How To Make Gold Royal Icing

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It takes some time and a little patience to decorate cookies or cakes with gold royal icing, but the technique itself is actually very simple.

Start out by piping your designs in brown icing. I like to use brown icing because, not only does it help the gold to stand out, but it’s less noticeable if you miss a spot. Let the icing dry completely, about 30 minutes to an hour. For the henna cookies shown in the video above as well as in this filigree design featured in my book, I used medium consistency royal icing and a decorating tip 2.

Photo credit: Tom Moore

I prefer to use Crystal Colors edible gold dusts for this method. Antique Gold, Old Gold, and Blush Gold are my favorites. You can find these dusts on Amazon or at

Fill a small container with about a half teaspoon of luster dust. Mix the dust with grain alcohol or very strong vodka (at least 150 proof). Alcohol is used for painting on royal icing because it evaporates very quickly, which means that the liquid won’t dissolve the icing as you are applying the paint. The stronger the alcohol, the better!

You can also use flavored extracts for this process, but the alcohol content is relatively low, so it’s possible that it will damage the icing as you paint. If you are looking for alternatives to alcohol, read about my experiments with different liquids to use when painting with gold.

Add just enough alcohol, a few drops at a time, so that you achieve the consistency of paint. If you add to much liquid, it will run off of the decoration and create a mess. If you add too little, your paint will be chunky. As I mentioned before, the alcohol evaporates very quickly, so you’ll need to add more drops as you work to maintain the correct consistency.

Very carefully paint the icing with a tiny brush. Crystal Colors Blush Gold is shown here.

Let the paint dry for about 10 minutes before handling the cookie.

Find more cookie decorating techniques in my book, Cookie Art: Sweet Designs For Special Occasions. Available in my shop and on Amazon.

Photo credit: Tom Moore

Have a question about how to make gold royal icing? Let me know in the comments!