Feb 28


{Video} Royal Icing Consistency Made Easy – The 10 Second Rule

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I’ve been decorating cookies for approximately 8 years now, and I still remember how frustrating some of my first cookie decorating experiences were.

I couldn’t get my cookies to look as nice as I wanted them to; the icing was either too thick and dry, or too runny and hard to control.  The designs didn’t look as neat and pretty as I had hoped.

Well, after poring over every cookie decorating book I could find, taking a cookie decorating class at the Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts, and after much experimentation and practice, I (eventually) found tried and true tricks and tips to make the cookie decorating experience easier.

Today, besides showing you how I made this charming wintry fella, I’m going to be showing you one of my absolute favorite keys to cookie decorating success – a necessary basic: How to figure out the right royal icing consistency.

For those of you who like video, here’s a demonstration of how to find the consistency – The 10 Second Rule:

Click HERE if you can’t see the video.


For those of you who like written break-downs:


Royal Icing Consistency

To test consistency, you’ll need a butter knife and your royal icing.

I’ll be showing you how to make the icing in another video; for now you can find the recipe here in my cookie decorating tutorial.


The 10 Second Rule

To check the consistency, all you need to do is drag the tip of a butter knife through the surface of your icing, letting the knife go approximately an inch deep, and slowly count to 10.

If the surface of the icing smoothes over in approximately 10 seconds then your icing is ready to use.  If it takes longer, the icing is too thick.  Slowly add more water.

If your icing surface smoothes over in less than 5-10 seconds, it is too runny.  Mix your icing longer or slowly add more sifted icing sugar to thicken it.

You don’t want the icing to be too thick so that it doesn’t flood, or too thin so that it’s too runny and hard to control.

I should mention that this is what works for me; my preference is that the surface of the icing smoothes over at about the 10 second mark.  I like it at this consistency (a bit thick), because the icing holds its shape and doesn’t run too quickly out of the piping bag.

With this thicker icing I can outline and fill in right away; you just have to shake the cookie a bit to help the icing settle.  You can see how I do it in this video on marbling royal icing HERE.

If the icing is runnier, you don’t have to shake the cookie because the icing flows easier.  I used to do it this way, (prepare two consistencies of icing; one for outlining, and one for filling in).  Again, flooding is definitely easier, but I prefer not to have to set up two icings.

{In the video, I normally don’t use a runnier icing like the green example; I was demonstrating the difference between an icing that smoothes over in 5 seconds, and an icing that smoothes over in 10 seconds}.

For an example of icing which is a bit too runny for piping details, take a look at the swags of this birthday cake cookie I made when I first began decorating.  The lines were harder to control when I piped the icing.

What I’ve shown you today may seem like such a simple thing, but it made a huge difference in my own cookie decorating.  It can really help alleviate frustration and improve the overall look of the cookie.


Now a little bit about Frosty the Snowman:

This little guy isn’t a cookie; he’s made just of royal icing.

Royal icing decorations, also known as runouts, flood work, transfers, color flow (by Wilton), or run sugar, are basically the piping of a runny royal icing onto parchment paper or acetate paper (sometimes into an outlined shape).

When the shape dries, you have an icing design which you can use for a multitude of decorating purposes; on cakes, cookies, gingerbread houses, cupcakes etc.

In this case I needed him for an 8″ round cake.  As soon as I saw him on these adorable mugs (bought at the end of last winter at Canadian Tire), I knew I wanted to make an edible version of him.

I actually made the first runout of him before Christmas and have been meaning to get to this post since!  Just managed to squeeze him in before spring.  😉


How to Make Royal Icing Runouts/Floodwork

If you’d like to try making royal icing runouts, you’ll need:

  • Royal Icing Recipe
  • Icing Gel Colors
  • Acetate Paper or Parchment Paper
  • Shortening
  • Piping Tip (I generally use tip #2)
  • Piping Bag
  • Coupler

Basic Steps:

  1. Shortening on acetate paper or parchment paper
  2. Pipe design by tracing or using KopyKake projector (Can do outline first and let dry)
  3. Fill or flood design
  4. Let dry for a minimum of 24 hours
  5. Gently peel off backing
  6. Attach with more royal icing

For detailed steps on making runouts click HEREHERE or HERE.


Getting icing consistency right is really one of the major keys to making your cookie decorating experience a fun one.  Once you’ve got a good icing basis everything else becomes easier.

If you enjoyed today’s tips please leave me a comment below and let me know what you thought or if you have any questions.




p.s. In the last video on Marbling Royal Icing I asked what you’d like to see in the next video.  Thank you for your comments!


p.s.s. Please let me know in the comment section below on facebook or twitter, what you’d like to see in the next video.  Happy decorating!

p.s.s.s. I linked up to LilaLola’s fun Snowman Celebration!

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  1. jojo
    December 4, 2014 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Hi! Just wanted to ask if you add white gel color to your royal icing? Thanks!

  2. Harriet in Texas
    February 7, 2015 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Thanks. Today was the first time that I made royal icing and I wondered how thick it needed to be. I also thought it needed flavoring so I added clear almond extract. It seemed to help.

  3. abi
    April 15, 2015 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    thank you so much for this info! i bookmarked your site already and so excited to read your tutorials! makes life easier for a newbie like me!

  4. Virginia
    April 16, 2015 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    This was such a great video and so very helpful! Thank you for sharing.

