4-Ingredient Powdered Sugar Frosting ~ Simple Sweet Recipes (2024)

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by Janel 52 Comments

Sweet and so easy, this 4-ingredient powdered sugar frosting is my favorite! A go-to recipe for frosting soft sugar cookies, graham crackers, or cake.

4-Ingredient Powdered Sugar Frosting ~ Simple Sweet Recipes (1)

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4-Ingredient Powdered
Sugar Frosting

I’ve used this frosting for years.

4-Ingredient Powdered Sugar Frosting ~ Simple Sweet Recipes (2)

My grandma would always buy a big ol’ bag of powdered sugar.

4-Ingredient Powdered Sugar Frosting ~ Simple Sweet Recipes (3)

Then, I’d ask how we were going to make the frosting and she’d flip the powdered sugar bag right over and show me the recipe on the back of the bag.

She used that recipe for as long as I can remember.

4-Ingredient Powdered Sugar Frosting ~ Simple Sweet Recipes (4)

We’d mix up a couple of colors. Usually green, blue, yellow, and a pink’ish red.

4-Ingredient Powdered Sugar Frosting ~ Simple Sweet Recipes (5)

We’d frost our soft sugar cookies first. Then use whatever was left to slather onto some graham crackers.

Easy Powdered Sugar Frosting Recipe

4-Ingredient Powdered Sugar Frosting ~ Simple Sweet Recipes (6)

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Sweet and so easy, this 4-ingredient powdered sugar frosting is my favorite! A go-to recipe for frosting soft sugar cookies, graham crackers, or cakes.


  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk
  • Food coloring (optional)


  1. Combine powdered sugar and softened butter with an electric mixer.
  2. Add vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk.
  3. Gradually add additional milk, if needed, until you reach a smooth, easy to spread frosting.
  4. Once prepared, add food coloring, if desired, stirring the coloring in by spoon.

*If too runny, add additional powdered sugar to thicken your frosting.

Original Recipe from: Betty Crocker Vanilla Frosting

4-Ingredient Powdered Sugar Frosting ~ Simple Sweet Recipes (7)
4-Ingredient Powdered Sugar Frosting ~ Simple Sweet Recipes (8)

About Janel

I'm a sweets addict that enjoys eating yummy treats and good food! I'm also the mom of five beautiful boys from 4-12.

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Reader Interactions


  1. maria @closetohome says

    This looks perfect for St. Patrick’s Day. I have not made sugar cookies in a while, thanks for the inspiration.


  2. Kristi says

    This looks like an easy recipe. Will have to show it to my daughter, she has really gotten into cooking and baking and wants to try making fancy cookies.


    • Lynda says

      I used to make Christmas cookies with this frosting with my mom. Great memories


  3. Becky says

    I love how simple and easy this is to make! I can’t wait to make frosted cookies with my kid!


    • Char says



  4. Mel says

    This is by far the easiest frosting to make! I love that you have this 4 ingredient powdered Sugar frosting in green, perfect for St Patrick’s Day!


  5. Scott says

    It really is so easy. Once you try it this way you’ll never buy the stuff in a can again!


    • Janel says

      Yum! We use almond extract in a glaze recipe and it’s delicious. Great idea!


      • Bren says

        You can use any Flavor extract you like.

  6. Danielle says

    Hi! I’m looking forward to making your frosting! Does it keep overnight if refrigerated? I’m going to have a cookie decorating party & wanted to know if I could make the frosting the night before? Thank you for your help!


    • Janel says

      Yup! You can store it in the fridge overnight. Just give it a couple of good stirs before you go to use it and it should be good to go. Be sure to store it in a sealed container so it stays fresh.


  7. Vicki says

    Assuming this needs to be refrigerated if made in advance; to soften, should I just bring it to room temp? Having cookie decorating for kids at my Christmas party & would love to have several color options for the icing!


    • Janel says

      You can make in advance and store in the fridge. Just give it a couple of stirs with a spoon when you take it out of the fridge and it should be good to go. It will spread easier when it reaches room temperature, but it will do just fine straight from the fridge as well.


  8. Tara says

    Does the frosting harden up after you put it on that cookies? Because you use milk would you have to keep the cookies in the fridge after?


