This easy, 3-ingredient Powdered Sugar Icing is perfect for bundt cakes, pound cakes, angel food cakes, cookies, and quick breads. A little glaze makes everything look (and taste) even better.

Lemon bundt cake slices on plates.
Table of Contents
  1. Ingredient notes
  2. Step-by-step instructions
  3. Recipe tips and variations
  4. Powdered Sugar Icing Recipe

Ingredient notes

  • Confectioner’s sugar: Using powdered sugar is important because it dissolves without heat. To make your own, pour granulated sugar into a blender or food processor, then blend the sugar until it is a fine, fluffy powdered sugar.
  • Milk: Or water or half-and-half. Add enough for your desired glaze consistency.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, add powdered sugar and vanilla.
Powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk in a bowl.
  1. Add enough milk to reach your desired consistency for drizzling. The glaze will harden in 20 to 30 minutes.
A bowl of powdered sugar icing.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Lemon icing: Substitute ¼ cup lemon juice for the milk or water and omit the vanilla extract. Add 1 teaspoon lemon zest if desired.
  • Lime icing: Substitute ¼ cup lime juice for the milk or water and omit the vanilla extract. Add 1 teaspoon lime zest if desired.
  • Orange icing: Substitute ¼ cup orange juice for the milk or water and omit the vanilla extract. Add 1 teaspoon orange zest if desired.
  • Almond icing: Substitute ½ teaspoon almond extra for the vanilla extract.
  • Light icing: Mix 1 cup (4 ounces) powdered sugar with 1 tablespoon low-fat milk and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.
  • Does powdered sugar icing need to be refrigerated? No, even if you use milk in your icing. The small amount of milk is stabilized by the large amount of sugar and is considered safe at room temperature for two to three days. Always refrigerate any cake with a frosting that contains eggs or egg whites, or one that has whipped-cream frosting or any type of filling.

Desserts to glaze

Lemon bundt cake slices on plates.

Powdered Sugar Icing

This easy, 3-ingredient Powdered Sugar Icing is perfect for bundt cakes, pound cakes, angel food cakes, cookies, and quick breads. A little glaze makes everything look (and taste) even better.
4.98 from 41 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Servings 12 servings (1 tbsp each)
Course Dessert, Pantry
Cuisine American
Calories 81

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups powdered sugar (see note 1)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons milk or water (see note 2)

Instructions 

  • In a medium bowl, stir together powdered sugar and vanilla. Add water or milk until desired consistency is reached. Drizzle over cooled baked goods or dessert. The glaze will harden in 20 to 30 minutes.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Powdered sugar: Using powdered sugar is important because it dissolves without heat. To make your own, pour granulated sugar into a blender or food processor, then blend the sugar until it is a fine, fluffy powdered sugar.
  2. Milk: Or water or half-and-half. Add enough for your desired glaze consistency.
  3. Yield: This recipe makes about ¾ cup icing (12 tablespoons) depending on how much liquid you add to thin it.
  4. Lemon icing: Substitute ¼ cup lemon juice for the milk or water and omit the vanilla extract. Add 1 teaspoon lemon zest if desired.
  5. Lime icing: Substitute ¼ cup lime juice for the milk or water and omit the vanilla extract. Add 1 teaspoon lime zest if desired.
  6. Orange icing: Substitute ¼ cup orange juice for the milk or water and omit the vanilla extract. Add 1 teaspoon orange zest if desired.
  7. Almond icing: Substitute ½ teaspoon almond extra for the vanilla extract.
  8. Light icing: Mix 1 cup (4 ounces) powdered sugar with 1 tablespoon low-fat milk and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.
  9. Does powdered sugar icing need to be refrigerated? No, even if you use milk in your icing. The small amount of milk is stabilized by the large amount of sugar and is considered safe at room temperature for two to three days. Always refrigerate any cake with a frosting that contains eggs or egg whites, or one that has whipped-cream frosting or any type of filling.

Nutrition

Serving: 1tbspCalories: 81kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 2mgPotassium: 6mgSugar: 20gVitamin A: 6IUCalcium: 4mgIron: 1mg
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Comments

  1. This recipe is fantastic, because it includes conversions in the printable version. Thank you so much! I love that I can easily look it up in my recipe book to find that if I want an almond based powdered sugar icing, this is what I do. I don’t have to think about it. I could just come to this and it tells me. If I want an orange flare to it, boom! I got it. The way this is laid out is fantastic. Thank you for this. This is exactly what we all need.5 stars

    1. Hi David! Exactly, this is a great icing to use to supplement baked goods that are already flavorful. – Meggan

  2. I was pleased with different versions but unsure when using liqueurs (I adore Midori, a melon flavored liqueur from Japan with little liquor flavor but a lovely melon flavor) do you use the vanilla + milk/water ratio (ie same as extract, which seems as it might be a bit weak) or full 1/4c (like juice ratio which seems like it might be a bit strong)
    Thank you for any help you can give.5 stars

    1. Hi Rose, in this case, I would taste as I go. Midori icing sounds DELICIOUS! Since it is so flavorful, I haven’t tried this specifically, I would say to keep the vanilla then add Midori a tablespoon at a time. You can always add water once you’ve gotten the desired flavor to adjust the consistency of the icing. – Meggan

  3. Thank you for this information. I have wanted this recipe for a long time. My Mom use to fix the best & now I can pass it along to my daughter and granddaughters.5 stars

  4. how do I measure a liquor for the icing? thanks am going to use your recipe for powdered sugar icing that hardens today…..like your page! thanks for the answer fran

    1. Hi Fran, I’d treat a liqueur the same way as an extract. So, I’d do 2 cups powdered sugar, 1/4 cup water, and 1 teaspoon liqueur. If for some reason it doesn’t taste right, you can always add more liqueur or add the other ingredients until you get what you want. It depends a little bit on the liqueur (quality, brand, flavor). But I will say this – most of the powdered sugar icings taste awful plain, so if you are just tasting it out the bowl, it might taste bad plain but really good when drizzled on a baking good. If that makes sense. I hope so! If you need anything else please let me know. Thanks Fran – Meggan