Sugar cookie lovers won’t want to miss this 3-ingredient recipe for The Best Sugar Cookie Icing that sets firm without the need for meringue powder or egg whites.

A closeup view of homemade sugar cookies frosted with the best sugar cookie icing in vibrant pink and bright white

While you might be most familiar with smooth, matte royal icing on your sugar cookies, it can be a bit unwieldy to use and mix up. With this in mind, I created a delicious shortcut recipe for cookie icing that achieves nearly the same consistency when set. It’s fast, free of corn syrup and easily sets to form that iconic shiny, flavorful topping for cookies in every color of the rainbow.

A clear bowl containing confectioners’ sugar next to two small bowls containing melted butter and whole milk

Is Cookie Icing the Same as Royal Icing?

While many cookies are often topped with royal icing, this cookie icing differs in that it’s made simply with confectioner’s sugar, butter and milk. No meringue powder or egg whites necessary!

A whisk over a clear bowl containing easy icing made with butter

Cookie icing can be used in almost the same way you’d use royal icing. You can dip your cookies directly into the icing, or pipe or spoon on cookie icing to “flood” the tops of your cookies. This cookie icing won’t dry exactly as hard as royal icing, but 10 minutes of cooling time will allow it to fully set.

A whisk over a bowl containing frosting made from confectioners' sugar, butter and whole milk

How Do You Decorate Sugar Cookies Like a Pro?

The real beauty of this recipe is that other than not needing any fancy ingredients, you really don’t need any fancy equipment either. Just a bowl and a whisk will get you in business, and then I use one of two methods to ice my cookies:

  • Dip the cookies into the icing and shake off any excess
  • Use a small spoon or offset spatula to spread the icing atop the cookies
A top-down view of sugar cookies with white and pink icing and rainbow sprinkles atop a wire rack

No matter which method you choose, if you’re going the route of sprinkles, it’s important to add them immediately after you apply the icing, as the icing does set semi-firm. If you wait too long, the sprinkles won’t adhere to the icing.

You can also dye this icing any color of the rainbow using either regular food coloring or gel-based food coloring. I prefer the latter because you get a much more vibrant color with just a few drops.

Bakery-style sugar cookies topped with icing and rainbow sprinkles atop a wire rack
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Dessert

The Best Sugar Cookie Icing

Sugar cookie lovers won't want to miss this 3-ingredient recipe for The Best Sugar Cookie Icing that sets firm without the need for meringue powder or egg whites.
5 from 1 vote
A closeup view of homemade sugar cookies frosted with the best sugar cookie icing in vibrant pink and bright white
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Total Time 10 mins

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 Tablespoons whole milk, plus more as needed
  • Food coloring (optional)

Instructions 

  • Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl.
  • Add the whole milk and melted butter and whisk until smooth. If the icing is too thick, whisk in additional whole milk 1 teaspoon at a time until thinner. If desired, whisk in food coloring.
  • Dip cookies into icing or use a spoon to spread it into a thin layer on tops of cookies. Let the cookies sit at room temperature until the icing sets, about 10 minutes.
  • ★ Did you make this recipe? Don't forget to give it a star rating below!

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Nutrition

Calories: 1161kcal, Carbohydrates: 242g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 24g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 66mg, Sodium: 25mg, Potassium: 79mg, Sugar: 237g, Vitamin A: 773IU, Calcium: 64mg, Iron: 1mg

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Comments

    1. It’ll set so it’s best used right away, however you can microwave it to bring it back to a pliable consistency if needed.

  1. 5 stars
    I used your sugar cookie recipe with this icing and everyone agrees that they are the absolute best cookies I’ve ever made! Thank you so much for sharing your easy-to-follow recipes and making me look like a great baker – ha! :)

  2. Hi there
    could the icing work with margarine, water and a non fat milk?
    Slight dairy allergy so always on the lookout for recipes that can be adapted.