Powdered Sugar
Resources > Food > Spices > Sweet Spices > Powdered Sugar

Are you a Smart Kitchen™ Chef?

Try it FREE or take a TOUR to explore Smart Kitchen!
+ -

 

Powdered Sugar, also known as Icing Sugar, Confectioner’s Sugar, Sucre Glace (France) and Frosting Sugar is the finest (smallest size granules) of the Sugars available. It is a powder whereas Super Fine Sugar is still a fine granule.

Powdered Sugar is a very white, very highly ground and Sifted Granulated Sugar that is preferred in many Baking uses because it has a texture like Flour and dissolves very quickly. Making Frosting or Icing are two applications that come immediately to mind. Powdered Sugar can be made from either Sugar Cane Sugar or Sugar Beet Sugar.

In most of the United States Powdered Sugar is the name used for the finest ground Sugar, but in the South it can be called Confectioner’s Sugar. In Canada, Australia and England it is known as Icing Sugar.

All the types of fine Sugar mentioned above (which are all the same thing) can be found both unadulterated or with the addition of an anti-clumping / anti-caking agent (about 3% of either Corn Starch, Calcium Phosphate, or Wheat Flour).  The addition of Corn Starch is not a distinction between Powdered Sugar, Icing Sugar, etc., but a decision that is made brand by brand and application by application. Most retail Powdered Sugars will have anti-clumping agents added. Most commercial products won’t.

Powdered Sugar is further broken down into three “grinds” which are denoted with an “X” designation (3X4X6X10X12X14X) that is derived from the size of the mesh on the screens used to produce the Powdered Sugar. The more X’s, the finer the Powdered Sugar will be. Higher, finer grinds will also dissolve more quickly.

Varieties

There are three grinds (4X6X & 10X) that are easily available in the U.S. Typically, 10X is found on U.S. grocers’ shelves but occasionally 4X can also be found. 10X is used for IcingsConfections and Whipping Cream. Commercial Bakers tend to have the best access to 6X Powdered Sugar.

Storage

Powdered Sugar can be impacted by water and odor absorption so it should be stored in an airtight container in a cool dark place. Powdered Sugar, which does not support microbial growth, has, properly stored, an indefinite Shelf Life.

Culinary Uses

Powdered Sugar is the finest of the Sugar grains, and because it dissolves quickly it is used to make Icings, Sauces, Frostings, Coatings, Sprinkles, Glazes, Dips (sugary), Decorations, and is used to sweeten beverages and many other Baking applications.  

Remember that Powdered Sugar sold for home use typically contains an anti-caking agent that   helps prevent clumping but also acts as a bit of a Thickener. Consider the final use and if a slight amount of thickening (3% anti-clumping agent) is advisable or even desirable. In Sauces, thickening should not be a problem at all. It may be an issue in a Puff Pastry Batter or Crêpe Batter. In general, unless a recipe calls for a thickener like the Corn Starch used in Powdered Sugar, adding it in, even in trace amounts, can profoundly affect the way the final product turns out, especially in Baking which is more science and less art.

Even though Powdered Sugar purchased at retail contains anti-clumping agents, it can still clump at times. Sifting it will help here, both to eliminate clumps and to ensure accurate Measurement of your Dry Ingredients. If you are using the Powdered Sugar as a dip or for Dredging, you won’t have to worry too much about clumping, sifting or thickening.

Granulated Sugar or Super Fine Sugar are not direct replacements for Powdered Sugar. If you happen to run out of Powdered Sugar, an quick and dirty method of whipping up Powdered Sugar can be found by following the link to Smart Kitchen’s Powdered Sugar Recipe.

And Powdered Sugar cannot be used as a substitute for regular Granulated Sugar or for Super Fine Sugar. The Powdered Sugar has been broken down too finely and most home-use Powdered Sugar has anti-caking agents added which can, even in trace amounts, profoundly affect the way the final product turns out.

There is also a form of Powdered Sugar called Snow Sugar/Snow Powder Sugar which is a non-melting form of Powdered Sugar. Snow Sugar is mostly used for decorations and is useful for cakes or pastries that require refrigeration.

Nutritional Value USDA
SUGARS,POWDERED
Amount Per 100g
Calories 389
%Daily Value*
 
0%
Total Fat 0g
0%
Saturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
0%
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 2mg
0%
Potassium 2mg
33%
Total Carbohydrate 99g
0%
Dietary Fiber 0g
Sugars 97g
Protein 0g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Gluten Free

Yes

Low Fat

No

Low Calorie

No