Royal Icing Transfers Tutorial

by Jennifer on July 6, 2012

in The Basics

I use royal icing transfers A LOT.

Like here:

Or here:

And, even here:

Royal icing transfers can be pretty awesome. They allow a beginner to copy a design quite easily. But, they’re fragile and take a bit of work. I think they’re worth it though! I’ve mentioned them before, but I wanted to create a more in-depth tutorial to navigate the complicated world of RITs. Ok, they’re not really that complicated. Here, I’ll show you!

To make a royal icing transfer, you will need to the following tools:

  • Royal icing (duh)
  • Shortening (I have found that Crisco works best)
  • Sheet protector (you can use parchment paper, but I’ve heard horror stories of wrinkly transfers. I’ve never had any problems with wrinkling with sheet protectors!)
  • Pastry bag, coupler, and tips
  • Printed graphic/image you want to copy on a regular sized sheet of paper

1. Insert the paper with your graphic on it into the sheet protector. The sheet protector will not only give you a nice, smooth surface on which to pipe the transfer, but it will also keep your graphic in place. Score!

2. Grease the surface of the sheet protector with shortening. I always use Crisco and never have a problem with sticking. Just a nice thin, even layer will do. Also, you probably want to lay your sheet protector on top of a cookie sheet to allow you to move it around and keep the transfers level.

3. Now, you’re ready to pipe! You pipe on the sheet protector the same way you would pipe on a cookie with the same icing consistencies for piping and flooding. Only you get to use the graphic showing through to guide you! Obviously, a royal icing transfer won’t be as helpful if you need to pipe a base and then pipe more on top, since the graphic will no longer show through.

4. Important: plan to make more transfers than you need! One of the unfortunate cons of transfers is that, no matter how gentle you are, they can break…and frequently do! ALWAYS make extras…I mean it! Luckily, the time it takes to make a couple copies of each transfer isn’t that bad, considering the time you are saving by having the graphic to guide you.

5. Let the transfers dry overnight. They must be completely dry before you try to move them.

6. There are a couple ways to remove the transfers. You can pull back the sheet protector from the transfer, essentially peeling it off and gently catching it in your hand. You can also use a boo-boo stick or a toothpick to gently dislodge the transfer and then slide it off the sheet protector. I use one of these two methods the most. If the transfer is quite fragile, I don’t try to remove it until I’m ready to put it on the cookie – no reason to jostle it more than you have to! However, if it is a sturdier transfer, then I might collect them all on a plate or in a bowl before adhering them to the cookies.

Make sense? Really, if the sheet is greased properly, they shouldn’t stick that much. I usually don’t break transfers when I’m removing them; it is when I’m…

7. Trying to place them on the cookie! There are two ways to do this:

  • Dry method: You allow your royal icing base on your cookie to dry before using a tiny bit of royal icing to adhere the transfer to the cookie.
  • Wet method: Shortly after the flooding the cookie, when it is still wet, you gently drop the transfer onto the cookie. Once dry, the transfer should be properly attached.

Which one should you do? It is really up to you. I started off by using the dry method, but I’ve been increasingly using the wet method. My main qualm with the dry method is that having to hold the transfer to add the royal icing “glue” was another opportunity for breakage. But, with the wet application, it is much harder to adjust the transfer if it was not placed in the exact right position. So, pick your poison!

No matter what method you choose, when flooding the cookie, make sure that the surface of the icing is as smooth as possible. If the transfer is flush to the cookie, it will be less likely to break!

8. Admire your handiwork!

Have a question about royal icing transfers? Let me know in the comments!

Leave a Comment

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Amy July 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm

So that’s how it’s done! I’m using a 1M tip for my cupcakes right now and plan on slowly decreasing the size of my icing tips. I figure by the time I get to a 1 or 2 I’ll actually know what the heck I’m doing!

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2 Jennifer July 6, 2012 at 4:16 pm

I love my 1M tip – the best for cupcakes!

You know they make 0 tips? AND 00 tips?! Insanity. I don’t have any of those :)

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3 Melissa {thebakedequation} July 6, 2012 at 5:53 pm

The sheet protector is brilliant!!!

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4 Jennifer July 6, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Thanks, Melissa! :)

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5 Sophie July 8, 2012 at 12:37 am

Hi Jennifer
Thanks for the email reply, you are awesome!
I’ve never used royal icing before but mum has a packet of the dry powder that you mix with liquid in the back of the pantry, maybe I’ll try it, I don’t like the royal icing taste but for decoration it looks awesome, maybe I’ll give it a shot on sugar cookies sometime soon. You make it look so easy but mum’s tried it and it’s harder than it looks.

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6 Sophie W July 8, 2012 at 12:39 am

Hi Jennifer
Thanks for the email reply, you are awesome! Did you get mine? Looking forward to the postcard :)
I’ve never used royal icing before but mum has a packet of the dry powder that you mix with liquid in the back of the pantry, maybe I’ll try it, I don’t like the royal icing taste but for decoration it looks awesome, maybe I’ll give it a shot on sugar cookies sometime soon. You make it look so easy but mum’s tried it and it’s harder than it looks.

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7 Jennifer July 8, 2012 at 8:37 am

It is true – royal icing is harder than it looks! But, once you get the hang of it, it gets much easier – I promise! :)

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8 Janine (sugarkissed.net) July 8, 2012 at 10:57 pm

I love royal icing transfers too… I can think of some cookies that I would not have been able to do without them. I have found this sheet protector/crisco method to be the best too. In fact, I may have learned it from you!

