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. It is thick enough for detailed icing and yet thin enough to spread easily. And the flavor, thanks to the addition of cream cheese is perfection!
When it comes to sugar cookies, good icing is essential.
And this is the cookie frosting recipe to beat all recipes! It is creamy, tangy, hardens, and is finger-licking good!
The secret? 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 frosting is downright dreamy!
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 for Making Sugar Cookie Icing
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.
- 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, 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 Ideas for Frosting Use
While this is my go-to frosting for sugar cookies, I turn to this frosting 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.