Sugar Cookie Icing (Best Tasting ) + Video

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This sugar cookie icing dries hard but melts in your mouth as soon as you take a bite! Make this best tasting recipe for decorating holiday cookies.

sugar cookie icing

With the holidays upon us, I thought I would share my best tasting sugar cookie icing! It’s made with just four ingredients, tastes amazing, and dries with a gorgeous sheen.

For Christmas cookie decorating, pair this recipe with my delicious Christmas Sugar Cookies.

They are lightly crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, and hold their shape perfectly!

sugar cookie icing being mixed with electric mixer

Then, package them up with some Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies and Double Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies.

White Chocolate Peppermint Crockpot Candy makes a great addition to treat baskets as well! It’s loaded with cashews, peanuts, almonds, and refreshing peppermint candy.


Watch the video in the recipe card at the bottom of this post to see how easy it is to make sugar cookie icing!

Difference Between Icing and Frosting

The most obvious difference is the consistency. Icing is thinner and hardens quickly, while frosting is typically thick and fluffy.

Icing can be drizzled over baked goods to add sweetness or used to decorate cookies or pipe intricate designs on cakes.

On the other hand, cakes and cupcakes are considered incomplete without some sort of frosting. There are a variety of different types and methods, and the flavor options are endless.

outlining star cookie with blue icing

Just mix everything together with an electric mixer until smooth. It will be ready in just 5 minutes!

It’s best to use two different consistencies for Christmas cookie decorating. Make the initial batch thick enough for piping, then split it and thin out the other half with water or milk.

Helpful Tips & Tricks

  • Dry Completely: While this is a cookie icing that hardens, you may need to let it sit overnight to fully dry. I store mine on cookie sheets tented with foil to keep the cookie bottoms from drying out.
  • Change Flavors: You absolutely can substitute vanilla or another extract if you would like. Keep in mind, it may give your icing an off-white hue, but it won’t matter if you’re coloring it anyway.
  • Glossy Icing: While the icing should dry glossy on its own, you can also use a heat gun to guarantee a beautiful glossy sheen.
  • Storage: This recipe will keep for several weeks on the countertop in a sealed container. Just give it a good stir whenever you need to use it.
sugar cookie half filled in with blue icing

Decorating The Cookies

Pipe a thin line along the outside of the cookie with the thicker icing. It should be similar in feel to toothpaste.

Then, use a thinner batch to flood the cookies which just means filling in the middle. Aim for the same consistency as corn syrup, so it spreads easily but isn’t too watery.

What You Will Need To Make Cookie Icing That Hardens

  • Stand mixer or large mixing bowl with hand mixer.
  • Decorating Squeeze Bottles – Perfect for icing cookies and there’s less mess too!
  • Gel Food Coloring – This is great for baked goods and coloring frosting because you only need a little bit and it doesn’t add additional liquid.
decorating with white icing over the blue icing

FAQ – Common Recipe Questions

Does it dry hard like royal icing?

Yes, after about a day. I pack these up in plastic bags to ship across the country, and they do not damage each other.

Can I use low fat milk instead of whole milk?

Either will work. You could even use water instead of milk if you’d prefer.

Can I freeze the cookies after they are decorated?

Absolutely! Just be sure to separate the cookies when you defrost them on the counter so they don’t condensate all over one another.

woman's hands holding decorated star cookie

How do I prevent cloudy spots on the 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 and allow it to dry faster.

Also, make sure the cookies are completely dry before closing them in a container.

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sugar cookies stacked

stack of decorated Christmas sugar cookies

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.
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Method Mixed
Servings 24 Ounces


  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons almond 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 smooth. Add milk as need to create a smooth mixture, one tablespoon at a time. 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!
sugar cookie icing

Originally published December 2013, updated and republished November 2020

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  1. Absolutely love this recipe and have used it for several years! What size piping tip do you recommend to outline a cookie! Thanks!

    1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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