Whether you’re baking for the holidays, baking for your kid’s class or simply baking just because, this Easy Sugar Cookie Icing is a simple, go-to recipe to make decadently sweet icing for any cookies! Makes enough icing for 60 cookies.
Hey-o! The Sweetest Season Cookie Exchange week rolls on… and I’m sharing my favorite icing recipe.
In fact, it’s kind of a shock that I haven’t shared this with y’all before, as it’s something that is integral for so many different cookie recipes. (I’m looking at you, All-Butter Tea Cake Cookies, Greek Yogurt Cut Out Sugar Cookies, Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies and even these Sweet Potato Sugar Cookies, if you’d rather not have the marshmallow frosting.)
This charity has been close to my heart ever since I discovered it, but it hits home hard this year because a sweet family friend’s son received a cancer diagnosis this summer. Thankfully, it was caught early and his prognosis is good. But when I learned this news, I cried–what a scary diagnosis! And what a scary thing to navigate, let alone with a child, who may or may not understand what’s going on. (Because how can you accurately describe cancer to a 3-year-old? I don’t know.)
Cookies for Kids’ Cancer has inspired more than 8,000 fundraising events in all 50 states and 16 countries and has granted $15 million, funding 100 research projects, including 37 that are now treatments available for children battling cancer today.
And since it’s the season of giving and giving back, we want to support an organization that’s actively funding treatments for kids and their families going through the unthinkable.
What do I need to make this Easy Sugar Cookie Icing?
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- Large glass bowl
- Sifter or a Fine Mesh Strainer to ensure there are no lumps in the sugar
- Liquid measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Ramekins to separate the icing for coloring
- Gel food coloring (I like this better than the drop kind because it’s a little less messy and also
- Offset spatula or butter knives
- Wire cooling rack
- Parchment paper to cover the counter beneath the wire cooling rack so cookies can drip onto this instead of your countertop
How to make Frosting for Sugar Cookies
This frosting is super easy to make. In fact, you only need a few ingredients that you probably already have on hand.
Measure the dry ingredients
First and foremost, measure out the powdered sugar, and use a sifter to ensure there are no lumps in the sugar.
Season with salt, and whisk.
Pro tip: We add a pinch of salt to this recipe because it will make the icing not sickeningly sweet. Just a little bit of salt helps balance out sweet treats. 🙂
Measure the wet ingredients
In another bowl, combine vanilla extract and milk.
Whisk ‘em together.
Mix all ingredients for the icing, then make it colorful
Pour them into the powdered sugar mixture, and whisk until combined.
Next, you’ll pour in the lemon juice, and whisk until smooth.
Yes, I know we’re doing lots of whisking. That’s how we roll with icing, y’all.
After that, you can divide the icing into various bowls and color them the colors of your dreams. Personally, I like gel food coloring to color this icing, but you can use the regular dropper kind, too, if that’s what you have on hand.
Decorate your cookies
Spread a thin layer on top of your favorite sugar cookie recipe, add sprinkles or additional stripes of color at your leisure.
Let the icing dry for 4-6 hours on top of the cookies at room temperature before storing in an airtight container.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of icing do you use to decorate sugar cookies?
Personally, I like a plain Jane frosting like this easy sugar cookie icing. It calls for minimal ingredients and adds some sweetness to a run-of-the-mill sugar cookie.
How long does this icing last?
Stored in the fridge, it’ll last for more than a week. But do you really want it to last that long? Noooooo.
Does this icing recipe harden?
Yes, this Easy Sugar Cookie Icing hardens!
However, it takes a little time. (Like, 4-6 hours for the cookies to be completely good-to-go. That said, I like for mine to sit overnight to ensure the icing is no longer wet in any places, especially 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 pop them in the refrigerator uncovered for a little while to make the process speed up.
I see this icing recipe calls for milk. I don’t drink milk. Is there a substitute?
Absolutely! You can simply use non-dairy milk or you can use water.
My favorite non-dairy milks to use in this 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.
