If you are searching for the best substitute for powdered sugar, look no further! Whether you run out of powdered sugar or need a substitution for nutritional reasons like cutting calories, carbs, or sugar, don't worry! Depending on the recipe itself, with the options below you can easily use a substitute powdered sugar that will work perfectly!
Whether it's just to dust the top of a cake or needed as part of a batter there are many wonderful choices. And I'm going to share some of my favorite powdered sugar substitutes with you as well as show you how to make your own powdered sugar that will suit both your baking and dietary needs!
- What is powdered sugar
- What is powdered sugar used for
- Powdered sugar vs Icing sugar
- Powdered sugar vs Granulated sugar
- Powdered sugar vs Confectioners sugar
- Most Common Substitutes in Baking
- Easy Homemade Powdered sugar (DIY)
- Healthy substitutes for powdered sugar
- Which powdered sugar substitute to use
- When it is not possible to substitute powdered sugar
- Storage tips
- More baking guides
- The BEST Substitute For Powdered Sugar
What is powdered sugar
Before we dive into how to find a substitute for powdered sugar, let's first talk about what powdered sugar is. Basically, powdered sugar is really not that much different from regular granulated sugar except for how it is both processed and used. Both are white sugars, yet powdered sugar is granulated sugar that has been ground down and milled into a very fine powder.
Most people have used powdered sugar at some point in baking and dessert making. It's a popular ingredient and some of the most well know brands are Domino and C&H. Keep in mind that traditional powdered sugar is really not much different than white sugar and it also has about 30 grams of total carbs per quarter cup / 30g, so, effectively 100% carb just as normal, white granulated sugar.
What is powdered sugar used for
Powdered sugar is best known for its role in frostings, glazes, and dusting baked goods. Its fine texture makes it perfect for adding a bit of sweetness with a beautiful white snowy-looking finish. And it's such a fine sugar powder that it dissolves very easily creating super velvety smooth frostings, icings, and glazes.
This type of sugar is used in a variety of different sweets like making a glaze for donuts, homemade macarons, from scratch cream cheese frosting, and even just to dust the top of yummy Clafoutis dessert or a fancy French Sable Breton tart!
Powdered sugar vs Icing sugar
Powdered sugar and icing sugar are often thought to be the exact same sugar and used interchangeably. Yet, they are not identical and there is one difference.
Whereas powdered sugar is just granulated white sugar that has been ground down into a very fine powder, icing sugar has added starch in it to prevent the sugar from clumping or caking together. The starch is also added to help prevent the sugar from melting into desserts when used for dusting and sprinkling. The most common starch added to icing sugar is cornstarch.
Powdered sugar vs Granulated sugar
In simple terms, powdered sugar is white sugar just like granulated sugar. And they are both made from refined sugar cane or sugar beets. The only thing that really separates these two sugar types is how they are processed and the texture of the end result. While the process of making regular granulated sugar stops once it is turned into grainy crystals, powdered sugar is processed further until it has been ground and milled into a very fine powder.
Powdered sugar vs Confectioners sugar
Confectioners sugar, like icing sugar, is often thought to be the exact same thing as powdered sugar. However, just like icing sugar, there are some key things that distinguish the two sugars from each other. The biggest difference is that confectioners sugar is almost always milled and ground at least 10x; whereas, powdered sugar is typically not ground down quite as finely.
You may have even noticed that the label on confectioners' sugar will often say 10x, which is in reference to how many times the sugar has been processed. The other main difference is that like icing sugar, confectioners sugar also contains added starch to help it from clumping together.
Most Common Substitutes in Baking
There are a variety of replacements to substitute for powdered sugar that will work flawlessly. And even making powdered sugar at home is easy and there are several ways you can make it using different ingredients to suit your needs.
- Hot Cocoa Mix: Not only a good replacement but also adds a little extra chocolate flavor, which makes using cocoa powder a perfect substitute for powdered sugar in chocolate desserts. And there is no adjusting of ingredients, just use a 1:1 ratio.
- Granulated Sugar: It's possible to just use plain granulated sugar as a substitute for certain recipes eg. when sugar is part of a cake batter that will be baked. The downside is the texture, but it will work in many cases. The ratio is 1:1 in volume so eg. replace 100g powdered sugar with 100g granulated sugar, however in cups, it will translate to 1 cup granulated sugar for every 1 ¾ cup powdered sugar.
