How to Dry Royal Icing Fast

How to Dry Royal Icing Fast

One of the biggest problems with cake decorating is waiting for everything to dry, and Royal icing is no exception. There are ways to speed up the process, but they must be done carefully to get the best results.

You can speed up Royal icing drying by using a fan, a dehumidifier, or other household appliances. However, you must be very careful while doing it or ruin all your hard work.

Read on …

Can you dry Royal icing in the oven?

Yes, you can. However, there are certain things you must take note of first. Your oven must be spotless. 

Sugar absorbs tastes and smells, so if you have used your oven to cook dinner, you could transfer the taste and smell to your Royal icing.

Start by cleaning the oven, then when you have thoroughly rinsed off any chemicals you have used, wipe it down with lemon juice, which will neutralize anything left.

Turn on the oven light inside, and place your royal iced cake or cookies in the oven, which should give off enough heat to dry them. That’s the method I use.

If you have an oven with a very low-temperature setting, e.g., 50C/122F, you can preheat your oven, turn off the heat, and then place their Royal iced items into the oven for about 15 mins to speed up the drying process. 

Either of those methods would not be a good idea for buttercream-covered cakes with Royal icing decorations as the buttercream would melt.

We’ve talked about using heat to dry Royal icing, but what about drying it in the cold?

Will Royal icing harden in the fridge?

The only time you can put Royal icing in the fridge is after it’s been made and before it’s used for a project.

After you make the royal icing, put it in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days, especially if it contains egg whites. To keep it longer, place it in the freezer, and it will keep for several months. To use, thaw to room temperature, stir and adjust the consistency either with more powdered sugar if it’s too thin or more water if it’s too thick.

Once you have used it for a project and need it to dry, don’t put it in the fridge because the cold, damp air won’t allow it to set and will make your baked goods go soft. Let the icing dry at room temperature.

The only exception is if you have a special low-humidity baker’s fridge or a domestic fridge adapted for the purpose.

There is a way to control the humidity in your domestic fridge, and you can find out how it’s done in “Tips for Extreme Weather Cake Decorators: Rolling Fondant.” 

What about using a hairdryer to dry your Royal icing?

Can you dry Royal icing with a hairdryer?

Yes, you can dry Royal icing with a hairdryer.   

The temperature should be set to the coolest setting to prevent the Royal icing from melting. Set the fan speed to low, and without holding it too close to your work, move it backward and forwards in a gentle sweeping motion so the icing won’t wrinkle or be blown out of shape.

Can you dry Royal icing with a fan?

Yes, using a fan to dry Royal icing speeds up the drying process and gives icing that has been used for flood work, such as on cookies or cake runouts, a smooth, shiny finish. It helps eliminate pits and craters because the faster the icing dries, the smoother it will be.

Set the fan to low and position it about 2ft/ ½ m away from your work.

Can you use a hot air gun to dry Royal icing?

I have never used a hot air gun to dry my Royal icing, but what a great idea. I’ve been looking around on the internet for information, and bakers who decorate cookies, are raving about it.

It dries the icing faster, so adding different colors side by side is quicker. The icing dries to a shiny finish, and it helps avoid craters in the icing as it’s drying.

However, once you’ve finished putting icing onto your cake or cookie, start to dry it right away. 

Don’t put the gun too near or hold it in one place while drying the icing.

Move it backward and forwards in a gentle sweeping motion, or the icing could wrinkle.

You can buy a hot air gun from your local do-it-yourself shop or Amazon, where they even have some inexpensive mini ones that don’t get as hot as the larger ones.

This is something I will try myself.

However, you must remember:

  • Place your work on a heat-resistant surface such as a baking tray but don’t place the tray on a countertop, or that will scorch.
  • The gun gets extremely hot, so don’t hold it too close to your work, or the icing will melt or leave scorch marks on the surface.
  • Put on heat-resistant gloves while you handle the gun to prevent burning yourself.
  • When you have e finished using the heat gun, place it on a heat-resistant surface.


How long does royal icing take to harden?

Royal icing’s surface will seem hard after about 30 minutes, but it will not be dry right the way through. For this reason, you must be very careful when moving a cake with intricate piping, as it is quite likely to fall off if it isn’t completely dry. It’s better to leave it overnight to dry.

If applied thinly for flood work on a cookie, it should take around six hours to dry and faster if you have used a fan or a heat gun. Make sure they are completely dry before placing them in a package.

If the flood work is thicker, it will take longer to dry. Make an extra cookie using the same thickness of icing so you can test if it’s dry or not.

