Easy Lemon Glaze for Desserts

Lemon bundt cake

Creative Commons/Wikimedia

  • Total: 12 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 2 mins
  • Yield: 1/2 cup (10 servings)
Ratings (34)

This easy lemon glaze recipe is made with only three ingredients: confectioners' sugar, milk, and fresh lemon juice or lemon extract.

It's perfect drizzled on pound cakes, rum cakes, Bundt cakes, coffee cakes, sweet rolls, cookies, and more.

To extract the most juice as possible out of your lemon, let it be at room temperature. Using firm pressure, roll it back and forth under your palm on the counter a few times. Alternatively, microwave it for 15 seconds. Make sure it is cool to the touch before handling.  

What You'll Need

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh, or 1 teaspoon lemon extract)

How to Make It

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth.
  2. Whisk in lemon juice or 1 teaspoon (or to taste) lemon extract and brush or drizzle on warm or cooled cake.
  3. Store any leftovers in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator. To use on a future dessert, let it come to room temperature or heat in a microwave until pourable.

Glazes Differ From Icing and Frosting

Glazes can be sweet or savory and have many applications.

  • A dessert glaze is typically made with confectioners' sugar, milk or water, flavoring, and sometimes food color. It can have a thin or thicker consistency but is usually transparent and pourable and applied to cookies, pastries, and cakes. In many cases, it is made intentionally thin so it can drip down the sides of a cake for effect.
  • A savory glaze can be made with reduced meat stock and used to give shine and flavor to hot and cold foods.
  • An egg wash brushed on baked goods to give shine and color also is known as a glaze.

Icings and Frostings

The terms icing and frosting are used interchangeably but they are not the same. If push came to shove, the differences between frostings and icings would be these:

  • Most frostings start with butter. American buttercream frosting is made with confectioners' sugar, butter, and water or milk.
  • But culinary snobs consider American buttercream to be an inferior cake cover, opting instead for Italian meringues or French buttercreams, which are made with cooked whole eggs or egg whites.
  • Another common cooked frosting is known as seven-minute frosting that is made by cooking egg whites, corn syrup, sugar, and cream of tartar in a double boiler on the stove top while beating for 7 minutes.
  • Icings include poured and rolled fondant and royal icing, the mortar used in gingerbread-house building and used to make sugar flowers.
  • Frostings are used to fill and coat the outside of a cake. They are usually fluffy and have a cream or butter base with a thick, gooey and buttery taste.
  • Icings, on the other hand, are glossy, thin, and sugary and are typically used to glaze cakes and pastries and are made with sugar, egg whites, butter, or cream.
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
555 Calories
5g Fat
127g Carbs
4g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)