Last updated on April 2nd, 2020 at 12:39 pm
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 the icing I grew up with. It truly is the simplest icing recipe ever!
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.
Simplest Icing Ever: If You Can Boil Water You Can Make This Icing
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Ingredients for simple homemade icing
- 2 to 3 tablespoons milk (put in 1 tablespoon at a time until you it becomes the right thickness)
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 cups 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 an inexpensive handheld mixer for years. They worked great for icing but …..not so well for sugar cookie dough. So after burning out the engine in a few handheld 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 handheld 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.
Update: Although I liked the Hamilton Beach stand mixer for icing, I found it too small for the big batch of cookies I like to make (fine for a single batch) so I splurged on a top-quality hand mixer and I LOVE it. I have used it for a few years now and it is still going strong. It breezes through a triple or quadruple batch of cookie dough like a walk in the park! Worth every penny.
Instructions for homemade icing
Back to making the 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 the 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 tricky part in making the 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? Check out the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook
Prefer chocolate icing? Try my chocolate truffle icing. It is just as simple to make!
This icing recipe works well on sugar cookies –here are 20 tips for making fabulous sugar cookies.
- ½ cup butter
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 2 to 3 tablespoons milk
- Several hours before you intend to make icing take the butter out of the fridge to soften.
- Unwrap butter and place it in a bowl
- Beat butter
- Add icing sugar slowly (about ½ a cup at a time) and beat it into butter
- Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time beating after every tablespoon until you get the thickness you want.
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