How to Master the Wet-On-Wet Royal Icing Technique

Ever wonder how the pros create those smooth, intricate royal icing designs? Well we’ve got the secret! Below, Ileana Saldivia (sugarrealm) of Sugar Realm Bakery shares a helpful guide to the same “wet-on-wet” royal icing technique the professionals use, which she demonstrates on her gorgeous fall-inspired leaf cookies.

As a bonus, she’s even shared her very own tried-and-true royal icing recipe!

For more of Ileana’s work, check out her blog.


Ileana’s Royal Icing Recipe

Yield: icing to decorate approximately 4 dozen, 3-inch cookies
Store: airtight at room temperature for 1 day, up to 2 months refrigerated, up to 6 months frozen


2 pounds sifted confectioners’ sugar
10 Tablespoons meringue powder or dry egg whites
¾ cup room temperature boiled water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract + 1 teaspoon of your favorite flavoring (liqueur or extract)
⅛ teaspoon table salt


Place all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, and whisk until all ingredients are well combined. Add wet ingredients. Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix on slow speed for 4-5 minutes. Slow speed will prevent incorporating air into the icing.

To prevent royal icing from crusting, always store on an airtight container, with a layer of plastic film touching surface of icing. This recipe produces a medium to stiff icing consistency.


“Wet-On-Wet” Decorating Technique

Icing Consistency: Stiff, Medium and Flow

I always save a container with the icing consistency that comes out of the mixer, which is medium to stiff consistency. My preferred method to stiffen any fluid icing is to add a couple of tablespoons of stiff icing.

Alternatively, a simple and quick fix to stiffen the consistency of your icing is by adding a bit of confectioners’ sugar until desired consistency is achieved. Add water or any liquid flavoring of your liking to your icing to achieve a more fluid icing consistency.

Testing Icing Consistency

Appropriate icing consistency is critical to creating wet-on-wet, flooded icing cookies. To test the consistency of your icing, insert a toothpick into a small container with royal icing. Stiff consistency icing will hold toothpick vertically. Medium consistency icing will hold toothpick in place for a few seconds before it starts to fall to the sides of the container. Flow consistency icing will not hold toothpick in place.

Coloring Your Icing

To color icing, use gel coloring and with a toothpick, add small amounts of color until desired color is achieved. Keep in mind that some icing colors darken up to one shade when dry.


Creating an Icing “Dam”

Beginners: Using stiff consistency icing, start by piping a dam around the cookie. Let dry for 20 minutes before piping icing center.

Advanced: Pipe icing dam using flow consistency and immediately flood cookie with flood consistency icing. The benefit of doing this is that the icing dam will fuse with your center icing creating a seamless border.

Flooding Your Cookie

To create a background to your cookie, fill a piping bag or plastic bottle with flood consistency icing. Using a pastry tip #3, pipe icing over cookie, trying to slightly cover icing dam.


Creating Your Designs

With medium consistency icing, and while icing background is still wet, create your design by piping icing over wet background icing. Depending on the weather, you may have approximately 50 seconds to complete your designs. After 50 seconds, icing will start to crust.

Dry, Finish & Package Your Decorated Cookies

Flood icing cookies require 24 hours to fully dry. After cookies are completely dry, you may pipe a decorative border around them and even overpipe additional designs. All that’s left is to package, share and enjoy your gorgeous cookies!

Helpful Tip: Storage

Cookies decorated with royal icing, have a long shelf life, up to 6 weeks when properly stored in an airtight container. I have discovered that metal tins are the type of container that better preserve iced cookies. It is always a good idea to wrap decorated cookies in a cellophane bag.


Comments (6)


What a great tutorial. I'll try this with my kids on our Christmas cookies. I appreciate you including a recipe as well.


Thank you madcobbler! I'm sure your kids will love making cookies with this technique. When making these cookies with kids or beginner decorators, I would recommend that you make an extra thick icing "dam" that you let completely dry (30-40 min. Depending on weather). This dam will contain your icing and avoid any icing leakage! Please share pics of your cookies with us;) I would LOVE to see your own cookies!


Love your tutorial! Can you please tell us where you got the little bottles for the flood icing? And if they have a small opening similar to a #2 or #3 tip? Thank you so much.


Hi Suzzana! I'm sorry it took me so long to respond :)...between work and family, the end of the year is hectic in this Kingdom of mine!!!

The little bottles you mentioned I bought through CK products, since I have a whole sale account with them. I'm sure other retails shops sell them as well, here is the Info! Name: Squeezit Mold Painter Sizes: 2oz. or 8 oz. (mine are the 2oz. size)

They come with a plastic coupler that works with any tip, and it comes with a plastic tip equivalent to a #2 Ateco tip, perfect for flooding your cookies! Hope this helps :), and share pics of your own beautiful cookies...Would love to see them:)


Hi, I'd like to know why it is that you boil the water and then bring it to room temperature. Why can't you just use room temperature water?