that this recipe is to make white royal icing. If you want to color some, set some white icing in a bowl and add a tiny drop of food coloring, and stir. You won't need much extract to create a color, and remember the frosting color will be darker once dry.
Second, to use it for decorating, you'll want to load it into a piping bag. Either insert a tip or snip the end so you can let the frosting out in some way.
Then fill the bag with icing. To do this easily, put the piping bag into a tall glass, fold the bag open over the sides, and fill the bag.
White or colored, you can use this icing for so many things. I will list them here:
1. Decorate sugar cookies
2. Decorate cakes, pies or tarts.
3. Coat cookies with layers of smooth icing, let harden and then paint. To paint ON this icing, let it harden at least a few hours, or even overnight at room temperature. Create a coloring paint by mixing food coloring and water or Vodka. Use food paint brushes to brush painted designs on cookies or use stencils.
4. Use the frosting as a glue to bind walls of a gingerbread house or even just graham crackers.
5. Use the frosting as a glue to stick candy or other decorations to baked goods.
How Do You Store Royal Icing Sugar?
Royal icing sugar does not need to be refrigerated immediately. I keep mine at room temperature in a piping bag with a writing tip in a sealed container on the counter for a week.
After that I refrigerate it or even freeze it, but I need to bring the bag back to room temperature and massage for a while to restore consistency.
Tips To Improve Vegan Royal Icing
1. Add baker's glycerin - To increase shine and help keep the icing from yellowing over a few days once on cookies. Other options are more complicated.
2. Add lemon juice to off-set the sweetness of the sugar.
3. Add vanilla to add more flavor to the icing although that can move the color to a tan.
Other Vegan Frosting & Icing Recipes
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Vegan Royal Icing
Vegan Royal Icing (white)
- Open a room-temperature can of chickpeas, drain off the aquafaba liquid and keep that for the recipe. Measure out 4 tbsp and set aside. Put the rest in the refrigerator for your next recipe. Also keep the chickpeas for a different use.
- Add powdered sugar to a mixing bowl.
- Add in the aquafaba, glycerin if using, and stir with a hand-mixer until all are dissolved and the frosting is creamy and stiff.
- Do you want to add lemon juice to reduce the sweet flavor? Replace1 tsp of the aquafaba.
Pipe Gingerbread Men & More
- Fill a baker's frosting bag either fitted with a writing tip or snip off the tiny tip. Use this bag to pipe buttons and lines on gingerbread cookies and other baked goods.
Store the frosting
- Put frosting in baker's piping bag or sealed container and keep for 1 week at room temperature. To keep longer, refrigerate for 1 month or freeze for three months. Once chilled, bring it to room temperature to use again. You may have to stir or knead the bag to make it creamy again.
Dee Dine is founder of Green Smoothie Gourmet, a plant based recipe blog, and author of the recent cookbook, Crazy Healthy with 4 Ingredients and another immunity-boosting smoothie shot book, 4-Ingredient Smoothies + Juices , due out in January 2021. On this blog you'll find incredibly easy recipes with hidden veggies for anyone wanting to eat healthier, regardless of diet. Dee has graduate degrees in sciences and journalism, editor at The Feedfeed and a nutritional expert at WikiHow. More about Dee Dine here.