How can I store the extra icing if I don’t have FIVE DOZEN cookies to ice?
You have two options:
- Half the recipe before making it so that you don’t have an excess amount of icing.
- Pour the extra icing into an airtight container (or multiple, depending on if they are different colors.) Pop them in the freezer and freeze up for a few months easily.
Help! I have a ton of cookies. Can I double this recipe?
Absolutely! This recipe makes a ton of icing—and it’s a thinner icing, so it goes farther than a thicker cream cheese icing—but if you need more, you can certainly double or triple the recipe without issue.
Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips
This easy cookie icing recipe is the one I turn to, no matter the time of year, whenever I’m hosting people for cookie decorating.
Why? This icing is incredibly simple to make and easy for all to use, assuming they can hold a butter knife.
- Make your icing in advance. The beauty in this recipe is that the icing can be stored in the fridge for quite some time before you use it. Let it come back to room temperature before it’s time to ice the cookies, though, or it’s going to be a little thick.
- Let the kids get their hands sticky. I’ll be honest and tell you that I hate when my hands and my kitchen are sticky. But my kids l-o-v-e- being able to participate in the making of this easy cookie icing recipe. Depending on their ages, they can measure, whisk and color the icing! Let them do it, and just be mentally prepared to do the clean up and the de-sticky-ing of your kitchen. 😉
- Put it in icing bags for easy application. If you’re having a cookie decorating party and are hosting a ton of people and don’t want to worry about icing being strewn across most surfaces of your home, I GET THAT. Use piping bags without tips (meaning you cut a teeeeeeeeny tiny hole on the end) to make your life easier and to make your house potentially less messy.
What are some drinks I can pair with the final cookies?
I’m glad you asked! I love a good drink with a cookie. And I particularly love the following…
- Iced Cocoa
- Vegan Bourbon Pecan Milk Punch
- Vanilla Hot Chocolate
- Candy Cane Vodka
- Vanilla Hot Chocolate Martini
Now who’s ready to learn how to make this delightful sugar cookie icing?
Scroll on down to see how I do it.
Whether you're baking for the holidays, baking for your kid's class or simply baking just because, this Easy Sugar Cookie Icing is a simple, go-to recipe to make decadently sweet icing for any cookies! Calling for just six simple ingredients that you probably have on hand, this icing recipe is easily customizable and perfect for cookie decorating. With an option to make it vegan and dairy free, this icing is perfect for all cookie lovers!
- 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup milk (non-dairy milk OK)
- ½ tablespoon lemon juice, , freshly squeezed
- Food coloring of your choice
- Measure out the powdered sugar.
- Using a sifter (or a fine mesh strainer), sift the powdered sugar into a large glass bowl. This sifting will ensure there are no lumps in the sugar. Add the salt, and whisk.
- In another small bowl, combine the vanilla extract and milk. Whisk them together.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the powdered sugar.
- Whisk until combined.
- Measure in the lemon juice, and whisk until smooth. (This will make 1 ¼ cups icing, and it will be relatively thin.)
- Use a measuring scoop to divide the icing as needed. (For 5 colors, use a ¼ cup measure.)
- Use the food colors of your choice to dye the icing, stirring with a spoon or a knife until the color is correct.
- Spread the icing thinly on top of the cookies, and let dry for 4-6 hours at room temperature before enjoying.
This recipe makes enough to ice 60 2" sugar cookies, which is why the serving size is 60.
Dairy Free/Vegan Substitutions: You can use non-dairy milk or you can use water in place of cow's milk in this recipe. My favorite non-dairy milks to use here 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 too thick.
Easy Storage Tip: If you are making cookies, but don’t want to have to hustle to make the icing the day-of, whip this up a day or two ahead of time and store in the fridge. Let warm slightly before spreading on top of your completely cooled cookies.
Too much? Too little? If you leftover icing, you can freeze it in an airtight container for a few months (or until you have more cookies to ice!) If you need more icing, you can easily double or triple this recipe without issue.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 21Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 12mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 0g