One of the easiest ways to ice a cake or cookies is to whip up some powdered sugar glaze. While some might call it a frosting, it is most certainly more of a glaze.
To make icing with powdered sugar, it takes just a few steps and then – voila! – you have a smooth, creamy icing to spread or drizzle on your baked goods. It’s as perfect for a party as it is for that donation to the school bake sale you found out about at the last minute.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It’s easy– powdered sugar icing comes together in just minutes with ingredients you likely already have in your refrigerator and pantry. It can be prepared on the fly if a guest pops by and it pairs perfectly with nearly any cake or cookie.
- It’s fast– with only three ingredients, you can whip this icing up in nearly no time at all making it a go-to for topping baked goods quickly.
- It’s easy to adapt- there are tons of ways to add various flavors to this simple powdered sugar icing. See our ideas below, or experiment with your own additions.
- It’s simple, yet elegant- powdered sugar icing looks absolutely beautiful drizzled on a bundt cake or over crunchy cookies.
Powdered sugar icing is so simple to make and it’s super adaptable, too. If you want to make icing without milk you can use any number of alternative milks on the market.
Since you likely have all of the ingredients on hand at your house, making powdered sugar icing allows you to skip the trip to the store to buy packaged frosting. Plus, a cake with powdered sugar icing spilling down its sides looks so much prettier!
Powdered Sugar Icing Ingredients
Simple ingredients for homemade icing will result in the right consistency and best results. For sugar cookies, swap milk with cream and place into a plastic bag, frosting pag or freezer bag with a corner snipped to drizzle or draw.
- Powdered sugar– produced by milling granulated sugar, powdered sugar is extremely fine and dissolves well in liquid like the milk in this recipe.
- Vanilla extract– you can make your own homemade vanilla extract or you can grab it at your local grocery store.
- Milk– while you can use lower fat milk, whole milk will work best. For a dairy-free or vegan icing, you can substitute oat milk, almond milk, coconut milk, or soy milk.
How To Make Powdered Sugar Icing
- Gather Ingredients. Fill a small bowl with the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and milk. Be sure to choose a bowl that allows enough room to mix the ingredients thoroughly.
- Combine. Whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk until smooth. All of the powdered sugar should be fully dissolved in the mixture. Using a whisk is important so that you can incorporate air into the icing while mixing. A whisk also makes for more efficient mixing.
- Frost. Use the icing immediately before it starts to stiffen. It will be easier to spread or drizzle immediately after preparing it.
- Thin, If Needed. If the icing does begin to harden, whisk it vigorously to bring it back to its smooth, thin consistency.
Use this recipe as a base for unlimited customizations for nearly any sweet recipe you can think of.
- Extracts– instead of pure vanilla extract, use orange, lemon, coconut, almond extract, or even maple for a twist on the original.
- Juices– a touch of fresh lemon juice or fresh orange juice can add a tang to this simple icing. Other juices like cranberry and apple will work as well. Adjust the powdered sugar to taste after adding the juice.
- Cinnamon sugar– especially in the fall, cinnamon sugar can be a perfect addition to create a seasonal sugar icing. Sprinkle it into the icing, or on top after drizzling the icing on cakes or cookies. Pumpkin pie spice is another winner.
- Chocolate- add two tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder to your icing for a chocolatey version.
- Berries– puree ¼ cup of strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries, then combine with the powdered sugar icing. You may want to add more powdered sugar to taste.
- Food color– give your powdered sugar icing a kick by adding any food coloring you like.
- Liqueur– Something like amaretto or Baileys is a fun way to swap out the milk.
- Syrups– Maple syrup or blond syrup can be another fun swap for the liquid.
- Heavy Cream– use heavy cream instead of milk for a thicker consistency.
Ways to Use Icing
This glaze can be used for many purposes.
How to Store Leftover Icing
Icing can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days. It will harden, so microwave it for 10-15 seconds to soften then vigorously rewhisk.
I do not recommend freezing this glaze recipe. It is simple enough with just 3 ingredients to make another batch.
Commonly Asked Questions
Yes, and in fact many times they are the same thing. Powdered sugar, confectioners sugar, icing sugar and 10X (in reference to the size) are all milled to the same size grain and can be used interchangeably in recipes.
Without the use of flavor this icing will merely taste like sugar. Using extracts (vanilla, almond, butter), juices (orange, lemon, lime, cranberry), purees (raspberry or blackberry) and sometimes even alcohol (Amaretto or liqueror) will give it better and more robust flavor.
While the names are commonly interchangeably used, they are different. Most notably, buttercreams and frostings use butter or shortening as a base with icings and glazes do not.
No, royal icing uses egg whites or meringue powder. In many recipes they can be used the same, but powdered sugar icing will not hold the same structure like royal icing in cookie decoration unless thickened considerably.
More Frosting Recipes
Powdered Sugar Icing Recipe
- In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk until smooth.
- Use immediately before the icing starts to stiffen. To thin, whisk vigorously.
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.