Vanilla Icing or Glaze for Cake and Cookies

Ingredients for vanilla icing recipe

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  • Total: 10 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Servings: 16 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
73 Calories
2g Fat
15g Carbs
0g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 73
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 2%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 4mg 1%
Sodium 38mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 6%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Protein 0g
Calcium 4mg 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.)

A simply sweet, thin glaze icing is a perfect finishing touch to many desserts. Drizzle it on top of cinnamon rolls, pound cake, cookies, Bundt cake, pastries, and more. You can even dip homemade doughnuts into it for a pretty sweet treat.

The glaze icing only requires a few ingredients, no special equipment, and just a few minutes of time. Thin the icing as much or as little as you like. Keep it thick to make a spreadable icing or add more milk to make it a drizzling consistency. As written, the glaze is vanilla, but you can easily add other ingredients to flavor it; try citrus zest and juice for a fruity version. This glaze pairs with most baked desserts, so try it out on a variety of dishes.


  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar (sifted before measuring)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (clear for whiter icing)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons milk

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for vanilla icing
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  2. Combine the sifted confectioners' sugar, softened butter, vanilla extract, salt, and 3 tablespoons milk in a mixing bowl.

    Add butter and flour
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  3. Stir until smooth and well blended.

    Vanilla icing
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  4. Adjust for desired consistency as needed, adding more milk for drizzling or more confectioners' sugar for spreading.

    Whisk icing
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  5. Use immediately to top a cake, cookies, and other treats.

    Vanilla icing
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga


  • Glaze icing will last about a week in an airtight container the fridge or for several months in the freezer. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before using.
  • Use icing glaze on baked goods that have completely cool for the best results. Otherwise, the icing will sink into the bake or other hot dessert.
  • For cupcakes, doughnuts, or muffins, it might be easier to dip them in the icing.
  • When glazing a cake, place it on a rack over a sheet of wax paper or foil to catch the drips.
  • Add any decorations like sprinkles, coconut, or nuts soon after glazing and before the icing sets. This way the toppings will stick to the dessert.
  • This glaze icing will set once dried but will remain soft. If you're looking for an icing that with harden once set, try royal icing.

Recipe Variations

  • Orange Icing: Replace the vanilla and milk with orange juice and add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of finely grated orange zest.
  • Lemon Icing: Replace the milk and vanilla with fresh lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest. Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon extract, if desired.
  • Almond Icing: Replace half of the vanilla extract with almond extract and top with slivered almonds.
  • Mint Icing: Replace all or half of the vanilla extract with mint extract. Add red or green food coloring if desired.
  • Maple Icing: Replace the vanilla extract with maple extract.
  • Cinnamon Icing: Add 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the icing.
  • Coconut Icing: Replace the vanilla extract with coconut extract and top with shredded, sweetened coconut.

What Is the Difference Between Icing and Glaze?

The terms icing and glaze are often used interchangeably in recipes. Both refer to a thin, sweet mixture of sugar and liquid that can be used to drizzle, dip, or coat baked goods. Some glaze recipes produce shiny results, and some icing or glaze recipes harden upon cooling.


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