All About Powdered Sugar

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Learn about powdered sugar, how it’s used, and get tips for making your own. This is a great trick when you need some for a recipe but don’t have it on hand – it’s easier than you think!

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Stainless steel measuring cup full of powdered sugar

When I first started baking, I didn’t really understand the ingredients and how they work. Sure, I knew the difference between flour and sugar, but if you’d ask me the difference between granulated sugar and powdered sugar, I probably would have said, ‘oh, one’s fluffy, and one’s not!”

Needless to say, when I started learning more about different ingredients, my baking improved and so today I’m back in teacher mode. It’s good to know what it is and how it works so you can bake with more confidence.

What Is Powdered Sugar

Powdered sugar is granulated sugar that has been finely processed with cornstarch. When the sugar granules are processed, they break down to a very fine powder. So, I wasn’t too far off the mark with the “one’s fluffy and one’s not” analysis – confectioner’s sugar is basically granulated sugar in a light and fluffy form.

But they don’t act the same way in recipes! Granulated sugar in baked goods makes them airy and crispy. Powdered sugar makes things softer and denser. So, they’re not necessarily interchangeable in recipes.

Powdered sugar in a clear tall glass


Is confectioner’s sugar powdered sugar?

Yep, they are the same thing. It’s also called icing sugar. I think it depends on where you’re from, but whether it’s called confectioner’s sugar or icing sugar, it’s all the same powdered sugar.

How many cups are in a pound of powdered sugar?

A box of powdered sugar is usually one pound which is approximately 3 ½ cups.

How do you measure powdered sugar?

You should measure it the same way you do flour – with the spoon and level method.

Is there a powdered sugar substitute?

Yes, you can make your own powdered sugar with granulated sugar and cornstarch. This is a great hack when you need some for a recipe but don’t have any on hand.

How to Make Confectioner’s Sugar

You will need a high-speed blender to make your own. A food processor or regular blender won’t be able to break down the sugar enough.

The ratio is one cup of granulated sugar to one tablespoon cornstarch, which equals approximately two cups powdered. You can scale that up or down if you need more or less for your recipe.

Place them both in your blender and process at high speed until the sugar is light and fluffy.

Side view of powdered sugar in a tall clear glass

Different Ways to Use It

Sometimes recipes call for powdered instead of granulated sugar – shortbread is one example of this. Powdered sugar is not always interchangeable with granulated sugar, so it’s always best to follow what the recipe recommends.

Where powdered sugar gets a lot of mileage is with glazes, frostings, and icings. It can be as simple as mixing some with water or lemon juice to make a simple glaze or using a mixer to make a light and creamy frosting.

How to make icing will depend on the recipe you are using, but it’s usually a combination of butter, heavy cream, and sugar. You can customize that base with all kinds of flavors to make a variety of frostings. Here are my favorite frosting recipes:

With as much baking I do, I’m not often caught without powdered sugar when I need it. But there have been a few times and making your own is really easy and saves a trip to the store. That’s a win in my book  – I hope you’ve found this post helpful!

How to make Powdered Sugar

Learn how to make powdered sugar in case you ever run out!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Yield 8 servings
Serving Size 1 serving


  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch


  • Add both sugar and cornstarch to a high powered blender and process until powdery. Measure before using according to recipe.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 101kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 1mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 25g | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword powdered sugar

Learn More Baking Tips From These Posts

Stainless steel measuring cup full of powdered sugar with post title on top of image

Making your own powdered sugar is much easier than you think! This will come in handy on those days when you don’t have any in the house!

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