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. Hi I've made this icing before and love it. I'm wondering if you can freeze these cookies after they're iced? If so what would be the steps you'd take to do it and then how to defrost. I'm going to be making some very large batches and it would be great if I can make some and freeze ahead.

  2. I really like this icing recipe! It makes beautiful cookies and tastes great! It does take me a considerable amount of time to use this icing on my sugar cookies, making two batches of each color for outlining and flooding, drawing the outline,then flooding. It dries beautifully and the cookies look so much nicer (shiny and smooth)

  3. I tried this last year and it was extremely runny. Guess I will try again in a couple of weeks. Tis the saeson

  4. This the BEST cookie icing EVER! It dries really nicely and you are able to stack the cookies with no after they dry. They dry hard but not to hard like the ones in the stores.My 18 yr. old daughter and I decorated cookies with a 9 yr. old and a 5 yr. old. They had a blast. Thank you for such a wonderful recipe and some wonderful memories.

  5. People, please look through the comments and find the answers to your questions instead of asking this poor woman the same questions over and over and over again!!!!! I can’t count how many times she has said that you can freeze the cookies and that if you have an allergy that you can use water instead of milk, or you can use whatever flavoring extract that you want. Oh and then people are asking if you can make this into a cream cheese frosting and a chocolate frosting, really, are you kidding me!!! Smh!!!!!

  6. why did my icing get cloudy and pale as it hardened? Initially was glossy. taste is great but I don't know what I did wrong

  7. I have been using a Wilton recipe for years but decided to try this recipe and I wasn't sorry. It dries beautifully glossy, and whether used thick or thin, it's very easy to work with. I flavored it with both Almond and Cinnamon extracts and it's delicious too!

  8. Hi! I tried your cookie recipe, EXCELLENT!
    I was wondering, if I can't finish decorating all of my cookies in the same day, should I leave the icing on the counter (with lid) or does it need to be in the fridge?

    Thank you again,

  9. I am going to try this one more time to post my comment…. glad I am a better baker than with this computer!! But I really wanted you to know that this is the best sugar cookie recipe and icing recipe!! Works well with fine intricate designs and just piping add flooding!! Just add a little more milk and corn syrup and it gets thinner more powdered sugar gets thicker not hard at all…. and the taste of the cookie by itself is wonderful!! Will always use this recipe!! And I have tried them all!!! I have some pretty stiff critics and they all loved them. Only thing different I would do is make a double batch next time to start off with!!! You will thank me for this tip!!

  10. How can I get the frosting to not get dull. I would like it to remain shiny, like pictures show. Any tips appreciated! Thank you!!

  11. I have tried other cookie icings after I introduced cookies with this icing. My family and friends by far love this recipe the most. I can use vanilla or almond extract and it stills taste amazing! easy to freeze and thaw. I love how it dries hard enough to stack but soft when you bite into the cookie. Thanks for sharing the recipe!!!

  12. Thanks for sharing! I have an excellent sugar cookie recipe and can't wait to try this. BTW, I use clear (colorless) vanilla in my buttercream frosting. I'm sure it would work here as well!

  13. I made this the other day,I tried it when it was done and it tasted like the almond extract,I went back through the recipe thinking I put too much but I did everything right. Any ideas?

  14. King Arthur Flour Company, and probably others, has a clear vanilla extract so it does not change the color of the frosting.

  15. Sorry to bother you but I haven't seen anyone ask this question. I do very intricate designs on my cookies, hence why I have used royal icing for so long. It dries quick & crusts quick so I can come back in with different coloring or create a 3-d design. My question is how similar is this to RI as far as function? When I outline my design (in black) do I really need to wait 24 hours before I can flood or will the corn syrup cause it to bleed? Does it crust over fairly quickly? I'm sure this tastes WORLDS above RI, but I don't want to ADD time to my decorating. Thanks in advance!

    1. In my experience, this isn't quite as stiff as royal icing, and piping will flatten. Honestly, I have never tried making it stiffer, as this works OK with the cookies I decorate. I always fill immediately after outlining, but I use the same color, so I don't know about bleeding. I would say try a batch, make it on the stiff side and see how it works for you. I will say that since finding this recipe, I have never wanted to go back to royal. Good luck.

  16. This is the second year I use this recipe, I love how easy it is to use but the icing always gets cloudy. I follow the recipe precisely. Any ideas?

  17. I love this icing. However I had to use a hand mixer and it caused it to blow its motor. Is this just because it was a handheld?

  18. I'm having save problem with this icing drying cloudy. I love using it just don't understand why mine dries cloudy….any ideas?

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