Whether you’re decorating sugar cookies for Valentine’s Day, a baby shower, wedding or any other event, this recipe will show you how to make pink royal icing in the exact color you want – whether that’s light pink, dark pink, hot pink or mauve pink.
This year I’ve been on a bit of a mission.
To learn how to decorate sugar cookies.
Which means learning how to make royal icing in different colors.
When I started, I assumed that would be pretty easy. How hard can it be to add a little food coloring to the icing?
Then I realized, adding the food coloring isn’t the problem. Getting the right color and right amount of food coloring is the issue!
So when I started to decorate Valentine’s Day cookies, I decided to test out the easiest way to make pale pink and dark pink royal icing.
And ended up learning how to do hot pink and mauve pink in the process 🙂
If you don’t need the basic royal icing recipe, don’t care to read about my testing process and just want to skip directly to the results, here are the links:
- How To Make Light Pink Royal Icing
- How To Make Medium Pink, Dark Pink or Hot Pink Royal Icing
- How To Make Mauve Pink Royal Icing
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Here’s your shopping list for pink royal icing:
- sugar – 1 pound (or 4 cups) of powdered (icing) sugar
- thickener – 3 Tablespoons meringue powder* – This lets you make royal icing without worrying about raw eggs. It also means the icing will last much longer without going bad…basically forever 🙂
- flavoring – 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or any other flavor you want to add to your icing (for example, you might use peppermint extract for decorating candy canes or cinnamon extract for decorating Valentine hearts)
- food coloring – pink gel food color (don’t get the liquid kind because it changes the consistency of the icing) – see below for the exact colors based on what color of pink you want
How To Make Pink Royal Icing
This is the process that you’ll use to make all shades of pink icing. The only difference is the amount of food coloring to add.
First you’ll need to start with a batch of regular white royal icing.
You can use your favorite recipe, buy it already made, or make ours:
- Sift 4 cups of powdered sugar into a mixing bowl (a stand mixer works best).
- Add 3 Tablespoons of meringue powder, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (or other flavoring) and 1/4 cup of WARM water.
- Mix on low speed until all ingredients are combined. Then increase the speed to medium and beat until the icing is thick enough to pipe, 3 to 7 minutes.
Now we’ll be adding the food coloring.
If you don’t want all of your icing to be the same color pink, move some of it into a separate bowl.
Then the general process for adding the color is:
- Start with a little bit of food coloring (as in a few drops).
- Stir it into the icing with a knife. You can use a spoon, but the knife is easier since the food coloring doesn’t get caught in the middle. Don’t use a wooden spoon since it may absorb the color and can add oils to your icing that will cause it to separate.
- If the color isn’t dark enough, add in a little more food coloring.
- The color will get darker over time. So if you want to see the final version, cover the icing with plastic wrap and let it sit for a few hours before using.
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s get on to the results of my test.
How To Make Dark Pink Royal Icing
In case you’re in a hurry and just want the answer, here are the best ways to make dark pink icing.
Note that the measurements are approximate. You should still use the “add a little bit of food coloring at a time” approach I mentioned above to get the exact color you want.
- Medium bright pink royal icing: 1/8 teaspoon of Betty Crocker Neon Pink food color per 1/2 cup of icing
- Dark pink royal icing: 1/16 teaspoon of AmeriColor Deep Pink food color per 1/2 cup of icing
- Hot pink royal icing: 1/16 teaspoon of AmeriColor Electric Pink food color per 1/2 cup of icing
Keep reading if you want to see all of the colors I tested and what they looked like.
The Testing Process
I started out making different shades of dark pink royal icing using a few different food colors.
Some are from AmeriColor and a couple are Betty Crocker grocery-store food colorings:
- AmeriColor Soft Pink
- AmeriColor Deep Pink
- AmeriColor Electric Pink
- AmeriColor Fuchsia
- Betty Crocker Red
- Betty Crocker Neon Pink
Note: I did not try to use AmeriColor red because it’s difficult to get the right amount (you only need a tiny bit!). If you do want to try it, I’ve heard that dipping a toothpick into the bottle and then putting it in the icing will turn it pink rather than red.
Here’s how much food coloring I used:
- For all of the AmeriColor colors and the Betty Crocker red food coloring, I added 1/32 teaspoon of food coloring per 1/4 cup of icing.
