Best Sugar Cookie Icing Recipe + Video (2024)

ByDonna Elick


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MySugar Cookie Icingis sweet and scrumptious! People say it tastes like marshmallow. With hints of almond extract, this icing will melt in your mouth as you bite into soft, delicate cookies.Watch the helpful video in this postto see how easy it is to make this cookie icing recipe, plus tips on how to use it for decorating sugar cookies!

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Sugar Cookie Icing

Sugar cookiesare a delightful treat for any special occasion, but I especially enjoy them during Christmas time.

They are soft, chewy, and slightly crispy on the edges, plus they go perfectly with my best tasting icing recipe.

The best part? This cookie icing recipe comes together in just 5 minutes with a handful of ingredients! It has the right consistency to make the perfect icing!

Decorating sugar cookies is a great way to get creative in the kitchen and to soak up the magic of the season.

Put on a festive music playlist in the background and gather your loved ones for some Christmas cookie decorating.

Add them to your dessert table with a few more of mybest ever Christmas cookies, or put together treat boxes for your neighbors!

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Cookie Icing Recipe Ingredient Notes

  • Powdered Sugar– Also known as confectioners sugar or icing sugar, this has the perfect texture for sugar cookie icing.
  • Whole MilkThis helps to thin the icing and give it the perfect consistency. You can also use low fat milk or even water if you prefer.
  • Light Corn Syrup– Not only does this help to dissolve the sugar, but it gives your sugar cookie icing a gorgeous glossy appearance!
  • Almond Extract– In my opinion, the flavor of almond extract balances out the vanilla in the sugar cookies.

    You could also substitute vanilla extract or use a mix of both. Just be sure to useclearvanilla extract if you want a bright white icing.

  • Gel Food ColoringYou can use any color that you’d like, or mix different colors together to create the perfect shade.

    A little bit of gel color goes a long way (and won’t change the consistency!), so start with a few drops and add more if needed.

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Frosting vs Icing

You may have heard these terms used interchangeably, but they are actually not the same!

Frosting is known to be thick and fluffy and is commonly spread on cakes or cookies. It can have different textures and consistencies depending on the preparation.

Buttercreamis one of the most popular, but whipped cream andcream cheese frostingare tasty too! You can also try ourstrawberry glaze.

On the other hand, icing is thinner and glossier than frosting. It dries hard, shiny, and smooth and is typically made with just powdered sugar and liquid.

It’s often used to decorate cookies or drizzle over pastries.

Homemade icing is also typically used on the top of the cookie and the edge of the cookie, making it a great go-to recipe for adding color and taste quickly to plain sugar cookies.

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How to Make the Best Icing For Decorating

  • Eliminate Clumps.Sift your powdered sugar through a fine mesh sieve before mixing it with the liquid ingredients.

    You’ll get perfectly smooth results every single time!

  • Use Two Consistencies.Pipe a thin line along the outside of the cookie with thicker icing. Then, use a thinner batch to fill the middle (flood) the cookies.

    Aim for the same consistency as corn syrup, so it spreads easily but isn’t too watery.

  • Make It Glossy!The icing will already dry with a lovely shine, but you can use a heat gun to guarantee that it turns out glossy.
  • Keep It Covered.Because the sugar cookie icing will start to harden when exposed to air, be sure to cover it when you’re not using it.

    Or, simply store it in squeeze bottles or piping bags until it’s time to decorate!

  • Dry Completely.Yes, this is a cookie icing that hardens quickly, but I still recommend giving it time to dry overnight.

    Store your cookies in a single layer on cookie sheets, tenting them with foil to keep the bottoms from drying out.

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Kitchen Tools You Will Need

  • Stand mixeror large mixing bowl withhand mixer.
  • Sieve– Great for sifting your powdered sugar to prevent clumps.
  • Decorating Squeeze Bottlesare perfect for icing cookies and there’s less mess too!

    Or, make your ownPiping Bagby filling a plastic storage bag and snipping off the corner opposite from the zippered top.

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Sugar Cookie Icing FAQ

How can I make sugar cookie icing thicker or thinner?

To make your icing thicker, add a little more powdered sugar. To make it thinner, add a little bit of milk. It’s that easy!

How do I make icing with vibrant colors?

