When you need a perfect powdered sugar substitute you can start right here and find all of the pantry staple ingredients that will work! You're sure to have something readily available that will work in any recipe!
Make the most out of your pantry sugary sweets when you run out of this icing sugar!
Even though it may leave behind white powdery remnants of its sweetness, powdered sugar is a delightful confection that no one wants to skip.
Just because we love the powdery goodness, doesn’t mean it always loves us though. It may also be too sweet for our bodies and keep us from enjoying our favorite desserts or breakfast donuts.
- What is Powdered Sugar?
- The Best Powdered Sugar Substitutes
- 1. DIY Powdered Sugar
- 2. DIY Powdered Coconut Sugar
- 3. Powdered Milk
- 4. Hot Cocoa Mix
- 5. Powdered Dextrose
- Sugar-Free Substitutes
- 6. DIY Powdered Monk Fruit
- 7. Xylitol
- 8. Erythritol
- 9. Stevia, Splenda, Swerve & Other Sugar-Free Sweeteners
- Less Common Substitutes
- 10. Baker’s Sugar
- 11. 6x / 4x Powdered Sugar
- Substitute in a Pinch
- 12. Regular Sugar
- 📋 Recipe
It may go missing from our cupboards after an extensive day of baking (or we simply forgot to buy more).
Whatever reason you find yourself without powdered sugar (or not wanting to use real powdered sugar), there are plenty of alternatives with the same deliciously sweet benefits.
What is Powdered Sugar?
Since many of the best substitutes for powdered sugar are DIY powdered sugars, it is helpful to first understand what powdered sugar is. Powdered sugar and regular white sugar are basically the same ingredient, just in different forms. Powdered sugar is simply white sugar that has been ground so finely that it becomes a powder.
Unlike regular sugar which can leave a grainy texture if not completely dissolved, the extremely fine granules of powdered sugar dissolve quickly and easily. This makes it the ideal sweetener for frostings, glazes, and other baked goods. Therefore, it is often referred to as “confectioner’s sugar.”
The Best Powdered Sugar Substitutes
The great thing about powdered sugar is that it is quite easy to make your own powdered sugar at home. Furthermore, this means you can also easily make a sugar-free substitute using a sugar-free sweetener. Keep reading to learn how to do this!
1. DIY Powdered Sugar
While powdered sugar is not a staple that everyone has on hand, most households keep a bag of sugar in the pantry. Another common pantry staple is cornstarch.
If you have both regular sugar and cornstarch in the cupboard, then you have everything you need to make powdered sugar. Simply, blend the two in a food processor or blender.
- 1 cup of regular white sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Blend until you reach a powdery white texture that resembles powdered sugar.
For the best results, sift the newly created powdered sugar through a mesh strainer or sieve. This will help to further create a smooth and fine powder (the finer the powder, the better the results).
Once you have sifted it, use it as a 1:1 replacement in any recipe that calls for powdered sugar.
What if I Don’t Have Cornstarch?
The cornstarch helps to keep the sugar from sticking together. This continues to help the powdered sugar be as smooth as possible. However, if you don’t have corn starch you can still blend the sugar on its own (which works best for immediate use).
In addition, if you have arrowroot powder on hand (or prefer it over cornstarch) it will provide the same results. Simply sub 1 tablespoon of arrowroot powder for cornstarch.
Do I Have to Sift It?
Sifting the new powdered sugar will give you the finest powder. If you don’t have a mesh sieve though, you can still use the powdered sugar straight out of the food processor.
Another option is to use a fork to stir the powdered sugar and get any clumps out before baking with it.
Can I Make More Than 1 Cup?
Yes! Depending on how much-granulated sugar you have, I would highly recommend making powdered sugar in bulk. This way you always have it on hand.
Once you make the sugar, put it in an airtight container or plastic bag. Then you have it ready to use anytime you need powdered sugar.
2. DIY Powdered Coconut Sugar
Coconut sugar is a healthier option when it comes to adding sugar to your baked goods. It provides some minerals, like zinc, calcium, and potassium.
