Are you looking for a frosting for your sugar cookies that is easy to make, tastes delicious, and hardens perfectly? This is the sugar cookie icing 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!
Sugar Cookie Icing is a must for decorating Cut Out Sugar Cookies. Yet not just any icing will do. You want an icing that not only makes your cookies look beautiful but also TASTES delicious!
And this sugar cookie icing is the ONLY icing I use.
Reasons to Love This Icing Recipe
- Made with Cream Cheese. Adding cream cheese to this icing recipe adds a bit of tang to help balance out the sweetness in the frosting and it helps to make it super, super creamy.
- No Corn Syrup or Raw Eggs. 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!
- Hardens Perfectly. This icing will harden just enough to be stackable, yet stay soft and creamy for your enjoyment.
- Easy to Use. You don't need to be a pastry chef or have ANY skills to make or use this cookie icing. It can simply be spread on cookies using a butter knife.
- Versatile Frosting. While this is my go-to frosting for cookies, it is also perfect to use for cinnamon rolls or to ice pumpkin bread or banana bread.
Ingredients for Sugar Cookie Icing
- 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.
- Butter: Use unsalted butter to control the overall sodium.
- Powdered Sugar: Use sifted powdered sugar for the best texture.
- Vanilla Extract: To flavor the icing.
- Milk: Use any type of milk or cream you like, regular or non-dairy.
∗ Tips for the Perfect Sugar Cookie Icing∗
The process of making sugar cookie icing is quite simple, but there are a few key things to remember that will help you achieve perfectly creamy and smooth frosting. You will find detailed instructions and photos in the recipe card.
- 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 like thicker icing for piping purposes (and for the taste!), but you can add 1 teaspoon of additional milk at a time to get the desired consistency.
How to Ice Sugar Cookies
This sugar cookie icing can be used as a simple frosting or to pipe elaborate decorations, or icing your Christmas Cookies.
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.
- Refrigerate: 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.
- Freeze: 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. Store the cookies in the freezer for up to one month. To serve, let cookies defrost in the fridge for 12 hours or leave at room temperature for a few hours before enjoying.
More Easy & Delicious Dessert Recipes
- How to Make Homemade Whipped Cream
- Easy Shortbread Cookie Recipe
- Homemade Chocolate Syrup
- Easy Chocolate Bark Recipe
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 extract
- 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. At this point ice cookies, cakes, cinnamon rolls, etc as desired.
- 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.
To Ice Cookies
- Dye frosting with food dye if desired. Then use an offset spatula or knife to spread icing on the cookies. Alternatively, transfer the 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.
This recipe was originally published in 2019 but was updated in 2020 with new tips.