Powdered sugar on a donut

Powdered sugar is commonly dusted on donuts and pastries.

Powdered Sugar

Also Known as Confectioner’s Sugar

What is Powdered Sugar?

Powdered sugar is the snowy white, soft, flowable product of granulated sugar, ground into a powdered form. It is sometimes referred to as confectioner’s sugar or icing sugar.


Either from cane or beet sugar, powdered sugar often contains an anti-caking agent such as corn starch to prevent particles conglomerating or clumping together.


It is principally used in frosting, cake icing, and other sugar cake-based decorations. Dusting is another use of confectioner’s sugar, to make the crusts of products more visually appealing, as well as adding a slight sweetness.

In the baking industry, other than dusting, frosting and icing applications, powdered sugar is used in cookies to impart a very tender, delicate, melt-in-your mouth texture. Also, powdered sugar can be used in candy making. In some cases, granulated sugar can be substituted with powdered sugar if care is taken to observe whether or not the addition of a small amount of corn starch will make a difference in final product attributes.


The general rule of substitution is that for every 1 cup of granulated sugar, 1 ¾ cup of powdered sugar is needed. In comparison to granulated sugar, powdered sugar dissolves readily, and is therefore very useful in food applications sans cooking. Also, powdered sugar contains roughly 3% corn starch, yielding an increased thickness, or viscosity, into products as compared to the effects of granulated sugar.

Types of powdered sugar

The types of powdered sugar vary by particle size and are denoted by commonly 10X, XXX, and XXXX with the greater number X’s marking the increased degree of fine particles.