Sugar Cookie Icing

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This is the perfect sugar cookie icing. It is sweet, delicious, and doesn’t overpower the flavor of your sugar cookie recipe. It is the best decorating icing too!

Decorating sugar cookies doesn’t need to be intimidating. It’s not difficult to make and it’s fun to create once you get the hang of it! I’m going to show you how!

What is Sugar Cookie Icing

This sugar cookie icing hardens smooth, firm, and glossy. You can add sprinkles and sparkles. Once dried, these cookies can be stacked and stored or frozen and enjoyed later.

For the average cookie baker, sugar cookie icing or decorating icing is more than enough to make some fun and pretty designs.

How to Make Sugar Cookie Icing

This easy powdered sugar cookie icing is hardly 3 steps and can be colored to whichever color you desire!

  1. Beat all ingredients, except milk, together (see recipe below).
  2. Add milk slowly until the desired consistency is reached.
  3. Separate into bowls and add food coloring!

Color For Icing

I would highly suggest using gel food coloring for icing. It produces vibrant colors and doesn’t add extra liquid to the icing (even 1/4 teaspoon of liquid can change the consistency).

sugar cookie icing ingredients

How Thick to Make the Icing

If you’ve watched cookie decorating videos on Instagram (I’m obsessed with them) you’ll notice there are usually two types of icing:

  • A thick icing (almost thick like a peanut butter consistency) is used to outline the shape
  • A thinner icing is used to fill the inside (more like a gravy consistency). If you’re making fancy cookies, you’ll likely want both consistencies.

I decorate cookies just for my family so, I’m not looking for perfection and I usually make only one consistency.

To get the right consistency. If it is too thick, add a little more milk (1/2 teaspoon at a time, it doesn’t take much). If it’s too runny, add a little more powdered sugar.

You can test one cookie to make sure it doesn’t run off the edges and holds its shape well enough but still spreads.

sugar cookie icing in a bowl

How to Ice Sugar Cookies

This is always the fun part! Spread out lots of bowls of fun edible decorations like sprinkles, non-pareils, dragees, or even colored whips of licorice.

To Ice Cookies:

  • piping bag with a #2 cake decorating tip and outline sugar cookies.
  • Once the cookie outline has set for about 10 minutes, then you can ‘flood’ the inner section of the cookie with the same or another color.
  • Top with sprinkles, crushed candy canes, or a variety of fun toppings!

If you are new to piping with icing, practice your ‘drawing’ on a piece of parchment paper until you get the hang of it. Instant sugar art!

Sugar cookies with sugar cookie icing in Christmas shapes

Can You Freeze Cookies

Yes, you can freeze iced cookies! Ensure the icing has fully dried. Place your finished sugar cookies in an air-tight container or freezer bag and pop in the freezer for up to three months.

To defrost, remove cookies from the freezer and pop in the refrigerator overnight or leave at room temperature from a few hours!

More Christmas Cookie Recipes

Did you love this Sugar Cookie Icing? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!

decorated sugar cookies
4.92 from 144 votes
Review Recipe

Sugar Cookie Icing

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 48 cookies iced
An easy cookie icing that hardens quickly and tastes delicious!

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract clear
  • 1 ½ tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk divided
  • food coloring gel is best

Follow Spend with Pennies on Pinterest

Instructions

  • Beat powdered sugar, vanilla, corn syrup and 1 tablespoon milk in a small bowl until smooth.
  • Add milk a little at a time to reach desired consistency.
  • Stir in food coloring to reach desired color. Decorate cookies and allow icing to set.

Recipe Notes

*Number of cookies iced will depend on size and amount of icing used on each cookie.
Consistency of the Icing
If you've watched cookie decorating videos you'll usually see both:
  • thick icing (peanut butter consistency) used to outline the shape
  • thinner icing to fill the inside (more like a gravy consistency)
If you're making fancy cookies, you'll likely want both consistencies. If it's too thick, add a little more milk (1/2 teaspoon at a time, it doesn't take much). If it’s too runny, add a little more powdered sugar.
You can test one cookie to make sure it doesn't run off the edges and holds it shape well enough but still spreads.
To Ice Cookies:
  • piping bag with a #2 cake decorating tip and outline sugar cookies.
  • Once the cookie outline has set for about 10 minutes, then you can ‘flood’ the inner section of the cookie with the same or another color.
  • Top with sprinkles, crushed candy canes, or a variety of fun toppings!
If you are new to piping with icing, practice your ‘drawing’ on a piece of parchment paper until you get the hang of it. Instant sugar art!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 27, Carbohydrates: 7g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 1mg, Sodium: 1mg, Potassium: 1mg, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 1IU, Calcium: 1mg

