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The only frosting you’ll need for Sugar Cookies from now on- Super simple to make, actually tastes good (we all know what I’m talking about), and the outside of the frosting crusts so they can be packaged without the frosting smearing everywhere! That’s a win-win-win, as Michael Scott would say.

sugar cookies decorated with sugar cookie frosting to make Christmas Sugar Cookies

Frosting for Decorating Cookies

This frosting is one of those things that I know I could do some real damage with. I could eat this stuff by the spoonful..okay, okay. You caught me. I totally have eaten this stuff by the spoonful and I certainly won’t judge you if you do the same.

This frosting can be used with homemade Sugar Cookies, store-bought sugar cookies, or even the kind that you make from a mix from the grocery store. No matter the cookie, this frosting with MAKE it.

This crusting buttercream is incredibly easy to make and super delicious, to boot. Before you know it, you’ll be making it to top literally everything with. Again, no judgement here.

Sugar Cookie Frosting ingredients

  • Butter– This is what all good frostings start with, right? I alway use salted butter. If you only have unsalted on hand, add a pinch of salt to the frosting.
  • Vegetable Shortening– hear me out with this one, this is the magical ingredient that makes our frosting crust. Meaning, it was have a dry outer layer so it won’t smear like crazy but the inside of the frosting will stay soft and creamy. If you are planning on eating immediately, you can totally use all butter. However, if packaging these bad boys up is in your future, definitely use the vegetable shortening.
  • Powdered sugar– This both sweetens and thickens the frosting.
  • Vanilla– I’m a vanilla girl through and through but feel free to get creative here. Almond extract, cake batter, you name it, you can use it! Note that I usually use Clear Vanilla to get a bright white frosting which makes coloring the frosting easier.
  • Milk or Heavy Cream– I always have heavy cream on hand so that is what I typically use to achieve a super rich and creamy frosting. You can definitely use milk, you just won’t need near as much.

Depending on what my plans are with the frosting, I will often use all butter instead of half butter, half shortening. This will result in a non-crusting frosting.

halloween inspired sugar cookies in the shape of a pumpkin

How to make Sugar Cookie Frosting

  1. In a mixing bowl, start by creaming the butter and vegetable shortening until it becomes smooth. Use the lowest setting on your mixer.
  2. Add one cup of powdered sugar, followed by just enough milk or heavy cream to blend the powdered sugar and butter mixture together.
  3. Repeat this step for the remaining powdered sugar, continuing to mix on the lowest setting. At this point, the frosting should be quite thick.
  4. Now, add the vanilla extract (or flavoring of your choice) and mix thoroughly into the frosting.
  5. To achieve your desired frosting consistency, gradually add small amounts of milk or heavy cream at a time. Keep the mixer on the lowest setting while doing this.
  6. Once you’ve reached the ideal consistency, divide the frosting into separate bowls and add gel food coloring to achieve your desired colors.
  7. Transfer the colored frosting into piping bags for decorating the cooled cookies, or you can use a knife to spread it onto the cookies.
frosted sugar cookies on a cookie cooling rack.

Tips for the PERFECT Decorating Frosting for Cookies

  • Use Clear Vanilla Extract to keep your frosting bright and white! If you plan on dying the frosting, this helps to keep your colors bright! I found mine at Walmart.
  • You can use all butter instead of half butter and half shortening, this will just result in a non crusting frosting. That type of buttercream is not stackable at all.
  • YES, this frosting is okay at room temperature for 2-3 days. I know, I know. The milk! Have no fear! There is enough sugar to stabilize the milk.

How to store Cookie Frosting

In the short term (a few hours or up to 2 days) store in and air tight container on the counter. If you are wanting to store longterm (up to 1 week!) store in the refrigerator. Just pull the frosting out a few hours before needing it to allow the frosting to come up to room temperature.

Sugar Cookie Frosting FAQs

Is this Sugar Cookie Frosting okay at room temperature even though it contains milk?

Yes! All that powdered sugar stabilizes the milk in this recipe and keeps it from spoiling.

When is the best time to add food coloring to the Sugar Cookie Frosting?

Add the food coloring by hand right before frosting the cookies. So, if you are planning on saving this frosting to use later in the week, I would suggest keeping the frosting white until right before using it.

Do I have to use Clear Vanilla Extract in my Sugar Cookie Frosting?

Nope, regular vanilla extract will taste great! I like to use the clear extract so my frosting colors stay bright and clear. Using Clear extract also allows for a brilliant white frosting.

Is cookie icing different than frosting?

Yes, cookie icing and frosting are different in terms of their texture, consistency and intended use. Frosting is typically thicker and can be piped or spread onto cookies while icing is thinner and usually is like a glaze on a cookie.

pin image for sugar cookie frosting with text overlay.

Check out my other desserts:

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4.70 from 145 votes

Sugar Cookie Frosting

Sugar Cookie Frosting is a crusting vanilla buttercream that pipes and holds shape but tastes amazing at the same time! 
Prep Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 4 minutes
Servings: 24 cookies

Ingredients 

  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp clear vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream , can sub milk (approx 2 tbsp), if desired.

Instructions 

  • In a mixing bowl, start by creaming the butter and vegetable shortening until it becomes smooth. Use the lowest setting on your mixer.
  • Add one cup of powdered sugar, followed by just enough milk or heavy cream to blend the powdered sugar and butter mixture together.
  • Repeat this step for the remaining powdered sugar, continuing to mix on the lowest setting. At this point, the frosting should be quite thick.
  • Now, add the vanilla extract (or flavoring of your choice) and mix thoroughly into the frosting.
  • To achieve your desired frosting consistency, gradually add small amounts of milk or heavy cream at a time. Keep the mixer on the lowest setting while doing this.
  • Once you've reached the ideal consistency, divide the frosting into separate bowls and add gel food coloring to achieve your desired colors.
  • Transfer the colored frosting into piping bags for decorating the cooled cookies, or you can use a knife to spread it onto the cookies.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 95kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 16mg | Potassium: 2mg | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 61IU | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 0.01mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!
Sugar Cookie Frosting is a crusting vanilla buttercream that pipes and holds shape but tastes amazing at the same time! 
Sugar Cookie Frosting is a crusting vanilla buttercream that pipes and holds shape but tastes amazing at the same time! -Cooking with Karli- #recipe #frosting #icing #buttercream #sugarcookie
Sugar Cookie Frosting

About Karli Bitner

This blog is a little glimpse into my kitchen, family & life. I hope you’ll giggle the days away with me and enjoy the craziness that goes on at my house. If you are Cookie obsessed like I am, check out my Sister Site, Cookies for Days.

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Recipe Rating




124 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made a big batch today and used it on all my sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies too. So happy I misplaced the buttercream frosting recipe for the past 40 years because yours is terrific! Thank you so much!!