If you find yourself with a batch of cookies or a cake to decorate and no meringue powder on hand, you can still make royal icing. Though meringue powder makes it much simpler to whip up decorative icing for baked goods, you can substitute other common ingredients to make royal icing. Try a meringue powder substitute as a solution when it’s too late to order meringue powder online or visit the store to pick it up.
What Is Meringue Powder?
Meringue powder is made up of cornstarch, dried egg whites, citric acid, sugar and stabilizers. Many cooks use meringue powder instead of egg whites to reduce the risk of salmonella, but it’s also easier to use the powder than making royal icing from scratch using meringues. Meringue powder is a substitute for the meringues traditionally used in royal icing, so egg white meringues with powdered sugar are quite naturally the go-to meringue powder replacement. Though whipping egg whites into royal icing can be trickier than using meringue powder since it contains stabilizers, you can always go the traditional route.
Meringue Powder Replacements
Making egg whites with confectioners’ sugar to make royal icing is the natural and most probable meringue powder substitute. It not only yields the best results, but it provides the correct taste and texture for the royal icing. Remember to add a little acidity such as lemon juice or cream of tartar to help stabilize the royal icing mixture.
Egg white powder can also be used with cream of tartar as a substitute for meringue in royal icing. Egg white powder is exactly what it sounds like: dried egg whites. Cream of tartar, which is a byproduct of winemaking taken from emptied wine barrels, serves as a stabilizer when making meringues. Egg white powder might be a preferable meringue powder substitute; it eliminates any concern over salmonella by using pasteurized eggs, which also helps minimize this concern.
Royal Icing Without Meringue Powder
To make royal icing without meringue powder, start by making meringues with egg whites. Separate the whites and bring them to room temperature before you whip them. Using a stand mixer and a paddle attachment, combine three room-temperature egg whites, 1 pound of confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. The paddle allows less air into the mixture, creating a smooth, creamy icing rather than a fluffy, flaky frosting. Whip until the mixture is shiny and holds a stiff peak.
If you’re using egg white powder, combine the amount of egg white powder with water as directed on the package to reach the equivalent of three egg whites. Add a bag, or 1 pound, of powdered sugar and a teaspoon of cream of tartar to the egg white mixture in a stand mixer. Whip until smooth, stiff peaks appear.
Once you’ve made your royal icing, transfer it into a bag to pipe onto your cookies. If you’re not using it immediately, transfer it into bowls and cover it with a damp towel until ready to use. This will help prevent the icing from drying out. You can also use food coloring to dye individual batches of royal icing to achieve the colors you need.
Molly is a freelance journalist and social media consultant. In addition to Leaf.tv, Molly has written for Teen Vogue and Paste magazine. She is the former assistant editor of the Design and Style section of Paste magazine. View her work at www.mmollyharris.com.