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
The Author

About 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!