Freezing royal icing… Can you do it?
The short answer is yes. There are a few pros and cons though, so I’ll share the basics, and how to do it in this post. (Also sharing a sneak peek of the cookies in my next video post).
Starting with the pros…
Pros to Freezing Royal Icing
The most obvious first… If you have too much royal icing from one batch of cookies you’ve decorated, you can freeze the leftovers for the next time.
You save on time and cost. Black and red royal icing use a lot of gel coloring and making it fresh every time can add up.
Having a special color on hand which may have taken you a great deal of time and effort to create. Sometimes when I’m trying to match my cookies to a design, such as these floral cookies, the colors take a great deal of time and effort to create. If I know I’d like to make them again, keeping the leftover of those colors is a wonderful way to speed up the next decorating process.
And the cons…
Cons of Freezing Royal Icing
The main con I find is that that the consistency of the thawed icing is never as good as a fresh batch of royal icing. Even if you put it back in the stand mixer and mix again, when piping icing that’s older or once-frozen, there is a small difference in how well the icing flows from the piping bag. It’s a tiny detail and hard to explain, but over time I’ve noticed that the icing behaves better (flows nicer), if it’s fresh icing.
Another con could be having to have freezer space for the icing containers or bags.
Lastly, once the frozen icing has thawed, it generally is runnier than the original. You will need to add more icing sugar to thicken it up if you’d like a thicker consistency.
How long can royal icing be frozen for?
It seems that the best results are up to 3 months.
On to the how-to…
How to Freeze Royal Icing
I like to freeze mine in the containers if there’s enough icing to justify it. Do put a layer of plastic wrap on the surface of the icing and up the sides of the inside of the container, put the lid on, and voila, ready to freeze.
If you have a smaller amount of icing, you can spoon the icing into freezer ziplock bags (or sandwich bags) and freeze. Remove as much air as possible before you seal the bag. If you have the room, place the bags flat on a baking sheet and place the whole baking sheet in the freezer just until the icing solidifies. Once the bags are solid, you can remove the baking sheet and place the frozen icing bags any place you need to in the freezer. The slimmer shape usually helps for freezer arrangement.
Have a really small amount of icing? Leave it in the piping bag, seal both of the ends with some sort of elastic or twist tie, and freeze as is.
Thawing Royal Icing
Whether it’s a container, sandwich or ziplock bag, or piping bag, leave them sealed as you thaw them overnight on the counter. I usually place them on a baking sheet in case there’s condensation. The icing needs to be at room temperature to use.
The icing will need to be mixed again for best results. You can leave it in a piping bag or ziplock bag and massage the icing until reconstituted, but best results require mixing in a bowl. You could do it by hand but I throw it back into my stand mixer with the paddle attachement.