Making powdered sugar is a pretty simple process. Just grind together granulated sugar and cornstarch to make a homemade alternative.
It’s bound to happen. You think you have everything you need for the cake or frosting or cookie you were gonna make and when you go to the cupboard. Lo and behold! You don’t.
There’s not enough powdered sugar around to fulfill your destiny. There’s brown sugar. And granulated sugar. There are even sugar cubes. But no powdered sugar.
Do you run to the store? Change your plans? Go cake- or frosting- or cookie-less?
May it never be!
If you’ve got sugar and a bit of cornstarch, well, then you can make powdered sugar yourself. True story.
How to Make Powdered Sugar When You Run Out
Now making your own powdered, or confectioner’s, sugar may seem a little “extra,” as my kids would say. And I think it probably is. Especially considering the mess it makes.
But, when you’re in a pinch, I’d say it’s a mess worth making!
What is powdered sugar used for?
Powdered sugar is also called confectioner’s sugar; it is granulated sugar that has been ground into a very fine powder. Cornstarch is added to help it prevent clumping.
Ground so fine, powdered sugar dissolves quite easily, making it ideal for frosting, icings, glazes, and candy. It’s also used to dust over baked goods.
Some favorite Good Cheap Eats featuring confectioner’s sugar include:
- Homemade Buttercream Frosting
- Triple Chocolate Baked Donuts
- Snowball Cookies
- Whole Grain Cinnamon Rolls
Can I use regular sugar instead of confectioner’s sugar?
Regular, granulated sugar doesn’t dissolve in the same way as powdered sugar, so it won’t work as a substitute unless you grind it into confectioner’s sugar yourself. Thankfully, it’s a pretty easy process.
How do you make powdered sugar?
Making confectioner’s sugar is simple, provided you have four things:
- granulated sugar
- a blender or food processor
Despite what the internet may say, powdered sugar does not come together in 30 seconds. In fact, in my experience, with a regular, sturdy blender, it takes a good five minutes of grinding to get the right texture.
Add the sugar and cornstarch to the blender. Secure the lid well. Turn on the blender and grind until you’ve achieved a fine texture. The sugar should feel soft to the touch with very little grit.
Do you have to make confectioner’s sugar with cornstarch?
The finely ground sugar needs some kind of starch to prevent caking. If you prefer not to use cornstarch, you can use tapioca starch or arrowroot powder.
How do you store the sugar after you make it?
Once you’ve ground your granulated sugar into confectioner’s sugar, it’s ready to use. You can save it for later if you like, just store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
How much does it cost to make your own confectioner’s sugar?
The following are non-sale prices at a mid-range, US grocery store:
- commercial confectioner’s sugar: $0.37/cup
- granulated sugar: $0.22/cup
- cornstarch: $0.02/tablespoons
One batch of confectioner’s sugar requires 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon cornstarch for a total cost of $0.24 cents. This produces two cups of confectioner’s sugar. This means that 1 cup of homemade costs just 12 cents, about a third the cost of commercial powdered sugar.
It’s cheaper to make your own confectioner’s sugar!
If you have the patience and the time to grind your own sugar, it could be a money-saver for you. Not a lot of course, but sometimes every little bit helps.
Homemade Powdered Sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- Place the sugar and cornstarch in a blender. Secure the lid.
- Turn the blender on and grind until a fine texture is achieved, up to 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides as needed to make sure all the sugar is ground.
- Store the sugar in an airtight container in a cool, dry place until ready to use.