Sugar Cookie Frosting

sugar cookie frosting

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 10 mins
Servings: 60 servings
Yield: 2 1/4 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
43 Calories
2g Fat
7g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 60
Amount per serving
Calories 43
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 2%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 4mg 1%
Sodium 4mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 2mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 3mg 0%
*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.)

This yummy sugar cookie frosting is the perfect topping for holiday sugar cookies. It's a creamy, fluffy frosting, and you only need 5 simple ingredients and 10 minutes to make it. The frosting is made with the perfect amount of butter and confectioners' sugar and enough vanilla extract to make everyone smile. Unlike royal icing that dries and hardens, this frosting stays soft and creamy. It's our best, easiest frosting for sugar cookies!

Other cookie frostings may look pretty, but they might not offer much in the way of flavor—this one has it all! It's versatile, too. Add a little more or a little less milk to change the thickness—you can spread or pipe the frosting or thin it enough to drizzle over the cookies. Use it to frost sugar cookies, gingerbread, or shortbread, or use it to fill whoopie pies.

"This is the perfect frosting recipe to add to your soft sugar cookies, but also can be used to top cupcakes, fill whoopie pies, or anything else you may need frosting for. The method used in this recipe is very simple, so you may find that you never need to buy frosting again!" —Tracy Wilk

Sugar Cookie Frosting Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

  • 4 cups (453 grams) sifted confectioners' sugar

  • 3 to 5 tablespoons milk

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • Dash of salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients for sugar cookie frosting

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

  2. In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on low, beat the softened butter with the confectioners' sugar, 3 tablespoons of milk, vanilla extract, and salt until well blended. Increase the mixer's speed to medium-high and continue beating for 2 to 3 minutes, or until fluffy, adding extra milk, a teaspoon or two at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.

    sugar cookie frosting in a mixing bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

  3. Use the frosting as-is or divide it among a few small bowls and add gel food coloring, as desired.

    sugar cookie frosting and sprinkles

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray


  • The recipe makes enough to frost about 120 2 1/2-inch cookies. To scale the recipe down for 60 cookies, use 2 cups of confectioners' sugar, 4 tablespoons of butter, 1 1/2 to 3 tablespoons of milk, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and a pinch of salt.
  • If you've added too much milk, add a little more confectioners' sugar, a teaspoon or so at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency.
  • To avoid air bubbles in the frosting, use the stand mixer's paddle attachment or beaters on a hand-held mixer.

How to Use Cookie Frosting

The frosting is perfect for sugar cookies, but it has many other delicious possibilities.

Recipe Variations

  • Lemon Sugar Cookie Frosting: Omit the vanilla, replace the milk with fresh lemon juice, and add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest.
  • Chocolate Sugar Cookie Frosting: Add 3 ounces of melted, cooled, unsweetened baking chocolate.
  • Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookie Frosting: Add the seeds scraped from 1 or 2 vanilla beans along with the vanilla extract, or replace the vanilla extract with an equal amount of vanilla bean paste.

How to Store Cookie Frosting

  • Refrigerate leftover frosting in an airtight covered container for up to 1 week. Set it on the counter when you're ready to use it, and let it warm up to room temperature. You may have to stir or beat it to bring it back to a smooth, creamy consistency.
  • To freeze the frosting, spoon it into a zip-close freezer bag and freeze it for up to 3 months. Defrost it in the refrigerator overnight.
  • To freeze frosted cookies, let them dry at room temperature, then arrange them on a baking sheet in a single layer. Freeze the cookies for about 1 to 2 hours, or until firm, and then transfer them to zip-close freezer bags or pack them in containers with wax paper separating layers.

Is cookie icing the same as frosting?

Frosting and icing are terms that are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. Icing is thinner and can be used as a glaze, and frosting is thick and fluffy, and is typically used to frost and fill a cake.

Do I have to sift confectioners' sugar?

A small amount of cornstarch in most commercial brands of powdered sugar keeps it from clumping, and it usually blends well without sifting. However, many organic powdered sugars use tapioca starch and must be sifted.