The Speckled Palate
November 27, 2018

Easy Sugar Cookie Icing

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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.

Five white ramekins hold different colors of Easy Sugar Cookie Icing, ready for decorating

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 CookiesGreek Yogurt Cut Out Sugar CookiesPumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies and even these Sweet Potato Sugar Cookies, if you’d rather not have the marshmallow frosting.)

Whatever the case, I finally took the time to quantify it when I was updating another recipe for this week, and I’m happy I did because cookies that need icing need a good icing, right? And one that’s pretty darn easy to make, too, right?

Pink-and-gold The Sweetest Season 2018 banner

As I shared yesterday in my first cookie recipe of the year, we’re raising money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer this year, and we’d love if you could join us.

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.

Ingredients for Easy Sugar Cookie Icing are laid out on a white-and-red patterned cloth

How do you 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.

This is what you’ll do: Measure out the powdered sugar, and use a sifter to ensure there are no lumps in the sugar. Season with salt, and whisk.

In another bowl, combine vanilla extract and milk. Whisk ‘em together, then pour them into the powdered sugar mixture, and whisk until combined.

Next, you’ll pour in the lemon juice, and whisk until smooth. (Yes, 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.

Spread a thin layer on top of your favorite sugar cookie recipe, add sprinkles or additional stripes of color at your leisure, and let dry for 4-6 hours at room temperature before storing in an airtight container. Easy peasy!

A red whisk is shown in a bowl as it mixes up Easy Sugar Cookie Icing

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 at room temperature and in the fridge, it’ll last for more than a week. But do you really want it to last that long? Noooooo.

A whisk drizzles Easy Sugar Cookie Icing in its bowl before dividing it into individual ramekins to be colored

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.

Easy Sugar Cookie Icing is poured into white ramekins before being colored with gel food coloring

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.

Gel food coloring is dotted into ramekins holding Easy Sugar Cookie Icing

How can I store the extra icing if I don’t have FIVE DOZEN cookies to ice?

You have two options:

  1. Half the recipe before making it so that you don’t have an excess amount of icing.
  2. 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.

Colored Easy Sugar Cookie Icing is shown in five different ramekins, showing off different colors, before decorating cookies

What do I need to make this Easy Sugar Cookie Icing?

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Five ramekins holding different colors of Easy Sugar Cookie Icing are shown in a row with spoons in them, ready to decorate

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…

Sugar cookies, decorated and topped with Easy Sugar Cookie Icing, are set out to dry on a piece of parchment paper

Now who’s ready to learn how to make this delightful sugar cookie icing?

Scroll on down to see how I do it.

Pinterest graphic for Easy Sugar Cookie Icing, featuring text and a close up of ramekins holding different colors of icing

Easy Sugar Cookie Icing
Yield: 60 cookies

Easy Sugar Cookie Icing

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

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


  1. Measure out the powdered sugar.
  2. 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.
  3. In another small bowl, combine the vanilla extract and milk. Whisk them together.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the powdered sugar.
  5. Whisk until combined.
  6. Measure in the lemon juice, and whisk until smooth. (This will make 1 ¼ cups icing, and it will be relatively thin.)
  7. Use a measuring scoop to divide the icing as needed. (For 5 colors, use a ¼ cup measure.)
  8. Use the food colors of your choice to dye the icing, stirring with a spoon or a knife until the color is correct.
  9. 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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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving:Calories: 21 Total Fat: 0g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 12mg Carbohydrates: 5g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 5g Protein: 0g
Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

Do you have a go-to icing recipe in your household?


  1. Madison Wetherill

    Ahh, I had no idea sugar cookie icing was SO easy! These photos are beautiful and I cannot wait to try this.

    • Erin

      Thank you so much, Madison! Sugar cookie icing is SO simple to make, and it’s delicious, too. 🙂 I hope you and yours enjoy this recipe as much as we have this holiday season!

  2. Tracey

    Hi there!
    I am familiar with, and regularly use royal icing. My neighbors little boy is allergic to egg, so I cannot use my normal go to recipe for any cookies for him. Is this recipe similar in consistency to a flooding icing?


    • Erin

      Hi Tracey! I’m not super familiar with royal icing, as I’ve used it just once. That said, this *is* the consistency of a flooding icing. You could probably make it stiffer, too, with more powdered sugar (so it would be sweeter) to make a border icing.

      I hope this icing works for you and that your son can enjoy it!

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