Sugar cookie icing

Question for my handful of other cookie bakers here: I’ve been baking and decorating cutout sugar cookies for many many Christmases now, and I’m very happy with my cookie recipe (it’s the one my mom used from Betty Crocker’s Cooky book circa 1968), but I’m in still in search of the, or at least my, perfect icing. Betty Crocker’s suggested icing recipe is a powdered sugar and milk combo, and while it tastes ok it doesn’t harden or hold food coloring or decorations as well as I’d like, and tends to discolor when frozen. I’ve also tried royal icing, which looks pretty and hardens like a rock but tastes … pretty bad. I’ve experimented with things like adding vanilla or a little butter to the royal icing, but I’m still not happy with it. Basically, I want an icing that hardens enough for the cookies to be stacked between layers of wax paper for storage or freezing, takes well to food coloring and colored decorations, looks shiny and pretty, and doesn’t taste like sweetened paste. Is there such thing? I did some Googling and pulled a recipe that looks like Betty’s with a bit of corn syrup added, as well as a meringue powder with butter one. Appreciate your thoughts!

Using corn syrup will give you that hardened icing that you’re looking for. Usually takes at least overnight (or up to 24 hours) for it to harden.

Use some vanilla extract (or almond extract) and just the tiniest bit of salt to give the icing more of a nuanced and dynamic flavor, and to avoid just a flat sweet waxy taste.


Thanks ipse. Tiny pinch of salt is a good idea. And I will be patient about letting the icing dry completely.

This. I use confectioner’s sugar, milk, corn syrup and a touch of vanilla. I use gel food coloring to give the icing a nice strong color. I pipe it thick for the edges, and then thin it out with a touch more milk for flooding. I dry them overnight. They come out beautifully every time – smooth, shiny and they are easily stackable.