Best Sugar Cookie Icing Recipe + 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!

Titled Image: Sugar Cookie Icing


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! It has the right consistency to make the perfect icing! 

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!

cooking icing recipe ingredients

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.
making sugar cookie icing.

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.

Homemade icing is also typically used on the top of the cookie and the edge of the cookie, making it a great go-to recipe for adding color and taste quickly to plain sugar cookies. 

colored sugar cookie icing.

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.
flooding sugar cookie with icing.

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. 
decorating with white icing over the blue icing

Sugar Cookie Icing FAQ 

How can I make sugar cookie icing thicker or thinner? 

To make your icing thicker, add a little more powdered sugar. To make it thinner, add a little bit of milk. It’s that easy!

How do I make icing with vibrant colors?

It’s all about using liquid food coloring. Once you make the sugar icing, just add a few drops of food coloring into it and stir. If you want different colors of icing, separate the frosting into different bowls, and add coloring to each one. 

The fun part about this easy sugar cookie icing recipe is that it’s really simple to change the color. This helps you decorate all those little intricate details with different colors, which really adds to the look of the cookies! 

 How do I prevent cloudy spots on my 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 — this will also help it dry faster. Finally, make sure the cookies are completely dry before closing them in a container.

Can I freeze iced sugar cookies? 

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! Leftover icing is a great way to prep and save time for your next cookie decorating adventure! 

decorated sugar cookie.

With love, from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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sugar cookie icing

sugar cookie icing recipe.

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.
5 stars from 2 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Method Mixed
Servings 24 Ounces


  • 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.


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!
titled collage for best tasting cookie icing

Originally published December 2013, updated and republished November 2023

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    1. Yes, they did say previously that you can use vanilla as a substitute for the almond extract. However, unless you get the clear vanilla extract it will tint the white icing slightly brown.

  1. "What are the little silver candies and where do you get them? I remember using those when I was a kid 50 years ago. Went looking for them last year and was told they were banned, at least in CA, because of their mercury content." Wilton Sugar Pearls, and other brands in many colors can be purchased from Walmart, Michael's and cake decorating and candy making supply stores. They come in many colors metallic and non metallic colors. Another option is "Sixlets" are small round candy-coated, chocolate-flavored candy, they come in silver and many other colors shinny and non shinny. They taste similar to round M&Ms, they are larger then silver pearls but come in several sizes.. The chocolate centers are made from a mixture of cocoa and carob, giving them a "malted" taste. "Another form of dragée is a small sphere of sugar, in the Commonwealth often called cachous, used primarily in the decoration of cookies, cakes, and other forms of bakery. These are produced in various sizes, typically 3 to 4 mm (0.12 to 0.16 in) in diameter. This is larger than nonpareils and smaller than large pearl tapioca."

    "Silver dragées have long been used for both wedding and holiday food decoration. More recently, metallic gold, copper, rainbow colors (red, green, blue, etc.), and pearlescent colors have become available."

    "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers the metallic-finish dragées to be inedible, and they are sold with a notice that they are for decorative purposes only. Early in the 20th century, the silver finish may have contained mercury (it no longer does). The sale of these dragées was banned for some time. Although the metallic-finish dragées can be purchased in 49 U.S. states, they are no longer sold in California due to a 2003 lawsuit against several sellers."

    Reminder that gold leaf is often applied to upscale pastries by the best chefs in the world. Not all metallic materials are non edible.

  2. "Was the 6 cups powdered sugar sifted or unsifted? I'm assuming it's unsifted, but figured I'd ask :)" Always sift powdered sugar when making icing or frosting. This helps you have no lumps in your icing or frosting and when you beat it do not beat it in high adding air to it which cause bubbles in frosting and icing. When you sift powdered sugar and beat it slowly this will help it come out of your cake decorating bags & tips with out clogging inside the tip.

  3. I've used this recipe for a couple of years, but always put all ingredients in at one time, and was frustrated because it was too thin. I can't believe I didn't think to add it in one tiny bit at a time! Genius! Also- what red and black colors do you use?

    1. Several brands of food coloring make no taste reds and blacks. Also, powdered food coloring s have much less taste than gels.

  4. I'm looking for an icing that is crisp when u bite into the cookie and immediately starts melting in your mouth, basically. Does this recipe do this after it hardens and dries over 24 hrs?

  5. Really Really novice baker here…but my question is when you were decorating the snowflakes with the white icing was it the consistency of the outlining icing or the flooding icing? Thanks, cannot wait to try this!

  6. Our cookies turned out fabulous thanks to you!!! Wondering if it's best to store decorated cookies (for best look and taste) at room temperature or freezer/cold garage until Christmas (2 weeks away)?? Thank you!!!

  7. I made this icing and it is a big hit. The frosting did harden enough so that I could stack my cookies in my cookie container. I would recommend this icing and it will be the only one I will use going forward.

  8. "People can't spell. They mean shiny, as in, having a shine to it, not "shinny" as in, having to do with one's shins (the bones connecting your knees to your ankles). I don't want my cookies to look like my shins, thank you very much. That said, it looks like a great recipe, and I can't wait to try it, as frosting cookies is always why I don't make cut-outs. This looks easy, and much less messy than the ones that don't set up and get frosting all over the backs of the other cookies in the container. Thanks!"
    People can spell and auto correct makes these errors!

    1. Cream cheese frosting is great as a buttercream. I love it for decorating cookies, but won't crust enough to stack the cookies.

  9. What food coloring is used to get those shades? I have never been able to get red to turn out like that. Thank you!

  10. I have looked and looked for a sugar cookie icing recipe and a sugar cookie recipe for many of years. I bake cakes but some people have wanted cookies but due to not having that perfect recipe for both, I would just tell them I did not do them.

    My grandson and I made a batch last night and decorated them. OMGOODNESS these are the best cookies and icing I have had. I now have the sugar cookie recipe and icing recipe. Plus the tip on keeping the dough cold until use and getting the shapes cold before baking, that was awesome. I had never thought of that. Thank you so much. I see many of baking moments with these cookies.

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