If you need a cookie decorating alternative to traditional royal icing, this easy cookie icing is a great choice. It’s like a very thick glaze. This icing takes awhile to dry, about 24 hours, and you can’t pipe detail very well but if you want simple decoration and a simple icing, this is it!
I love royal icing and use it quite often for decorating sugar cookies, but it can be finicky. You need a very precise consistency in order for the royal icing to pipe and set appropriately– it definitely requires practice and patience. Before I began working with royal icing, however, I used today’s easy glaze icing. It’s still one of my favorite ways to decorate sugar cookies because it’s low maintenance, but still delivers pretty (and delicious) results.
You Will Love This Easy Glaze Cookie Icing:
- Easy to make with a fork, whisk, and bowl
- No special equipment
- Basic ingredients
- Can use squeeze bottle or piping tips to decorate
- Manageable for young bakers and/or beginners
- Doesn’t dry into hard cement texture
Skip All The Fuss & Use This Easy Glaze Icing
Yes, you can create gourmet-looking decorated sugar cookies without royal icing! All of the cookies pictured on this page were decorated with today’s easy glaze icing. The cookie recipes I used are my go-to sugar cookies and my chocolate sugar cookies. For the icing, you need confectioners’ sugar, water, vanilla extract (replace with water to keep the icing stark white), a touch of corn syrup, and a little salt. The corn syrup makes the icing nice and shiny, while the ratio of confectioners’ sugar to water keeps it thick. The icing dries firm with a very slight crisp, so you can easily stack your decorated sugar cookies and travel with them.
The Right Consistency
If you drizzle a little icing off the whisk into the bowl, the ribbon of icing will hold for a few seconds before melting back into the icing. That’s when you know it’s the right consistency.
You do not have to use piping bags & piping tips, but you certainly can if you’d like:
- Disposable Piping Bags or Reusable Piping Bags
- Use Wilton piping tip #4 for outlining and flooding the cookies with icing. This is the same tip I usually use for royal icing, too.
Instead, use a squeeze bottle!
- To make decorating a breeze, use a squeeze bottle. They’re a little easier and less intimidating than piping tips.
Gel Food Coloring is Ideal
You can keep the icing white or tint it your desired color. I recommend gel food coloring because liquid food coloring can change the consistency. I like the brand AmeriColor– you can find their gel colors in the baking aisle of craft stores or give it a quick search online.
This Cookie Icing Requires Planning Ahead
The icing needs at least 24 hours to dry. This is much longer than royal icing, which usually dries in 2 hours. But no one says you need to wait for the decorated cookies to dry before serving and eating! If you’re stacking, storing, or transporting your iced cookies, however, dry icing is crucial.
If you need a cookie decorating alternative to traditional royal icing, this sugar cookie icing is a great choice. It’s like a very thick glaze. This icing takes awhile to dry, about 24 hours, and you can’t pipe detail very well but if you want simple decoration and a simple icing, this is it!
- 3 cups (360g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (omit and replace with water for stark white icing)
- 2 teaspoons light corn syrup*
- 4.5–5 Tablespoons (67-75ml) room temperature water
- pinch salt*
- Using a fork, stir the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, corn syrup, and 4.5 Tablespoons (67ml) of water together in a medium bowl. It will be very thick and almost impossible to stir. Switch to a whisk and whisk in 1/2 Tablespoon (8ml) of water. If you lift the whisk and let the icing drizzle back into the bowl, the ribbon of icing will hold shape for a few seconds before melting back into the icing. That is when you know it’s the right consistency and is ready to use. If it’s too thick (sometimes it is), whisk in another 1/2 Tablespoon (8ml) of water or a little more until you reach the consistency.
- If desired, stir in gel food coloring. You can pour some icing into different bowls if using multiple colors. When tinting icing, only use 1-2 drops at first, stir it in, then add more as needed to reach your desired color. Remember, color darkens as icing dries.
- Decorate: Spoon icing into squeeze bottles or piping bags fitted with Wilton Piping Tip #4. Decorate your cookies as desired. I usually outline cookies with icing first, then fill in the middle. If adding sprinkles on top of the icing, add them right after applying icing on your cookie.
- Let icing dry/set: Feel free to enjoy cookies before icing completely dries. Icing dries in 24 hours. No need to cover the decorated cookies as you wait for the icing to set. If it’s helpful, decorate the cookies directly on a baking sheet so you can stick the entire baking sheet in the refrigerator to help slightly speed up the icing setting. Once the icing has dried, these cookies are great for gifting or for sending.
- The shelf life of your decorated cookies depends on the cookie recipe you are using. If using my sugar cookies or chocolate sugar cookies, cover and store decorated cookies for up to 5 days at room temperature or up to 10 days in the refrigerator.
- Storing Icing: If not decorating right away, cover the icing tightly and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- Freezing Instructions: I do not recommend making and freezing this icing before using to decorate your cookies. It’s not as smooth and easy to use after thawing. However, decorated sugar cookies freeze well up to 3 months. Wait for the icing to set completely before layering between sheets of parchment paper in a freezer-friendly container. To thaw, thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
- Corn Syrup: This is what gives the icing a pretty sheen when it’s dry. You can leave it out if you aren’t concerned about shiny icing.
- Salt: I know salt isn’t a typical ingredient in cookie icing, but it helps offset its sweetness. You just need a small pinch.
- Yield: This amount of icing is enough for icing 2 dozen cookies. You’ll have plenty if you want to divide it and tint the batch multiple colors, too. Icing can easily be halved by halving all of the ingredients. (Still add a tiny pinch of salt.)
Keywords: easy cookie icing