- For the Betty Crocker electric pink, I added 1/16 teaspoon of food coloring per 1/4 cup of icing.
Then I waited about 6 hours to see the results. As you can see, most of them did get noticeably darker, especially the darker pink colors.
Here’s how the colors turned out:
- Both the Betty Crocker Red and the AmeriColor Soft Pink created more of a peachy pink color.
- Betty Crocker Neon Pink created a medium bright pink icing.
- AmeriColor Dark Pink resulted in a slightly darker pink color.
- AmeriColor Electric Pink created a hot pink color.
- AmeriColor Fuchsia was more of a mauve pink icing.
How To Make Mauve Pink Royal Icing
One surprise from my testing was that AmeriColor Fuchsia actually turned out to be more of a mauve color.
So if that’s what you’re looking for, mix about 1/16 teaspoon of AmeriColor Fuchsia per 1/2 cup white royal icing to create a beautiful purple-pink color.
How To Make Light Pink Royal Icing
The process for making light pink royal icing is exactly the same as for dark pink except using less food coloring.
You can use any of the colors I tested, but I think Betty Crocker Neon Pink and AmeriColor Dark Pink result in the best pale pink color.
If you want a really light pink, the Betty Crocker food coloring is easier to use since it isn’t as strong.
To add the food coloring, put 1 or 2 drops on the end of a knife and stir them into the icing.
Then you’re ready to frost your cookies!
In case it helps, these are the colors I used for my Valentine’s Day hearts.
Other Recipes You Might Like
- How to make red royal icing
- How to make black royal icing
- Valentine cookie decorating ideas
- How to make white royal icing
- How to make cut out cookies
How To Make Light Pink, Dark Pink, Hot Pink and Mauve Pink Royal Icing
- 4 cups icing sugar
- 3 Tablespoons meringue powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup WARM water
Light Pink Royal Icing
- 1 to 2 drops AmeriColor Dark Pink or Betty Crocker Neon Pink gel food coloring per 1/2 cup of icing
Medium Bright Pink Royal Icing
- 1/8 teaspoon Betty Crocker Neon Pink gel food coloring per 1/2 cup of icing
Dark Pink Royal Icing
- 1/16 teaspoon AmeriColor Dark Pink gel food coloring per 1/2 cup of icing
Hot Pink Royal Icing
- 1/16 teaspoon AmeriColor Electric Pink gel food coloring per 1/2 cup of icing
Mauve Pink Royal Icing
- 1/16 teaspoon AmeriColor Fuchsia gel food coloring per 1/2 cup of icing
- measuring cups and spoons
- stand mixer with a whisk attachment and a mixing bowl
- metal knife or spoon
- Sift 4 cups of icing sugar into the mixer.
- Add 3 Tablespoons meringue powder, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/2 cup WARM water.
- Mix on low speed until combined.
- Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 3 to 5 minutes until the icing forms soft peaks.
- Run a knife through the icing to test the consistency
- It should take between 15 and 25 seconds for the gap to close. If it closes too quickly, beat it for a little while longer. If it closes too slowly, add a few drops of water and mix briefly.
- Repeat the testing process until the icing is the right consistency.
- If you are going to use the whole batch for pink icing, add the food coloring directly to your bowl. Otherwise, separate out the icing that you want to be pink into another bowl.
- Add in a small amount of the pink gel food coloring and mix it by hand.
- If it isn't dark enough, add a little more pink gel and mix again.
- The color will darken over time. If you're not sure the icing is bright enough, cover it with plastic wrap that is touching the surface and let it sit for a couple of hours. Then check the color and mix in more food color if required.
- Since it is very difficult to create two batches of icing with the exact same color, make sure you make enough of the pink to do all of your cookie decorating.
- The color will darken over time. To get a better idea of how pink your icing will be, let it sit over night. Cover it with plastic wrap touching the surface of the icing to keep it from drying out.
- Letting the icing sit for a few hours before using will also allow any air bubbles to rise to the surface. This prevents craters from forming in the icing on your cookies.
- To store the icing, put it in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Then push down on the plastic so it is directly touching the icing and there are no air bubbles. It can be stored at room temperature this way for a few days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- To freeze, put it into a Ziploc bag and push out all of the air before closing. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Bring it back to room temperature before using.
- If it looks like it has separated when you go to use it, this is normal. Just stir it to re-combine the layers.