It’s all about using liquid food coloring. Once you make the sugar icing, just add a few drops of food coloring into it and stir. If you want different colors of icing, separate the frosting into different bowls, and add coloring to each one.

The fun part about this easy sugar cookie icing recipe is that it’s really simple to change the color. This helps you decorate all those little intricate details with different colors, which really adds to the look of the cookies!

How do I prevent cloudy spots on my iced cookies?

Too much humidity can cause icing for cookies to get spots, so you may want to run a dehumidifier while you are decorating your cookies.

You could also try working with a thicker icing to remove some of the water content — this will also help it dry faster. Finally, make sure the cookies are completely dry before closing them in a container.

Can I freeze iced sugar cookies?

Absolutely! Iced sugar cookies can be frozen in an airtight container or bag for up to three months.

Just make sure that the icing is fully dried before stacking or packaging them. I like to add a piece of parchment between each layer to be safe.

Then, thaw at room temperature once you’re ready to eat them! Leftover icing is a great way to prep and save time for your next cookie decorating adventure!

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Best Tasting Sugar Cookie Icing + Video

Donna Elick

This is the best sugar cookie icing! It dries hard but melts in your mouth + tastes great!! This recipe makes icing for decorating cookies.

5 stars from 1 review

Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!

Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Prep Time 5 minutes mins

Total Time 5 minutes mins

Course Dessert

Cuisine American

Method Mixed

Servings 24 Ounces


  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract, or clear vanilla extract
  • gel food coloring, in desired colors


  • In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using an electric mixer), combine sugar and ¼ cup milk. Mix until combined, then add more milk, one tablespoon at a time, as needed to create a smooth consistency. Add corn syrup and almond extract.

  • To decorate cookies, your outline icing should be the consistency of toothpaste, your flood icing should be the consistency of corn syrup.

  • Add food coloring one drop at a time until desired color is reached. Pour into bottles, decorator bags or a cup. Keep unused icing sealed until ready to use.


Donna’s Notes

The icing will dry hard. It can take up to overnight before I would recommend stacking them. I store mine on cookie sheets tented with foil to keep the cookie bottoms from drying out while they are drying.

You absolutely can substitute vanilla extract (or any other extract). Keep in mind, it will give your icing a slightly off white hue but if you are coloring it anyway it won’t matter.

This icing will keep for several weeks on the countertop, in a sealed container. I actually keep mine much longer than that.

We have received some questions about cloudy spots on the iced cookies. I have never had to deal with spots, I live in Arizona and it is a very dry climate and we use air conditioning to cool (which is also very dry). I know that too much humidity can cause icing to get spots. Do you live in a humid climate or use a swamp cooler? I would try a dehumidifier while you are making cookies to help the issue or stick to white icing (actually add white color to the icing) or try working with thicker icing. Or try using thicker icing. That will remove some of the water content and allow the cookies to dry faster. Also make sure the cookies are 100% dry before closing them in a container.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 129cal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 4mg | Sugar: 32g | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 1mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Best Sugar Cookie Icing Recipe + Video (14)

Originally published December 2013, updated and republished November 2023

Disclosure: Posts may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link your price will remain the same and The Slow Roasted Italian will automatically receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting us, it helps us keep creating new recipes.

Best Sugar Cookie Icing Recipe + Video (15)




Best Sugar Cookie Icing Recipe + Video (2024)


Best Sugar Cookie Icing Recipe + Video? ›

Royal icing creates clean lines and takes on color to create a vibrant look. It also works for detailed piping and decorating, when you want to make a gingerbread house or small designs.

What type of frosting is best for cookie decorating? ›

Royal icing creates clean lines and takes on color to create a vibrant look. It also works for detailed piping and decorating, when you want to make a gingerbread house or small designs.

Should I use buttercream or royal icing for sugar cookies? ›

It depends what you're after! If you want artful, elegant cookies, go for royal icing. If you want flavorful, delicious and soft cookies, choose this incredible buttercream sugar cookie icing!

What's the difference between cookie icing and regular icing? ›

Cookie icing can be used in the same way that royal icing can; however, it doesn't dry as hard as royal icing does. It's great for flooding cookies or piping designs into wet icing.