A Royal icing runout for a cake will dry overnight. I always make a small, extra runout using the same thickness of icing so that I can test if it’s dry or not.

If you’ve used Royal icing to cover a cake, for example, a Christmas cake, it will take several days to dry out completely. However, it won’t be as hard as the icing on a cookie because glucose will have been added, so the cake is cut easily, and the icing is not too hard to eat.

If you have any other questions about drying Royal icing I have not covered here, let me know in the comments box below, and I will do my best to answer them.

Joyce Freeman

Joyce Freeman

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10 thoughts on “How to Dry Royal Icing Fast”

  1. My homemade royal icing on my Christmas cake is still very tacky aafter 24 hrs, I think I over whipped it, can it be saved? Or should I scrape it off and start again ?

    1. If it hasn’t dried in 24 hours, I doubt if the Royal icing can be saved.
      It should have dried in that time.
      Yes, I would recommend that you scrape it off and start again.
      When you mix the next batch of icing, set the mixer on a low speed, leave the icing for several hours, and then stir it until all the air bubbles have gone before you use it.
      I hope you have better luck this time.
      Best wishes

  2. It’s been raining for weeks here and there’s a lot of moisture in the air. How should I store it to ensure the cookies doesn’t go stale or at which point can I pack it in the individual poly bags and seal it?
    Im worried that if I leave the Royal icing to dry completely for the 6 hours the moisture will then affect the cookie.
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Lianie,

      As I have mentioned in the article above, the simplest and fastest way you can dry your iced cookies is to heat your oven on the lowest setting, turn the oven off and place your cookies on a shelf to dry.

      They shouldn’t take very long to dry right through, so they won’t have time to go stale.

      I always put a couple of extra cookies in the oven – perhaps misshapen ones – so that I can break bits off them to check when the icing is dry right through.

      Experiment with this method before putting a whole batch of cookies in the oven to dry. Place a couple of cookies in the oven, and you will be able to see how long it takes.

      Only pack them up when the icing is completely dry.

      Whatever you do, don’t put the cookies in an oven that is too warm, or they will get butter bleed. In other words, the butter in the cookies will heat up and leach into the Royal icing.

      Best wishes

  3. Two questions: I’m going to try your suggestion of letting the icing sit for a while to get rid of the air bubbles before applying to cookies. Do I just leave it out on the counter? Should I put plastic wrap over it or press it onto the surface of the icing so a crust doesn’t form?
    Also, I see you mentioned using a heat gun, but to only use a hair dryer on the coolest setting. If a heat gun works well then wouldn’t you want to use a hot setting on your hair dryer as well? I’m not understanding why heat is okay from the heat gun but not a hair dryer. Thanks!

    1. Hi Laura,

      Yes, you should press some plastic wrap onto the surface when you leave your Royal icing to stand, or it will form a hard crust over the surface.

      As I said in the article, I have not used a heat gun. I mentioned it because it seems to be a popular tool for use when making intricate designs with Royal icing, such as decorating cookies.

      The hairdryer is used for a longer gentle drying time, and the heat gun is used to flash dry the icing while you are working on the design, so it cuts down the time you wait for each color to dry.

      From what I have read about using a heat gun, you should use the coolest heat setting, so ideally, buy one with an adjustable temperature and wind speed.

      When I buy one myself, I will report my findings.
      Best wishes

  4. I make cookies often and I never find it hardens enough to put it in a bag without smearing. However, I always thought after decorating they should go directly in the fridge to harden. So should I decorate, leave on the counter to harden for 6-8 hours then add finishing touches and do the same? Also, our weather has been very hot here lately, should I do this all with the air conditioner on?

    1. Dear Chiara,

      Hardening cookies in the fridge is not a good idea. They will harden at room temperature.

      Also, you should never put cookies decorated with Royal icing in the fridge because they will attract condensation and most likely will never dry.

      Yes, you should decorate them with royal icing, leave them on the counter to dry, add more icing if and when required, and leave them there until they are completely dry. The icing will stop the cookie from getting stale.

      Once the decorated cookies are dry, store them in an airtight container. I usually put a silica gel sachet in the container to absorb any moisture left in the icing.

      The hot weather will not affect the cookies, but humidity may do so. Leaving the air conditioning on is a good idea.

      Best wishes

    1. Hi Mary,
      Yes, you can use a dehydrator to dry Royal icing. It works very well.
      If you are using it to dry Royal iced cookies, don’t leave them in so long that the cookies dry out too much.
      The exception is if you live in a high humidity area, then they may take longer to dry.
      It is difficult to say precisely how long Royal icing will take to dry, so you will have to test and adjust the timing until you get it right.

      Best wishes

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