Sugar Cookie Frosting

24 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Sugar Cookie Frosting is incredibly EASY to make, made with only 4 ingredients you already have in your pantry, and ready in under 10 minutes!

Frosting is a great way to add some decoration to cookies for parties or holidays, and this sugar cookie frosting is perfect for Brown Sugar Cookies, Award Winning Gingerbread Cookies, and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies!


Sugar Cookie Frosting is the PERFECT way to decorate your favorite sugar cookie recipe. This frosting uses only 4 ingredients, shortening, sugar, milk, and vanilla flavoring. You can add food coloring to make holiday cookies, or just keep it plain and add festive sprinkles on top.

This easy sugar cookie frosting is spreadable, unlike a traditional icing. This makes decorating a whole batch of sugar cookies easier and faster. It takes a total time of 10 minutes to make, so you can make and frost your sugar cookies on the same day you’ll be serving them!


This will last for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator, in an airtight container. Bring it to room temperature before working with it. If you’ve frosted your cookies already it’s fine to sit at room temperature for a few days, but if you’re just saving frosting, I always store it in the refrigerator to keep the quality for longer.


If you want to make this frosting ahead of time, or if you have a lot left over, you can wrap it tightly in an airtight container or in plastic wrap and tinfoil, and freeze it for several months. When you want to work with the frosting, let it defrost on the counter until it’s soft enough to use.

I recommend bringing it to around the same temperature as the cookies, to prevent crumbs. I usually take it out about 30 minutes before I start my sugar cookie recipe, and it’s ready by the time the sugar cookies have cooled.


There are two main ways that you can decorate your sugar cookies, with buttercream frosting and with sugar cookie icing. For this recipe, we’re looking at a much thicker frosting that you have to spread with a knife, or pipe onto the cookie. It will hold its shape better, so however you spread it is how it will stay.

Icing is much thinner, and usually hardens on top of the cookie. You might also hear sugar cookie icing being referred to as royal icing. Royal icing is often used to make designs on sugar cookies, and is usually made with meringue powder. You can pipe royal icing onto a cookie or use a squeeze bottle, but it may require a boarder of thicker icing to keep it from falling off of the sugar cookies. Some designs also call for spreading the icing with a small paint brush.

Both royal icing and this sugar cookie frosting call for powdered sugar. You cannot substitute regular sugar in this recipe. Granulated sugar will not come together correctly, and you’ll end up with more of a sugar-dough consistency instead of the light and fluffy texture we are looking for in frosting, or the smooth creamy texture of icing.

Sugar Cookie Icing



  • This recipe is a basic buttercream made with shortening, which is usually stiffer and holds together slightly better than butter. But you can replace it with butter if that’s what you have.
  • We’re using vanilla extract in this recipe but you can change up the flavors if you want to. Try a teaspoon of peppermint extract, rum extract, or almond extract as a substitute for vanilla. You can also add a tablespoon of liqueur in place of vanilla and some of the milk for an adult version.
  • Add a few drops of food coloring to this recipe to make fun or festive colors! Or top the frosting with some sprinkles for more decoration. You can do this with icing, too.
  • Shortening (or butter) will be easier to work with if it’s at room temperature.
  • Make sure to beat the shortening first before adding the powdered sugar, this will help prevent lumps in your frosting. If your frosting recipe is turning out too thin, add powdered sugar a tablespoon at a time until it thickens.
  • Add a teaspoon of lemon juice or a pinch of salt if your frosting is turning out too sweet.
  • I love using this recipe for sugar cookies, but you can also make it for cakes and cupcakes! If I have a lot of desserts to make at once, this is my go-to instead of frosting because I can get a few different uses out of it after I’m done with my sugar cookie recipe.
  • You can use heavy cream or half and half as a substitute for the whole milk, if that’s what you have in your refrigerator. If the frosting is turning out too thick and you’re having trouble spreading it on your sugar cookies, you can add a teaspoon of milk at a time until the texture is right.
  • If you want to add food coloring to frosting or icing, I like to use gel food coloring. Too much liquid color can change the texture of the frosting or icing, and a little bit of the gel goes a long way. The same rule applies if you’re making a cream cheese frosting.
  • If you don’t want to add food coloring to your frosting or icing, try icing your sugar cookies then topping them with colorful sugar or mini chocolate chips.

Easy Vanilla Sugar Cookie Frosting

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Sugar Cookie Frosting

Sugar Cookie Frosting is incredibly EASY to make, made with only 4 ingredients you already have in your pantry, and ready in under 10 minutes!
Yield 24 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder



  • To your stand mixer add the shortening first for 15 seconds on medium speed, then add in the powdered sugar in ½ cup increments until fully incorporated.
  • Add in the milk one tablespoon at a time and mix until just combined.
  • Add in the vanilla, whipping together until the mixture is completely smooth.


Calories: 118kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 4mg | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 5IU | Calcium: 4mg

Cookie Frosting

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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  1. Just used this last night and it’s awesome! It hardened enough to stack if needed but also made the crispy cookies a little softer which is awesome! Taste even better the next day! Thank you!

    1. I would suggest laying parchment paper in between your stacked layers. The frosting hardens but not like icing. I hope this tip helps!