Drying royal icing may seem like a very simple concept, but knowing the right method can save time and make a huge difference in how your cookies end up looking and even tasting.
How do you dry royal icing fast? Royal icing is best dried at room temperature but if you want to quickly set it, then the best way would be to dry the decorated cookies in an oven with just the lamp on or under a heating lamp – but you will need to be very careful when expediting the drying process.
Read below to learn more about royal icing, how it is used, how it usually sets, and some clever techniques to quickly dry royal icing decorated goods.
What Is Royal Icing?
There is a very small difference between regular sugary icing and royal icing.
Regular icing, or glacé icing, is just a mixture of powdered sugar and warm water. The temperature of the water melts the ice crystals in the powdered sugar and rearranges them into matrices, which produce a hardened layer of icing when dried.
Royal icing, on the other hand, is based on the same concept and is also made with a combination of sugar and water – but with added egg whites.
The egg whites play a pivotal role in producing a slightly grainier but firmer and lighter icing mixture that can be used to create all sorts of designs.
Bakers use royal icing to create intricate art on cookies or other baked goods. The mixture sets so well that you can create multiple layers of the icing without disturbing the layer under it.
As a result, you can create fun designs based on animals, structures, and other colorful and complicated shapes.
Since royal icing is simple to make, you can even make it at home. This way you can customize the icing by mixing in different colors depending on your needs. You could also go for a commercial royal icing mix, like this one, for added convenience too.
If you need some festive tips on how to make royal icing, check out this video from Preppy Kitchen:
How Long Does Royal Icing Take to Dry?
When left at room temperature, royal icing will take anywhere from 6-8 hours to dry – or even a full day.
The reason for this variance is simply due to environmental factors such as ambient temperature, humidity, sunlight exposure, and wind. This is because royal icing contains water, but is also heavily aerated.
Royal icing contains egg whites, which can create stiff peaks that can even stand straight up when they are mixed at high speeds. The egg whites achieve this feat by becoming saturated with air.
In the context of the icing, the trapped air bubbles disperse the water at a greater surface area, making the icing airier and less moist – which also makes it susceptible to small ambient changes.
So, you can literally tip the balance by tweaking some environmental factors to help your royal icing dry faster.
How To Speed Up The Process
Humidity plays a big role in drying the royal icing on baked goods. If you live in a very humid environment, then chances are that your particular batch of icing will take longer to dry.
You might think that keeping the cookies in an airtight jar may secure them from the moisture in the air and help them dry faster, but you would be wrong!
Placing royal icing in an airtight jar when drying is only going to make things worse as the trapped humidity inside the container will make the cookies soggy.
To successfully dry royal icing, there are 2 main factors: ambient temperature and wind.
Room temperature is relative and can change depending on where you live, the time of day, and other factors.
But by definition, room temperature revolves around 68-72°F. This ambient temperature along with the presence of wind can greatly reduce the drying time of royal icing.
For example, if you keep the decorated goods at room temperature with low humidity and a light breeze, then you can bring down the drying time to about 2-3 hours.
This effect can also be slightly amplified when you increase either factor, but please note that wet royal icing is extremely pliable before it sets, so additional wind or an increase in temperature can affect the texture of your art.
Methods To Dry Royal Icing
Here are some safe methods that you can use to dry royal icing:
- Oven Drying Method
- Dehumidifier Method
- Heating Lamp Method
- Pedestal Fan Method
Oven Drying Method
Drying Time: 2 – 4 Hours
The oven drying method is the easiest way to quickly set royal icing. To get started, preheat the oven by only turning on the oven lamp.
The lamp has a low-wattage output but is very good at maintaining a temperature between 70-72°F inside the cooking chamber.
We recommend that you use a cooking thermometer to precisely measure the ambient temperature inside the oven. To cool the oven, open the door enough to create a small passage for the cool air outside to circulate inside.
Drying Time: 3 – 5 Hours
This method works great when you already own a dehumidifier and use it regularly to remove excess moisture from the air.
The dehumidifier will create a comfortable environment for the royal icing and will allow it to set without spreading, and without taking a long time.
Start the humidifier and wait for a few hours until the room has reached the desired setting. Then begin decorating the baked goods using the icing and just leave them out with the dehumidifier on.
You will notice that the icing will not only set faster but will also retain minute details – a quality that can be extremely helpful for artisanal bakers.
Heating Lamp Method
Drying Time: 1 – 2 Hours
This method is incredibly efficient, but risky to use. Drying royal icing using a heat lamp is one of the fastest ways to set it or at least partially set it so that you can begin on the second or subsequent layer of icing.
All you need is a tungsten bulb and an adjustable stand to get started. Use any heating bulb that is available to you. For the best results, we recommend getting a bulb that has a wattage of at least 150-200W.
Fix the bulb on an adjustable lamp and place the decorated goods some distance away from the heat source.
Remember, you need to be very precise about how much heat the icing gets. This is why we recommend that you use an accurate thermometer for this method.
Keeping the icing near the bulb will not only make it spread but it will also excessively dry out the cookies!
The goal is to keep the cookies just above room temperature. So, a temperature anywhere between 75-80°F would be ideal.
Pedestal Fan Method
Drying Time: 1 – 3 Hours
Using a pedestal fan is an ingenious way of drying out royal icing on cookies. This method works great for baked goods that have a large iced surface.
This way, the icing dries on top but traps the moisture underneath and keeps the cookie fresh by creating an insulating layer.
We recommend that you use a small pedestal fan that can generate adequate wind. You don’t want strong winds that can move the wet icing on top and ruin your designs!
For the best results, use this method with a dehumidifier if you live in a humid environment.
Set the pedestal fan to the medium setting and place the decorated goods away from the fan so that they are constantly bombarded with the dry wind.
How To Tell When The Icing Has Dried
Dried royal icing has some consistent and distinct characteristics that you will notice regardless of the type of method you use to dry it.
Royal icing will usually become a bit grainier and less shiny when it is dried. This is a great visual sign that indicates whether the icing has fully or superficially dried.
You can also use a toothpick or a cookie scribe to delicately tap the top and sides of the icing to confirm its doneness. If you feel resistance near the tip then that would definitively confirm that the icing has firmed up and dried.
Royal icing can be set in a few hours instead of a full day using the right methods. Now that you know how to dry royal icing fast, here are some related questions:
Can you dry royal icing in the fridge?
No. Royal icing is supposed to be dried at room temperature or by using any of the above methods.
Storing and attempting to dry the icing in the fridge will only trap more moisture in the icing which will make it runnier and may even ruin all your hard work – not to mention, the cookie may become overly soggy too.
Can you dry royal icing in the sun?
No. Royal icing should not be exposed to direct sunlight as it will increase the temperature of the icing and melt it.
It may also overly dry the cookie and ruin its texture. The best way to dry the icing would be to keep it in a cool and dry place with indirect sunlight.