12 Powdered Sugar Substitutes

Mary and Brenda Maher

By Brenda & Mary

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What is powdered sugar? This ingredient, often known as confectioners’ sugar, is used in many baking recipes and pastries. Don’t panic if you come upon this sweetener and don’t have any on hand! I’m here to assist you in finding a store-free powdered sugar alternative so you can finish your handmade goods in time.

Cups of Powdered Sugar In A Pound

12 Substitutes For Powdered Sugar

1. Granulated Sugar And Cornstarch

Granulated sugar in bowl
Granulated Sugar

Granulated sugar and cornstarch are a perfect duo to substitute for icing sugar within our arm’s reach: one makes up for the sweetness, and the other acts as an anti-caking agent. My magic ratio is 1 cup of regular sugar and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch for 1 ¾ cup of confectioners’ sugar. 

Here is the catch: Granulated sugar’s gritty texture shines only in moist baked goods like muffins, quick breads, or cakes. It can’t deliver the desired stiff peak and fluffiness in frosting and pastries. Dusting it on your treats is also not a wise choice, though I sometimes sprinkle it on my pancakes in a pinch.

2. Granulated Sugar And Potato Starch

Potato starch functions similarly to cornstarch, acting as a thickening and anti-caking agent in similar applications. It also won’t alter the taste of your favorite dishes because it’s practically flavorless. It’s also corn-free, making it a wonderful choice for anyone allergic to corn or who wants to observe Kosher during Passover.

Here’s how I get things done: I mix 1 tablespoon of potato starch for each cup of powdered sugar, then process it in a coffee grinder or high-speed blender until it is extremely fine and powdery. This is a great alternative for creating glazes, frostings, and buttercream, as well as dusting cakes.

3. Granulated Sugar And Tapioca Starch

Tapioca starch is made from Cassava root, which is often referred to as yucca, a native South American tuber that is quite common in nations in Asia, Africa, and South America. Powdered sugar prepared with tapioca starch is useful for creating creamy, silky glazes and icings since the granules are spherical and smooth. 

However, tapioca may not work well when sprinkled over wet pastries like lemon bars since it absorbs liquid more rapidly than other starches.

Again, while it’s fine to use regular sugar as is, I recommend blending together 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon of tapioca starch in a high-speed blender until the mixture is extremely fine and powdery.

4. Granulated Sugar And Arrowroot Powder

Have any arrowroot powder on hand? You are in luck! It works just as well as the above starch options. Simply combine it with some granulated sugar to make a great alternative to powdered sugar.

This white-colored, flavorless starch is common in jellies, puddings, pies, and even thickeners. It also works well as an anti-caking agent for handmade powdered sugar. It has also been used traditionally to treat digestive ailments. 

Just mix one cup of sugar and one spoonful of arrowroot starch until extremely fine. This is a great alternative for nearly any recipe that asks for powdered sugar.

5. Coconut Sugar

coconut sugar

Just like the name suggests, this ingredient comes from the sap of coconut trees. It’s got a darker color, but the texture is surprisingly similar to regular sugar – nice and crystalline. Hold on a minute, sugar lovers with diabetes! Despite having a lower glycemic index compared to ordinary sugar, coconut palm sugar still has the same number of calories and carbs. 

While the color of powdered coconut sugar may be a little bit darker than that of bone-white powdered sugar, the taste is the same with a delightful caramel note. Powdered coconut sugar mixed with a little amount of tapioca starch is okay for anyone following a paleo diet. 

One cup of coconut sugar and two tablespoons of tapioca flour are used in place of the previously mentioned make-your-own powdered sugar method for creating this mix.

6. Dry Milk Powder

Honestly, I was surprised by how effective dry milk powder is when swapped for powdered sugar. Its fat and milky notes cut through my bland cakes, adding a creamy richness and unexpected nuances of flavor. 

Although its powdered texture won’t pack much sweetness, you may still use it to give some bulk to buttercream frosting or dust biscuits and cakes without consuming extra sugar or calories.

In my experience, I only use ½ cup sweetener or sugar for each cup of powdered dry milk. Notice that you can use any milk you like. If you’re trying to avoid dairy, almond milk, coconut milk, or powdered soy milk are dairy-free milk powders that also work.

7. Stevia

When crushed and mixed with a tiny bit of starch, stevia becomes a good alternative to powdered sugar. Are you watching your weight or blood sugar level? This popular coffee sweetener is a great choice since it delivers no calories and carbs.

