This quick and easy shiny cookie icing is perfect for sugar, gingerbread, oatmeal, shortbread, and your favorite cutout cookies. This homemade recipe will hardens as it dries and has a beautiful glossy appearance. It is so pretty and great tasting with sweet powdered sugar and a hint of vanilla. It makes great colored icing for not just cookies but other desserts too.
This recipe is similar to royal icing except it does not have egg whites or meringue powder. Instead, it uses corn syrup to ensure it hardens. Since this powdered sugar cookie glaze is set firm and hardens when it dries, it is perfect for use when making a lot of holiday cookies. It is easy to work with and since it hardens, you can make a lot of cookies at once that can be stored without the worry of them sticking to one another.
Whenever you want to frost and decorate cookies, this is the best icing. It pairs perfectly with my CHOCOLATE GINGERBREAD COOKIES - they are to die for with all the spice of gingerbread but with rich cocoa too. You can stack the cookies once dry to store or to plate with other desserts you may be sharing or giving as Christmas gifts.
I find this homemade cookie icing is perfect also for Valentine's Day, Easter, Independence Day, or other holidays when decorating your favorite sugar cookies, pies, brownies, or other desserts is a tradition. I have used this to drizzle over my Cinnamon Roll Pie for extra frosting and OMG! This is not a thick frosting, buttercream, or one of the many other types of cookie icings.
- Simple Ingredients for Cookie Icing
- How to Make Homemade Icing that Hardens
- Cookie Icing with Confectioners Powdered Sugar
- Add Food Coloring to Cookie Icing
- Decorate Holiday Cookies
- Easiest Cookies Ever
- Substitutions & Variations
- Storing Cookie Icing
- PIN FOR SAFEKEEPING & SHARING!
- Easy Shiny Cookie Icing (that hardens)
Simple Ingredients for Cookie Icing
There are only 4 ingredients in this homemade cookie frosting recipe. Most of them your pantry probably already has. If you want to make this icing vegan or dairy-free, you can substitute the milk for water and it will still work and be delicious. This icing recipe is gluten-free, nut-free, and vegetarian.
- Powdered Confectioner's Sugar (icing sugar)
- Whole Milk
- Light Corn Syrup
- Vanilla Extract
- Gel Food Coloring - optional
How to Make Homemade Icing that Hardens
The key to making cookie icing/frosting that hardens is the Karo corn syrup. When you make this recipe with light corn syrup, the icing will harden in about an hour. It makes it so the cookies can be stacked, stored, or kept together without worrying that your pretty designs will get messed up. This is ideal for when you want to make a lot and stack them on cookie platters to display or wrap them up for cookie holiday gifts.
Cookie Icing with Confectioners Powdered Sugar
First, sift (or use a fork to fluff and separate if you do not own a sifter) powdered sugar into a small mixing bowl. Add 4 teaspoon of milk, 2 teaspoon of corn syrup, and vanilla extract. Stir vigorously with a fork until the icing starts to come together.
To be sure it all comes together, make sure to also use a rubber spatula to scrape down the edges. Continue to stir with a fork until it is smooth and ready to go. Then you can switch to a spoon or other utensil you may want to use to begin decorating.
- If needed, add additional milk or water to thin the icing. It will be the correct consistency if it slowly drips from a spoon or fork as you tip it.
Add Food Coloring to Cookie Icing
For colored icing, separate a bit of plain white icing into small bowls and add drops of gel food coloring and mix thoroughly to combine. Add additional coloring for deeper/darker colors as desired. I recommend a gel food coloring for this so the additional liquid from food coloring drops doesn't react with the base recipe which may cause it not to harden as well.
Decorate Holiday Cookies
The fun of baking during the holidays is more than just how tasty it all is. Being creative to decorate any cookie cutter shapes with fun colors or even sprinkles and other edible decorations is the best part.
This icing is great to add to cookies and other desserts in many ways. Here are some ideas on how to use & apply this icing.
- Dip or Dunk
- Use a Squirt Bottle
- Use food or brand-new paintbrushes
This icing recipe is great for any cookie. Here are some suggestions on what cookies to put this icing on:
- Chocolate Gingerbread
- Cottontail Rabbit Cookies
- Sugar Cookies
- Oatmeal Raisin
- Bar Cookies
- Cobblers & Pies
- Donuts & Scones
Easiest Cookies Ever
Ok cheater TOP TIP HERE! This icing recipe is amazing on store-bought cookie dough. To save time, buy the rolled sugar cookie dough in the refrigerator section. Roll, cut, & bake them up. And in no time they are ready to be iced & decorated. This is my TOP TIP for the holiday season when you have baked a lot and want one more yummy Christmas cookie for an exchange or platter. Shhh, don't tell others my secret!
Substitutions & Variations
Here are some small alternatives and changes you can make to the recipe if needed. Besides adding gel food coloring to make pretty colors, here are some ideas.
- Whole Milk - replace with water to have a dairy-free & vegan cookie icing, you will likely need more sugar since water is not at thick as whole milk.
- Vanilla - replace the extract with almond, peppermint, or lemon extract for a fun tasty twist.
