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4.35 from 67 votes

Easy Sugar Cookie Icing Recipe

This easy sugar cookie icing takes the intimidation out of traditional royal icing recipes. It can be made in one bowl (without a mixer!) and is the perfect recipe to quickly frost your holiday cookies.  And much like traditional royal icing, this easy sugar cookie icing dries quickly and develops a hard crust without being crunchy.

Course Dessert
Category Cookie
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 24
Calories 44 kcal
Author Melissa Rose


  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 teaspoons water
  • 4 teaspoons light corn syrup Karo brand is best, see note below
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon vanilla extract, oil-free start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more to your taste
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon almond extract, oil-free start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more to your taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt to help balance out the sweetness
  • Food Coloring


  1. Pour all ingredients a medium sized mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, stir the sugar cookie icing for 1-2 minutes until it is smooth and glossy. When you start stirring, you may think it's never going to work because it looks chunky but keep stirring and it will get smoother.

  2. Once smooth and glossy mix in a tiny bit of food coloring, as desired. If wanting to use multiple colors, this is when you will divide the icing into their own bowls before adding the color.

  3. After adding the food coloring, your icing should be slightly runny, while still keeping its body. It will be at the correct consistency when you drive a knife through the center and the "crease" closes up in 15 seconds. If it takes longer than 15 seconds, you need to add more water (1/8 teaspoon at a time). If it takes shorter than 15 seconds, you need to add a little more powdered sugar (1 teaspoon at a time). *** SEE TUTORIAL VIDEO IN THE POST ABOVE TO WATCH HOW I DO IT ***

    *Different climates and humidity levels can affect how dry the icing is, but this recipe can be adaptable by following the instructions above.

  4. Spoon the icing into piping bags or squeeze bottles with #2 tips. Although harder to control, you can also spoon the sugar cookie icing into plastic ziploc bags and snip off one corner.

  5. To decorate, first outline each cookie with the icing. Once outlined, fill in the rest of the cookie with the icing and use a toothpick to help spread the icing and fill in any holes.

  6. Enjoy the cookies immediately OR allow the icing to harden for about 12 hours, uncovered. You do not need to cover the cookies while they're hardening.  The cookies will stay soft for 4-5 days in an airtight container.

Recipe Notes

Yield: This recipe makes enough frosting to decorate about 2 dozen cookies, depending on the size.

Sugar Cookie Recipes: My current favorite is this one.

Coloring Tip: If using gel food coloring, squeeze a drop of food coloring onto a paper plate. Then take a toothpick and dip it into the droplet. Then, dip the toothpick into the icing. This will help you control the coloring and will prevent you from making the icing darker than you want. It's surprising how just a TINY amount of food coloring will color your icing.

Corn Syrup: Karo brand works best, as cheaper brands can sometimes have trouble setting.

Corn Syrup Substitute: If you do not wish to use corn syrup, you can substitute honey instead. Just note that your cookies may not have the same smooth & shiny finish. Your icing won't be bright white, which doesn't matter as much if you're planning to dye it with food coloring.

Make-Ahead/Freezer Tips: I recommend waiting to ice the cookies until you're a day or two from serving. In this case, bake the cookies and freeze unfrosted. When ready to decorate, allow the cookies to thaw at room temperature before decorating. (You can technically freeze the cookies frosted in an airtight container, but I've found that they are more prone to forming crystals on the top which gives the icing a blotchy look.)

Nutrition Facts
Easy Sugar Cookie Icing Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 44
% Daily Value*
Sodium 13mg1%
Carbohydrates 11g4%
Sugar 11g12%
* Nutritional information is estimated from a online calculator and can vary based on ingredients. Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.