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How to Make Powdered Sugar

Updated on January 13, 2015
vespawoolf profile image

Vespa's recipes have appeared in "Midwest Living" & "Taste of Home" magazines. She belongs to "Cook's Recipe Testers" for Cooks Illustrated.

Homemade Powdered Sugar
Homemade Powdered Sugar | Source

How to Make Powdered or Confectioner´s Sugar

If you have a high-powered blender, you can make your own powdered or confectioners´ sugar at home. In Peru, powdered sugar is expensive and low quality. I can make better and less expensive frosting by blending my own powdered sugar. Another advantage of homemade powdered sugar is the health benefits. I often use azúcar rubio, a less processed alternative to white sugar, which is more akin to the raw turbinado sugar sold in the United States. And if you have corn allergies, commercially made powdered sugar is out of the question because of the cornstarch it contains.

I´ve found if I try to blend too much sugar at once, the powdered sugar retains its gritty texture. Instead, use my method which is explained below. I´ve also included information on healthier alternatives to white sugar and cornstarch, which gives powdered sugar a smoother texture.


Powdered Sugar-sprinkled donuts
Powdered Sugar-sprinkled donuts | Source
5 stars from 1 rating of Powdered Sugar

Homemade Powdered Sugar

Prep time: 10 min
Ready in: 10 min
Yields: 1 cup powdered (confectioner´s) sugar

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown or white sugar, see information below for alternatives
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, see information below for alternatives

Instructions

  1. Place sugar and cornstarch in a blender container. Cover the lid with a tea towel.
  2. Blend on high for a minute or two, depending on the blender being used. After turning off the blender, firmly tap the lid several times.
  3. Once the sugar has settled into the bottom of the container, remove the lid and taste the sugar with your fingertip. If the sugar is still too gritty, repeat the above process.
  4. Use powdered sugar to dust cakes or as an ingredient in buttercream frosting.

Alternatives to Cornstarch

Cornstarch is added to powdered sugar to keep it from clumping up. It also serves as a thickener when making frosting. But you may have reservations about using cornstarch. After all, most corn is now genetically modified and cornstarch is highly processed. Or you may have a corn allergy.

Another alternative is arrowroot powder, which isn´t processed as much as cornstarch. The tuberous root of the plant is washed, peeled and grated. The starch is then water extracted, much like it was in ancient times. Arrowroot can be used 1:1 as a substitute for cornstarch in most recipes. Other alternatives to cornstarch are potato starch or tapioca flour or starch.


Alternatives to White Sugar

As mentioned at the top of this page, less refined sugars can also be used to make powdered sugar. When used in frosting they produce a richer, more interesting topping for homemade cakes.

In Peru we use azúcar rubio, which is very similar to turbinado sugar as it is marketed in the States. This less refined sugar has a mild caramel flavor, although the molasses flavor isn´t as prominent as it is in brown sugar. You can substitute turbinado sugar for white sugar in this powdered sugar recipe. Another delicious option is maple sugar. Of course, powdered sugar made from maple sugar will have a mild and delicious maple flavor.


A Low Glycemic Sugar

I just recently learned about the benefits of organic coconut palm sugar. Not only is it delicious (it has a deep caramel flavor similar to brown sugar), but it is unrefined and low on the glycemic index. That means you won´t suffer the same "crash" you get from eating refined sugars. Coconut palm sugar is made from fresh coconut tree sap and contains B vitamins and minerals, making it highly nutritious.

This is another type of sugar that can be successfully powdered in a blender. However, this sugar isn´t just for frosting. Coconut palm sugar can replace brown sugar 1:1 in any recipe. Of course, it is still sugar and should be enjoyed in moderation.


Maple Sugar Frosted Apple Cake
Maple Sugar Frosted Apple Cake | Source

Maple or Molasses Buttercream Frosting

Molasses-frosted gingerbread cake is hard to beat! Maple frosting is a delicious choice for carrot or pumpkin cake.

1. Make the powdered sugar:

  • 4 cups maple sugar (for maple frosting) or turbinado sugar (for molasses frosting)
  • 4 tablespoons corn starch

Place one cup each of sugar and cornstarch in a blender container. Cover lid with a tea towel and blend at least 2 minutes, or until sugar is completely powdered. Taste the sugar and if it´s still grainy, blend a little longer. Empty blender container and repeat with the remaining portions of sugar and cornstarch. Yield: 4 cups powdered sugar

2. Make the frosting:

  • 4 cups homemade powdered sugar
  • 14 ounces butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. maple extract if using maple powdered sugar OR 1 tablespoon black strap molasses if using turbinado sugar
  1. Place butter in a deep mixing bowl. Using a stand or hand mixer, whip on high until butter and cream cheese is light and fluffy.
  2. Add maple extract (or molasses) and powdered sugar, one cupful at a time, until frosting is thick and smooth.
  3. Yield: Frosting for 1 two layer cake.


Maple Frosted Apple Cake
Maple Frosted Apple Cake | Source
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Source

Comments

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  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 15 months ago from Peru, South America

    Thank you PegCole17!

