Royal icing isn’t just for cookies anymore – you can use it to make your own sprinkles. Sprinkles! And candy buttons. And icing accents.

This changes everything.

Homemade Sprinkles

Homemade sprinkles

Royal Icing

  • 1 egg white
  • Splash of vanilla (or any other extract)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp warm water
  • Gel food coloring (not liquid food coloring)
  1. Whisk together egg white and vanilla until foamy. Add in powdered sugar and water and whisk on medium high. Mixture will be runny at first, but will then turn glossy. Icing is ready when it has stiff peaks. When you lift the whisk, the mixture sure slightly droop, but will still hold its shape. Add in gel food coloring and mix with spatula until incorporated.
  2. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.
  3. To decorate cookies: fill a piping bag with half the icing. Pipe an outline on your cookie and let dry. With the other half of the icing, add water, a couple drops at a time, and stir until it’s thinned out and has the consistency of heavy cream. Flood the cookie by pouring the diluted icing into the outline. Spread it evenly with a toothpick to make sure its filled in completely. Let dry.
  4. To make sprinkles: pour icing into a piping bag fitted with the smallest round tip you have. Pipe long lines onto a sheet of parchment or wax paper. Let dry overnight. Break into pieces with your fingers and store in an airtight container.
  5. To make candy buttons: use a round tip of the desired size and pipe dots onto parchment or wax paper. Let dry overnight.
  6. To make icing accents: pipe hearts, butterflies, words, etc. onto a sheet of parchment or wax paper. Let dry overnight and gently peel off paper, being careful not to break it. Store in airtight container. Place on top of decorated cupcakes,  cakes, and cookies.
Candy Buttons

Bonus: these don’t stick to the paper

Sprinkles and Icing Hearts

Soon to be sprinkles and decorative icing hearts

A lot of recipes for royal icing use meringue powder, so if you’re queasy about raw egg whites, use one of those recipes instead. This is the easiest one for me since I don’t always have meringue powder, but do always have eggs.

This icing is the perfect consistency for decorating sugar cookies – it firms up pretty nicely so you can outline your cookies, and then if you add more water, you’ll get a nice consistency for flooding. If you want to make royal icing flowers, though, this recipe won’t work (I tried). I have yet to figure out how to get a thick royal icing from egg whites, but will keep tinkering.

If you’re anything like me, you probably always either have too little or too much royal icing when you’re making cookies. And if you’re anything like me, you probably also either throw away the leftovers or toss it in the fridge and forget about it for half a year.

But no more! There’s so much you can do with leftover icing. Sprinkles and candy buttons and hearts are just the tip of the iceberg.

The possibilities are endless!