This vegan royal icing is made with aquafaba instead of egg whites. This eggless version of the traditional icing is easy to make and fun to use to decorate cookies, cakes, and more!
Royal icing is ideal for creating intricate designs on cookies and cakes because when it dries it hardens like candy.
It is typically piped onto a cookie or cake using a pastry bag and tip. But you don’t need fancy equipment. We often use a baggie with the corner snipped off!
And with both of my sons being allergic to eggs, we skip decorating eggs at Easter time and decorate sugar cookies instead.
No matter what holiday we're celebrating, this royal icing makes decorating so much fun!
Ingredients and Equipment
You don't need a lot of ingredients to make vegan royal icing.
- Aquafaba - This is the brine from a can of garbanzo beans or chickpeas. A can of beans has about ¾ cup of liquid. You will only need ½ cup for one batch of this icing.
- Confectioner's sugar/powdered sugar
- Vegetable glycerin (optional) - I have made this icing many times without it but vegetable glycerin gives the icing a nice shine when it dries. Some brands are derived from soy so always be sure the brand you buy is safe for you. I bought this one from Amazon which is derived from palm oil. Here is the allergen statement I received from the company (11/2021).
Oure Pure Vegetable Glycerin is sustainably sourced from palm oil. This product is processed in a facility that is free of common allergens, but it is packaged in a facility that also packages almond flour, soy flour, rice products, and oats that are not gluten-free. We have controls in place to prevent cross-contamination, but there is still a minute possibility through residual airborne dust.Oure customer service
- Stand or hand mixer - You could do this by hand but it's a lot easier with a mixer! I love my Kitchenaid stand mixer and the wire whip attachment for this job.
The process of making royal icing is pretty simple.
The first step is draining the aquafaba from the canned garbanzo beans. Before you do that, be sure to shake the can well. This helps get all of the solids that have settled to the bottom mixed into the liquid. Those solids are what make aquafaba work the way it does so this is an important step.
Next, drain the liquid into a measuring cup. This can colander comes in handy for the job!
You only need ½ cup of aquafaba and usually, a can of beans has about ¾ cup in it. You can either dump the remaining liquid or pour it into a small container and freeze it for later.
Next, pour the aquafaba into the mixing bowl. Mix at medium speed until it is thickened and foamy.
Next, you'll add the powdered sugar to the desired consistency. The amount you add will depend on what you want to use the icing for. For more on that, go to the icing consistency tips section.
Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl periodically to get all of the sugar incorporated.
Add the vanilla extract and vegetable glycerin (if using) and mix well.
Now it's ready to add food coloring and put in decorating bags!
Icing consistency tips
Royal icing can be used in several ways when decorating your cookies, cakes, and other baked goods.
A thinner consistency is used for "flooding" a cookie to give it that smooth glazed coating. Using 3 cups of powdered sugar in this recipe will get you to this consistency which is similar to honey.
If you add another cup of powdered sugar (4 cups total), you will have a thicker icing that works well for outlining and drawing lines.
It can also be used for flooding but the thicker consistency requires some help from a scriber needle or the decorating tip to cover the surface.
I usually make my icing this consistency as it is the most versatile.
If you want to make things like flowers or ruffles, you can add even more powdered sugar.
If your icing got too thick, a drop or two of water can thin it out (don't add too much!)
For more about decorating with royal icing, check out this helpful guide to icing consistencies.
Using the vegan royal icing
When I'm decorating cookies, I divide the icing into little bowls and add food coloring to each one.
Note: Some food coloring has cross-contact with common allergens. Be sure to read labels carefully when selecting food coloring. If you're avoiding artificial colors, you might like this one from Watkins.
After mixing the colors, I pour the icing into a baggie and snip off a tiny part of a corner. Of course, if you have fancier equipment like icing bags, feel free to use those instead!
We make cookies for every occasion! It is a fun tradition that my kids have really loved over the years.
Allergy friendly cookie recipes
Vegan Royal Icing
- ½ cup aquafaba⠀
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar⠀
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1-2 teaspoons of vegetable glycerin makes the icing shiny but not necessary⠀
- Food coloring optional
- Shake the can of garbanzo beans vigorously to redistribute the solids into the liquid. Open the can and drain the liquid (aquafaba) into a measuring cup. Pour ½ cup of the liquid into the mixing bowl. Discard the remaining liquid or pour it into a small container and freeze for later.
- Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, mix the aquafaba on medium speed until white and foamy. Gradually mix in the powdered sugar, scraping the sides of the bowl periodically. Add powdered sugar to the desired consistency (see tips below). Add the vanilla extract and vegetable glycerin (if using) and mix well.
- Pour icing into bowls and add food coloring if desired. Otherwise, pour into a decorating bag or baggie and snip off the corner of the bag. Decorate!
- For "flood consistency" (like honey) add 3 cups of powdered sugar.
- For "medium consistency" (like ketchup), add 4 cups of powdered sugar