This is the best recipe for Sugar Cookie Frosting! It is easy to make, hardens perfectly, and most importantly, it tastes delicious!
Sugar Cookie Icing is a must for Cut Out Sugar Cookies. Yet not just any icing will do.
This is the cookie frosting recipe to beat all recipes! It is a simple, flavorful recipe that is thick enough for detailed icing and yet thin enough to spread easily. And the flavor is out of this world!
The ingredient that makes this the best sugar cookie frosting is cream cheese. The cream cheese gives this frosting a bit of tang and balances out the sweetness. It also makes the frosting super creamy. You guys this sugar cookie icing is downright dreamy!
Notes on Ingredients
This sugar cookie frosting only requires 6 ingredients. And there is NO corn syrup or raw egg in this frosting! I hear you rejoicing with me!
- Cream Cheese: Full fat cream is a MUST for this recipe. Using fat-free or low-fat cream cheese may cause your icing to separate and not be as thick and creamy.
- Milk: Use any type of milk or cream you like--regular or non-dairy.
Tips to Remember
The process for making sugar cookie frosting is quite simple, but there are a few key things to remember that will help you achieve perfectly creamy and smooth frosting.
- Be sure your cream cheese and butter are at room temperature. If not the cream cheese and butter will not cream well and this could cause your sugar icing to be lumpy.
- Sift your powdered sugar. Is this step really necessary? YES! If you want super creamy, lump-free sugar cookie frosting, then this is one step you don't want to skip!
- Thin to your liking. I personally like thicker icing for piping purposes (and for the taste!), but you can add 1 teaspoon additional milk at a time to get the desired consistency.
How to Make Perfect Sugar Cookie Frosting
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.
- Add in the vanilla extract and salt and beat to combine.
- Add the sifted powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time, mixing on low speed to incorporate.
- Add in one tablespoon of milk at a time, until the frosting comes together and the desired consistency is reached.
- If it is too thin, add ¼ cup more powdered sugar, if it is too thick, add another ½ to 1 tablespoon of milk a at time.
How to Ice Sugar Cookies
This sugar cooking icing is perfect for using to just frost and enjoy or it can be used to make elaborate decorations.
Regardless of how you decorate your cookies, be sure to only ice COOLED COOKIES. If you try to frost warm cookies, your frosting will melt right off the cookie.
The EASY Way
- If you want to color your frosting, divide your frosting into as many bowls as colors you want. Then add in a couple of drops of dye and mix well, adding more dye as needed to achieve the color you desire. I love using natural food dyes, but any dye works well. Just keep in mind that it typically only takes a couple of drops of coloring!
- Spread the icing onto cookies with just a butter knife, a tiny offset knife, or a small spatula.
- Once the cookies are topped with a layer of icing, add sprinkles if desired.
- Let the cookies lay out on parchment paper or wax paper until the icing hardens to the touch before storing.
For More Detailed Decorations
If you are looking to get a bit more elaborate with your sugar cookie decorating, be sure the icing is a bit thicker so that it can be piped out and hold its shape.
- Dye your icing using food coloring as desired.
- Transfer the icing into a piping bag fitted with the desired tip or a sandwich bag (that you can cut off the tip and squeeze out the frosting).
- Pipe on decorations as desired and add sprinkles and embellishments while the frosting is still soft.
- Let the iced cookies sit out on parchment paper or wax paper to harden before storing.
Storing Iced Cookies
Regardless of how you ice your cookies, you will want them to set out for several hours to hours to harden. This cream cheese frosting will not become rock hard but does harden enough to be stackable without smudging the frosting.
Once the icing has hardened to the touch, stack the cookies in an airtight container, separated by layers of parchment or wax paper.
Iced Cookies are best stored in the refrigerator for 5-7 days, due to the cream cheese and milk in the frosting. I do recommend removing cookies from the refrigerator for an hour or so before eating, as the flavor is best at room temperature.
Iced cookies can also be frozen for up to one month. To freeze iced cookies, let the icing harden fully. Then place cookies on a baking sheet and place in the freezer and freeze for one hour, or until frozen solid. Then transfer to a freezer-safe container. Stack cookies between layers of parchment paper or wax paper in a freezer-safe container, not a bag--your cookies are fragile and could break easily if stored in a bag. To serve, let cookies defrost in the fridge for 12 hours or leave at room temperature for a few hours before enjoying.
Additional Ways to Use Frosting Use
While this is my go-to frosting for sugar cookies, I turn to this recipe for so many other uses!
- Spread on top of homemade cinnamon rolls for a delectable cream cheese frosting.
- Use as the frosting for cupcakes or cake.
- Top banana bread with this frosting and turn it into dessert.
- Spread pumpkin muffins with cream cheese frosting for a muffin that tastes like Pumpkin Roll.
