An easy way to elevate cakes, cookies, muffins, and countless other baked goods! This simple 2 ingredient recipe will instantly step up any dessert. Read below for how to make this same recipe into either an icing or a glaze.
* This post was updated with new photos 🙂
What’s the difference between icing and glaze?
This is actually a bit of a tough question, and it strangely leads to strong opinions and some debates. Don’t ask me why because I have no idea.
When it comes to ingredients, a powdered sugar icing and a powdered sugar glaze are basically the same (both at their core needing powdered sugar and some sort of liquid).
The liquid is most commonly either water, milk, heavy cream, or (occasionally) lemon juice.
But what separates the two is their consistency and set. Icings are thicker than glazes, and set firmer when left out to dry. They’ll also leave a more opaque look when dry (think of icing decorated gingerbread cookies!). Glazes do also set when left to dry, but they leave a clearer, see through finish that’s a bit more sticky and crackly (think of glazed donuts!).
Which liquid to use for your glaze/icing:
Choosing whether you use water, milk, heavy cream, or lemon juice depends on the recipe you’re making, and what you have available.
Water is a classic that goes with basically every recipe, but it is quite thin, flavorless, and lacks any fat or richness. I use water most often when I make donuts because they’re already rich enough.
Milk & heavy cream are pretty much interchangeable. I prefer to use heavy cream because it adds more thickness and richness to the glaze/icing. But let’s take a minute to ask how often I actually have it on hand. Very rarely.
Lemon juice is definitely the most flavor changing of the bunch, so it does really depend on the recipe you’re making. Lemon and blueberries are an even better couple than bread and butter, so I like to make a powdered sugar lemon glaze with blueberry scones or blueberry muffins! It also goes great with pound cake!
When to use icing vs glaze:
Since glazes are thinner than icings, glaze is best for when you just want to drizzle streaks over a treat or dessert OR for dipping treats like donuts. It’s best when you don’t really care much for pattern or having a firm set.
Some recipes to use with glaze:
Icings on the other hand are better for when you want to pipe patterns (like when you decorate cookies!) or if you want the icing to set firmly (which makes stacking and sending/transporting treats easier)!
Some recipes to use with icing:
All in all …
It’s amazing how much you can do with this simple 2 ingredient recipe! It instantly elevates almost any dessert, and adds a beautiful topping and flavor to classic recipes.
If you liked this simple recipe, check out some of these similar recipes!
Simple Powdered Sugar Glaze / Icing Recipe
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 to 3 tablespoons water, milk, heavy cream, or lemon juice * see notes