Easy Sugar Cookie Icing Recipe

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This easy sugar cookie icing makes decorating a breeze. It’s only 4 ingredients and takes 5 minutes to make.  Create bright and beautiful decorated cookies or a gorgeous marble effect. This is also perfect icing for kids to use! Use it with my classic sugar cookie recipe; it only requires 30 minutes chill time!

overhead shot of decorated Christmas sugar cookies

Homemade Sugar Cookie Icing

I absolutely love making sugar cookies. Sure, it can be a process and require some clean up, but it’s all about making memories and eating a little sugar along the way. We always decorated cookies at Christmas time when we were kids. I loved to help my mom make the cookies and then we would decorate them as a family.

My mom always had two types of frosting, buttercream and icing. While I am partial to buttercream myself, we often used the icing recipe when we were kids. 

The icing is quick & easy, and it’s thin enough that we used to paint it on our cookies with actual paint brushes, how fun is that? It’s perfect for kids because they can do it themselves, or with very little help.

You can use this icing recipe in three different ways: to dip your cookies into, pour over your cookies, or use to make marbled iced sugar cookies; this is my favorite look!

Plate of sugar cookies decorating with marbled sugar cookie icing

Why you’ll love this icing:

  • It only requires 4 ingredients
  • You can make it in 5 minutes with no special tools
  • It dries completely, so they’re easy to store and share
  • It easy to color this icing 
  • You can easily adjust the consistency
  • You can create a gorgeous marble effect
  • It’s the perfect icing for kids

Recipe ingredients:

  • Powdered sugar: It’s important to sift this through a fine mesh colander to break up any lumps
  • Corn syrup: Gives a light sheen to these but also helps to hold the icing together
  • Milk: Any type of milk will work!
  • Flavored extract: Vanilla, Peppermint, Almond or lemon

two plates of sugar cookies decorated with colored icing

How to Make Sugar Cookie Icing

  1. Sift the powder sugar in order to avoid lumps in your icing as it dries
  2. Combine the powdered sugar with the corn syrup and milk and whisk until they’re well combined.
  3. If desired, add ¼ – ½ teaspoon of extract such as vanilla, almond, peppermint or lemon

What’s the correct consistency for icing? 

The consistency should be thinner than corn syrup but thicker than maple syrup. When running off the spoon, it should hold together and slowly drip. A thicker consistency (similar to corn syrup) will work fine, it will just take longer to dry. A thinner consistency is easier for kids to use, especially if they are spreading or painting it on. The thinner the icing, the more transparent it will be once it’s dried.  

How to adjust the consistency: To make the icing thinner, add additional milk 1 teaspoon at a time. You want it to be drippy but not runny. If you think your frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar ¼ cup at a time.

a bowl of white sugar cookie icing

Can You Color Sugar Cookie Icing?

Yes! You can easily add color to this icing. I recommend using Gel colors such as Amerigel (affiliate) or Wilton’s Color Right Color System (affiliate). Amerigel offers lots of individual colors, so you can get super specific, whereas Wilton’s is 8 basic colors that you can mix together to create over 50 different shades. You can purchase them at craft stores, cake supply stores or online.

A Christmas tree shaped cookie with sprinkles and a yellow star cookie

Using Colored Sugar Cookie Icing for Marbling

If you add a couple different drops of color to your bowl of sugar cookie icing, you can use a technique called “marbling” to make pretty cookies with hardly any effort.

The key here is not to mix your icing too much, otherwise the colors you’ve added will blend together and you won’t get the swirly marbling effect when you dip your cookies in the colored icing.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Prepare a batch of icing and divide into bowls for each color. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (affiliate).
  • Use only very small amounts of the gel color and gently swirl with a toothpick. I recommend using 1-2 colors per bowl for the best effect. 
  • Save some of the white icing to the side. This gives you the ability to add some white back in to your swirl. After you dip a few cookies, your icing will start to lose some of the white on the surface
  • Wear some disposable gloves if you have them. These can be a little messy and the gel colors will easily stain (fingers, clothes, counter tops) unless you wash it off right away.
  • Let the icing drip. When dipping your cookies, allow some of the icing to drip back into your bowl before you flip it over, otherwise it will run all over the sides of the cookie.
  • Tilt the cookies: You can change the direction of marble by tilting your cookie as you pull it up from the icing

Bowl of sugar cookie icing with colors added for marbling

How to Store Decorated Sugar Cookies

One question I get a lot is: How do I store my sugar cookies once I’ve decorated them with icing?

The answer is super simple because the icing does dry completely, meaning you’ll be able to stack these cookies once they are fully dry. It can take anywhere from a couple hours to overnight depending on how thick your icing is. You can cover the cookie sheet with foil, but don’t let it touch the cookies. Let these dry completely on a cookie sheet before stacking and then store in an airtight container. 

More sugar cookies you’ll love:

Here’s my Valentine’s Day Sugar Cookies I made with the same effect. Aren’t they gorgeous?

A gorgeous plate of mini sugar cookie decorated with marble icing for Valentine's day featuring red, pink, purple and white.

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overhead shot of decorated Christmas sugar cookies

Sugar Cookie Icing Recipe

  • Author: Beyond Frosting
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 24 cookies

Description

This easy icing recipe makes decorating sugar cookies a breeze. It’s only 4 ingredients and takes 5 minutes to make.  Create bright and beautiful decorated cookies or a gorgeous marble effect.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 23 tablespoons milk
  • 1/41/2 teaspoon extract (optional: vanilla, almond, peppermint or lemon)

Instructions

  1. Combine the sifted powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons of milk in a bowl and whisk until well combined,  then Whisk in the corn syrup. If needed, add additional milk 1 teaspoons at a time to thin out the frosting. If too thin, add an additional 1/4 cup powdered sugar.
  2. To color the icing, divide the icing into separate bowls. Add a small drop of your gel colors to the icing. Mix thoroughly.
  3. To create the marble effect: set aside 1/4 cup of the white icing and divide the remaining icing into bowl. Add one small drop of gel color and use a toothpick to gently swirl the gel.
  4. Gently dip the top of each cookie into the icing and then tilt the cookie to the side to allow excess icing the drip off. Place on a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and allow to dry completely.

Notes

You’ll love my quick and easy sugar cookie recipe, they’re soft, not overly sweet and only 30 minute chill time.

How to adjust the consistency: To make the icing thinner, add additional milk 1 teaspoon at a time. You want it to be drippy but not runny. If you think your frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar ¼ cup at a time.

Storage: The icing does dry completely, meaning you’ll be able to stack these cookies once they are fully dry. It can take anywhere from a couple hours to overnight depending on how thick your icing is. You can cover the cookie sheet with foil, but don’t let it touch the cookies. Let these dry completely on a cookie sheet before stacking and then store in an airtight container.

  • Category: Frosting
  • Method: Whisked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Marble Icing, Sugar cookie icing, Cookie Icing, Easy cookie icing

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