How to Make Icing

5 from 242 votes

Learn how to make icing with 3 simple ingredients in just minutes! Add to your favorite desserts like cookies, cake, and cinnamon rolls, to name a few.

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Learn how to make icing with just 3 simple pantry ingredients! This homemade icing uses powdered sugar as the base and is the perfect quick, go-to icing recipe when you need something to drizzle on top of your baked goods, and it’s great at satisfying your sweet tooth.

Whisk lifting up icing from a bowl with it falling back into it.
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This quick and simple icing recipe takes no time to make and can be stored in the fridge for a few days. Make it as thick or thin as you like depending on the amount of liquid you add it to.

WHY learn to make icing with powdered sugar

  • Staple recipe. If you love baking (or sweets!), icing is a staple recipe you’ll want to have in your repertoire.
  • Easy to modify. With this one-base recipe, you can create endless flavor combinations! Add a little food dye to change the color, and even sprinkle in a bit of salt for some contrast, as I do for my lemon-glazed zucchini bread!
  • Great for topping various recipes. You can’t go wrong with easy homemade icing. It’s fantastic on cinnamon rolls, cake, and scones, and also a sweet addition to pancakes, crepes, and quick bread!

Ingredients You’ll Need For This simple icing recipe

  • Powdered sugar: Also known as confectioner’s sugar, blends super quickly when liquid is added. Use a sifter to make sure you have a lump-free result.
  • Milk: You only need 2 tablespoons per 1 cup of powdered sugar. You can use any kind of milk you like.
  • Vanilla extract: For flavor.
Ingredients for recipe in individual bowls: vanilla, milk, and powdered sugar.


  1. Sift the powdered sugar into a medium bowl.
  2. Add the whole milk and the vanilla.
  3. Use a whisk to combine until smooth and without any lumps.
3 ingredient collage making recipe: powdered sugar in a fine mesh sieve over a bow, sifted powdered sugar in a bowl with vanilla and milk, 3- after whisked together.

TIPS on making The Best homemade icing

  1. Don’t skip sifting! It may not always be necessary, but taking this extra step to sift the powdered sugar is the best way to make sure there are no lumps, and you get a smooth drizzly icing.
  2. Add in flavorings. This simple icing recipe uses just vanilla extract for flavor, but you could try a few other additions.
    1. Switch up the extract: lemon, almond, or mint.
    2. Use citrus juice: You can make a lemon, lime, or orange icing by replacing the milk with equal amounts of citrus juice.
    3. Add spices: Add ½ teaspoon cinnamon, pumpkin spice, or another spice you like.
  3. Adjust the liquid for different consistencies. Whether you want the perfect drizzle to add to scones or Bundt cake, or you’re looking for a thicker consistency to decorate cookies with, it’s as easy as adjusting the liquid-to-powdered sugar ratio.
  4. Add to a squeeze bottle for easy decorating. This is optional as you can easily use a spoon or fork to dip into the icing and pull off your dessert for thin drizzles across it. Add it to a squeeze bottle if you want more control in decorating your recipe. You can even add a little bit of food coloring for more options. It’s so fun for the kids, too!
Vanilla icing being drizzled over carrot cake cookies on a plate.

recipes to make with this simple icing

Icing being drizzled on top of cinnamon rolls in a baking dish.

HOW TO STORE icing with powdered sugar

Because of the sugar, even with milk, icing can be stored at room temperature, but it’s best to store it covered in the fridge.


Store icing in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

CAN I FREEZE icing with powdered sugar?

It’s best to make it fresh and use it, but if you have leftover icing, you can freeze it. Thaw at room temperature and stir well before using if it appears broken. Freeze for up to 1 month.


Can I make icing with regular sugar?

To make icing with granulated sugar, you’ll first need to turn it into powdered sugar. Place the granulated sugar in a food processor or high-speed blender and blend until it becomes powdered. Run the fresh powdered sugar through a fine mesh sieve to eliminate any larger pieces of sugar. For every cup of granulated sugar, add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch (optional).

Are icing and glaze the same thing?

Icing and glaze are used interchangeably in recipes. The most significant difference is that icing is just powdered sugar and liquid combined until smooth, whereas a glaze is usually heated first.

What’s the difference between icing and frosting?

Icing is thinner, sets quickly, and is made with just milk and powdered sugar. Frosting is whipped up with a stand or hand mixer until fluffy, is spreadable, and can include butter or cream cheese.

Icing being drizzled over a slice of lemon cake.

Now that you know how to make icing with just 3 ingredients, there’s nothing stopping you from drizzling it on all your favorite sweet treats! Homemade icing is easy to make and can be flavored in so many ways. Whip up a batch to add to your baked goods, pancakes, or anything else you’d like!

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How to Make Icing

Learn how to make icing with 3 simple ingredients in just minutes! Add to your favorite desserts like cookies, cake, and cinnamon rolls, to name a few.
5 from 242 votes
Servings 8 tablespoons
Course Tutorial
Calories 61
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 2 minutes
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  • Sift the powdered sugar into a medium bowl. Add the whole milk and the vanilla and use a whisk to mix until smooth without any lumps.
  • Use immediately over desserts or cover and store icing in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Nutrition label uses whole milk.
Store covered in the fridge up to 3 days.


Calories: 61kcal, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 0.1g, Fat: 0.1g, Saturated Fat: 0.1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.004g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.03g, Cholesterol: 0.5mg, Sodium: 2mg, Potassium: 6mg, Sugar: 15g, Vitamin A: 6IU, Calcium: 5mg, Iron: 0.01mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine American
Course: Tutorial
5 from 242 votes (241 ratings without comment)

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  1. Valerie says:

    I forgot how to make it and I make it right now I’m sure it’ll turn out fine thank you

  2. Norma C says:

    I am all set to make the chocolate biscotti but can’t find anywhere the temperature and times to cook. Help!

    1. Yumna says:

      Hi there, the biscotti recipe is here. The oven temp should be 325˚F. The biscotti bakes for 30 minutes, then is removed and sliced, then baked for ten minutes more. Make sure you read the entire recipe, these instructions are at the bottom of the recipe under the “For all biscotti recipes” section. Hope you enjoy them!

  3. Aeshel says:

    What would happen if you don’t add the vanilla extract? What would or wouldn’t happen?


    1. Yumna J. says:

      It just won’t have that added vanilla flavor and more so taste just sweet.