If you’re anything like me, powdered sugar is one of those foods that you consciously add to the shopping list, or it’s not in the pantry. So when a recipe calls for it, I’m often looking for a powdered sugar substitute.
Sometimes you need to change a recipe. Maybe you’re looking to use other ingredients from the pantry, you don’t want to run to the grocery store, or there are food allergies. Read on and find which suitable substitute will work for your baking needs.
What is powdered sugar?
Around the 18th century, powered sugar was introduced to the baking industry. Later in the early 19th century, home cooks could buy icing sugar. And this is when it became more popular to frost cakes.
Powdered sugar is also called confectioners’ sugar, or icing sugar. It’s all the same thing, a finely ground sugar mixed with cornstarch. It’s traditionally made from granulated sugar (white sugar) and a thickener agent, like cornstarch or arrowroot powder.
Since many baking recipes need exact measurements powdered sugar is classified by particle size. Powdered sugars range from 6X to 12X, with the higher number showing finer sugar particles.
Options for Powdered Sugar Replacement?
It’s fairly easy to find replacements for this refined sugar.
Here are some questions to consider:
- How much powdered sugar does the recipe require?
- Do you want sugar-free substitutes?
- What ingredients do you have in your pantry?
The easiest method of replacing powdered sugar in a recipe is to make your own with granulated sugar or natural cane sugar. This option requires a blender, food processor, or coffee grinder. Homemade confectioners’ sugar can be used as a substitute in a 1:1 ratio.
Ingredients you’ll need include:
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
Grind the sugar and cornstarch in a blender until it becomes a fine powder. Depending on your equipment, it may take 2-3 minutes.
Low-carb Powdered Sugar
If you’re looking for a low-sugar alternative, start by adding your sweetener of choice into the blender. Since cornstarch has carbohydrates, don’t add this ingredient to this DYI choice. Since there isn’t a thickener agent, use your keto-friendly, low-carb powdered sugar shortly after making it.
What kind of low-carb sweetener is best?
- Erythritol is a sugar alcohol used as a low-carb and low-calorie sweetener. It acts the most like granulated sugar than many other sugar replacements.
- Monk Fruit Sweetener is like erythritol. You can purchase powdered monk fruit sweetener with erythritol or blend it yourself.
- Another sugar alcohol that you can use is xylitol. It looks like sugar but may have larger particles, which may mean longer blending time until you get the texture of powdered sugar.
- If you need a small amount of powdered sugar, stevia may be a good option. You will need to add cornstarch or arrowroot powder. I’d recommend this option the least, since it’s more costly.
Low-carb powdered sugars can be used in a 1:1 ratio in recipes that call for powdered sugar.
If you’re looking for another plant-based sweetener to replace powdered sugar, coconut sugar may be a good option. Coconut sugar has some nutrients that regular sugar does not, like a fiber called inulin. Despite the health claims, coconut sugar is still an added sugar with minimal health benefits.
Coconut sugar comes from the coconut palm tree’s sap, which gives it a richer flavor. It’s slightly earthy, sweet, and similar to caramel flavor.
Mix 1 cup of coconut sugar with 1 tablespoon of arrowroot powder. You can use this as 1:1 substitute for your recipe. Keep in mind the darker flavors will come through with your baked goods and make your dish less sweet.
Storage Tips for Powdered Sugars
Keep your sugar in an airtight container or jar and in a dry storage area. Avoid cabinets around the stove or oven. Many of the homemade varieties won’t last as long as store-bought. So it may be best to make your powdered sugar shortly before you plan on using it.
Replacements Aren’t For Every Recipe
Sugar has certain baking properties, like tenderizing and slowing down gluten formation (that’s a good thing in certain recipes). Certain substitutes, like the low-carb sugar alternatives, may not work for their baking purposes.
If you have time, experiment and see which replacement works best in your recipes.
Keep on Baking
There are several options if you don’t have or want to use powdered sugar. With the right amount of sugar and blending, your homemade options shouldn’t affect the texture or taste of many recipes.