This easy powdered sugar frosting is soft but stiffens up nicely making it ideal for topping cupcakes, cakes, soft sugar cookies or brownies.
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Homemade frostings are super easy to make! Most recipes are made with sugar, butter, milk (or cream) and vanilla extract. My version is made without butter and can be made with milk, water, cream, or even juice.
This type of icing is known as a "quick frosting" because it takes minimal time to whip up. For flavoring, I like to use almond extract instead of vanilla extract because of it's unique flavor which is very tasty!
Liquids you can substitute the dairy for to make your frosting dairy free:
- Any nut milk
- Freshly squeezed juice (orange juice, lemon juice or lime juice)
- Alcohols (vodka, Kahlua, whiskey, bourbon, champagne, etc.)
- Coffee or espresso
Extracts you could use to flavor your frosting besides vanilla:
This confectioners frosting is great if you want a thick but soft icing for those soft sugar cookies we've all come to love around the holidays. Whether frosting Christmas cookies or cupcakes for a birthday party, this frosting is inexpensive but tasty.
My favorite thing is how nicely it stiffens up so once your frosting is set, you can stack them or cover your cupcakes without worrying they will smear everywhere.
Note* This frosting is on the SWEET side. If you want a less sweet frosting, you should look into a frosting made with BUTTER known as a buttercream frosting.
How to make your frosting super smooth:
One thing I LOVE about this confectioners sugar frosting recipe is how forgiving it is! If you mess up the frosting or dent it, you can easily fix it with some hot water and an offset spatula. Read more about smoothing frosting here.
Pro Tip: Dip an offset spatula or butter-knife into hot water to easily smooth out your frosting!
Heating the icing sugar will cause it to melt again. So pressing a hot spatula or knife against the icing will cause the sugar to melt just enough to help it to smooth out evenly giving a clean presentation.
There is no butter in this frosting because it not a buttercream frosting but there IS cream cheese. Without either of the two your frosting will just be too sweet. It needs one or the other to take that sweetness level down a bit.
Common reader questions:
"Will this frosting get hard?"
Yes, it will harden up enough for you to stack your cookies or take your cupcakes on the go without smearing everywhere. Depending how thick your frosting is, it will take anywhere from 30 minutes-2 hours as it cools and the moisture evaporates.
"How long will this frosting stay fresh?"
Your frosting will stay fresh for up to 1-2 weeks sealed in the fridge.
"How do I make my frosting less sweet?"
You can add butter to your frosting if you prefer. This will make it a buttercream type frosting. You can also leave out the extract as that has some sugar in it as well. Another idea is to add some salt to balance the sweetness.
"Can I hand mix my frosting?"
Yes. Just make sure to mix it very well!
"How can I make my frosting smoother?"
Sift your powdered sugar before mixing in your cream and extract. Sifting the sugar will remove many small clumps that you don't want in your frosting creating a softer, smoother texture.
"Can I stack my frosting coated cookies?"
Yes! Just allow your frosting to harden. The time will differ depending on how thick it is. It should take 30 minutes - 2 hours to fully harden.
"How do I spread my frosting after it has hardened?"
Warm your frosting up in the microwave in 15-30 second intervals until it softens enough to spread.
Tip* If you added too much liquid, you can easily fix your frosting by adding more powdered sugar and vice versa.
Tools to make frosting easier:
Cookies or cake to frost:
EASY Powdered Sugar Vanilla Frosting (without butter)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 oz. cream cheese
- 2 tbsp cream
- 1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
- ½ tsp salt
- Sift your powdered sugar if you want a smoother frosting.
- Add your sugar, heavy cream, extract and salt to a bowl and mix well until smooth. A standing mixer or hand mixer works best.
- Use as desired or store in the fridge. The consistency should be thick! Read notes below*
- Have a bowl of hot water on the side for dipping your spatula into before smoothing out your frosting. This is so useful!
- Add a few drops of food coloring to get the color you desire if you want a colored frosting.
- You can use milk, water or juice to make your frosting. The amounts will vary based on what you use.
- The frosting will harden between 30 min to 2 hours.
- Store frosting in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.
- To use frosting after its hardened, heat the frosting in the microwave for 15-30 second intervals until you can spread it easily.