- Powdered Milk: It's a good substitute for powdered sugar if you want to cut back on your sugar intake as it's already similar in texture, but has much less sugar. All you have to do is blend dry milk powder with sweetener of your choice. Use as much or as little sweetener as you wish. Obviously, it is not appropriate to use it in replacement of cake batter, as powdered milk has different attributes than sugar, however, can be the perfect snowy effect as a decoration element
- Homemade Powdered Sugar: Homemade powdered sugar can be easily made if you have granulated sugar in your pantry. Please see the ingredients and method below
Easy Homemade Powdered sugar (DIY)
So what exactly is powdered sugar made of then!?! It's literally just sugar. Simple white granulated sugar that has been ground several times to turn it into a powder form.
You will often find products labeled powdered sugar that do have added cornstarch or tapioca starch, but true powdered sugar has no added starch. Yet, if you are making your own powdered sugar to dust a cake then adding a bit of cornstarch is ideal to keep it from clumping and melting into the confection.
Making DIY powdered sugar at home is a really easy process and you only need 1 to 2 simple ingredients depending on if you do or don't want to add an anti-caking agent. Yet, regardless of whether or not you choose to add starch, you'll need something to grind the sugar with like a high-powered blender, food processor, or coffee grinder.
Powdered sugar is usually made with regular granulated white sugar. However, when making your own powdered sugar you can use other types of sugar too such as raw turbinado sugar, sucanat, maple sugar, or even coconut sugar. The only sugar I don't recommend using to make powdered sugar is brown because it is fairly sticky due to its high content of molasses.
1. How to make pure powdered sugar
If you don't want to add starch to your powdered sugar then you will just take the required amount of granulated sugar of your choice and blend it in a high-powdered blender or food processor on high for about 30 seconds or until it has turned into a fine powder. Then, sift the homemade powdered sugar to remove any remaining sugar crystals. And that's the powdered sugar recipe! You have starch-free powdered sugar made from scratch and ready to use!
2. How to make powdered sugar with starch
Making powdered sugar with an anti-caking agent like cornstarch (so effectively making icing sugar) is basically the exact same process as making pure powdered sugar. The only difference is that you will add 1 tablespoon cornstarch (5g) and 1 cup of granulated sugar (200g) to the blender or food processor. Then, blend it into a super fine powder, sift to remove any clumps, and use right away or store it for later use.
Also, grain free starches such as arrowroot powder or tapioca starch can be used in place of cornstarch. Both make a great substitute for powdered sugar without cornstarch.
Healthy substitutes for powdered sugar
If you're on a special diet, there are a number of fantastic substitutions that are healthy substitutes for powdered sugar. Some even make great sugar-free powdered sugar!
- Coconut Sugar: It's a little bit lower in sugar and has a lower glycemic index than white sugars which makes it a healthier replacement. Just blend together the required amount of coconut sugar with or without 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, arrowroot starch, or tapioca starch. Even better, if using powdered coconut sugar
- Xylitol: This is a popular low-carb sugar-free sweetener that works well with the keto diet. Just blend 1 cup xylitol and then use just as you would regular powdered sugar. You can add 1 teaspoon of starch if you like, but it's not necessary. This is probably the best healthy substitute for powdered sugar
- Erythritol: This sugar-free sweetener is less sweet than powdered sugar, so do keep that in mind when using it as a replacement. It is also best used in recipes that don't need to be cooked as it doesn't brown like regular sugar. Erythritol is ideal as a substitute for powdered sugar for frosting or sprinkling on top of cakes. Swerve confectioners is a well-known brand based on erythritol and a very popular keto option. It's a 1:1 ratio as a replacement, so just use it as you would powdered sugar in any recipe.
- Monk Fruit: This is a wonderful sugar-free option that works super well in terms of the level of sweetness and taste. Just blend 1 cup of monk fruit sweetener with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, arrowroot starch, or tapioca starch. Then sift out any chunks. Yet, because monk fruit is a little sweeter than regular sugar you'll only want to use ¾ cup of homemade monk fruit powdered sugar for every 1 cup of regular powdered sugar that your recipe calls for.
- Splenda: This alternative does work, but because Splenda is so very sweet you will want to make a few adjustments for the best outcome. First, blend ¾ cup of Splenda with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Then only use ½ cup of this Splenda powdered sugar substitution for every 1 cup of regular powdered sugar.