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9 Jennifer July 9, 2012 at 6:47 am

Me too! Some of those intricate designs are so much easier as a transfer! :)

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10 SweetEmmys November 8, 2012 at 8:21 am

I have a problem with my transfers..well now that I’ve read the sheet protector idea, I won’t have the problem of my normal wrinkly transfers…this now opens up the glueing afterward option. So thank you for that :) . But really, I prefer to be able to just drop it in the wet…but it ALWYS bleeds through. It completely limits what I can use transfers for. Did you drop in the white horse onto the black in the pic above? It’s so frustrating! Help!

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11 Jennifer November 8, 2012 at 8:32 am

Hi, SweetEmmys! I did drop the white horse transfer directly on the wet, black icing – no bleeding! Here are a couple ideas though – I normally have more bleeding when I’ve added perhaps a little too much color to my icing. I try to add just enough coloring to get the desired shade. If I start adding more, I run the risk of more bleeding! Another idea – you can wait a little bit before dropping the royal transfer onto the icing…it needs to be wet, but it doesn’t have to have been immediately flooded. Try waiting just a minute or two, before the icing crusts over, and then add the transfer. That might help!

If you still have problems after trying this, shoot me an email at jennifer@notyourmommascookie.com and I’ll try to help you troubleshoot!

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12 Chloe November 21, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Hi! I was wondering how to prevent the flooded cookie color from showing through white R.I.T when using the wet method? I just made Charlie Brown & friends R.I.Ts and noticed Snoopy has the teal flooded color showing through! Thank you!

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13 Jennifer November 22, 2012 at 11:00 am

Hi Chloe! That is a great question. This hasn’t happened to me, but I have a couple suggestions! I would try increasing the thickness of the transfer (perhaps using a 15-20 count icing could give you the shape you want, while also creating a thicker transfer). Also, try adding the transfer about a minute or so after flooding – this may help with bleeding. Hope that helps!

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14 Chloe November 26, 2012 at 5:59 pm

I will definitely try that on next set of cookies. Thank you so much!

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15 Jennifer November 26, 2012 at 6:18 pm

I’d love to know how it goes!

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16 Ashia February 1, 2013 at 1:40 pm

I was wondering. When Writing phrases or words on cookies, using the rit method.. How large should the font size be?

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17 Jennifer February 1, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Hi Ashia! The size of the font would definitely depend on the size of your cookie. I recommend printing out a sheet of paper with a couple different font sizes and seeing which one looks best on your cookie.

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18 Ashia February 7, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Thanks so much !!! I definitly will give it a go

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19 Hayley March 29, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Hi, thanks so much for the tutorial! I will be trying to make some GoT cookies for my fiance’s birthday coming up (inspired by your cookies)! I was wondering, do you make your own royal icing? If so, what is your recipe?

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20 Jennifer March 30, 2013 at 11:11 pm

Hi Hayley! I usually use this recipe: http://lizybbakes.blogspot.com/2012/03/royal-icing-recipe-step-by-step.html. Hope that helps! :)

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21 Jade April 27, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Hi I’m having trouble with my transfers crumbling when I take them off the paper why is this happening is my mixer wrong , I use royal icing powdered sugar egg whites and food colouring ? Plea help

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22 Jennifer April 29, 2013 at 9:39 am

Hi Jade – it is not uncommon for transfer to break, but if they are actually crumbling, I think it could be your royal icing. I’ve always used meringue powder rather than egg whites, usually this recipe: http://lizybbakes.blogspot.com/2012/03/royal-icing-recipe-step-by-step.html. Maybe try another royal icing and see if it works better?

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23 camila May 12, 2013 at 8:24 pm

I made some transfers and used the wet method. After apply the transfer on the cookie, until everything get dry, the transfer contour kind of “blurred” inside the image. How can I avoid this? Is there any way to waterproof the transfer’s back?
Thank you,
Camila

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24 Jennifer May 12, 2013 at 11:02 pm

Hi Camila, I’m not sure if I understand your issue exactly, but it sounds like the wet icing is causing issues with the integrity of the transfer? If so, I suggest waiting for a bit so that the wet icing isn’t as wet, but before it crusts over. That should allow the transfer to adhere to the cookie without sinking into the wet icing. I hope this helps!

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25 Cassandra August 6, 2013 at 11:29 pm

How long do the ri transfers last? If you do them in advance?

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26 Jennifer August 7, 2013 at 8:13 am

Hi Cassie! If put in a airtight container (I use ziploc bags), they last FOREVER. At least a couple months! I’ve never used them after longer than that, but I believe they can last up to 6 months of so.

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27 Asmita August 23, 2013 at 8:17 am

Amazing! I made some Dr. Seuss cookies recenly and used the wet technique and found that after 2 days the black outline of the fish had seeped into the yellow base. UGH!

I don’t know whether it was the high humidity, over coloring or the method. I should have just used the dry method. I am going to make them again just to experiment.

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28 Jennifer August 23, 2013 at 1:20 pm

I’d love to hear if it works for you, Asmita! :)

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29 Cristina (Chic to Chic) September 3, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Awesome!!! The royal icing technique is GENIUS!!! I´m just beginning to use it!!!That technique allows you to make ANY design.

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30 Jennifer September 4, 2013 at 7:45 am

Yes, it makes it so much easier! Hope you like this technique, Cristina :)

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31 vivek anand October 12, 2013 at 12:06 am

how to prepare the CREAM for the royal icing transfer

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32 Jennifer October 12, 2013 at 9:59 am

Hi Vivek – I’m not sure what you mean by cream – do you mean how do you make the royal icing itself? Here’s a recipe you can try: http://lizybbakes.blogspot.com/2012/03/royal-icing-recipe-step-by-step.html.

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