Easy Sugar Cookie Icing

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Make an 4 ingredient easy sugar cookie icing that dries hard and allows you to stack cookies. Plus 4 ways to ice cut out cookies.

We’ve been making frosted sugar cookies for at least 11 years. We went through a stage where we were decorating fancy sugar cookies for all occasion and even selling some. It was a fun hobby and we learned a lot while making them, but somehow we got away from it.

Although we stopped making sugar cookies year round for all holidays, we still make them at least twice a year. Once in the summer and once in the Christmas season.

We’re often asked for our icing recipe and we actually have two. One is a royal icing that makes gorgeous Christmas cookies. But for that recipe you need meringue powder and an electric mixer. The recipe I’m sharing today is an easy sugar cookie icing that needs just a whisk, a mixing bowl and 4 ingredients. No need for a stand mixer!

I’ll share about the recipe below, but also share 4 ways to easily decorate sugar cookies with your family.

frosted sugar cookies on a wire rack

About this Easy Sugar Cookie Icing Recipe

  • Flavor: The flavor of this sugar cookie frosting all depends on the extract you add. Vanilla extract, almond extract or our favorite Princess emulsion. Even peppermint would work. Use a flavor you’d like!
  • Texture: This frosting is super smooth. As it sits it will crust over so you want to keep it covered in an airtight container.

What is sugar cookie icing made of?

There are just 4 ingredients in a sugar cookie icing:

ingredients for sugar cookie icing on a table
  • Powdered sugar. This also sometimes called confectioners’ sugar. This will create a smooth frosting.
  • Light Corn syrup. This ingredient is important because it helps the icing harden and also gives the icing a little bit of sheen.
  • Milk. I used 2% milk. Use whole milk or even heavy cream if you’d like.
  • Flavoring. I love using LorAnn Princess Cake & Cookie emulsion for my sugar cookies. Vanilla or almond works well, too.

How to Make Easy Sugar Cookie Icing

  • Sift the powdered sugar to break up any clumps.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, corn syrup, extract and 3 tablespoons of milk. Whisk well until the mixture is smooth.
  • Add more milk to thin the icing, one tablespoon at a time, and stir between each addition. To know if you have the right consistency, pull up on the whisk and allow the icing to drizzle down. The ribbons of icing should completely absorb into the icing in the bowl in about 5-7 seconds. This is how you know it is thin enough to create an even surface, but not be so thin that it runs everywhere.

Want different colors of icing? Use gel food coloring. Otherwise this recipe will make white icing. If you need pure white icing, use a clear vanilla extract.

white sugar cookie icing drizzling in a glass bowl

4 Easy Ways to Ice Sugar Cookies

There are 4 ways to ice sugar cookies:

  1. Piping bag with or without a tip. This will give you a nice even opening for piping lines and to flood the cookies.
  2. Squeeze bottle. Buy squeeze bottles that you can add frosting to. Then simply squeeze the icing out onto the cookie.
  3. Spoon. Use a small spoon to spoon the icing onto the cookie and gently spread it to the edges.
  4. Dipping cookies. Have small bowls of frosting. Turn the cookie upside down and dip it into a bowl of icing. Allow it to drip for several seconds, then turn the cookie upright and place it on a wire rack to set.

If you want add sprinkles, add them right after decorating before the icing sets.

Storage Instructions

Store any leftover frosting in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Here’s how to do it:

  • Place the leftover icing in a small plastic container with a lid.
  • Press a piece of plastic wrap down onto the top of the frosting to create an airtight top. Then place the lid on the plastic container.
  • Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
overhead view of sugar cookies with an easy icing
overhead view of sugar cookies with an easy icing

Easy Sugar Cookie Icing

4.80 from 5 votes
Make an 4 ingredient easy sugar cookie icing that dries hard and allows you to stack cookies. Plus 4 ways to ice cut out cookies.
Servings 20
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Ingredients
 

  • 4 cups powdered sugar 520 grams
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup 60 grams
  • 1 teaspoon LorAnn Princess cake & cookie emulsion (or vanilla extract) 5 grams
  • 5-6 tablespoons 2% milk divided

Instructions
 

  • Sift the powdered sugar to break up any clumps.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, corn syrup, extract and 3 tablespoons of milk. Whisk well until the mixture is smooth.
  • Add more milk to thin the icing, one tablespoon at a time, mixing between each addition. To know if you have the correct consistency, pull up on the whisk and allow the icing to drizzle down. The ribbons of icing should completely absorb into the icing in the bowl in about 5-7 seconds. This is how you know it is thin enough to create an even surface, but not be so thin that it runs everywhere.
  • Color the icing with gel food coloring if desired. Use just a small amount to start and add more as needed.
  • Use the frosting immediately so that it does not form a crust. Or you can press a piece of plastic wrap down on the top to prevent air from getting around it and drying it out.
  • Use a piping bag and tip, squeeze bottle or spoon to decorate the cookies. Or you can turn the cookie upside down and dip it into a bowl of icing. Allow it to drip for several seconds, then turn the cookie upright and place it on a wire rack or baking sheet to set.
  • Store any leftover frosting in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Notes

  • Add a pinch of salt to cut sweetness.
  • This icing will dry to stack the cookies after about 12-18 hours, but it is not has hard as royal icing so may crack a little.
  • Color the frosting as you’d like with gel food coloring (liquid food coloring will add more moisture to the frosting and make it thinner).
Refer to the article above for more tips and tricks.
The calories shown are based on the icing decorating 20 cookies, with 1 serving being 1/20 of the frosting. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information. The information in the nutrition box are calculated through a program and there is room for error. If you need an accurate count, I recommend running the ingredients through your favorite nutrition calculator.**

Nutrition

Calories: 106kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.05g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.003g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Trans Fat: 0.003g | Cholesterol: 0.3mg | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 6mg | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 4IU | Vitamin C: 0.01mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 0.01mg
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 106
Keyword best sugar cookies, icing recipe

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does icing take to harden?

The icing needs at least 12 hours to harden, if not closer to 18 hours. I make the cookies midday, then package them up the next morning. The exact timing will depend on how thick the icing is.

Can I leave out the corn syrup?

Officially, yes, but I don’t recommend it. The icing will set the best with corn syrup.

Can I make this sugar cookie icing in advance?

Yes, but you have to seal it well so it does not form a crust. Place the leftover icing in a small plastic container with a lid. Press a piece of plastic wrap down onto the top of the frosting to create an airtight top. Then place the lid on the plastic container. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

How do I thicken icing that is too runny?

Try sifting more powdered sugar into the icing and mixing well to thicken.

Other Frosting Recipes

Looking for a fluffy buttercream frosting? Try one of these:

Other Sugar Cookie Recipes

I’ve never met a sugar cookie I didn’t like. Fluffy and light, thick and rich…all are necessary and good. Here are a few new recipes for you to try.

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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