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Sugar Cookie Icing

This sugar cookie icing recipe is super easy, using only 3 or 4 ingredients. Vary the flavor and colors to suit any occasion throughout the year – have fun!

Sugar Cookie Icing
This Sugar Cookie Icing is super easy, needing only a few ingredients.]

Whether you’re sprucing up perfect cut-out cookies for the holidays, or decorating fluffy, soft sugar cookies for a birthday celebration, this sugar cookie icing is the ideal match for all your cookie decorating desires. The goal here is fuss-free icing.

What is Sugar Cookie Icing?

Basic sugar cookie icing is a simple combination of confectioner’s sugar, water, your choice of extracts (or not), and perhaps a bit of corn syrup. Simple cookie icing doesn’t take long to completely dry; it will harden and dry so that you can easily stack the cookies or wrap them up for gifting. Cookies that are iced can be frozen in airtight containers.

  • There are only 3 or 4 ingredients needed; light corn syrup is optional, depending on your needs.
  • You can switch up the flavors easily! Go with classic vanilla extract, or liven up your icing with aromatic almond extract. We even love changing it up with peppermint or lemon extract.
  • Play with colors, to your heart’s content. We love the iconic white icing, but you can gain beautiful colors using your favorite gel food coloring.
  • If you use a bit of corn syrup, this easy icing will stay soft in an airtight container for at least a week.
  • This cookie icing can be piped super simply, using just Ziploc bags with a little hole cut out of the corner. Or, you can use easy Wilton piping bags.
Sugar Cookie Icing
Outline cookies first, let the outline set, and fill in the centers. Use sprinkles immediately, before icing dries.

Sugar Cookie Icing: Pantry Ingredients

  • Confectioner’s Sugar: Otherwise known as powdered sugar, it is the sugar of choice, as it dissolves quickly and provides a smooth consistency.
  • Water: We use water in lieu of milk, as this keeps the icing dairy-free and able to be kept in your pantry at moderate room temperature.
  • Light Corn Syrup: We’ve made icings with and without corn syrup, and have found that corn syrup allows you to make icing ahead of time, as it keeps the icing pliable when in an airtight container or sealed piping bag. However, if you’re using the icing immediately and want a super fast dry-time, you can go without corn syrup.
  • Optional Extracts: This is the fun part! You can actually keep your icing stark white and plain-flavored by using just a bit of water instead of extracts. Otherwise, feel free to experiment with a touch of vanilla, almond, lemon, or peppermint extracts. Our personal favorite is almond extract.
  • Optional Gel Coloring: It’s highly recommended you use gel food coloring, as it thicker and contains less water to interfere with the texture of icing.
sugar cookie icing
Icing without corn syrup dries quickly. Icing with corn syrup takes longer to dry, but keeps longer in the pantry.
Do I have to use corn syrup in cookie icing?

Corn syrup is an optional ingredient that helps the icing to keep pliable and soft until ready to use. Adding a bit of corn syrup allows the icing to keep for up to a week in the pantry, in an airtight container or sealed piping bag. That said, you can omit corn syrup if you will be using the icing immediately. Without corn syrup, the icing dries super fast once piped onto cookies.

What if my powdered sugar icing turns out too thick or too thin?

It’s really easy to fix icing that’s either too thick or thin. If icing turns out too thick, simply add 1 teaspoon of water at a time, stirring, until it reaches the right consistency. If icing is too thin, add 1 Tablespoon of powdered sugar at a time, stirring, until it thickens up.

Can I make sugar cookie icing ahead of time?

You can definitely make icing well in advance. If doing so, we recommend using the corn syrup indicated, as it will allow icing to keep nicely when stored airtight at moderate room temperature.

Can I freeze cookies that have powdered sugar icing on them?

Happily, yes, you can freeze iced cookies in an airtight container for up to a month; they’ll still taste wonderfully fresh once defrosted.

Use These Perfect Cut-Out Cookies

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Sugar Cookie Icing

Sugar Cookie Icing

5 from 5 ratings
This sugar cookie icing recipe is super easy, using only 3 or 4 ingredients, depending on your needs. Vary the flavor and colors to suit any occasion throughout the year.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1.5 cups
Author: Amy Dong



  • In a bowl, add confectioner's sugar, 4 TB water, corn syrup, and extract. Use a small hand whisk to mix well. If it's too thick to mix, add 1/2 TB water at a time, until mixture is a consistency similar to honey.
  • If using, stir in 1-2 drops of gel food coloring at a time until desired tint is achieved. Color will darken a bit as it dries.
  • Spoon icing into these easy piping bags, or use Ziploc bags with a tiny hole cut out of the corner tip. Drizzle icing over cookies, or outline the cookies first and let the outline set for 5-10 minutes. Then, fill in the centers of the outlined cookies. If you're topping icing with sprinkles, do so immediately, before icing dries.


*Corn syrup is useful if you’re making the icing ahead of time and would like it to stay soft and pliable in the pantry. Keep icing in an airtight container for several days at moderate room temperature.
*If you’d like to omit corn syrup, use the icing immediately, as it will dry out easier. Icing without corn syrup will dry super fast on piped cookies, which can be a benefit. 
*For super white, plain-sugar flavored icing, replace extract with water. 
*We love using almond extract in place of vanilla extract! Or use 1/4 tsp vanilla, 1/4 tsp almond extracts for the perfect combination. You can try lemon or peppermint extracts, too.
*Set cookies on a sheet of wax paper, for easy icing cleanup. 
*If icing is too thick, add 1 tsp water at a time to thin it out. If icing it too thin, add 1 TB confectioner’s sugar at a time until it’s thickened.
*If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating ♡

Nutrition (per serving)

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 57kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Potassium: 7mg | Sugar: 8g | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 0.1mg
Course: desserts
Cuisine: American, desserts
Diet: Gluten Free, Low Salt, Vegan, Vegetarian
Method: Stir

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Recipe Rating

1 comment

    • Cindy Schmiedeberg

    Can food coloring be used instead of food gel? I’m not familiar with food gel.

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