Lemon Glaze Icing

Lemon glaze icing cupcake

The Spruce 

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 5 mins
Yield: 1/2 cup

A lemon glaze icing recipe is a handy one to have in the kitchen when baking as it can turn a basic dessert into something special. Drizzle over a lemon pound cake, sugar cookies, quick bread, scones, or puff pastry treats. It's intrinsic to an Easter favorite—the hot cross bun—as it is used to create the crosses on top of the sweet rolls. But lemon plays well with so many flavors that once you start adding this glaze to baked goods, you'll be surprised by how versatile this citrus fruit truly is (try it on these lemon cream cheese cookies). From berries (especially blueberry) to ginger to almond and yes, even chocolate candy, lemon adds its signature sweet-tart taste without the heft and sugar hit of a lemon frosting.

Sometimes, lemons require a little coaxing to yield all their juices. Before you start the lemon icing, take them out of the fridge for a bit until they reach room temperature. Once they do, they'll be a little softer and you can "loosen up" the flesh. This will allow more juice to release when you start to work with them. Using the palm of your hand, roll the whole lemon on a countertop or cutting board, gently pressing down while doing so. Then, zest your lemon and juice it. (Although there is a tool designated to zest citrus, a Microplane is much easier and more efficient and is worth adding to your kitchen tool collection.)  


  • 1 cup powdered sugar (confectioners' sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Optional: 1 small drop yellow food coloring

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for lemon glaze icing
    The Spruce 
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, milk, and food coloring if desired.

    Ingredients for lemon glaze in a bowl
    The Spruce
  3. Stir until the mixture is smooth.

    Lemon glaze mixed together in a bowl with a spoon
    The Spruce 
  4. Drizzle over cookies, cakes, and other baked goods. Serve and enjoy.

    Lemon glaze icing drizzled on top of a cupcake
    The Spruce  

How to Store Lemon Glaze Icing

If you don't use all of this glaze at once, it can be used again as long as you refrigerate it in an airtight container. Bring the glaze to room temperature before you use it. If it seems too thin for your purposes, add a little more powdered sugar, in very small amounts, until you reach the right consistency. If the glaze is too thick, add in a bit of milk until it thins out to your liking.


  • Before drizzling the glaze onto a baked good, it is important that you let it cool completely. If you pour the glaze onto a warm cake or cookie, the icing will quickly be absorbed instead of sitting on top, or worse yet, run off the sides.
  • Once the icing hardens on the cake or cookie, you can keep it at room temperature for a week or so.

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