Sugar Cookie Frosting

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Put down the can and make your own Sugar Cookie Frosting from scratch! Made with vanilla beans for a rich flavor, this frosting adds the finishing touch to all your favorite holiday sugar cookies.

Spread this creamy frosting over your holiday cut out sugar cookies! Or put a swirl on top of your favorite fudgy brownies. Add some color or sprinkles for a festive touch.

Sugar cookie frosting on circle cookies with festive sprinkles.

Why this Frosting is Best

Not all frostings are interchangeable. Sometimes I want a cupcake covered in fluffy chocolate buttercream or salted caramel swiss meringue.

Other times, you need a perfect cream cheese frosting to cover your Gingerbread Cookie Bars.

The frosting recipe I’m sharing today is designed specifically with cut out sugar cookies in mind! (Or even my favorite sugar cookie bars!)

It’s thin enough to easily spread over a baked cookie while delivering that rich buttercream taste.

It also hardens just slightly like a bakery style frosting so that you can stack your cookies without worrying about them sticking together.

Using vanilla beans to imbibe the frosting with flavor, brings this topping to a new level. The deep vanilla taste and fragrance pairs beautifully with a classic sugar cookie.

Add food coloring to match the occasion or enjoy the frosting just as is.

Once you taste a cookie topped with this homemade Sugar Cookie Frosting, you’ll be ready to say goodbye to those canned frostings for good.

Sugar cookie frosting on gingerbread cut out cookie.

Ingredient Notes

You need vanilla bean pods to make this recipe. I get mine online and you can also find them at most well stocked grocery stores.

Nothing beats real vanilla beans for giving desserts a robust vanilla flavor.

Cut the bean pods in half and scrape out the seeds to use in your frosting.

Don’t throw out those pods after your remove the seeds; you can save the empty bean pod for making Vanilla Sugar or vanilla extract.

More vanilla desserts are always a good idea!

Step by step photos showing how to make vanilla bean frosting.

Tips & Tricks

  • Beat the butter until it turns a pale color before adding the other ingredients. Keep beating until the frosting gets fluffy.
  • You can use a knife or flat rubber spatula to spread the frosting onto cookies or pipe on the frosting with a pastry bag. If piping the frosting, you may need to thin it by beating a little bit more milk.
  • If you’re using food coloring, beat it in at the end after the frosting is smooth and fluffy. I love using Americolor gel food coloring. One small dollop creates deep lovely colors!
  • Stack the frosted and decorated cookies between layers of parchment paper to set. If adding sprinkles, make sure to do it immediately after frosting the cookies, before the frosting has a chance to firm up.
  • Swirl on top of my homemade chocolate chip cookie cake.
Sugar cookie cut outs with vanilla bean frosting.

Recipe FAQs

Can you freeze frosted sugar cookies?

Yes. Frosted cookies can be frozen for up to 30 days. Let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight and enjoy!

Can I substitute vanilla extract for the vanilla beans?

Yes. You can substitute 1 tsp of vanilla extract in place of the vanilla beans, just reduce the amount of milk added to the frosting to balance out the extra liquid. I much prefer the flavor of fresh vanilla beans in this frosting though!

What cookies does this go with?

You’ll love this frosting with my classic Chewy Sugar Cookies Recipe! It’s also a great way to add a homemade touch to store bought cut and bake cookies

How to use Vanilla Bean Frosting

Believe me when I tell you this is the best ever frosting to spread on your sugar cookies.

  • Valentine’s Day- Cut your cookies into hearts and tint them pink (or keep the frosting white). Add festive sprinkles.
  • Halloween- tint the frosting orange and add festive fall sprinkles to your pumpkin shaped cookies.
  • Christmas- whether you make gingerbread or classic shaped Christmas cookies, tint your frosting red/green with fun holiday sprinkles.

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Sugar Cookie Frosting

5 from 13 votes
By: Aimee
Put down the can and make your own Sugar Cookie Frosting from scratch! Made with vanilla beans for a rich flavor, this frosting adds the finishing touch to all your favorite holiday sugar cookies.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 30 servings


  • 1 ½ cups unsalted butter softened
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 cup milk
  • 1-2 vanilla beans scrape out seeds
  • sprinkles food coloring, for decoration
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  • Beat butter for 3 minutes until pale in color.
  • Add in powdered sugar, milk and vanilla beans. Beat for an additional 3 minutes until fluffy. Add food coloring if desired.
  • Add sprinkles immediately after frosting the cookies. ENJOY.


  • Spread or pipe frosting onto sugar cookies. If piping, you may need to add a little more milk (closer to the 1/2 cup), if spreading, use closer to the 1/4 cup.
  • Allow cookies to set with frosting. Stack between layers of parchment paper to set.
  • Frosted cookies can be frozen for up to 30 days. Thaw in refrigerator overnight.
  • I use Americolor food coloring for deep lovely colors.


Calories: 171kcal, Carbohydrates: 22g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 25mg, Sodium: 5mg, Sugar: 22g
Course: Basics
Cuisine: American
Did you make this recipe?Mention @shugarysweets or tag #shugarysweets!

Whip up a batch of this Sugar Cookie Frosting, get out the sprinkles and cookie cutters and have fun decorating delicious cookies for Christmas or any occasion!

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About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

Affiliate Disclosure:**There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love! Thank you for supporting Shugary Sweets! See my disclosure policy for more info**

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Posted on December 5, 2020

Comments & Reviews

  1. Hi! I use vanilla bean paste a lot and the little beans are always visible in light colored cakes and frosting. Won’t this happen with this frosting as well?

  2. Thanks for the recipe! I used vanilla extract instead of the caviar. I also cut the recipe in half for my amount of cookies. I split the frosting into three coffee mugs and added red and green food coloring into two for my Christmas sugar cookies. They turned out great!

  3. I could eat this frosting with a spoon! It’s delicious! I will have to make more to actually have some to decorate our cookies! haha!

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