Storing Cookie Icing
This icing can be left out at room temperature for a few hours while decorating and baking. It will not harden if you are constantly stirring and using it. But once it is left untouched for a while, it will set up. Which is good, because that is what you want your cookies to do.
I suggest only making as much as you will use for that day of baking. This is so easy to make, no need to make a large batch ahead of time. If you do have leftovers, store them in an air-tight container on your counter for 1-2 days. To soften it up again, add a bit more corn syrup and milk - a few drops at a time and stir.
PIN FOR SAFEKEEPING & SHARING!
Here are some ideas, questions, and troubleshooting answers when making icing. This cookie icing recipe is easy but sometimes it may stump a new baker. So I hope this helps you out and if not, send me a comment and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Each brand of whole milk or powdered sugar may differ in consistency or thickness. First off make sure you are using whole milk, that is what the measurements call for to ensure a good consistency.
If the icing is too thin, add a ½ tablespoon more powdered sugar at a time and mix. Continue until you have the thickness you desire.
My favorite way to frost a cookie quickly is to dip it into the bowl of icing. Dip it gently and then twist and turn it to let any excess drip off. It will coat the top of the cookie so fast and beautifully.
The cookie icing either unused or on the cookies can be at room temperature for up to 2 days. The small amount of milk in the recipe will not spoil due to all the sugars that sort of act as a short-term preservative. If for some crazy reason all the cookies are not eaten in 48 hours, refrigerate them to enjoy later.
If it is made per the recipe, it will harden and set on the cookies. It will also dry shiny which is another reason I love this quick icing recipe.
Product Recommendations for this Recipe:
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Easy Shiny Cookie Icing (that hardens)
- 1 & ⅔ C confectioners powdered sugar
- 4 teaspoon whole milk
- 2 teaspoon light corn syrup
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- gel food coloring Optional
- Sift (or using a fork to fluff and separate) powdered sugar into a small mixing bowl.
- Add 3 teaspoon of milk, 2 teaspoon of corn syrup, and vanilla extract. Stir vigorously with a fork until icing starts to come together. Using a rubber spatula to scrape down the edges. Continue to stir with a fork until it is smooth and ready to go.
- If needed, add additional milk to thin icing more. It will be the correct consistency if it slowly drips from a spoon or fork as you tip it.
- OPTIONAL - For colored icing, divide a bit of icing into small bowls and add drops of gel food coloring and mix thoroughly to combine. Add additional coloring for deeper/darker colors as desired.
- The icing will thicken and start to harden if not worked with. You can mix vigorously to have it come back to life so it is easier to drip, dip, spread, or pipe onto cookies.
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Caroline Parrott says
Something I have always wondered-if you use milk in the icing, do you have to refrigerate the finished product?
Thanks for the question. You can store the leftover icing in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Bring it to room temperature so it softens before you are ready to decorate. Since this hardens as it dries you may need to add a few drops more of milk to bring it back to the right consistency.
Caroline Parrott says
Thank you Short Order Cook. I think I was confusing with my question. Do the cookies have to be refrigerated due the milk in the icing? I always wonder this when I make icings, frostings, etc with dairy in them. Thanks again!
No, the cookies do not need to be refrigerated once frosted as long as you eat them within 2 days - if they last that long! haha
Great recipe! Easy to keep handy!
Helen at the Lazy Gastronome says
How can anyone turn down a gingerbread man - let alone if he's chocolate!! Thanks for sharing at the What's for Dinner party! Have a fantastic week.
Holly B says
Fantastic recipe!! I'm so excited to try this! I usually use water, not milk!
Glad you found a new version for homemade cooking icing.
Sabrina DeWalt says
I will have yo add this icing recipe to my repertoire.
Chocolate and Gingerbread? My two favorite Christmas time things!
Great, this combination of chocolate and gingerbread will sure be your new favorite Christmas cookie - Merry Christmas and happy baking and decoring.
This looks so yummy and easy. And now I'm in the mood to make some cookies!
Happy cookie baking and I hope you have fun decorating with this icing recipe.
Speaking from experience, you can totally use a plant-based milk or water for the icing and it'll turn out yummy! Cookie icing is such an easy way to liven up cookies! We add them to ours every Christmas!
Yes, thanks for sharing the vegan options for this recipe. Merry Christmas.
Alexis Farmer says
I would totally just eat this icing lol
Suz @ TravelsWithSuz.com says
That's how it's done! Excellent photos. Merry Christmas!
Thank you for the kind comment. Merry Christmas to you too Suz!
I've always wondered how the bakery cookies look like this, who knew how simple it was! Can't wait to use this for our holiday cookies.
This cookie icing recipe is so simple and delicious for sure.
Melissa Jones says
Those look and sound great! I pinned it so I don't lose it!
Thanks so much, Melissa for pinning this icing recipe.
Lisa Manderino says
I like a homemade icing that is easy and delicious!
Marianne G says
Love decorating sugar cookies for Christmas! Thank you for a different spin on an icing recipe.
You are welcome and have fun decorating.
Thank you for this great recipe! I pinned it for later.
Great, thanks for pinning.