Hey besties! I’m excited to share the results from our first ever meringue powder showdown with you! And you may be asking, “Bestie, what the heck is a meringue powder showdown?” And to that I say, great question! In the world of cookie decorating, royal icing can be a finicky thing and the meringue powder used can make all the difference in results and flavor. Can you get great results from the cheaper and readily available meringue powder? Is it worth it to pay a little more and order a higher quality meringue powder? Let’s find out!
Meet Our Contenders
If you’ve spent any time chatting with other cookiers, especially in social media groups, you know that talk of meringue powder brands is very commonplace. Cookiers swear by brands they are loyal to, but then commonly also struggle with royal icing issues. Which makes you wonder…what if they tried a different meringue powder? Could it solve the issue they are having? Is meringue powder the answer to all the world’s problems? Of course not. But could a change in brand really give a cookier a different result or solve an icing issue they are struggling with? There’s a very good chance! And that’s what we’re after today! We’re diving in, digging deep and breaking it all down.
Let me start off by saying that this is not a sponsored post of any kind. I took my very own hard-earned money and purchased both brands of meringue powder and as always, am giving my honest feedback. Nothing but the best for my besties! We’re after the truth and the science-loving nerd in me was genuinely curious, fascinated and surprised by some of our results!
For today’s showdown, I chose to match up the two most commonly discussed and used meringue powder brands. Wilton vs. Genie’s Dream. Oooooh, the suspense! Let’s give some quick facts first. A weigh-in, if you will!
Wilton: Typically, is readily available at Walmart, Joann and other local retailers in the U.S. Current price is about $21 for 16-ounce container. Approximately $1.31 an ounce. Although, you may be able to use local store coupons to get a better deal.
Genie’s Dream: Usually ordered online from Amazon, The Cookie Countess or other baking supply stores. Current prize is about $27 for a 16-ounce bag. Approximately $1.68 an ounce.
Out of the gate, Wilton wins our first category of price. But these contenders are being judged on 8 different categories today! Price, Scent, Texture, Color Saturation, Color Separation, Shine, Ease of Work and Flavor. Buckle up, because it’s on!
Leveling The Playing Field
To ensure we were able to get the most accurate results from our showdown, all other variables were exactly the same. The same royal icing recipe was used to make each batch, which you can find HERE. I then used the same bottles of ChefMaster gel coloring to color each batch. That’s right, I had an entire set of Wilton colors and an entire set of Genie’s Dream colors. Let’s not talk about how long that took…all in the name of research.
To make each color, I used 1/2 cup of royal icing with the exact same amount of gel coloring for each brand’s icing. This way, I knew we’d be able to accurately compare the color results with controlled amounts of icing and coloring.
I also made each set of icing the same consistency. So, all variables were the same and any differences would be due to the different brands of meringue.
Throughout the experiment, I treated all cookies the same. I made 2 cookies of the same designs for each brand. I intentionally created these designs to showcase colors, shapes and volume of the design elements. They are very basic, simplistic designs, which allowed us to really highlight the differences and similarities between the two brands.
I did each decorating step at the same time and each cookie spent the same amount of time in the dehydrator in between decorating steps, so all results could be attributed to the different meringue powders.
Heading Into The Ring
We’ve already established that Wilton wins the price category. Next up, let’s talk about scent.
Since these are ingredients we are consuming, scent definitely plays a role in the experiment. Genie’s Dream smells like heaven, I can’t even lie, it smells delicious right in the bag. I also can’t lie when I tell you that Wilton smelled like a jar of chemicals. It took me aback, y’all, it was rough. Scent winner: Genie’s Dream, hands down.
Upon whipping up a fresh batch of royal icing with each brand of meringue powder, I could see and feel a pretty dramatic difference. I even had my daughter (our cottage baker) stir them both to get the feel for each. Genie’s Dream is very smooth, silky and it felt heavier. Whereas Wilton felt much lighter, airier, almost foam-like and had a lot more air bubbles. Now one could argue…does texture at this stage really matter? Not so much, but given the dramatic differences between the two, I thought it was definitely worth noting. Texture winner: Kind of a toss-up, but I preferred Genie’s Dream more, given how smooth and silky it was and the absence of air bubbles.
This was a part of the experiment I was really curious about. I wanted to see if the color results would be the same, similar or different. And for this, I’m going to share some extreme close-ups. Keep in mind, both sets of icing were colored exactly the same (same amount of icing and same amount of coloring). Some colors did not yield a dramatic difference. For example, yellow. I think we all know yellow is a very easy and forgiving color to make. And you’ll notice there is not a huge difference between the yellows in these cookies. However, there are big differences in several of the other colors. And it was very obvious, especially after the colors had set overnight, that the Genie’s Dream brand has much better color saturation. In fact, you’ll notice that the Wilton colors don’t look solid and rich.
You can see slight differences in the bagged colors as well. On the left, Genie’s Dream. On the right, Wilton. Unfiltered photos coming your way!
Color Saturation winner: Genie’s Dream was the clear winner here.
