It’s happened to all of us: you’re in the midst of making cinnamon rolls and the icing turns out runny, but you used all your powdered sugar already. Or you want to roll chocolate crinkles in powdered sugar before baking them, but you realize you’re out of a key ingredient and there’s no time for a run to the grocery store.
There’s a solution! If you have white sugar around and a food processor or blender, you can make your own powdered sugar.
What Is Powdered Sugar?
Also known as confectioner’s sugar and 10x sugar, powdered sugar is white cane sugar that’s been pulverized to a fine powder. A little cornstarch is added to help keep it from clumping up.
Powdered sugar dissolves easily, so some recipes call for it in drinks or for sweetening whipped cream. Some cookie doughs call for powdered sugar instead of regular sugar because it makes a crumbly-tender cookie (think shortbread, or our Lime Icebox Cookies). Its particles are so small you can’t easily detect them on your palate, making powdered sugar a go-to in glazes, icings, and buttercream frostings that aren’t cooked.
How to Make Your Own Powdered Sugar
For every cup of sugar, use one tablespoon cornstarch. How much you want to make is up to you, but know that it takes quite a bit of processing, so a small electric spice mill the size of a coffee grinder isn’t the best choice.
Combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch in a blender or food processor. You’ll get best results if you start with at least a cup of sugar.
Once the lid is in place, blend or process at high speed for 4 to 5 minutes. The time will depend on your blender or food processor. Stop the machine every few minutes to scrape down the sides to make sure all the sugar gets evenly pulverized.
How Can I Tell When It’s Ready?
You’ll know the sugar is done when it feels fine and powdery when you rub it between your fingers; if it’s still gritty, keep processing.
Is Homemade Powdered Sugar Better Than Store-Bought?
Not that I’ve noticed. It’s passable in a pinch, but I won’t be DIY-ing powdered sugar and smugly bragging about it on social media that way I do with my homemade yogurt.
Store-bought powdered sugar is way more convenient, but the homemade version can be a bit too gritty for frostings. Think of it as a trusty trick to keep up your sleeve when you run out unexpectedly, but not as a permanent replacement.
More Sugar Tips and Tricks!
- How to Soften Brown Sugar
- One Terrific Thing: Turbinado Sugar (Sugar in the Raw)
- The Best Substitutes for Brown Sugar
- 6 Ways to Decorate Cookies with Royal Icing
How to Make Powdered Sugar
This powdered sugar won’t be as fine as what you get in the store, so it’s not as well-suited for buttercream frosting, but it’ll work in a pinch.
If you make this in a high-speed blender, the blender may get very hot.
- 2 cups granulated white sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
Combine the sugar and cornstarch:
Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a blender jar or bowl of a food processor.
Pulverize the sugar:
Turn the machine on to high speed and run 3 to 5 minutes. The time will depend on your blender or food processor; some high speed blenders will take as few as 3 minutes. Stop the machine every few minutes to scrape down the sides to make sure all the sugar gets evenly pulverized.
Check the texture of the sugar:
The sugar is done when it feels fine and powdery when you rub it between your fingers; if it’s still gritty, keep processing.
Use right away or store for later:
The powdered sugar may be hot from the friction of the machine. If it is, let it cool before putting in an airtight container or zip top bag. Like regular powdered sugar, it will keep indefinitely.