I know, there are many types of stevia available, and they might get you confused. My advice is that when replacing powdered sugar, it is preferable to use the dry or powdered versions. Blend one tablespoon of the starch of your choice and one cup of powdered stevia until extremely fine for optimal results.

8. Hot Cocoa Mix

An unexpected item that’s usually stashed in your pantries—cocoa mix can indeed get the job done! The elements for powdered sugar are already included in many commercially made hot chocolate mixes: sugar and nonfat dry milk. Since all three of these items are already excellent alternatives to powdered sugar in some recipes, a prepackaged mixture of them can also be useful in an emergency.

Process the mixture until it becomes a powder, then use it in recipes calling for chocolate flavoring in a ratio somewhat greater than 1:1. It goes perfectly with any dessert that contains chocolate or cocoa. Be careful with white cakes, though! The finished baked goods might be infused with a chocolate hint and, of course, slightly brown in color. 

9. Agave Nectar

Agave syrup

This one may not be a stranger to lots of bakers out there. The texture that this natural sweetener provides will not be the same as powdered sugar because of its liquid state. In some recipes, though, such as those for drinks, dressings, and sweet sauces—where the powdered sugar is largely used for taste and not necessarily for texture—agave nectar can be an acceptable swap

I have to warn you that agave nectar contains 20% water, which can mess up the wet-to-dry balance of your recipe. My trick is to use 3/4 cup of agave for every cup of sugar and cut 2 tablespoons of wet ingredients, like milk or water.

10. Powdered Monk Fruit Sweetener

I know that this fruit’s name may sound a bit strange to many, as it originates from southern China. Although the fruit has no added sugar, it might fool your taste buds with a pleasant sweetness when eaten, making it the safest bet for those cutting down on sugar intake.

Use one cup of this monk fruit sweetener and one spoonful of any starch as a powdered sugar alternative. Mix until completely smooth, and if needed, remove any pieces by sifting. Since this ingredient is sweeter than regular sugar, I often use one and a half cups of monk fruit sweetener for every cup of icing sugar.

11. Powdered Maple Sugar

Okay, finding powdered maple sugar can be a real treasure hunt. But believe me, if you are lucky to get some, it works! While it lacks additional starches and tastes strongly mapley, it mimics powdered sugar in many ways. Although it may not be the most convenient alternative on our list, this might be a viable choice for people who, for whatever reason, cannot use white cane sugar.

Any recipe calling for confectioners’ sugar may be replaced with this wonderful product, including ones for glaze, frosting, and icing. I recommend blending one tablespoon of cornstarch with every cup of powdered maple sugar to fill in what powdered sugar leaves behind in the flavor profile.

12. Ground Freeze-Dried Fruit

Ground, freeze-dried fruit is another component that can be a good option in place of icing sugar. Fruit that has been freeze-dried introduces an airy, crisp texture that, when mixed, becomes an extremely fine powder. Apart from its natural sweetness, your treats will be jazzed up with a vibrant color of the fruit without using food colorings.

You may use equivalent amounts of ground dehydrated fruit in recipes that call for a coating or dusting of powdered sugar. Each fruit has its own natural flavor, and depending on the kind, it might be very strong (strawberries, for example, have a ripe, acidic taste), so it is probably not a suitable replacement for baked goods.

How To Make Powdered Sugar At Home

Do you run out of icing sugar in the middle of a recipe and simply don’t have any alternative around? Do not worry; I got you! Below is my recipe to yield 1 ½ cups of powdered sugar right at hand.

  • Step 1: Pour 1 cup of granulated sugar into your blender. For creating powdered sugar, a blender works best since the blade spins more quickly than one in a conventional food processor and the design of the container maintains the sugar in close contact with the blade virtually all the time. If you don’t have a blender, a food processor will do, but it won’t puree as uniformly and it will take longer.
  • Step 2: Add one tablespoon of cornstarch to prevent clumping.
  • Step 3: Close the blender and gradually increase the power level to high. The sugar should be ground up after 30 – 45 seconds of blending. As simple as that!

My fellow bakers, don’t restrict yourself to any premade recipes! Experiment to find your secret weapon!

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Mary and Brenda Maher

Mary & Brenda Maher

Mary & Brenda Maher, are the founders of Cake Girls, a Chicago-based online baking shop specializing in cake supplies, party decor, and DIY cake tutorials. They are known for their elaborate and artistic cake creations, which have been featured on the Food Network Challenge and in a reality show, Amazing Wedding Cakes.

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