Royal Icing for Gingerbread Houses

4.50 from 2 votes

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May I introduce you to the MVP of gingerbread houses? The glue that holds the whole house together is- drumroll please… royal icing. If you haven’t discovered the magic of Royal Icing for Gingerbread Houses you are in for a real treat!

Royal icing is made with powdered sugar, egg whites and water. However, if you are going to consume your gingerbread house instead of using it for a decoration, you can use powdered sugar, meringue powder which is pasteurized powdered egg whites, and water. It’s a personal preference, so use what feels better to you! 

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Royal Icing for Gingerbread Houses

Royal icing is really easy to work with but more importantly is essential to the successful construction of a gingerbread house. The icing will become rock hard when it air dries. It will hold the walls and roof on as well being used to stick candy on the house too. 

Royal icing can be dyed but I leave it white because it looks pretty and doubles as snow! Don’t worry about using too much icing or “messing” up because it will just look like a snowdrift or icicles. 

Don’t be nervous if you are new to royal icing. It is easy to make and work with and really forgiving. The best way to use the icing is to transfer it to a piping bag. You will be able to be more detailed using a bag and can get into the cracks and crevices better.

Does royal icing have to be used immediately?

Royal icing will be best if used within 3 days of it being made. Make sure to store in an airtight container or it will dry out and harden and be unusable. I have storage tips and tricks in the recipe.

How long does royal icing take to dry?

Royal icing will take 20-30 minutes to begin to harden but it won’t be fully dry for a couple of hours. 

Is Buttercream or Royal Icing Better for a Gingerbread House?

Buttercream icing is buttery and delicious but it won’t hold a gingerbread house together. Royal icing is king for gingerbread house construction. However, you can use buttercream frosting for embellishments if you wish, though I never do because who wants to make two recipes of icing when one works just fine?

More gingerbread house resources:

POV a hand putting icing along the bottom of a gingerbread bird house
4.50 from 2 votes

Royal Icing for Gingerbread Houses

An easy recipe for royal icing two different ways, using meringue powder or using egg whites, depending on what you want to use or have on hand! Both work great and this is the perfect royal icing for gingerbread houses.
Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 1 About 4 cups, enough for 1 small to medium gingerbread house

Ingredients 

For the royal icing using meringue powder:

  • 4 cups powdered sugar,, confectioner’s sugar (1 pound)
  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 10-15 tablespoons water

For the royal icing using egg whites:

  • 4 cups powdered sugar,, confectioner’s sugar (1 pound)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 5-10 tablespoons water

Instructions 

To make royal icing with meringue powder:

  • Add your powdered sugar and meringue powder to a large mixing bowl. Add 10 tablespoons of water to the bowl.
  • Use a stand mixer or a hand mixer to beat until well incorporated. If the icing is very crumbly, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time until it creates a thick but smooth icing. I normally end up adding 4 more tablespoons of water and sometimes the full 5, it’ll depend on how you measured your powdered sugar though.
  • Beat until the icing is shiny, about 6-8 minutes with a stand mixer and 8-10 minutes with with a hand mixture. 
  • The icing should be thick but not so thick you can’t stir it with a spoon. Adjust the constancy as needed. 
  • When you aren’t working with your royal icing place a clean wet dish towel over the top of the icing so that it doesn’t start to harden. You can also press a piece of plastic wrap against the top of the icing. 

To make royal icing with egg whites: 

  • Add your egg whites and powdered sugar to a large mixing bowl. Add 5 tablespoons of water to the bowl.
  • Use a stand mixer or a hand mixer to beat until well incorporated. If the icing is very crumbly, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time until it creates a thick but smooth icing. I normally end up adding 4 more tablespoons of water and sometimes the full 5, it’ll depend on how you measured your powdered sugar though.
  • Beat until the icing is shiny, about 6-8 minutes with a stand mixer and 8-10 minutes with with a hand mixture. 
  • The icing should be thick but not so thick you can’t stir it with a spoon. Adjust the constancy as needed. 
  • When you aren’t working with your royal icing place a clean wet dish towel over the top of the icing so that it doesn’t start to harden. You can also press a piece of plastic wrap against the top of the icing. 

Notes

  • You can have NO LEFTOVER GREASE in your bowls, on your spoons, or in your icing bags. I keep separate icing bags just for royal icing because buttercream is so hard to clean off the plastic. You can also have NO TRACE OF EGG YOLK if you are using egg whites in your icing. That little bit of fat, either from the yolk or leftover on your bowls will ruin the batch of icing and keep it from setting up properly. You’ll only make this mistake once!
  • The goal for the icing is for it to be thick but not so thick that you can’t get it to pipe out of your bag. If it’s too thick you can’t work with it, and if it’s too thin it doesn’t work either. I go for an icing that I can stir relatively easy with a metal teaspoon but the spoon will also stand up in the icing in the bowl. 
  • When you are ready to put your house together, put about 2 cups of your royal icing in a piping bag or a good quality freezer zipper-topped plastic bag. Use a frosting tip that is about ½ inch wide circle or cut about ½ inch off the tip of one corner of your baggie. If the hole is too small it’s really hard to get the icing to come out. I do this bigger tip for assembling the house and move to a smaller tip when I’m ready to add decorations and candy.
  • You can use raw egg whites or pasteurized eggs whites depending on what you are comfortable with.
  • Get my gingerbread house recipe here (with 2 free house templates you can just print out!)
  • Need candy ideas for decorating your house? Here’s the best candies for gingerbread houses.

Nutrition

Serving: 1batch, Calories: 3781kcal, Carbohydrates: 959g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 0.1g, Sodium: 180mg, Potassium: 166mg, Sugar: 940g, Calcium: 23mg, Iron: 1mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

Jump on the gingerbread house train and make some magic this holiday season with the ones you love-but don’t forget the Royal Icing. It will make all of your gingerbread house dreams come true!

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6 Comments

  1. 4 stars
    I’m not really sure what I did wrong but the icing didn’t get nearly as tight as I wanted it to.

    I did fresh egg whites with the 5 tbsp water and ended up adding more sugar but it never held for me.
    Could have been the organic sugar. I don’t know what happened.
    The gingerbread house turned out fantastic, google images worthy, just not what I had originally intended. All in all a good recipe.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. I use organic sugar with this recipe, it’s probably just too much water. And did you beat it until it was no longer shiny?