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Sugar Cookie Icing
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.
What You’ll Love ABout this Sugar Cookie Icing
- 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: 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
Commonly Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
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
Optional: gel food coloring
- 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.