  5. Sol
    April 19, 2015 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much !!!!! just the best video, very helpfull

  6. Rebecca
    April 21, 2015 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    Hi i know you use your royal icing mainly for cookie decorating bt w be used to pipe but was wondering if it could be used to pipe on cakes for decoration?

  7. Melanie
    May 5, 2015 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much for posting this. This method has totally changed my life! I always piped an outline of a stiffer consistence first which always left a distinct outline. This method is giving my cookies just the look I want.
    I love your site and use it for inspiration often. Thank you so much for sharing your talent!

  8. Martha Barroso
    May 13, 2015 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    Hi! thank you for sharing. The snowman is beautiful. What is the consistency royal icing for writing?

  9. Alicia
    November 13, 2015 at 1:39 am | Permalink

    The tip of the 10 second rule was a life saver and the video showed it perfectly! Thank you! I did a basic star cookie with the royal icing outline and fill, and they turned out really well for my first try frosting a cookie this way. I’ve used royal icing in the past and had a tough time figuring out consistency.

  10. Julie
    November 30, 2015 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    thank you ever so much for the handy 10-second rule followed by the approximate 5-second rule for thinner icing. I’m about to embark on Santa faces and your helpful hints are so valuable! Thanks again…and feel free to email me any other helpful tips as well!

  11. Kristi
    February 9, 2016 at 2:40 am | Permalink

    How do you get your outlines so steady. I have been practicing a lot and my frosting comes out squiggly not straight like yours.

    • marian
      February 9, 2016 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      Hi Kristi,
      I do have a video on piping lines (outlines) on my YouTube page if you’d like to check it out. Just a little tip as well, I rest my arm on the table while I’m decorating.

  12. Rosana
    October 17, 2016 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Thanks! Really usefull! I’ll try this tips next time.

  13. Jane
    January 21, 2017 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    Do you actually use icing/decorating bags or another tool? In the video explaining royal icing consistency; it looked like something different. I find bags difficult to fill & a lot of wasted icing in the end.

  14. Katie
    May 7, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    So this is a royal beginner question 🙂 I have had the frustrating experience of THINKING I’ve got my consistency right, filling my piping bag and then realizing it’s not quite right! If this happens, do you empty the bag back into a bowl and adjust??

  15. Wendy
    December 10, 2017 at 3:49 am | Permalink

    *******Dances around kitchen at 3am with perfect cookie for the first time ever*******

    • marian
      December 16, 2017 at 7:04 am | Permalink

      You are so cute! Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  16. Mouna L
    January 17, 2018 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for the royal icing recipe and the technique to get it right.
    I made it today and it worked well. I have a question: when I first ice the cookie, the icing is shiny but when the icing dries, it’s not shiny anymore. Is it normal? What can I do for the icing to keep its shine?
    Many thanks.

  17. Belinda Cooley
    May 10, 2018 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Oh Marian…. you have just helped me so much. I am new to the cookie decorating and have been super frustrated with my icing as well. I took a class but unfortunately the instructor didn’t really show us the consistency the royal was already in the decorating bags. I’ve watched so many videos on this but yours is by far the best! I can’t wait until the weekend to play!

    • marian
      May 11, 2018 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      Oh that’s wonderful to hear, thanks Belinda! Happy decorating this weekend!

  18. Tracey
    February 2, 2019 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    I’ve heard that piping icing should be the consistency of honey, shampoo or toothpaste. Could you please tell me how many seconds that would be? I’m happy with my other consistencies (thank you!) but am struggling with piping icing.

Show Pingbacks & Trackbacks

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    […] per halve theelepel per keer. Het is uiteindelijk de bedoeling dat je een 10 seconde icing krijgt (klik hier om te lezen wat ik daarmee bedoel). Vul je spuitzak (die al met adapter is klaargezet) met de royal […]

  2. By Watermeloen koekjes | Baking Lou on May 12, 2015 at 1:06 am

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  3. […] start with a 10 second Royal Icing, which is what I usually use to outline and to fill in my cookies. It is firm yet still flows. I […]

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    […] You’ll need to have a certain consistency for flooding your cookies… Here’s a video on how to achieve that consistency. […]

  6. By Royal Icing Consistency | Baking with Best on February 23, 2016 at 9:48 am

    […] avoid this I use the ‘10 second rule‘.  Upon dragging a knife through your icing you want the line to disappear by around 10 […]

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  8. […] Watch this video for more tips. […]

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    […] It’s much easier to decorate the walls when they are flat. I also flooded the door with royal icing. The icing consistency for flooding is different than the thick consistency used to put the gingerbread house pieces together. Please see here for a video on royal icing flooding consistency. […]

  12. […] Sweetopia has a very helpful video on Royal Icing Consistency Made Easy. […]

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    […] mixed for 10 minutes, but can be thinned out the same way you’d thin out regular royal icing. Here is a video on icing consistency if you […]

  14. By Royal Icing Cookie Decorating Tips | Sweetopia on December 14, 2018 at 11:34 pm

    […] cookie for flooding, but not so loose that it is hard to control without a dry, outlined border. Here is a video on how I achieve that consistency, which explains the 10 second rule. Here is another video showing […]

  15. […] consistency of icing is key for easy decorating. Click here to see a YouTube video on finding the right icing thickness for basic flooding and […]

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