    • Janel says

      We’ve never stored the cookies in the fridge and they stay just fine. You’ll want to mix it up close to the consistency that you’re aiming for. It will thicken up a little, but will stay pretty close to the consistency you mix it up as.


  9. Cindi says

    This is so good!!! Thank you for sharing!


  10. Cara Schmenk says

    Will the costing turn out ok if you don’t have a electric mixer?


    • Janel says

      Yup, you can hand mix if needed.


  11. Virginia Johnson-Sears says

    I use Almond extract, less sweet


  12. Love to bake says

    Super easy but way way too sweet. Next time I’ll only use 1.5 cups of powdered sugar and adjust the butter quantity accordingly.


    • Becky says

      I have used this recipe for 50 years- We have always frozen the cookies, but they seem to discolor after thawing- any advice? we use gel food coloring .


  13. Nicole says

    This is the exact recipe mundo mom used to use when we made cut-outs. I was looking for the recipe over the holidays, but I found one similar. I’ve bookmarked this one already so I will have it for this year. Oh, and I knew it wasn’t meant to be because I have the same bell shaped cookie cutter!


    • Nicole says

      Meant to say *my* Mom, not mundo lol


      • Nicole says

        Wow look at all those typos. Also meant to say WAS meant to be. Not wasn’t. I got too excited lol

    • Janel says

      The bells are one of my favorites, lol!! They frost easily and fit in my cookie tupperware the best.


  14. Susan says

    Thank you, Janel for this quick and easy recipe, it’s source and the memories you have of making it. I have part of an unfrosted cake left over. We had been topping it with whipped cream, but ran out of it. I will make your frosting for my cake and the rest of the frosting will be for crackers and cookies!


  15. Amy says

    Is this a joke?? I am dyinnnnnng over this frosting!!! I cannot believe I made something that tastes like this!! I did everything you said, and added a tiny splash of almond extract. I’m not sure if that made any difference, but omg… thank you so much!!! My first time making frosting was the easiest success! I can’t wait to experiment with colors!


    • Janel says

      Oh good, lol. When I started reading this comment I thought you were not loving it. Hooray for easy frosting, right! Enjoy!!


    • Romonia F Calpin says

      can I substitute water instead of milk?


  16. Melanie says

    Does this frosting harden after spreading it on the cookies to allow stacking them?


    • Janel says

      Yes, it does harden some. We stack our sugar cookies frosted with a powdered sugar frosting with a layer of parchment paper between just to prevent any frosting sticking. You do need to wait until it’s dried some, before stacking though.


  17. Keela says

    I just made this for a lemon poppyseed cake. I only used 1 tbsp of milk and substituted lemon juice for the rest. It turned out fabulous! Thank you for the recipe!
    It was really really sweet, but that’s how I like my frosting 🙂


    • Janel says

      That sounds yummy! I love lemon everything!


  18. Hollie says

    Can I use unsalted butter?


    • Janel says

      Yup! You can use unsalted butter.


  19. Alishia says

    Makes absoulty the perfect frosting!


  20. Michele says

    I make this with powered milk..turn out great..just wondering if I can make it ahead of time and leave it out on the counter covered and frost a few house later


  21. Candace Fata says

    Thanks for the recipe! Could you substitute almond milk for regular milk?


    • Janel says

      I think that would work great!!


  22. CINDY PAGE says

    I’ve used this recipe for 50+ yrs. I ice up a bunch, put in fridge to harden, then they stack great. Always get rave reviews..


  23. Kerbie says

    About how much frosting does this make cups wise?


  24. Christine says

    I actually freeze some of my extra frosted Christmas cookies and when I’m ready for a few more, I take them out of the freezer to thaw and eat that day. I have a sweet tooth. So the sugar cookies really help that. This is the same frosting I use for my sugar cookies. =o) Thanks for posting it!


  25. Roxane Jude says

    How can I make it chocolate ?


  26. Shelly says

    Can I stick a jam in this icing


  27. Kendall says

    Is this recipe gluten free?


  28. Lisa says

    These turned out perfect! I added a fourth the flour – plus a little bit more just in case per the other comments. They are delicious and look just like regular cutout cookies


  29. Dorian says

    So easy and sooo good! Very nice and creamy. I have used this on a couple of cookie recipes this year. Everyone loved it!
    Thank you.