I’m not sure if separation is the best word to describe this, maybe color settling is better? Regardless of what we call it, cookiers all know that if you leave your decorating bags for awhile, the coloring tends to separate/settle/sink to the bottom. It’s not a huge deal, I just massage my bags to remix and they are good again. But I thought it was worth noting that the Wilton bags did not separate nearly as quickly as the Genie’s Dream! For example, after a couple hours of my bags sitting on the table, the Genie’s Dream blue colors were definitely settling and required me to massage the bags. But in contrast, the Wilton bags had hardly started settling at all! No massaging required. I was pleasantly surprised by this and definitely wanted to point this out. There could be time saved with the Wilton bags, not having to massage or remix, if you’re decorating over a long period. Color separation winner: Wilton
Ease Of Work
Another very important category with several observations I want to share. Earlier I said how I treated both sets of cookies the same, in terms of drying time between steps, how long I gave them to crust over before the next step and more. I also made all the icing the same consistency, so all decorating aspects were equal.
One of the first things I noticed as I got into decorating was that the Wilton icing was much more fragile and prone to cracking. Even being as careful as possible when moving the cookies in between decorating steps, using a cookie mover, the Wilton icing cracked, as you can see in the photos here. Whereas the Genie’s Dream icing held up perfectly, without any cracks. I definitely needed to treat the Wilton cookies with extra special care to avoid any cracking. Bottom line: Genie’s Dream icing sets up quicker and stronger, while Wilton’s took much longer and was prone to cracking.
The other critical factor I noticed was that even though the icing sets were created at the same consistency, you’ll notice the Wilton icing ended up being much flatter when set. Genie’s Dream kept its shape, fuller and puffier. This was one of the most important aspects I took away from this experiment since it really impacts the overall finished look of the cookie. I know when I’m decorating, I want the icing to hold up, keep its shape, have good puff and know that it’s not going to fall flat or spread by the time it dries. You’ll see the differences here in these photos. Genie’s Dream is on the left and Wilton is on the right in each picture.
Ease of work winner: Genie’s Dream icing was definitely easier and quicker to work with and gave superior results.
Ahhhh, the shine. Another common cookie decorating topic. In fact, I’ve written a whole post just about how to achieve a good shine, which you can find HERE. Here’s the deal…a smooth, beautiful sheen is just more appealing to the eye. But it’s also forgiving! A matte, dull finish is not only not appealing but it tends to highlight any flaws. You definitely want a nice finish to your cookie art. And let me tell you, this was an interesting result!
While I was decorating and throughout the crusting and decorating process, the Wilton icing was remaining quite shiny. I was shocked as it actually seemed shinier than the Genie’s Dream! I was pleasantly surprised and really thought Wilton may pull out a surprise win in this category!
Unfortunately, my hopes were dashed once the cookies were fully dried overnight. I will say, Wilton gave a nicer sheen than I was expecting. The dehydrator was definitely a helper here, but again, all cookies were treated equally.
What I was bummed to observe is that the Wilton icing dried with a much more porous finish. If you haven’t already noticed it in the photos yet, look at the finish on these cookies. Shine winner: Genie’s Dream for overall shine and finish.
Arguably the most important category of them all! It’s not enough to have beautiful cookies if they aren’t equally as delicious. And since flavor is more subjective, our family of 4 completed the blind taste test. Each person was given a chunk of a Genie’s Dream cookie and a chunk of Wilton. Honestly, after the smell of the Wilton, I was terrified at what it was going to taste like. But it was not nearly as bad as I thought; I was pleasantly surprised at how Wilton redeemed itself a bit in the flavor department. That said, it was still no contest. The flavor with the Genie’s Dream meringue powder was the unanimous and clear favorite. Flavor winner: Genie’s Dream, no question.
Meringue Powder SHowdown Results
If you just scrolled down for these results, here is a quick recap or the showdown and main takeaways!
The winners of the following categories:
- Price: Wilton
- Scent: Genie’s Dream
- Texture: Genie’s Dream
- Color Saturation: Genie’s Dream
- Color Separation: Wilton
- Shine: Genie’s Dream
- Ease of Work: Genie’s Dream
- Flavor: Genie’s Dream
The winner of the meringue powder showdown is Genie’s Dream! Congrats GD! I also want to share key takeaways and advice for using either brand.
In this case, meringue powder is definitely a “get what you pay for” scenario. For the additional 37 cents per ounce it costs for Genie’s Dream, it’s a no-brainer in my mind when you consider all the factors. And if you are going to use Wilton, you’re going to spend more in gel coloring to get closer to the same color saturation you get with Genie’s Dream.
Is it convenient to be able to go buy Wilton at a local store in a pinch? Your darn right it is! If you are going to use Wilton meringue powder for cookie decorating, I would definitely plan to use a great baking emulsion to improve the flavor. I would also highly suggest using a dehydrator to help quick set your icing from flattening/spreading. You also may want to make your consistencies slightly thicker than you normally would, in order to compensate for how it dries. And just know the decorating process may be a bit slower since it seems to take Wilton icing a longer time to crust and dry compared to Genie’s Dream.
If you’re going to use Genie’s Dream, I suggest purchasing it in 5-10lb bags, depending on the volume of cookies you make. When you purchase at this size, your price will be cheaper than Wilton anyway, so you’ll get all the benefits and the great price.
Was This Helpful?
I had a lot of fun with this experiment, and I hope our first meringue powder showdown was helpful for you! Last year, we did THIS ‘crater study’ in an effort to learn exactly how to avoid craters in royal icing. I’d love to hear your ideas on what we should test or match up next!!
Make sure you’ve already subscribed to receive my weekly newsletter! Never miss out on a new recipe, technique, product recommendation, Featured Baker or free printables! Happy Baking Besties!
Sign up to receive my newsletter!