Whether you’ve run out of powdered sugar or are looking for a new adventure in the kitchen, making powdered sugar is easier than you might think! We’re breaking down what powdered sugar is, how to make your own powdered sugar at home, how to make frosting with powdered sugar (and without), and more.

What Is Powdered Sugar?

Powdered sugar, sometimes called confectioners’ sugar or icing sugar, is a form of granulated sugar that’s been ground into a fine, light, fluffy form. It’s often used for dusting on top of sweet dishes, such as French toast, pancakes, or funnel cake, as a quick-dissolving sugar option, or to make icing. You can also use it in fudge recipes, as the fine particles help to thicken wetter ingredients, or to make your own whipped cream.

powdered sugar on pastry
Source: Unsplash
Use powdered sugar to top your favorite baked goods, or to make into icing!

What Can You Use Instead of Powdered Sugar? 4 Powdered Sugar Substitutes

If your recipe calls for powdered sugar but you don’t have any available, there are several substitutes that you can use:

  1. Granulated Sugar: Depending on what you’re making, the consistency of your dish may change, but you can often swap one cup of granulated sugar for every 1 ¾ cups of powdered sugar in a recipe.
  2. Powdered Sugar-Free Alternatives: If you’re looking for an alternative to powdered sugar, try powdered monk fruit or stevia in your recipes. Follow the directions on the package to determine quantities as a substitute. These options are sugar-free but still sweet.
  3. Powdered Coconut Sugar: Using the same method we outline below, you can make your own powdered coconut sugar, which can be an easy substitute for powdered white sugar.
  4. Dry Milk Powder: Believe it or not, dry milk powder is a substitute for confectioner’s sugar as it’s a similar consistency. Using milk powder will avoid the use of sugar—so keep that in mind for the flavor of your recipe.

How to Make Icing Without Powdered Sugar 

You may be wondering how to make icing without powdered sugar, or how to make frosting without powdered sugar. If you have granulated sugar on hand and don’t want to make powdered sugar yourself, you can use granulated sugar in some frosting or icing recipes

Or get creative and use whipped cream, chocolate ganache, caramel, or other toppings for your sweets instead of your typical frosting and icing!

pink frosting cake
You can make frosting and icing with or without powdered sugar!

How to Make Powdered Sugar Yourself

If you’re wondering how to make powdered sugar, you may be shocked by how easy it is. Using this technique, you can powder a variety of sugars—from granulated white sugar to coconut sugar, and more! 

All you need is granulated sugar and, optionally, cornstarch or another starch like tapioca starch. The starch prevents it from clumping without adding any additional flavor, but feel free to leave it out if you prefer or don’t have any on hand.

Step 1: Measure the Sugar

Measure out one cup of granulated sugar, and one tablespoon of cornstarch (optional). Feel free to scale the recipe up or down, keeping the ratio of one cup of sugar to one tablespoon of starch.

Step 2: Blend

Add your sugar and starch to a blender, and blend for 30 seconds to one minute. You may need to stop the blender and scrape down the sides.

Step 3: Let the Sugar Settle

Let the powdered sugar settle in the blender for two to three minutes before pouring it into a jar or whichever vessel you’d like to store it in—just make sure it’s airtight!

Step 4: Enjoy!

Use in any recipe that calls for confectioner’s sugar (or icing sugar). Or maybe you’d like to learn how to make frosting with powdered sugar, which uses just a few more ingredients like butter and vanilla to whip up a delicious frosting.

Powdered Sugar Recipe (Confectioner’s Sugar)


  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch (optional)

Add ingredients to a blender, and blend for 30 seconds to one minute, scraping down the sides if needed. Allow the mixture to settle in the blender before removing the top and pouring it into your storage vessel. Be sure to store in an airtight container. 

Time to Decorate Some Cakes!

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Written by:

Sara Weinreb