  30. Patti says

    I am having difficulty, the powdered sugar is not dissolving, lots of tiny powdered sugar beads . Tastes great.
    How can I correct this?


    • Heather says

      Hi – Try running your powered sugar through a sifter or a fine sieve to get rid of the hard bits.


  31. Josie Heflin says

    I’m wanting to use a few colors. How much frosting would you say this makes! I’m wondering if I should double it or not. I’m super excited to use this recipe!! ☺️


  32. KATHY HERBERT says

    This is the way our mothers and grandmothers frosted cakes before canned frosting were introduced to the grocery stores. It’s good to go back to the old ways


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4-Ingredient Powdered Sugar Frosting ~ Simple Sweet Recipes (2024)


How to make a sugar frosting? ›

Directions. In a small bowl combine powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk. Stir in additional milk or juice, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it reaches drizzling consistency. Makes 1/2 cup (enough to drizzle over one 10-inch tube cake).

What if I don't have enough powdered sugar for frosting? ›

It is possible to simply use granulated sugar in a slightly smaller amount, though you'll have to accept that the texture may not be ideal, especially for icing or other recipes that are supposed to be super smooth. Just substitute 1 cup of granulated sugar for every 1 ¾ cups powdered sugar and proceed as directed.

How to make 2 cups of powdered sugar? ›

The magic ratio is 1 cup granulated sugar to 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Combine the two in a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, a food processor, or spice grinder, then blitz away until you have a soft, powdery consistency—the total time could be several minutes, depending on the power of your machine.

How do you make powdered sugar frosting thicker? ›

Dry/thick ingredients like cocoa powder, freeze dried fruit (powder,) and peanut butter will help thicken frosting, while vanilla and brown butter should be added sparingly to make sure it's the right texture. Storage Tips: Once you achieve the perfect consistency, store your frosting in an airtight container.

What is difference between icing sugar and powdered sugar? ›

You may have heard powdered sugar is also called confectioner's sugar or icing sugar. Like caster sugar, this kind of sugar is extremely fine. Most powdered sugar also contains cornstarch to help prevent clumps during mixing and baking.

What is the easiest frosting wherein powdered sugar is mixed with a liquid? ›

Powdered sugar glaze is by far the quickest and easiest type of icing. Powdered sugar is whisked together with some type of liquid until it has a consistency that can be drizzled. After the glaze is used to ice baked goods, it forms a thin skin hardening the glaze.

Does powdered sugar make frosting thick? ›

If the frosting has not reached your desired thickness after chilling, add a few tablespoons of sifted powdered sugar to help your buttercream stiffen.

What happens if you use granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar for frosting? ›

"Regular sugar has a larger crystal size than powdered sugar," he explains. "This means, cup for cup, there would be more sugar in a cup of powdered sugar than in a cup of regular sugar." In addition to inconsistent measurements, regular sugar won't dissolve and mix as well into recipes like frosting and icing.

How much powdered sugar is 4 cups? ›

One pound of powdered sugar contains approximately 4 cups. This is the usual size and amount in one box of powdered sugar. Compared to the other sugars listed here, powdered sugar (or confectioners sugar) is fluffier and light, so you get more cups per pound.

How much sugar do I need to make a cup of powdered sugar? ›

(Half a cup of regular sugar will produce one cup of powdered sugar). Pour sugar into a high-powered blender. If using, add cornstarch. Blend on high until sugar is fine and fluffy (about 30 seconds).

What is sugar frosting made of? ›

Combine powdered sugar and softened butter with an electric mixer. Add vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk. Gradually add additional milk, if needed, until you reach a smooth, easy to spread frosting. Once prepared, add food coloring, if desired, stirring the coloring in by spoon.

Is icing sugar the same as frosting? ›

You'll be glad to know there is a distinction between the two. In broad terms, frosting is thick and fluffy, and is used to coat the outside (and often the inner layers) of a cake. Icing is thinner and glossier than frosting, and can be used as a glaze or for detailed decorating.

What makes icing sugar hard? ›

You will find that if you store pure icing sugar for extended periods or if you don't store it in a well-sealed container, you can expect it to become hard and develop large lumps, which can be really tricky to sift.

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