Moreover, it has a lower glycemic index than regular white sugar and will not spike glucose as quickly.
Therefore, many people who are trying to control their blood sugar may prefer to use coconut sugar. However, while coconut sugar is commonly sold in grocery stores, powdered coconut sugar is not.
It is not a problem though! Powdered coconut sugar is as easy to make as regular powdered sugar.
Follow the same directions above and just replace the white sugar with 1 cup of coconut sugar.
One thing to be mindful of is that coconut sugar tends to have larger granules than regular sugar. Therefore, you may need to blend it longer. You may also benefit more from sifting it.
3. Powdered Milk
This one may sound like a bit of a stretch, but powdered milk is a great sugar-free powdered sugar! Just like the other homemade powdered sugars though, it needs a bit of blending.
As a white powdery ingredient that has a similar consistency to powdered sugar, powdered milk is already off to a great start. All you need to add is the cornstarch for consistency.
Since powdered milk is not as naturally sweet as powdered sugar, you will also need to add a sweetener of your choice. To make this a low-glycemic option, choose a sugar-free sweetener (Splenda, stevia, monk fruit, etc.). If you don’t mind some sugar, you can also use regular white sugar.
Follow the same directions above to blend and sift your ingredients.
- 1 cup of dry milk powder
- 1 cup of cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)
- ½ cup of sweetener
Use the final mixture as a 1:1 substitution for powdered sugar in any recipe. The taste is so similar, you won’t know it’s not the real thing!
Non-Dairy Powdered Milk
Regular powdered milk is made from cow's milk. However, there are some non-dairy powdered milk brands as well.
If you want a low sugar (or sugar-free) substitution, but also non-dairy, look for a non-dairy milk powder. Then, follow the same directions above.
4. Hot Cocoa Mix
Hot cocoa mix is like the chocolate version of powdered milk. While it won’t work as a substitute in every recipe, it can be a handy little substitute for chocolate recipes.
It can be used as a chocolate powdered sugar to sweeten things like chocolate frosting, brownies, and chocolate cake.
While more finely ground than some other substitutes, hot cocoa mix is still larger than powdered sugar. So, give your hot cocoa mix powder a quick whirl in the blender before using.
The great thing about this option though, it doesn’t need to be mixed with anything else. It is also a simple 1:1 substitution for powdered sugar.
5. Powdered Dextrose
Dextrose is a simple sugar derived from grain (usually corn), rather than from sugar cane. It provides a similar sweetness to cane sugar, as well as powdered sugar.
While popularly used in processed foods, it is not commonly found in home kitchens. Therefore, this substitute may not be as handy.
However, if you do have dextrose you can use this as a quick substitute for powdered sugar. The best part - since it is already in a powdered form you do not have to mix or blend it.
There are three things to consider when using dextrose though:
- Sugary sweetness - It is not as sweet as powdered sugar.
- Not great for baked items - It does not hold up well under high heats.
- More absorbent - It absorbs more moisture than powdered sugar.
With these in mind, plan to use more dextrose in your recipe. Also know that this is best used in non-baked recipes (frostings, icings, toppings, etc.), as it will not do well in the heat and will change the texture.
Use 1 ¼ cup of dextrose in place of powdered sugar. If it is not sweet enough, add more slowly to reach desired sweetness.
6. DIY Powdered Monk Fruit
Monk fruit is a delightful sugar-free option sweetener. It is also one of the best-tasting sugar alternatives out there!
Like other sugar-free sweeteners (stevia, Splenda, etc.) it is great for those who want to enjoy desserts without the sugar spike. Like regular sugar, it can also be ground into a fine powder to be used in place of powdered sugar.
Follow the same directions for blending these two ingredients in a food processor or blender:
- 1 cup of monk fruit
- 1 tablespoon of cornstarch (arrowroot would also be a great option to use with monk fruit)
Monk fruit naturally has smaller granules than cane sugar, so you may not need to sift it as much. Although, it is always recommended if you have a sifter available.
