Substitutes for Powdered Sugar

Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.
powdered sugar

Whether you're trying to cut calories or sugar, want a lower-glycemic index alternative, or simply have run out of powdered sugar while baking, you're in luck. Several substitutes for powder sugar are available to meet your needs.

Homemade Powdered Sugar

If you have regular sugar at home but have run out of powdered sugar, simply make your own homemade powdered sugar. Mix together and blend:

  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar or sweetener of choice

Continuously blend the mixture on high in a blender until it reaches a powdered consistency. Homemade powdered sugar can be used as a substitute in any recipe that calls for regular powdered sugar in a 1:1 ratio.

Sugar-Free Substitutes

If you're seeking a calorie-free alternative for powdered sugar, use a no-calorie sweetener in your homemade powdered sugar recipe instead of regular granulated sugar. Mix together and blend:

  • ¾ cup of Splenda or other artificial sweetener
  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch

You can substitute this sugar-free powdered sugar mixture for any recipe that calls for regular powdered sugar in a 1:1 ratio.

Regular Granulated Sugar

For some recipes (like icing and dense desserts) the texture will be different if you use regular granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar, but this substitution will do the trick when you're in a pinch and don't have a blender:

  • 1 ¾ cup powdered sugar = 1 cup of granulated sugar

While this type of powdered sugar substitution gives icing and dessert toppings a grainier texture, it is usually fine for other baked goods like cookies and cakes -- although you may notice such items are less dense when using granulated vs. powdered sugar.

Powdered Coconut Sugar

You can make your own version of powdered sugar using coconut sugar, which has a lower glycemic index, is less sweet, has a caramel-like flavor, and contains more vitamins and minerals that refined white sugar. Simply mix together and blend:

  • 1 cup of coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of arrowroot powder

You can use powdered coconut sugar as a 1:1 ratio substitute for powdered sugar in dessert recipes, but this alternative ingredient may make your recipe slightly less sweet and give it a more caramel-like flavor.

Dry Milk Powder

If you've run out of powdered sugar or simply want to reduce your added sugar intake, try substituting nonfat dry milk powder for powdered sugar. Mix together and blend:

  • 1 cup of nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1 cup of cornstarch
  • ½ cup of Splenda or other sugar substitute

Because dry milk powder is already a powdered consistency, you don't have to worry about a grainy texture in icings and dessert toppings -- and you can this powdered milk substitute as a 1:1 ratio.

However, you may have to slightly increase the amount of liquid you use in your recipe when choosing dry milk powder as a replacement for powdered sugar. Keep an eye on the consistency of your dish as you add more liquid a teaspoon at a time. Stop when it looks like the recipe should when you're using actual powdered sugar.

Hot Cocoa Mix

If you have hot cocoa mix at home, this may be a suitable substitute for powdered sugar. Many commercially prepared hot cocoa mixes contain nonfat dry milk, cocoa, and sugar or sugar substitute as ingredients. Simply blend the mixture to a powdered consistency, and use as a replacement for powdered sugar in chocolate-flavored recipes as a ratio slightly higher than 1:1.

When choosing this substitution, you'll likely need less chocolate for flavoring in your recipe. It might take a few tries to adjust according to your taste -- perhaps you'll enjoy the additional chocolate flavor!

Bottom Line

Several alternatives are available if you've run out of powdered sugar. Many of these substitutions, especially when blended properly, won't even affect the taste or texture of your recipe.

Substitutes for Powdered Sugar