Simple Cookie Glaze: the first step to stunning holiday cookies

What’s the first step to gorgeous decorated holiday cookies?

A blank canvas: baked cutout cookies iced with a simple cookie glaze perfect for adding sparkling sugars, frosting decorations, or simply a few drops of gel-paste food color.

But not just any cookie glaze will do; you want one that dries fast, but not too fast. Firm, but not unpleasantly hard. And smooth. Satiny smooth.

Meet our Simple Cookie Glaze. Trust me, you’ll want to bookmark this one.

Simple cookie glaze via @kingarthurflour

First, sift 2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) confectioners’ sugar. Yes, sift it in a flour sifter; or run it through a sieve. You don’t want any lumps of sugar marring the perfectly smooth surface of your glazed cookies.

Mix the sugar with 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) light corn syrup and 1 tablespoon milk.

Simple cookie glaze via @kingarthurflour

Stir until smooth. The glaze should be thick but pourable. When you run a spoon or spatula through it, it should hold its shape for a couple of seconds before flattening out.

Likewise, a ribbon of glaze dribbled from the spatula will sit atop the rest of the glaze in the bowl briefly, before settling and disappearing.

See our action video tip: How to test cookie glaze for consistency.

If the glaze is too thin, add additional sifted confectioners’ sugar. If too thick, dribble in additional milk 1/2 teaspoon at a time.

Simple cookie glaze via @kingarthurflour

Dollop glaze atop a baked cookie. It should gradually flow outwards from the center. Use a toothpick to direct the glaze all the way to the edge of the cookie.

Simple cookie glaze via @kingarthurflour

Add sparkling sugar or other sugar decorations while the glaze is still wet. Or set the cookies aside to dry before piping on a frosting design.

Simple cookie glaze via @kingarthurflour

By the way, here’s an example of two glazes: the one on the right is marginally too thin, the one on the left is just right. Notice how bright-white the “just right” glaze is, compared to glaze that’s not quite thick enough?

If you have any doubts about the consistency of the glaze you’ve just made, ice a couple of cookies and let them rest for an hour. If the glaze is too thin, the cookie will show through just enough to dull the glaze’s color – be it white, red, or green.

Are you ready for cookie decorating season? Try Simple Cookie Glaze. It’s one smooth solution for holiday cookie artistry.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Teri

    Is there a way to get rid of butter bleed? It doesn’t happen all the time, so it’s very hard to pinpoint the cause of it. I use water in my glace instead of milk. I only frost room temp cookies with room temp glace. Any advice would be very much appreciated.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Teri! Butter tends to separate a little if the emulsion of fat:water breaks. One way to help prevent this is to make sure all of your ingredients are the same temperature. It helps the fat and water mix together homogenously so that later on, they won’t begin to separate. We hope this helps! Annabelle@KAF

  2. Karen L. Klink

    My mom’s old recipe used 1 cup sifted confectioners, 1/4 tsp salt, 2 tbsp. sweet carnation canned milk and 1/2 tsp vanilla, lemon or almond. This makes a tasty glaze which hardens the same way, though the carnation makes it creamy rather than white. I may try regular milk this year to see if I can get a nice white color, though it will probably not be as thick without the corn syrup. The debate is ongoing as to whether corn syrup is worse than table sugar, which I doubt. But I do like the added flavoring of my mom’s recipe.

  3. Laura Mozota

    Sometimes I get spots or marbling when the icing dries! Should I used water instead of milk? Will that change the flavor or consistency?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Laura! You’re welcome to use water instead. If you’re using food coloring, marbling can be the result of the color not being mixed totally evenly in the icing, or if the icing is on the watery side. If it’s plain white, a little more whisking to make things cohesive might be just the ticket! Annabelle@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      No need, Jenny, though if you want to store them long-term, the freezer is perfect! Annabelle@KAF

  4. Bonnie Heppnr

    I’m finding that 1 Tbsp of milk for 9 oz, or 2 1/4 cups of milk, with 2 tablespoons of corn syrup is really thick; I added another tablespoon of milk, and even that seemed dry and think. I added more milk; cookies are setting at moment. I want to write on them, and I think I’ll use royal icing for that.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The best part about this recipe is that it’s easily customizable. We encourage you to add more liquid as necessary to achieve just the right consistency you’re looking for. Happy decorating! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      It sure could Karen. Since the liquid:sugar balance here is delicate, we’d suggest adding any flavoring in place of some of the milk rather than in addition to, at least until you can accurately judge the consistency. Mollie@KAF

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