Powdered Sugar Icing (Powdered Sugar Glaze)

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.

small whisk with powdered sugar icing with text overlay


 

This quick powdered sugar icing is the best topping for cookies and cakes, especially bundt cake and pound cake. You can even pour a bit on your french toast in the morning.

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.

Easy Icing

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!

whisk drizzling mixed icing into a bowl

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.
overhead bowl of powdered sugar glaze

How To Make Powdered Sugar Icing

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Frost. Use the icing immediately before it starts to stiffen. It will be easier to spread or drizzle immediately after preparing it.
  4. Thin, If Needed. If the icing does begin to harden, whisk it vigorously to bring it back to its smooth, thin consistency.
angle view of powdered sugar icing in a mixing bowl

Variations

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.
small whisk in a bowl of glaze on a blue plate with cookies in the background

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

Can powdered sugar be used as an icing sugar?

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.

How do you make powdered sugar icing taste better?

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.

Are powdered sugar icing and buttercream the same thing?

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.

Is powdered sugar icing the same as royal icing?

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.

collage of powdered sugar icing images for pinterest

More Frosting Recipes

drizzling whisk icing into bowl with text overlay
whisk drizzling mixed icing into a bowl

Powdered Sugar Icing Recipe

3.93 from 66 votes
Easy, 3-ingredient icing recipe that can be used for cookies, cakes, tea cakes or cupcakes. Use as a powdered sugar glaze.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 2 cups

Equipment

Ingredients

Instructions

  • 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.

Video

Notes

If icing hardens, whisk well, heat for 10-15 seconds in the microwave or add a small dab of milk to loosen. 
For vegan and dairy-free alternatives, use oat milk, almond milk, coconut milk, or soy milk.

Nutrition

Calories: 479 kcal, Carbohydrates: 121 g, Protein: 1 g, Fat: 1 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1 g, Cholesterol: 2 mg, Sodium: 8 mg, Potassium: 26 mg, Sugar: 118 g, Vitamin A: 24 IU, Calcium: 20 mg, Iron: 1 mg
Calories: 479
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: 3-ingredient icing, powdered sugar glaze recipe, powdered sugar icing recipe
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and food lover behind Savory Experiments. She is obsessed with butter, salt and bacon and spends all her time in the kitchen and behind a camera. Jessica is a contributor to PopKitchen by Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal Food + Travel and more!

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Recipe Rating




Questions and Reviews

  1. 2 stars
    I definitely needed waaaay more milk than 2 tablespoons. I played around and prob added around 1/4 cup of milk before I had a thick icing I could spread onto gingerbread men!

  2. 5 stars
    I made some cookies over the weekend and this glaze was the perfect thing to add to them. Thanks for sharing the recipe!