Powdered sugar

Closeup of unsifted powdered sugar
Powdered sugar on cannoli

Powdered sugar, also called confectioner's sugar, icing sugar or icing cake, is a finely ground sugar made by milling normal granulated sugar into a powdered state. It usually contains a small amount of anti-caking agent—usually cornstarch in North America or tricalcium phosphate in other regions—to prevent clumping and improve flow. Although most often produced in a factory, it can also be made by putting normal sugar in a coffee grinder, or crushing it by hand in a mortar and pestle.

In industrial food production, it is used where a quick dissolving sugar is required. Domestically, it is principally used to make icing or frosting and other cake decorations. It is often lightly dusted onto baked goods to add a light sweetness and subtle decoration.

Powdered sugar is available in different degrees of fineness, most commonly XXX, XXXX, and 10X, with more Xs indicating finer grains.[1] With finer particles more moisture is absorbed, which results in caking. An anti-caking agent is generally added during grinding, typically corn starch, or tricalcium phosphate, at 3% to 5% concentration, to absorb moisture and improve flow by reducing contact between sugar crystals.[2][3]

Other Varieties

Caster sugar (also referred to as superfine or baker's sugar) has a larger particle size than powdered sugar, approximately half that of granulated sugar.[4]

Snow powder (or snow sugar) is a non-melting form of icing sugar usually consisting of dextrose, starch and anti-binding agents, useful for retaining its structure when dusted onto cakes or pastries that require refrigeration. It is mostly used for decorative purposes.

See also


  1. "The Crushing Difference Between Granulated & Confectioners' Sugar". O Chef. Retrieved 2008-01-16.
  2. Asadi (2006), 451-452.
  3. Chen (1993), 530
  4. "C&H Baker's Sugar". C&H Sugar. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
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