Lemon Glaze Icing Recipe

Cupcakes covered with lemon glaze icing running down the sides

The Spruce Eats

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 5 mins
Yield: 1/2 cup
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
440 Calories
0g Fat
112g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 440
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 1mg 0%
Sodium 13mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 112g 41%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 109g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 7mg 37%
Calcium 26mg 2%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 46mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A quick 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. Easily made with few ingredients, our lemon glaze recipe is perfect to drizzle over a lemon pound cake, sugar cookies, quick bread, scones, or puff pastry treats. Because lemon flavor plays well with so many others, once you start adding this glaze to baked goods, you'll be surprised how versatile this citrus mixture is: Try it on lemon cream cheese cookies, hot cross buns, blueberry-flavored loaves, ginger or almond cakes, and even on chocolate candy. Lemon adds its signature sweet-tart taste without the heft of conventional or buttery frostings.

Before you start preparing the lemon icing, take the lemons out of the fridge for a bit until they reach room temperature. Sometimes, lemons require a little coaxing to yield all their juices and being at room temperature makes them a little softer and easier to work with. 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. We found that although there is a tool designated to zest citrus, a Microplane is much easier and more efficient when working with lemons and limes.

When using icing, remember that your baked goods should be cooled off completely before being glazed, or you might encounter a lot of run-off glaze at your work station, or the glaze might be absorbed into the cake. Unless the glaze needs to be spread out on a flat cake, it's always best to work with cool cakes and cupcakes.


Click Play to See This Tangy Lemon Glaze Icing Come Together

"This glaze is an easy way to top your favorite pastry without the labor of making a full frosting. It takes just moments to whip up, and the icing is not too sweet because of the lemon juice and zest. It would be perfect with a lemon, poppyseed, or even a berry cake." —Tracy Wilk

Lemon Glaze Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 cup powdered sugar

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed

  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest, freshly grated

  • 1 tablespoon milk

  • 1 small drop yellow food coloring, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for lemon glaze icing recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats

  2. In a medium bowl, combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, milk, and food coloring, if using.

    Confectioners' sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, milk, and food coloring added to a large bowl

    The Spruce Eats

  3. Vigorously stir until the mixture is smooth.

    Lemon glaze icing stirred smooth with a spoon

    The Spruce Eats

  4. Drizzle over cookies, cakes, and other baked goods. Serve and enjoy.

    Lemon glaze icing being drizzled over cupcakes on a wire cooling rack

    The Spruce Eats

What to Do if the Icing Is Too Thin or Too Thick?

Fixing watery or thick icing takes just a matter of minutes:

  • If your icing is too watery, it means you used too much liquid. Even if it seems like too little, a tablespoon of milk is all you need per cup of powdered sugar. But if you were tempted to add more, then your glaze is going to be really thin and run off easily from cakes and cupcakes. Add 1/4 cup of powdered sugar at a time and mix well until you've achieved a better consistency. Always start with a little sugar and add more as needed. Because the measurements will be off-balance, you also need to add a few drops of lemon juice to offset the sweetness of the added sugar.
  • If your icing is too thick, work in reverse, adding a little milk at a time. Start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more if needed.

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 the glaze 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 seems too thick, add in a bit of milk until it thins out to your liking.

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