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Recipe slightly adapted from food.com

close up of Sugar Cookie Icing on cookies with a title
ingredients to make Sugar Cookie Icing with icing on cookies with a title
Sugar Cookie Icing on a cookie with writing
Sugar Cookie Icing ingredients in a bowl and a title
About the author

Holly

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

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Recipe Rating




Comments

    1. Yes, you can. Just be sure to store it in an airtight container. Depending on how long you are storing it before using it, you may need to put it in the fridge. Just bring it out and let it return to room temperature before using as it will be quite thick straight from the fridge.

  1. I made this recipe hoping to find an alternative to royal icing. It did NOT dry hard. It was firm enough to decorate on top of, but not to stack/store the cookies. It’s been 3 days and you can still leave a finger print/indentation in the frosting.2 stars

    1. Hi Sue, I use this recipe often for my sugar cookies and while it does not get as hard as royal icing it does get hard enough to stack. To help it harden I would add closer to the 2 tablespoons of milk instead of 3. Hope that helps.

  2. Tastes just like buttercream, is just as easy to make, but is much easier to pipe – and it gets hard enough for cookie decorations. Another keeper from Spend with Pennies ;-)

    Holly, hopefully you can answer this questions – I am wondering if I could make a few colors, put them in decorating squeeze bottles and store them in the frig between baking sessions with grandson? It would be a really handy way to give him lots of colors to decorate with.

    BTW I really enjoy your blog, real food at a reasonable price.5 stars

    1. Hi Linda, I actually use decorating squeeze bottles too and often have left the icing in the bottle for a few days between icing sessions with no issue. I unscrew the top of my bottles and place plastic wrap over the opening, then screw the lid back on to keep them sealed and prevent drying out. If they do get too thick I add a little milk into the bottle and stir it up to thin it out again. Enjoy decorating with your grandson!

    1. I haven’t tried this recipe with maple syrup but another reader did with good results, Judy. You can use dark corn syrup in this recipe too. It just gives the icing a slightly beige tint so it is not the best if making white icing, which I imagine would happen with maple syrup as well.

    1. Hi Jack, you can definitely freeze this recipe but you may struggle when icing the cookies with defrosted icing to get it nice and smooth. We prefer to ice the cookies first then freeze them for best results.

    1. Hi Susan, I would store this icing in the refrigerator for up to several days. Make sure to let it come to room temperature again before using it to decorate your cookies.

  3. Dear Holly!
    I need to entertain some little ones making Easter cookies next week – can you please tell me approximately how long it takes for this icing to harden and wether or not you think edible ink food marking pens will work well on this icing?
    Thanks so much!
    Joanne5 stars

    1. Hi Jo, it can take up to 24 hours for sugar cookie icing to harden enough. I haven’t tried the food pens on the icing, but think it would work if the icing is fully hardened. Have fun!!

  4. My son is deathly allergic to tree nut products and all the paste did coloring days may be made on material that contained but products. . What you do?

    1. You can use any type of food coloring you would like. More water-based ones may mean adding a bit less milk or more powdered sugar. Hope that helps Peggy.

  5. I thought it was perfect icing for cookies. I am not sure what the comments that say it’s “chalky” are about because I didn’t detect that at all. I made this with Agave syrup (because the corn syrup was one shelf higher and I couldn’t reach it) and it worked perfectly.

    I did see comments that this ruined an entire batch of cookies and one thing I was taught very early on when cooking anything, is to taste everything as you go so you can make changes to suit your taste… and so if you can’t make it work you aren’t wasting cookies/cakes or whatever else by incorporating it. Just a suggestion but great recipe:)5 stars

  6. Dries fast, what I was looking for. However would be much easier to frost with piping and squirt bottle like suggested in thinner consistency. I was in a rush bit know better next time. Goes well with sugar cookies, classic holiday cookie flavor. Can be very sticky when thick.4 stars

  7. I left my cookies to dry overnight and the icing hardened perfectly! Stacked this morning and the icing didn’t transfer at all! Thank you!5 stars

  8. My grandma always made this frosting that you had to boul. It only had confectionery sugar and milk. You had to frost cookies fast before it got hard. But I cant find it anywhere.

    1. My mom did the same and if I recall it was called Seven Minute Frosting. If you do a search you’ll find many recipes. I remember it was pretty stiff on cakes but very good.