Cookies · Recipe · Showcase · Tutorial

No Eggs? No Problem! Decorating Cookies Without Royal Icing

I faced an interesting challenge recently. A friend wanted to order some cookies for her son’s birthday party, but there was one problem: he is allergic to eggs. There are several ways to replace eggs in cookies, but the royal icing was going to be a problem.

Eggs only serve as a binder in most cookie recipes. If you need to replace one egg in a cookie recipe, you can use:

  • 1/4 C. Applesauce (or other pureed fruit; applesauce has a mild enough taste not to affect the flavor of most cookies)
  • 1/2 medium Banana, smashed
  • 3 1/2 (3.5) TBSP Gelatin Blend (1 C boiling water into 2 tsp unflavored gelatin, then use 3 1/2 TBSP)
  • 1 TBSP Ground Flax Seeds mixed with 3 TBSP warm water (let stand 1 min before using)
  • Commercial egg replacers (NOT egg substitute)

In the cookies for this particular order, I used applesauce. They turned out great! I couldn’t taste a difference between the egg-free option and they original recipe. The texture was slightly more dense, but I think it was a small enough difference that you wouldn’t know it unless you were looking for it.

But! The royal icing was a different matter entirely. Royal icing is made with egg whites, dry powdered egg whites, or meringue powder (dry powdered egg whites plus stabilizers, some have flavor, etc.). So that was a no-go. I spent some time looking for an option that would act like egg whites, but I wasn’t happy with what I found.

Some recommended using a gelatin substitute, but that got very mixed reviews with lots of people saying they couldn’t get it to whip up. Using a no-egg replacement powder might have worked, but I didn’t have the time to wait for an order to come in and, honestly, it’s hard to go shopping for specialty items with two littles in tow. And the last option, though it intrigued me, didn’t sound appetizing: aquafaba, which is the liquid chickpeas/garbanzo beans are stored in. Apparently it’s supposed to whip up like egg whites and act similarly, but it also seems somewhat unstable and difficult to work with.

So I abandoned Royal Icing. *GASP!!* Yes, I know. I decided to work, instead, with a modified, old-fashioned sugar glaze. Here is the recipe I used:

  • 1 C. Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla
  • 2-2 1/2 TBSP Milk

For even a dozen cookies, you would need more than this, but these proportions are what you work with. For every cup of powdered sugar, add 1/2 tsp vanilla, then add two scant tablespoons of milk. Once mixed smooth, check the consistency. It will be more runny than a “piping consistency” royal icing, but it will be close to “flooding consistency” royal icing. Add more milk by 1/2 teaspons as needed. Then divide and color! The icing will not be a true white, but adding “Bright White” gel color will take out the beige undertone.

Working with the icing was a little more difficult, as it is thinner and wanted to run out of the piping bag faster than my royal icing usually does. But with practice it can be done. It also requires a little extra patience, as it takes much longer to dry (I always dry by a fan, but even with the fan it took easily twice as long to dry).

But, the end result is still quite nice. The icing takes on a satin shine that’s really pretty, but it does dry with a slight ripple (I’m not sure what causes that, but I suspect it’s not something I can fix). But you know I’m all about the flavor, so how was that? The icing still tastes good, even if it is different from royal icing. It’s a simple vanilla sweetness, though you could easily use other extracts to flavor it appropriately for other cookies. Ultimately, it’s not a bad option if you can’t have eggs!

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Do you have an eggless icing option you enjoy? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

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