Sugar Cookie Icing + Video
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My Sugar Cookie Icing is 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 post to see how easy it is to make this cookie icing recipe, plus tips on how to use it for decorating sugar cookies!
Sugar Cookie Icing
Sugar cookies are 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!
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 my best ever Christmas cookies, or put together treat boxes for your neighbors!
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 Milk – This 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 use clear vanilla extract if you want a bright white icing.
- Gel Food Coloring – You 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.
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.
Buttercream is one of the most popular, but whipped cream and cream cheese frosting are tasty too! You can also try our strawberry 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.
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.
Kitchen Tools You Will Need
- Stand mixer or large mixing bowl with hand mixer.
- Sieve – Great for sifting your powdered sugar to prevent clumps.
- Decorating Squeeze Bottles are perfect for icing cookies and there’s less mess too! Or, make your own Piping Bag by filling a plastic storage bag and snipping off the corner opposite from the zippered top.
Sugar Cookie Icing FAQ
To make your icing thicker, add a little extra powdered sugar. To make it thinner, add a little bit of milk. It’s that easy!
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.
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!
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
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Fabulous Holiday Cookie Recipes
Best Tasting Sugar Cookie Icing + Video
- 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.
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.
Originally published December 2013, updated and republished November 2022
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.
Absolutely love this recipe and have used it for several years! What size piping tip do you recommend to outline a cookie! Thanks!
Lots of people just take a nap off the corner of a piping bag. I prefer a size 1 top for putting and a 2 or 3 for fill.
Anyone try just dipping the cookies instead of piping?
I use a thinner consistency for dipping.
Have you ever tried substituting a non-dairy milk (such as soy or almond)? My daughter has a dairy allergy and I cannot use milk products.
can I store leftover icing? if so in the fridge for how long?
Going to make this icing! I don’t have a piping bag. What can I use to apply icing?
A zip lock bag with a nip cut from the corner. However, piping bags are MUCH cheaper.
I was blessed to be given my grandmothers sugar cookie recipe, but no one knew her recipe on her frosting. After many failed attempts, I came across this recipe a few years ago and it is exactly like hers! Thank you for posting this.
Can I use regular corn syrup instead of light?
Used this recipe to ice our sugar cookies last night. Perfetto, grazie!
I have absolutely loved using this icing for decorating cookies with my children during the holidays. It is pretty easy to make, tastes delicious and holds vibrant colors beautifully.
If I want to type it up and share it with some family and friends, may I? I would not be selling it, and I would of course reference where I got it.
This is the godmother off all icing recipes. Ive used it for the better part of the last 10 yrs. Ive tried countless recipes. You can't top this. It's the holy grail of the icing world.
Love this recipe, as well as your sugar cookie recipe. My kids have asked for a cream cheese flavored icing for the cookies, do you happen to have a recipe for this too or could this one be adjusted to a cream cheese icing, not frosting? Would rather make my own, than use the one in the bag at the stores. Thanks.
My colors were not bright like yours. I think I used the wrong food coloring. Think I used something that said natural juices from Target. The link is broken to the food coloring brand on your page. I would show a picture but it won’t let me add a picture so I added one to your fb recipe page.
Sorry about that, the link has been fixed.
TSRI Team Member,
I love this icing recipe! My kids loved decorating their cookies with it, they always look forward to making cookies during the holidays.
How long will this be kept at room temp. with the milk, I wasn’t sure. Does this have a soft bite? Does it dry quickly? I have been using Sweet Hope icing, but is pretty tasteless and so sweet, really looking for a change.
Powdered coloring might give you brighter colors! But, I do have a question, does the powder get old tasting, & if so about how long does that take?
Sets up firm and glossy, ideal if you have to transport or ship them. Almond extract is a nice change. Recommend this recipe highly
I made these cookies as well
as the icing. The best ever!!
Love this recipe! Thank you💖
Thank you so much! We are so happy you enjoyed them!
TSRI Team Member,
Absolutely the best icing I’ve tried.
I absolutely love this recipe. I get compliments every time I make decorated cookies. I do have a question about the “tine bubbles” on the fill. I’ve tried to use a stylet (?) to pop them but I’m wondering if I’m doing something wrong. I’m open to suggestion.