Tried and True Sugar Cookie Icing Recipes!

There are lots of choices for sugar cookie icing recipes out there.

If you prefer icing that hardens on cookies giving them a professional look, then I have two suggestions.

The first is royal icing - the white, smooth, hard drying icing most often associated with decorating gingerbread men, and making and decorating gingerbread houses.

Depending on its consistency, royal icing can be used as the 'cement' to fasten your gingerbread houses together.

Thinner versions of royal icing are perfect for piping and flooding sugar cookies.

It hardens to a matte finish and can be tinted with food coloring to create a rainbow of colored icing for your sugar cookies.

Traditional royal icing is made with raw egg whites.

I prefer the safe and easy option - royal icing made with meringue powder, a concoction of dried egg whites, sugar, vegetable gum, and cream of tartar available at specialty food stores and places with cake decorating supplies.

Iced Hearts Sugar Cookies

Iced Hearts Sugar Cookies

The second suggestion is a sugar cookie-icing recipe made from a combination of confectioner's sugar, milk, and light corn syrup that creates a beautifully shiny smooth finish. Its consistency can be adjusted quite easily and color modified with food coloring.

Many factors can affect your icing consistency, such as humidity, temperature, ingredients and equipment. You may need to try using different icing consistencies when decorating to determine what works for you. You will want it a little thicker for piping and outlining and a bit thinner for filling in/flooding.

Divide your icing into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to create desired colors. Now comes the creative part. You can pipe icing onto your cookies, paint icing on them with a brush, spread icing with the back of a spoon, squeeze icing onto them from a squeeze bottle, or dip the cookies into icing. Experiment to see what works best for you.

Icing Recipe Tips:

  • These icings dry out quickly, so keep them covered with a wet kitchen towel at all times.
  • I prefer gel food colorings because they are easier to work with, less messy, and provide more brilliant colors. You can find gel food colorings in the cake decorating area of crafts stores, party stores, online, and I even noticed Betty Crocker food coloring gels at my grocery store.

Easy Royal Icing Recipe

  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or extract flavor or your choice
  • 6 tablespoons water
  1. In a large bowl, beat all ingredients at with an electric mixer at low speed until icing holds a ribbon-like trail on the surface of the mixture for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle. This will take several minutes.
  2. For thinner royal icing, add more water a few drops at a time until you get the consistency you want.
  3. For thicker royal icing, add more confectioners' sugar a few spoonfuls at a time until the consistency you want is achieved.

This recipe makes about 2 cups of easy royal icing.

Simple Shiny Sugar Cookie Icing Recipe

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or flavoring of your choice
  1. In a small bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar, milk, corn syrup, and flavoring until the icing is smooth and glossy.
  2. For thinner sugar cookie icing, add more milk a few drops at a time until you get the consistency you want.
  3. For thicker icing, add more confectioners' sugar a few spoonfuls at a time until the consistency you want is achieved. Add food-coloring gel to tint your sugar cookie icing if desired.

This recipe makes about 1/3 cup of simple shiny sugar cookie icing, which is usuall enough for a regular size batch of sugar cookies.

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