Sugar Cookie Frosting that Actually Hardens

Are you looking for the easiest frosting, not a glaze, that you can use for decorating sugar cookies or cookie cutouts? Then this recipe for sugar cooking frosting that actually hardens is just perfect for you! For the second recipe in the cookie lead-up to Christmas, I am going to share with you this divine frosting. Helper princess Elliana was SO excited to help clean the mixer!

Elliana licking frosting off KitchenAid beater attachment

Published November 30, 2021
Updated March 26, 2022
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Why this recipe works

Unlike using a glaze which consists of powdered sugar and milk, this frosting has a base of butter and can be frosted onto the cookies or piped. The frosting does not harden right away, so you can be free to frost cookies and decorate them at your own pace. And, if you do want to make it ahead of time, just add 1 tsp milk to the already finished frosting and it softens back up. Really, this frosting is delicious, not to sweet, and perfect for decorating Christmas cookies!

The weekend before Thanksgiving, Tyler and I went away with friends for our annual Friendsgiving. I made this frosting recipe, and sugar cookies, ahead of time so they could have a fun decorating session with Grandma Wendy. Last year, our elementary school did a cookie order, so instead of making my own I totally cheated (while supporting the school of course) and baked up some delicious sugar cookies!

So you know, those idyllic moments one think of while frosting and decorating cookies? Everyone is smiling and having a grand time, making the perfectly frosted and decorated cookies with the ratio of cookie-to-frosting-to-sprinkles to perfection. Yeah, that does not typically happen in our house.

Elliana licks everything. Levi eats everything. Matthew throws cookies. Samuel does it as fast as possible to then be able to leave the table. All I have to say, is my mother y’all is a trooper. She wrangled these rascals and had them decorate four dozen sugar cookies like a champ. Here’s to all those type-A mommas out there who know how to get a job done! Well done mom!

kids decorating cookies with sugar cookie frosting that hardens

But seriously folks… these kids are just hilarious. Literally after my mom took this picture, her only one of the event, Matthew threw a cookie at Levi and then everything went to hell. The cookies were completed though, so that is a major win! Plus, they are delicious!

With only four ingredients, this recipe for frosting that hardens is fairly inexpensive. To stay on our weekly food budget, buying items like frosting from the store do add up in cost quickly. To cut costs, making food from scratch is the way to go, even with simple things like frosting for Christmas sugar cookie cutouts. One jar of frosting that was 2 cups at ALDI was $1.35. To buy the amount of frosting that I made from scratch would cost $4.05.

Powdered Sugar $1.55
Milk $0.07
Butter $1.30
Vanilla extract $0.01

The total cost to make this frosting was only $2.93 for 4-6 cups of sugar cookie frosting that actually hardens.

Ingredients for Sugar Cookie Frosting

2/3 cup butter; softened
1/2 cup milk
2 pounds powdered sugar (8 cups)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract (optional)

ingredients for sugar cookie frosting and a KitchenAid mixer

Directions for Sugar Cookie Frosting

1. Most importantly, let the butter rest to room temperature, the butter needs to be completely softened, but not melted, so it can blend well.
2. Secondly, place butter into the bowl of a KitchenAid mixer. At first, I used a whisk attachment but then switched pretty quick to using my batter attachment, as the butter just went directly into the whisk instead of creaming with the milk.

butter in kitchenaid mixer

3. Measure and then add the room temperature 1/2 cup milk to the butter.

4. SLOWLY cream together the butter and milk until creamy, this may take a few minutes.
Pro-tip- If your butter is not creaming well into the milk, try warming the milk for 10-15 seconds before adding it to the bowl. Or you can warm a rag or a towel with hot water and wrap it around the base of the bowl to help the butter and milk blend easier, as the coldness of the milk can then cause the softened butter to quickly chunk back up.

milk and butter in bowl of kitchenaid mixer

5. Measure and then add the powdered sugar to the KitchenAid mixer. 8 cups equal an entire 2-pound bag of powdered sugar.
Teaching Elliana to keep her hands away from the KitchenAid mixer is my priority #1. She sure loved watching the powdered sugar turn into frosting. To prevent a huge puff of powdered sugar in your face, I recommend that you add the sugar in two or three separate installments and then blend it into the butter milk mixture completely after each addition of powdered sugar.

6. Next, add the 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp almond extract, if using, and then blend well. This recipe calls for 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, but because of my almond extract, I just replaced it with vanilla. You can choose to use any extracts with this recipe.
There are so many varieties of extracts to choose!
Additionally, click the link below for my recipe on how to make Homemade Vanilla Extract!

7. Immediately frost sugar cookies that are completely cooled, then decorate them and let the frosting harden. Of course Elliana and I had to taste test one cookie to make sure it was delicious. This frosting is so smooth and there were honestly no clumps.

8. If you are making this frosting ahead of time, and it hardens in a bowl, add 1 teaspoon milk and mix on low until it combines and softens. Our kids frosted these cookies a day after the frosting was made and it still was creamy! By placing small amounts of frosting into multiple bowls and adding food coloring, you can make a variety of different fun colors! Enjoy!

Christmas sugar cookies with frosting and decorated on plate

Recipe for Frosting

sugar cookie frosting

Sugar Cookie Frosting that Actually Hardens

Recipe for the BEST sugar cookie frosting that can actually harden on your Christmas cookie cut-outs, or any other holiday.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 2 cups


  • KitchenAid Mixer paddle attachment


  • 2/3 cup Butter softened
  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • 2 pounds Powdered Sugar 8 cups
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp Almond Extract optional


  • Most importantly, let the 2/3 cup butter rest to room temperature so it blends well.
  • Place the softened butter into the bowl of a KitchenAid mixer.
  • Measure and then add the room temperature 1/2 cup milk to the butter.
  • SLOWLY cream together the butter and milk until creamy.
  • Measure and then add the 2 pounds powdered sugar to the stand mixer.
  • Add the 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1/2 tsp almond extract if using, and then blend well in the bowl of the KitchenAid mixer.
  • Frost the sugar cookies that are completely cooled, decorate them and then let the frosting harden.
  • If you are making this frosting ahead of time, and it hardens in a bowl, add 1 teaspoon milk and mix on low until it combines and softens.
Keyword cookies, Dessert, Sugar Cookie Frosting, Sugar Cookie Frosting that Hardens

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