How to frost sugar cookies like a pro? ›

Start by outlining the cookie with piping-consistency icing in any color you choose. Then, use flooding-consistency icing to fill the outlined area, starting by flooding around the edges and working your way towards the center. If the flooding is inconsistent in thickness, redistribute the wet icing with a toothpick.

Is Wilton cookie icing the same as royal icing? ›

Like royal icing, cookie icing can be used to decorate your roll-out sugar and gingerbread cookies; however, unlike royal icing, cookie icing does not dry hard. Cookies decorated with cookie icing will set smooth, but the icing will remain soft and can be damaged if cookies are stacked or packaged.

Why isn t my cookie frosting hardening? ›

I'd experienced this issue when I thinned my icing with too much water for flooding. The good news on that front is that if you noticed that you'd done it before you start icing a cookie, you can stir in some sifted powdered sugar (or some reserved piping consistency icing if you want some) and recover.

What are the disadvantages of royal icing? ›

Thanks to the way royal icing dries, it doesn't serve well as a frosting. However, it can be done. But it will still dry harder than other icings, unless of course you mix in a teaspoon of glycerin for pliability.

Why do most bakeries use royal icing opposed to buttercream? ›

Many bakers love royal icing because it's easily customizable and can be made thinner or thicker depending on your specific needs. Royal icing is also commonly used as a dessert “glue” and is especially popular around the holidays when creating desserts like gingerbread houses.

Do you have to refrigerate cookies with buttercream frosting? ›

Making These Buttercream Cookies in Advance and Storage Tips

You can store frosted cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 days at room temperature, up to 5 days in the fridge, or for up to a month in the freezer.

What is the best consistency for cookie icing? ›

The consistency of flooding icing should be similar to honey. You want flooding icing to be a little runny, not watery, and just thick enough to smooth out, but not so thin that it'll run off your cookie.

What is royal icing made of? ›

Royal icing is frosting that's made from confectioners' sugar, egg whites, and flavorings, and used in many ways to decorate cookies and cakes. The biggest difference between buttercream frosting and royal icing is texture-buttercream is creamy and soft; royal icing hardens to a candy-like texture.

Do cookies need to cool before frosting? ›

If the cookies aren't completely cooled when you start decorating, the icing will melt once it hits the warm cookie. Follow this tip: Don't rush the cooling process. The first step to making beautifully decorated cookies is making sure the cookies are completely cooled when you begin adding the icing.

What is the easiest way to decorate sugar cookies? ›

Here are a few ideas:
  1. Use colored sugars, sprinkles, and edible decorations.
  2. Use melted chocolate and colored icing to create patterns.
  3. Use cookie cutters to create shapes and use icing and decorations to embellish.
  4. Use a toothpick or small brush to create designs with icing.
Jan 23, 2018

What do professionals use to decorate cookies? ›

With these in your arsenal, all you'll need to bring to the pastry kitchen is a little artistic sensibility.
  • Rolling pin with thickness rings. ...
  • Piping tips and couplers. ...
  • Piping bags. ...
  • Piping bag ties. ...
  • Scribe tool. ...
  • Gel food coloring. ...
  • Edible paint pens.
Aug 27, 2019

What is the best way to decorate sugar cookies? ›

My favorite way to decorate sugar cookies—especially for holidays and special occasions—is by using royal icing. The secret to getting precise lines, dots, and other details with royal icing is using a squeeze bottle.

Is frosting or icing better for decorating cookies? ›

It is much easier to use frosting for decoration instead of icing. Frosting can hold sprinkles, flowers, and other decorations. Even though frosting is more popular as a topping, it can also be spread between layers of a cake. Frosting is used more often on cakes and cupcakes than icing.

Can you use store bought frosting to decorate cookies? ›

Yes! You can use any canned frosting, or even make your own (but that's for another time).

What is a good substitute for royal icing? ›

Anti-royal icing is an alternative to traditional royal icing. It does not contain egg white. And unlike classic royal icing, which hardens quickly and has a stiffer texture, anti-royal icing sets but remains a little lighter and fluffier, making it perfect for cakes, cupcakes, brownies and other pastries.

Can you use Betty Crocker frosting to decorate cookies? ›

Betty Crocker Cookie Icing is the easy way to decorate cookies. Simply squeeze the ready-to-use pouch over your cookies to create beautiful and delicious treats.

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