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This easy sugar cookie frosting is an easy recipe for your cut out sugar cookies for the holidays. This buttercream frosting recipe will lightly crust over on the top, tastes fantastic, and takes only minutes to mix up.
Sugar cookie frosting everyone will love!
There’s nothing more fun than during the holidays than whipping up a batch of cut out sugar cookies and decorating them is there?
This sugar cookie frosting is a simple buttercream frosting recipe that is not only easy to make but also tastes great. I love beautiful frosted sugar cookies but they have to taste good too. And this sugar cookie frosting is definitely going to be loved by everyone.
Growing up we always used a buttercream frosting like this one to decorate our cookies with unlike a cookie icing or royal icing that takes more precision and detailed decorating.
For this frosting you can use a piping bag or just use an offset spatula to frost your cookies with. Then just add your sprinkles! This icing dries on top which means the decorated sugar cookies can be stacked and the frosting won’t get smushed.
I used my vanilla buttercream frosting recipe I use on my cupcake recipes but replaced some of the butter for vegetable shortening so that the frosting will slightly crust over. I flavored it with vanilla and almond extract.
You can keep the frosting white, or add food coloring to make this frosting festive for the holidays! This is truly the best sugar cookie frosting you are ever going to find! Try this frosting on my gingerbread cookies or my easy cut out shortbread cookies!
- Want to decorate your sugar cookies for the holidays? My easy royal icing recipe is made with just four ingredients and simple to decorate with.
- Try my easy cookie glaze that kids can decorate cookies with during the holidays.
Why you will love this homemade sugar cookie frosting recipe
Six basic ingredients – You just need a few simple pantry ingredients to make this sugar cookie frosting recipe.
Perfect for sugar cookies – This frosting crusts over so that means the frosting won’t get smushed if the sugar cookies get stacked.
Make in multiple colors – You can keep this frosting white, or make it any color you want perfect for any holiday!
Here are the general ingredients you will need. For the full recipe and ingredient amounts be sure to use the recipe card listed at the bottom.
Butter – I prefer using unsalted butter in my frosting as I find salted butter is too salty for my taste. If you have and like salted butter, then you can definitely use it.
Vegetable shortening – I use half vegetable shortening so that the frosting dries after spread onto your sugar cookies
Powdered sugar – Otherwise known as confectioners sugar or icing sugar. This will sweeten your cookie frosting. If you have run out, then make your own powdered sugar at home. Do not substitute with granulated sugar. If your sugar is lumpy, try sifting it first.
Milk – This will thin out the frosting and provide some richness. You can also use heavy cream or half and half. I used whole milk, but a lower-fat milk or plant-based milk also works.
Vanilla extract – I recommend using pure vanilla extract for best flavor, but imitation vanilla can also be used. For a pure white frosting, use clear vanilla extract.
Almond extract – I love the flavor that almond extract gives to the frosting but you can omit this and swap in more vanilla.
How to make icing for cookies
In a large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, beat on medium speed together the butter and shortening until smooth and combined, about 1-2 minutes. I prefer using my stand mixer with my paddle attachment, but a hand mixer can also be used.
With mixer off, gradually add 1/2 cup of powdered sugar at a time then mix on low speed at first. Continue adding in the powdered sugar gradually. Increase speed to medium once the powdered sugar has been mixed in. Mix for 2-3 minutes, once all the powdered sugar has been added until combined and smooth.
Add vanilla, almond extract and milk and mix on low speed to start, then increase speed to medium to high speed for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.
Coloring your sugar cookie frosting
You can leave the frosting white or color it however you want for whatever holiday you need the frosting for. To color your frosting in multiple colors, divide the frosting into different bowl and then add your food coloring.
I prefer a gel food coloring because it doesn’t take much to get the color you want and doesn’t add extra liquid to the frosting.
But you can also use a liquid food coloring, like McCormick food coloring, that you would get from the grocery store. However, liquid food coloring I find isn’t as vibrant or come in as many colors as gel. Keep in mind that using liquid food coloring will thin out your icing.
I always recommend adding food coloring just a few drops at a time, giving it a stir, and letting it sit for a few minutes to see if the color intensifies.
Decorate cookies – 3 ways!
When decorating cookies with this frosting you can either spread or pipe the frosting on, or you can also thin out the frosting out and dip the cookies in the frosting. Be sure to add your sprinkles before the icing dries.
Spread with a spatula – Use an offset spatula or small knife and simply spread on a layer of the frosting onto your cooled cookies.
Dip the cookies in – For this method, you will need to add more milk (2-3 tablespoons) and thin out the frosting in the microwave (15-20 seconds at a time, and stir in between). Once it’s thinned out, you can dip the sugar cookies in upside down into the sugar cookie icing.
Heather’s Baking Tips
Use softened butter – To mix the butter with the shortening and powdered sugar your butter needs to be softened to room temperature.
Sift your powdered sugar – If your powdered sugar is lumpy, try sifting it first before adding it to your recipe.
Use a stand mixer for easiest prep – You can use a hand mixer but it will take longer to make the frosting and whip it to a creamy frosting. Bring frosting to room temperature – If you store this frosting in the fridge, be sure to bring it back to room temperature before using. Otherwise the frosting will be too hard to spread onto your delicate sugar cookies.
Add sprinkles immediately after frosting – This sugar cookie frosting dries and develops a crust on top, so be sure to add your sprinkles immediately after icing your cookies before the icing dries.
Yes you can definitely omit the vegetable shortening and use all butter instead. The frosting will not crust over, however, like it will if you use shortening.
room temperature before using. You can store this sugar cookie frosting in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Be sure to bring to room temperature before using.
This frosting will freeze well for up to 3 months. Store in an airtight container or freezer bag. When ready to use, thaw overnight in your refrigerator before using. The frosting may need to be re-whipped before using.
You may have added too much milk, or not enough icing sugar. Try stirring in more powdered sugar, a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
Sounds like you added too much confectioners sugar. Try adding in more milk, a teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
More Buttercream Frosting Recipes To Try
Sugar Cookie Frosting
- Add sugar. With mixer off, gradually add 1/2 cup of powdered sugar at a time then mix on low speed at first. Continue adding in the powdered sugar gradually. Increase speed to medium once the powdered sugar has been mixed in. Mix for 2-3 minutes, once all the powdered sugar has been added until combined and smooth.
- Add milk, vanilla, and almond extract. Add in your milk, vanilla extract and almond extract and mix on medium to high speed for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy. If not using immediately, store in a container in the refrigerator until ready to use, mix again until light and fluffy.
- Butter: You can omit the vegetable shortening and use all butter instead. The frosting will not crust over, however, like it will if you use shortening.
- Storage: You can store this sugar cookie frosting in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Be sure to bring to room temperature before using.
- Freezing: This frosting will freeze well for up to 3 months. Store in an airtight container or freezer bag. When ready to use, thaw overnight in your refrigerator before using. The frosting may need to be re-whipped before using.
- Icing consistency: You may have added too much milk, or not enough icing sugar. Try stirring in more powdered sugar, a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, Try adding in more milk, a teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.