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I am out to fix what I think is one of the biggest myths of all time, something I hear from mouths of friends all the time ” homemade icing is hard to make”. No it is not!
In fact if you can boil water you can make icing. Well at least the recipe for icing I grew up with.
This recipe iced pretty much every cake and cookie in my home growing up. The only thing that changed was the color or the sprinkles on it.
Ingredients for simple homemade icing
- powdered sugar, icing sugar, confectioners sugar (this sugar goes by so many names)
You will also need something to whip the icing up with. I have used inexpensive hand held mixers for years. They worked great for icing but …..not so well for sugar cookie dough. So after burning out the engine in a few hand held mixer models I cashed in some Amazon gift cards and bought this Hamilton Beach stand mixer for under $100.
I have only made a batch of icing and a batch of cookies in my new stand mixer but so far I like it. It blends things a lot smoother than any of the hand held mixers I have owned. My only disappointment is the size of the bowl. It is only big enough for single batches of cookies and I prefer to make double or triple batches.
Instructions for homemade icing
Back to making icing. Here is my biggest tip for successful icing making; make sure you take your butter out to soften several hours before. Do not try softening it in the microwave, that never works. You end up with slightly melted butter and that will not make good icing at all.
Cut the butter up into small pieces and beat it with your mixer. Next add in about 1/3 of the powdered sugar (amounts in recipe below) with 1 tablespoon of milk. Starting with your mixer on low beat the mixture well. As the powdered sugar mixes in you can turn up your mixing speed.
When that is beat repeat that twice more so that you have added all the powdered sugar and 3 tbsp of milk.
At this point icing gets a bit personal, as in you have to decide how soft you like it for spreading purposes. I usually add in at least one more tablespoon of milk making it 4 tablespoons of milk total.
However if you are using an icing bag to make cupcakes with icing piled high you might want to stop at 3. Or if you are icing cookies with a knife you might want to add one more tablespoon to make the icing easier to spread, especially if little ones are helping you.
Adding the perfect amount of milk is really the only trick part in making icing, and the secret to doing this successfully is to add just 1 tablespoon at a time and check the icing after you blend that tablespoon of milk in to see if it is at the consistency you want yet.
If you want colored icing I like to add the coloring in last and then beat it one more time until the color is all mixed in.
Want a simple basic cookbook to guide you in the kitchen? Checkout the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook
Prefer chocolate icing? Try my chocolate truffle icing. It is amazing!
- ½ cup butter (1 stick)
- 2 cups icing sugar (also known as powdered sugar or confectioners sugar)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons milk
- leave butter out on counter to soften for several hours before making
- cut softened butter into pieces and place in a large bowl
- beat butter until smooth
- add in 1 tablespoon milk and around ⅓ of icing sugar to bowl, starting with your beaters on low beat until smooth. (you can turn the speed up each time the powdered sugar is blended in a bit)
- add in another tablespoon of milk and another ⅓ of sugar to bowl and blend well
- add last ⅓ or icing sugar and 1 tbsp of milk and blend again
- if needed to make icing more spreadable add in another tablespoon of milk and blend well (may need one more after that depending on what you are icing and how thick you want your icing)