  • PegCole17 profile image

    Peg Cole 15 months ago from Dallas, Texas

    It never would have occurred to me to make my own powdered sugar. This method sounds easy and much healthier than the prepared kind. Thanks so much for sharing your expertise on this.

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 2 years ago from Peru, South America

    Thanks for the comment and vote poetryman6969!

  • poetryman6969 profile image

    poetryman6969 2 years ago

    Wow, are you the sugar Diva. This much detail had to be voted up. Be blessed!

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 2 years ago from Peru, South America

    Thanks for the comment, vote and pin pstraubie!

  • pstraubie48 profile image

    Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

    Clever clever. I have made it before but not this way ...mine was not so great.

    So now I know a great way to make it I will be giving this a try.

    Thanks foo for the recipe for frosting.

    Angels are on the way to you this evening. ps

    Shared voted up and pinned

  • Pro Shell profile image

    Pro Shell 2 years ago from Vereinigten Staaten

    Great tips, I use sugar a lot in baking and cooking so this will definitely save me some dough

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 2 years ago from Peru, South America

    Yes peachpurple, powdered sugar, icing sugar or confectioners' sugar.

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 2 years ago from Peru, South America

    Thanks for your enthusiastic comment Au fait!

  • peachpurple profile image

    peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

    this isalsoknown as icing sugar

  • Au fait profile image

    C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

    I didn't know a person could make their own powdered sugar. I didn't even know where it came from! I've learned something new here and I think it's great information! Sharing.

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 2 years ago from Peru, South America

    Thanks for your support ChitrangadaSharan.

  • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

    Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

    This is very useful information and so well presented. How nice that we can use alternatives for certain food items.

    Helpful pictures and a well done hub. Thanks and voted up!

  • Susan Recipes profile image

    Susan 2 years ago from India

    Wow.. Great idea and a very helpful one too. Thanks for sharing.

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 2 years ago from Peru, South America

    Thanks for your support randomcreative!

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 2 years ago from Peru, South America

    Thanks skperdon!

  • randomcreative profile image

    Rose Clearfield 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    Honestly I'd never thought about making powdered sugar myself. What a great idea and so simple! Thanks for the detailed information.

  • tirelesstraveler profile image

    Judy Specht 2 years ago from California

    Great hub. Sounds so simple and delicious.

  • skperdon profile image

    skperdon 2 years ago from Canada

    Very useful! voted up!

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 2 years ago from Peru, South America

    VirginiaLynne, I´m glad you have a solution when you´re out of powdered sugar. Thanks for the comment and pin.

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 2 years ago from Peru, South America

    Peggy W, thank you for your kind words. I really appreciate the comment, votes and pin!

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 2 years ago from Peru, South America

    I hope you get to try one of these powdered sugars AliciaC. Thanks for your comment!

  • VirginiaLynne profile image

    Virginia Kearney 2 years ago from United States

    This is such a helpful article. I have been stuck without powdered sugar at home more than once. Pinned.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

    I had heard that this was possible but would not have known to add cornstarch or an alternative into it. I always learn something from reading your good hubs. Thanks! Up votes and pinning this to my 'Do you know this?' board.

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

    I love the idea of making my own powdered sugar. I would definitely use one of the sugars with a caramel or molasses flavour to make the powder. I much prefer the taste of these compared to the taste of refined white sugar. Thanks for sharing the instructions, vespawoolf.

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 2 years ago from Peru, South America

    Yes GetitScene!

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 2 years ago from Peru, South America

    I agree Suzanne Day, I prefer the flavor of powdered turbinado sugar over the commercial stuff. Thanks for commenting and voting!

  • GetitScene profile image

    Dale Anderson 2 years ago from The High Seas

    Huh, who knew? So simple!

  • Suzanne Day profile image

    Suzanne Day 2 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

    I didn't know you could powder sugar in a blender, but it makes sense, instead of relying on our very strange food chain from the conglomerates. I think here in Australia, it might be useful for powdering brown sugar into a finer texture, so it can be used as a dusting for biscuits, donuts etc as you have shown in the photos above. Add some cinnamon and you'll have a great tasting food condiment! Voted useful and up. x

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 2 years ago from Peru, South America

    Thanks for your comment Glimmer Twin Fan! I think most Americans have an old back of outdated powdered sugar in their pantry. It sounds like you have things under control in your kitchen. : )

  • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

    Glimmer Twin Fan 2 years ago

    Now this is cool vespawoolf! I always make my powdered sugar by going to the store and buying a bag LOL! Sometimes I only need a little bit for something and I don't like having a big bag taking up room in my pantry. Nice hub!

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 2 years ago from Peru, South America

    DDE, thank you for your kind words! I also appreciate the comment and votes.

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 2 years ago from Peru, South America

    I thought you would like this one Carb Diva!

  • DDE profile image

    Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    Interesting! I like the photos and you always present such lovely hubs. I learned of a new tip from you and will be needed in any kitchen. Voted up, interesting and useful.

  • Carb Diva profile image

    Linda Lum 2 years ago from Washington State, USA

    I am absolutely stunned! I had no idea this was possible. Thanks for sharing a GREAT hub.