Which powdered sugar substitute to use
By using any of the suggested substitutes that I've shared in this article you will be able to make almost any recipe. However, do make sure to use the recommended amounts that are equivalent to traditional powdered sugar.
And for the best results, which substitute for powdered sugar you choose should factor in how it's used in the recipe. So it's important that you take that into consideration before picking your substitute for powdered sugar. For example, most any of these substitutes will work with no problem when mixed into a batter. However, when you need to glaze or dust things like donuts and cakes, it's better to choose a substitute for powdered sugar that contains starch. The starch helps to keep the powdered sugar from both clumping and dissolving into desserts.
When it is not possible to substitute powdered sugar
Sometimes it's just not possible to use a substitute for powdered sugar in certain recipes and have good results. Most meringue-based recipes like macarons will not turn out well. There may be ways to do it but it typically doesn't work and in those cases, it's better just to use traditional powdered sugar.
Both store-bought and homemade powdered sugar need to be stored correctly so that they last for a long time. These are some tips on how to best store powdered sugar.
- Store in an airtight container or sealed ziplock bag.
- Push out any excess air to keep it as fresh as possible.
- Keep it in a cool dry place in your pantry or cupboard away from humidity.
- Add an anti-caking agent like cornstarch if you plan on storing it for months.
Well, white sugar is the same as powdered sugar at its core (except that powdered sugar is finely milled), but the closest examples to powdered sugar are confectioners sugar and icing sugar. But keep in mind that starch is added to both
In baking 1 cup of granulated sugar is equal to 1 ¾ cup of powdered sugar. This is because when it's finely ground powdered sugar becomes a condensed form of sugar. Use a digital scale as in volume 100g powdered sugar is the same as 100g granulated sugar
To make powdered sugar, the most common choice is to use white sugar. However, you can also make powdered sugar using raw turbinado sugar, sucanat, maple sugar, or even coconut sugar. The only sugar I don't recommend is brown sugar as it has molasses in it and is very sticky
No, you do not have to add starch to make powdered sugar. But do know that without the addition of starch there is a greater chance that it will clump together. So if you aren't adding starch I suggest that you use your powdered sugar more quickly and store it well in an airtight container.
Yes, sugar free powdered sugar can be made simply by choosing any of my suggested methods above eg. xylitol, erythritol, monk fruit, or Splenda. You can also use other sugar-free options as well, I've just not tried them. My personal favorite is powdered sugar made using monk fruit sugar as well as Swerve confectioners sweetener
You can make powdered sugar without using any starch, which makes it grain-free. However, if you need to add a bit of starch to your powdered sugar, but want to keep it grain-free, both arrowroot flour and tapioca flour work perfectly. They are both grain-free starches that work just as well as cornstarch
Powdered sugar almos always gluten-free, as neither corn starch nor white granulated sugar contains gluten
Yes, just make sure you select a sugar that has not been processed using bone char. Sugar that is labeled organic, raw, unrefined, or natural is typically vegan. And beet sugar is always vegan. But to be sure always read the product labels.
If stored correctly, powdered sugar does not really expire. What most often renders powdered sugar unusable is poor storage and humidity.
There are so many different ways to easily use a substitute for powdered sugar. You can make your own homemade powdered sugar or simply swap one sugar for another in place of powdered sugar. And there are a variety of ways to accommodate all your baking needs as well as suit your dietary requirements ranging from sugar-free, low carb, or keto.
The options are almost always, however, remember, substitutes almost always come with a price and for more complex recipes eg. substitute for powdered sugar in macarons, is not necessarily possible.
More baking guides
The BEST Substitute For Powdered Sugar
- 200 g (1 cups) Granulated sugar
- 5 g (1 tablespoon) Corn starch optional
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
- Take white granulated sugar and blend it in a high-powdered blender or food processor on high for about 30 seconds or until it has turned into a fine powder.
- Then, sift the homemade powdered sugar to remove any remaining sugar crystals
- Optionally, blend corn starch along with sugar for a few seconds. Corn starch is not mandatory, however, it is an anti-caking agent, meaning it helps the DIY powdered sugar to remain dry and free-flowing
- Use your homemade powdered sugar according to the recipe
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