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These are the Best Homemade Icing Recipes for Sugar Cookies

Homemade Icing for Sugar Cookies
Sugar cookies are a simple but yummy biscuit treat. Another point that adds to their appeal is their icing. Here's how to make homemade icing for these bite-sized sweets.
Rave Uno
Last Updated: Feb 28, 2018
Gingerbread Christmas Cookies
Sweet sugary taste and easy to make, can there be a biscuit, as perfect as the simple sugar cookie? These cookies were a popular Christmas treat, now they are an all-time favorite. A box of sugar cookies is a delicious and thoughtful gift. A tray of sugar cookies make any occasion, memorable. And the best part of such cookies, is the icing. Colored, royal and plain, sugar cookies have the best icing. In fact, it is highly tempting to lick the icing off and leave the cookie! Now if you make sugar cookies from scratch, what about the icing?
Frosting and Icing
If you are more of a cookie eater, than maker, this is a head scratcher. Frosting and icing are often thought as being the same thing, but they are actually two different methods of dessert decoration. Frosting is thick and creamy in texture. It remains soft to the touch. It is good for forming shapes and designs like rosettes and shells, hence, it is used for desserts like cake and fudge. But icing is a thinner substance, that dries up and thins out, coating the surface in a smooth, glossy layer. It is easier to use, than frosting for a more professional look.
Basic Homemade Icing
Icing cookies
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • Assorted food coloring
Directions: Stir sugar and milk in a bowl, till a smooth mixture is formed. Beat in almond extract and corn syrup, till icing is smooth and glossy. Add more corn syrup, if icing becomes too thick. Distribute icing into different bowls, to add food coloring. Dip cookies into icing or paint with brush. This recipe yields enough icing for 1 dozen cookies.
Butter Icing
Shortbread cookies
  • 1½ cup confectioner's sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk
Directions: Beat sugar, butter, milk and vanilla extract together, until creamy. If the mixture is too thick, add a few drops of milk to even its consistency. For colors, stir in food coloring. Cool cookies and then spread icing.
Royal Icing
Royal icing
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cups, powdered sugar
Directions: Separate egg whites from yolks. Using an electric mixer, mix egg whites and lemon juice. Sift powdered sugar in a bowl. Add powdered sugar to egg white mixture and beat on low speed. The mixture should be smooth. Use a knife or a piping bag to ice the sugar cookies. This icing must be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container, else it will harden.
Low Fat Homemade Icing for Sugar Cookies
Star sugar cookies
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 3½ teaspoons skim milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1½ teaspoon light corn syrup
Directions: Mix sugar and milk in a bowl, till smooth. Beat in corn syrup and vanilla, so the mixture becomes shiny. Add food colorings if desired.
Tips for Icing Sugar Cookies: Tips
  • Make sure the cookies are completely cooled before icing.
  • Color the icing a little darker than the color that you want. Dried icing is lighter in color, than fresh icing.
  • Piping icing works better than knifing icing onto a cookie, as the icing can run off.
  • Use a grease and oil-free bowl to mix your icing.
  • Outline the cookie first with the icing, then fill in the design.
  • If you have missed a spot, use a toothpick to smear the icing. Level the icing, by gently lifting and tilting the cookie.
  • After icing, let your iced cookies dry properly, or the icing will run.
  • Use a #1 or #2 Ateco pastry tip for your icing bag.
  • Pipe on icing, then sprinkle powdered sugar for a sparkling effect called sugaring.
  • Use different extracts (vanilla, almond, lemon, orange) in your icing recipe for a different flavor.
  • Keep the icing covered with a damp cloth and plastic wrap when not used.
Making homemade icing is a fun way for the whole family to get involved in the cookie making process. For where there's icing, there are kids. And the ideas for icing are infinite. For Superbowl, make sugar cookies, iced with jerseys and names, or helmet shaped cookies. For Halloween, make round sugar cookies and use white and black icing to make skulls and ghosts, or orange and yellow to make Jack-O-Lanterns. The above recipes allow for homemade icing without corn syrup as well, so it's good news for those with allergies. So make some cookies and get icing!