I would love for you to leave a review or comment below if you enjoyed this recipe for Sugar Cookie Icing.
Sugar Cookie Icing
- 4 ounces cream cheese softened
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2 to 3 cups powdered sugar sifted
- 2-3 tablespoons milk
- In a large bowl using a handheld mixer, or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy.
- Add in vanilla and salt and mix to combine.
- Add in 2 cups of sifted powdered sugar and beat on low speed until just combined. Add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time and beat on low to medium speed until the right consistency is reached. You want the frosting to be thick, but not stiff. It should drip in a thick ribbon from the beaters when the right consistency is reached.
- If you want the frosting a little thicker, add ¼ cup more powdered sugar at time. I typically find that 2 cups are perfect for frosting cookies and 2 ½ cups are best for cakes and cupcakes.
- At this point ice cookies, cakes, cinnamon rolls, etc as desired.
To Ice Cookies
- Dye frosting with food dye if desired. Then use an offset spatula or knife to spread icing on cookies. Alternatively, transfer icing to a piping bag fitted with a small tip to ice cookies more precisely.
- Add sprinkles if desired, while the frosting is still wet.
- Let cookies harden for 12-24 hours at room temperature. Once the icing has hardened to the touch, stack the cookies in an airtight container, separated by layers of parchment or wax paper.
- Store iced cookies in refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
- Be sure to use full-fat cream cheese and unsalted butter in this recipe.
- Do not forget to sift your powdered sugar for a creamy frosting!
- You can store frosting for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 2 months in the freezer. After freezing, thaw in the refrigerator then beat again to make frosting creamy.
- To freeze iced cookies, let the icing harden fully. Then place cookies on a baking sheet and place in the freezer and freeze for one hour, or until frozen solid. Then transfer to a freezer-safe container. Stack cookies between layers of parchment paper or wax paper and seal the container. Freeze for up to 1 month. Let defrost in the fridge or at room temperature.
- This recipe will ice about 3 dozen cookies.
This recipe was originally published in 2019 but was updated in 2020 with new tips.
I was looking for a yummy icing to us to decorate my Easter sugar cookies that was a bit thicker than a glaze but didn't use shortening. This icing with cream cheese is so nice, tasty, easy to use for decorating and it hardens enough to stack the cookies once you leave them out at room temperature for a few hours. This will be my new go to icing recipe!
This is exactly what my daughter wanted and it gave her so many memories! Perfect for our cookies!
YAY! That makes me so happy to hear Jen! Thanks for sharing!
BEST frosting !!! And so easy to make . Thanks for sharing my Family loves it .
I am so glad you and your family enjoyed the frosting Valerie.
Thanks for sharing this recipe! I wanted to ask what chocolate you used for the trees? These are so adorable and would love to make these with my daughters.
Hi Michelle! This is actually brown icing (made with gel colors.) However, I do melt semi-sweet chocolate chips at times to use for the tree trunk and that is delicious!!!
Thank you so much Kristen, We are looking forward to making your recipe. Merry Christmas!!!
Can I substitute Nechafel for Cream cheese?
Yes, absolutely---just not fat-free cream cheese. Enjoy!
This is absolutely the best icing for sugar cookies that I’ve ever tried! From now on, this is my go-to recipe! Thanks!
YAY! This makes me so happy! Thanks for sharing!
I never knew this kind of icing existed. Those ingredients make it so tasty.
So glad to hear you enjoyed this "new" icing recipe Jane 🙂 Thanks for sharing your review 🙂
I gave this frosting recipe a test run before my holiday baking, and I LOVED it! That tangy creamy flavor was really delicious, thank you!
I love that you enjoyed this Dini! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.
Is it possible to use keto versions of powdered sweetener? Because regular powdered sugar has corn starch in it. What attracted me to your recipe, is that you stated, "no corn syrup". I need a corn free recipe.
Hi Sabrina. I would actually suggest making your own powdered sugar using regular sugar. You can use this method. Hope that helps.
This recipe is delicious, but I ran into the problem of it not hardening. I let it sit out for 24 hours and it still feels sticky. Is it because I reduced the amount of powdered sugar?
Hi Shing. The powdered sugar is what gives this icing it's consistency and allows it to set up, so reducing it would alter that. I am glad you enjoy the flavor though.
Since there is cream cheese in the icing, do the iced cookies need to be refrigerated?
Iced Cookies are safe to be kept at room temperature for 24 hours. A lot of people have testified to me that they have used this icing and kept at room temperature for up to 3 days, but I ere on the side of caution because this frosting has cream cheese, and store in the refrigerator after 24 hours and then store for up to 5 days.
This recipe is so perfect! The hint of vanilla is the extra special touch!
I am so glad you enjoyed Erica 🙂
Is it bad that all I wanted to do was eat the frosting? This is my new go-to frosting recipe. Thanks!