Easy Lemon Icing

Whether you’re baking for a gathering (like a Cookie Decorating Party), for friends/family/neighbors or just because, this Easy Lemon Icing is a simple, go-to recipe to make balanced sweet and tart icing for any cookies! This lemon glaze icing is perfect for cookies or drizzling on cakes. Makes enough to ice 60 cookies.

Colorfully dyed Lemon Icing in containers, ready for decorating cookies

I didn’t always like lemon-flavored things.

In all honesty, my discovery of lemon came about in my mid-20s, as did most of my food revelations… and I think it had to do with the fact that I discovered real lemons.

While I’m sure we juiced them for lemonade when I was a kid, I only remember the faux-lemon lemonade that came in a can. (Sorry, Mom.)

And I’m sure I’d used them in other dishes, too, but I never really put two and two together for sweet things until I was older.

Now, I’m a huge lemon fan, so long as it doesn’t taste like floor cleaner smells. 😉

Why I love this recipe:

This lemon glaze icing for cookies is an utter delight in its simplicity and flavors. It doesn’t require much, but it packs in a ton of flavor, no matter the baked good you use it on.

This recipe hardens when given enough time, so it’s perfect for sugar cookies with a twist, too!

Cookie recipes that pair beautifully with this easy lemon icing: Lemon Tea CakesGreek Yogurt Cut Out Sugar Cookies / Lemon Sugar CookiesOrange Pound Cake / All-Butter Tea Cake Cookies / Soft & Chewy Lemon Sugar Cookies

Need a dessert, but don’t know what you want? Check out my desserts recipe index.

Powdered sugar, milk, salt, vanilla and lemon extracts are shown on a turquoise background

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In addition to these tools, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this lemon glaze icing, too:

  • Powdered sugar—also known as confectioner’s sugar, there’s no real replacement for this sugar in this lemon icing recipe, so please don’t try to find one.
  • Kosher salt—just a pinch makes all the difference!
  • Pure Lemon Extract—we’re getting a punch of lemon from this, and a little goes a long way. I’ve used Adams Extract Lemon Extract, but you can use whatever brand you’ve got on hand.
  • Pure Vanilla Extract—this gives us some vanilla undertones and notes to the icing. Like the lemon extract, a little goes a long way.
  • Lemon juice—a little extra lemon punch!
  • Milk—you can use cow’s milk or non-dairy milk here because both work.
  • Food Coloring
Icing is drizzled from a whisk into a bowl

How to make Lemon Icing

In a large glass bowl, combine the ingredients for the icing. Whisk until smooth. You can also use a hand mixer if you don’t want to mix this by hand and to get it smoother faster.

Separate the icing into different containers if you’re planning on coloring it. Personally, I pour ¼ cup of icing into 5 different containers to evenly distribute the icing.

Color the icing using food coloring, if you’d like, then spread this lemon icing onto cooled cookies using an offset spatula or a butter knife. Then add sprinkles or any other decorations.

The frosting recipe is divided into five dishes before coloring

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does this icing last?

Stored in the fridge in a jar, it’ll last for more than a week. But do you really want it to last that long? Probably not.

Does this frosting recipe harden?

Yes, this Lemon Icing hardens! In fact, it’s based off my Easy Sugar Cookie Icing recipe that’s wildly popular and that also hardens.

However, this takes about 4-6 hours total.

Personally, I like for mine to sit overnight to ensure the icing is no longer wet in any places, especially the drips.
To make the hardening process faster, let the cookies dry on a wire cooling rack so that no icing pools around the edges. You can also place them in the refrigerator uncovered for a little while to speed up the process, too.

I don’t drink milk. Is there a vegan substitute for this in this recipe?

Yes. I’m sensitive to milk when I’m not pregnant or nursing, so I’ve replaced the milk in this recipe with both non-dairy milk and water. It still works. You’re welcome, Internet. 😉

My favorite non-dairy milks to use in this cookie icing recipe are unsweetened cashew milk or unsweetened almond milk, which you would find in the refrigerated section of your grocery.

The only non-dairy milk I would not use for this recipe is coconut cream (from a can), as it would make the frosting entirely too thick.

Tips and Tricks for the Best Frosting

  • Make it in advance! Whip up this lemon icing for cookies, and store it covered with plastic wrap in the fridge until it’s go time.
  • Color it! I made mine look springy since I used it to ice my Lemon Tea Cake Cookies, but you can color yours whatever combination of colors you’d like. This would be great for decorating patriotic cookies in the summertime or even icing Christmas cookies for a lemony zip!
  • Don’t worry if it’s a little runny. The icing is a thin icing, but it sets up nicely once on the cookies. If you’re concerned that it’s too runny, add a little more powdered sugar, but don’t add too much because that will make it too sweet. And I, personally, like the tartness this icing brings to the table.
Close up of a sugar cookie decorated with Easy Lemon Icing and sprinkles
Colorfully dyed Lemon Icing in containers, ready for decorating cookies
Yield: Enough for 60 cookies

Easy Lemon Icing

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Whether you’re baking for a warm weather gathering, for friends or neighbors or simply baking just because, this Easy Lemon Icing is a simple, go-to recipe to make balanced sweet and tart icing for any cookies! Mix powdered sugar together with milk, lemon and vanilla extracts and lemon juice to make this icing. Make it vegan, too, with one simple switch! Perfect for cookies or to drizzle on cakes. Makes enough to ice 60 cookies.

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon Pure Lemon Extract
  • ½ teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/3 cup milk (non-dairy milk OK)
  • Food Coloring

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the powdered sugar, salt, lemon extract, vanilla extract, lemon juice and milk to create the icing.
  2. Whisk until smooth, then separate out into individual bowls for coloring.
  3. Once colored, set aside until time to ice the cookies.

Notes

Make it in advance! Whip up this icing, and store it in the fridge, covered, until it’s go time.

Color it! I made mine look springy since I used it to ice my Lemon Tea Cake Cookies, but you can color yours whatever combination of colors you’d like. This would be great for decorating patriotic cookies in the summertime or even icing Christmas cookies for a lemony zip!

Don’t worry if it’s a little runny. The icing is a thin icing, but it sets up nicely once on the cookies. If you’re concerned that it’s too runny, add a little more powdered sugar, but don’t add too much because that will make it too sweet. And I, personally, like the tartness this icing brings to the table.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

52

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 24Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 13mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 0g

Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

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