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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!

Stainless steel measuring cup full of powdered sugar

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.

Powdered sugar in a clear tall glass


Is confectioners’ 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.

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?

You can make your own confectioners’ 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 many cups in a box of powdered sugar?

Usually a box is 1 pound, and will yield about 3 1/2 cups.

How to Make Powdered 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. A clean coffee grinder should also work.
  • The ratio is one cup of granulated sugar to one tablespoon cornstarch, which equals approximately two cups. You can scale that up or down if you need more or less for your recipe.
  • Place them both in your blender or food processor and process at high speed until the sugar is light and fluffy.
Side view of powdered sugar in a tall clear glass

How to use confectioners’ sugar

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 confectioners’ sugar gets a lot of mileage is with glazes, vanilla buttercream, and cream cheese frosting. It can be as simple as mixing some with water or lemon juice to make a simple glaze topping lemon bread with powdered sugar icing.

Side view of powdered sugar in a tall clear glass

How to make Powdered Sugar Recipe

5 from 2 votes
Learn how to make powdered sugar in case you ever run out!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Yield 8 servings
Serving Size 1 serving


  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
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  • Add both sugar and cornstarch to a high powered blender and process until powdery. Measure before using according to recipe.

Recipe Nutrition

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

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Last Updated on March 24, 2023

Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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