To reduce waste and get the most out of your icing, this post discusses how I’d recommend storing your icing.. of course.. like many other topics… this is nuanced and the answer is “it depends” on a few factors… and keep in mind there is a bit of wiggle room, so if you follow these general guidelines, also be sure to use your judgement and most importantly… eyes and nose 😉
Generally, royal icing can be stored on the counter (room temp), in the fridge, or in the freezer (shortest > longest shelf life). To prolong the life of your royal icing, you can store it in the fridge or freezer.
Typically in today’s modern world, royal icing made with meringue powder stores well in an airtight container at room temperature for at least 2 weeks. Some people even say 4. You’ll know it’s bad if you open it and it has puffed up a lot (bacteria growth) and/or it smells sour.
If you’re using pasteurized egg whites or fresh egg whites in your royal icing recipe, shelf life is generally lowered by about 50% for countertop, and 25% for fridge, and remains the same for freezer.
Side Note; using egg white powder or dried egg whites is possible but less common for royal icing. Recipes using dried egg whites tend to behave inbetween fresh egg whites and meringue powder.
Royal icing with meringue powder stored in the fridge is good for easily over a month, and I have frozen icing for 3 months with no issues. Remember to always use an airtight container, or even freezer bags. I almost never throw away my extra icing when done with a project, and freeze them straight away in the piping bags.
The longer your icing sits, the more time it has to separate- this is where liquids separate from solid – the heavier/denser stuff settles at the bottom- usually this is the liquid portion.
TIP: Always give your icing a good mix after it’s sat around for a while- separation is a very natural part of the process due to the gravity, but if you pipe with separated icing, you’re going to have weak, inconsistent, runny icing. Watch this video:
In a piping bag, icing seems to separate within hours- and the more food color you have in your icing, the faster this process seems to occur- so always give your icing a good massage before piping if it’s been sitting out an hour!
Freezing your icing is a great way to slow down the separation process, but you’re still going to have to mix it well before using it to homogenize the consistency:
You can store your icing in any airtight container, including zip lock bags. I prefer Rubbermaid Brilliance containers for icing, OR you can use the popular disposable (and also reusable!!) plastic food prep containers.
Thawing your frozen icing is easy: put in the fridge the night before and take out a few hours before decorating, OR leave on your counter for 5-6 hours to allow your icing to come to room temp.
Feel free to save/share/print the following graphic as a little handy cheat sheet:
Want to learn how to decorate cookies like these? Check out our courses: bakingwithborderlands.com/courses
And please don’t forget to visit our shop for all your decorating needs such as piping bags, scribes, colors, etc.
Got questions? Comments? Drop ’em below!