My easy Sugar Cookie Icing Recipe is firm, stackable, and flavorful! My version uses just 4 basic ingredients (no meringue powder!) and can be colored and piped in minutes. Includes a how-to video!
The BEST Sugar Cookie Icing Recipe
Looking for a simple, shiny, stackable, and flavorful sugar cookie icing? Look no further–I’ve created your perfect match!
Not only is this icing beautiful and firm, but it also tastes great and is incredibly easy to make. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to mess up; if it’s too thin, simply add more powdered sugar. If it’s too thick, add more milk! So easy!
I generally prefer this icing over its fussier cousin: royal icing. It’s easier to make, uses basic ingredients, and has a light vanilla flavor (similar to my vanilla glaze). This icing is sweet, but not too sweet, and it’s a nice accent to buttery, but generally plain sugar cookies.
Why use my recipe:
- Takes minutes to make.
- Dries with a firm, stackable, shiny finish.
- No fancy or difficult to find ingredients like meringue powder.
- Tastes so much better than royal icing.
- Completely foolproof!
What You Need
You only need four ingredients to make my easy cookie icing recipe (five if you use food coloring!):
- Powdered sugar. I recommend sifting your powdered sugar before using it; lumps will end up clogging your piping bag later and won’t yield a smooth finish. Confectioners sugar or icing sugar will also work.
- Light corn syrup. This is NOT the same thing as high fructose corn syrup! Corn syrup is key to a glossy, firm finish. Dark corn syrup could work but will add a muddy color and additional flavor to your icing.
- Milk. My preference is whole milk, but really any kind will work (even dairy-free milks!). You may need more or less than I call for depending on the type you use.
- Vanilla extract. I use clear vanilla extract for a pure white icing color, but you can use regular vanilla extract if needed.
- Food color. This is optional, but so fun! Liquid, powder, or gel food coloring will work. I love gel food coloring and always use it for best results (I linked to the ones I used here in the recipe). I’m also always on the lookout for a natural version, so if you have any natural food dyes you love, let me know what they are in the comments!
SAM’S TIP: Success with this recipe really comes down to your consistency. Look for a consistency where the icing that drizzles off of the whisk holds its shape for several seconds before dissolving back into the icing bowl (shown below). Icing that is too thin/runny will spread all over your cookies, bleed into the other colors when you pipe it, and take forever to dry. Icing that’s too dry will be difficult to work with. Be a careful judge of the consistency and watch the video below if needed!
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Sugar Cookie Icing
- Start slow – Whisk together the sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and half of the milk.
- Add more milk – Gradually add small splashes of the remaining milk as needed.
- Perfect consistency – Stop adding milk once the icing holds its shape for a few seconds when drizzled back into the bowl.
- Make it pretty! Divide the icing into as many bowls as you need colors and add food coloring as desired.
SAM’S TIP: I find the easiest way to decorate sugar cookies is to first draw an outline around the perimeter of the cookie, flood the inside with icing (but don’t overflow it!), and use a scribe to smooth the surface. Unlike with royal icing, I use the same consistency of icing for outlining and flooding.
Frequently Asked Questions
This icing is not AS hard as royal icing, but it will still dry hard and stackable. I leave the cookies out for several hours or even overnight to let them harden completely.
For super detailed cookies I still recommend using royal icing. You can do some details with this icing (as shown in photos) but it’s not quite as sharp.
If you can’t find corn syrup where you live, glucose syrup will also work. I highly recommend using either option for the best, nicest results though.
If you really must leave it out, you can; however, your icing won’t dry as firmly or as nicely. You may also need to add more milk to get it to the right consistency.
While we are using milk, we will stabilize that milk with lots of sugar. This icing will be fine to sit at room temperature on your cookies for up to 10 days. If you’re making the icing by itself, follow the storing instructions in the recipe notes below.
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
Easy Sugar Cookie Icing
- 3 cups (375 g) powdered sugar, sifted sift after measuring
- 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup see note
- 3-4 Tablespoons milk any kind, divided
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract use clear vanilla extract for pure white icing
- Gel food coloring optional
- Sprinkles or candies for decorating optional
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine powdered sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and 2 Tablespoons of the milk.3 cups (375 g) powdered sugar, sifted, 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup, 3-4 Tablespoons milk, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- If the frosting is too thick, add more milk (1 teaspoon at a time) until Icing is smooth and drizzles in a smooth ribbon from the whisk. To test consistency, drizzle the icing back and forth in the bowl. The ribbon that you drizzle should hold its shape for several seconds before dissolving back into the icing in the bowl. If the frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar until you reach the right consistency.
- Divide the frosting into bowls and add food coloring as desired.Gel food coloring
- Portion the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a tip (I like Wilton 4 or 5) or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off. If using a ziploc, make sure your frosting is thin enough that it won't break open the bag when squeezed.
- Frost cookies and decorate with additional sprinkles or candies if desired.Sprinkles or candies for decorating
- Let the frosting harden completely before stacking and storing; this can take several hours depending on how thick/thin your frosting is and the humidity in your home. I like to leave my cookies out overnight to harden.
Corn SyrupLight corn syrup will produce a firm, shiny finish. You can leave it out, but your frosting won’t set up as nicely, and you may need to add more milk for the right consistency. Glucose syrup will also work.
Making in AdvanceThis frosting will keep for several days at room temperature or in the fridge. To store, place your frosting in a sealed container and press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface. You will need to stir it before using it. Note: you may add food coloring either before or after storing.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.