Think of a Powdered Sugar Icing Recipe as the little black dress of the baking world. This sweet, versatile icing makes cakes, cookies and quick breads look polished and extra special, and they taste better too!
What do Lemon Bundt Cake, Blueberry Lemon Bread, and Classic Pound Cake all have in common? They’re all finished off with a picture-perfect sugar icing. It’s easy to customize the flavor with your favorite citrus juice or extract, too!
Also known as confectioner’s sugar glaze or flat icing, this basic powdered sugar icing forms a glossy, thin skin that hardens as it dries. As long as you work quickly and pour with confidence, you’ll get a gorgeous icing that hugs every curve and edge of your dessert.
And speaking of curves, if you’ve got an heirloom bundt pan that’s begging to be used, dig it out of storage and bake a cake. There’s nothing prettier than a custom icing on a cake baked in an antique bundt pan. Don’t forget to take a picture and post it! I want to see it.
Making Powdered Sugar Icing for the biggest bake sale ever? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
What are the ingredients in a Powdered Sugar Icing?
Two ingredients. Two minutes!
Confectioner’s sugar: because this isn’t a cooked icing, using powdered sugar is important because it dissolves without heat. You can make your own confectioner’s sugar at home out of regular white sugar; I’ll show you how.
Liquid: this could be water, milk, citrus juice, or any kind of extract.
How to make powdered sugar at home
- Pour granulated sugar into a blender or food processor.
- Blend the sugar until it is a fine, fluffy powdered sugar.
- Use powdered sugar immediately or save it in the pantry for later.
How to make Powdered Sugar Icing
This is just the most basic ratio to make any flavor of sugar icing your heart desires. For my Lemon Blueberry Cake recipe, for example, I use water and vanilla to make a lightly vanilla-scented icing. If you love, love lemons, though, you could add just lemon juice for a tart lemon icing, instead. Zing!
Powdered sugar breaks down quite a bit, so this amount makes ½ – ¾ cup icing, which should be enough for a standard cake.
- 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- ¼ cup liquid
- In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar and the liquid until smooth.
- Add more sugar or liquid, as necessary, to achieve desired consistency.
- Use immediately.
What are some Powdered Sugar Icing flavors to try?
Here are some ideas for different flavors to add to the icing.
Please note: Using a liquid that is not concentrated in flavor (such as espresso or apple juice) is not strong enough to flavor the icing. You need to use something with strong flavors such as citrus juice, extracts, or liqueurs.
- Lemon powdered sugar icing: Substitute ¼ cup lemon juice for the water and omit the vanilla extract. Perfect poured over my Blueberry Lemon Bread!
- Lime powdered sugar icing: Substitute ¼ cup lime juice for the water and omit the vanilla extract. Delicious poured over my 7UP Pound Cake.
- Orange powdered sugar icing: Substitute ¼ cup orange juice for the water and omit the vanilla extract. Delicious poured over my classic pound cake.
- Almond powdered sugar icing: Substitute ½ teaspoon almond extra for the vanilla extract. Try it on Danish Kringle!
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.
Powdered Sugar Icing Recipe
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3-4 tablespoons water or milk
- In a medium bowl, add 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.
- Lemon powdered sugar icing: Substitute ¼ cup lemon juice for the water and omit the vanilla extract.
- Lime powdered sugar icing: Substitute ¼ cup lime juice for the water and omit the vanilla extract.
- Orange powdered sugar icing: Substitute ¼ cup orange juice for the water and omit the vanilla extract.
- Almond powdered sugar icing: Substitute ½ teaspoon almond extra for the vanilla extract.