Monk fruit has a sweeter flavor profile than regular cane sugar. Therefore, use ¾ cup of powdered monk fruit in place of 1 cup of powdered sugar.
Xylitol has become more popular the more low-carb diets (like keto) have risen in popularity. This sugar-free substitute is used in making everything from jams to cakes. Blended up, it can also be used the same way as powdered sugar.
Blend 1 cup of xylitol with optional 1 teaspoon of cornstarch (xylitol does quite well on its own when it is blended, so you don’t have to use the cornstarch if you don’t want to).
Once it is blended into a powder, use as a 1:1 exchange for powdered sugar in any recipe.
Like xylitol, erythritol is another sugar alcohol used to add sweetness to baked goods, without the sugar high. However, the sweetness is only about 70% as sweet as powdered sugar.
In addition, erythritol does not caramelize the same way as regular sugar. Therefore, it is best to use this alternative in recipes that don’t require heat. For example, in frosting or as a topping sprinkled on donuts.
Blend 1 cup of erythritol (plus cornstarch if you choose).
Begin by using a 1:1 swap for powdered sugar. Be aware that you may need to add more to achieve the desired sweetness though.
9. Stevia, Splenda, Swerve & Other Sugar-Free Sweeteners
There are plenty of other sugar-free sweeteners out there. Many of the others are sweeter than powdered sugar though. Therefore, you want to use less than you would in its original form.
- Blend ¾ cup of your sweetener of choice with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.
- Use ½ cup of the powdered substitute in place of 1 cup of regular powdered sugar.
Notes on Sugar-Free Sweeteners
If you have ever used sugar-free sweeteners before then you know they have a slightly different taste than real sugar. Therefore, be sure to do a taste test if possible before using it as a complete substitution.
Less Common Substitutes
10. Baker’s Sugar
If you are becoming a more frequent baker, then you may have come across baker’s sugar at a specialty shop.
With a consistency somewhere between granulated sugar and powdered sugar, baker’s sugar is also considered a finely ground sugar. Moreover, even though it is not as finely ground like powdered sugar, it still works in an almost identical way.
Use baker’s sugar in an even 1:1 substitution for powdered sugar in any recipe.
11. 6x / 4x Powdered Sugar
This substitute is not one you will commonly find in a home kitchen. If you are familiar with 6x/4x powdered sugar though, feel free to swap it in for regular powdered sugar.
The main difference between the two types of sugar is that 6x/4x has slightly larger granules. Therefore, it is best used in baked recipes, rather than frostings or glazes.
Use about ¼ less of the 6x/4x in your recipes. For example, ¾ tablespoon in place of 1 tablespoon of regular powdered sugar.
Substitute in a Pinch
12. Regular Sugar
If you have white sugar, but not a blender, you can use the regular granulated sugar just as it is. Especially for recipes that will be cooked.
While granulated sugar won’t provide the same fluffy texture to baked goods, it will add the same sweetness. In cold sweets though, such as frosting, it will result in a grainy texture.
Since powdered sugar is more finely ground, it is more condensed. Therefore, you will need to use ¾ more volume to get the desired sweetness (1 ¾ cup of regular sugar for 1 cup of powdered sugar).
As with any substitute, it comes down to not only preference but availability. So, if regular sugar is what you have on hand, go ahead and use it!
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Best Powdered Sugar Substitute:
Option 1 - DIY Powdered Sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Option 2 - DIY Powdered Monk Fruit (sugar-free)
- 1 cup monk fruit
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)
Option 1 - DIY Powdered Sugar
- Combine granulated sugar and cornstarch in a food processor and blend until you get a fine powdery consistency resembling confectioners' sugar. Sift before using.1 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Option 2 - DIY Powdered Monk Fruit (sugar-free)
- Combine monk fruit and cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) in a food processor and blend until you get a fine powdery consistency resembling confectioners' sugar. Sift before using then reduce the amount to ¾ cup of your DIY powdered monk fruit to ¾ cup for each 1 cup powdered sugar.1 cup monk fruit, 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!