The Best Powdered Sugar Substitutes

powdered sugar

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A little sprinkle of powdered sugar on your French toast takes this favorite breakfast meal to the next level. In addition to decoration, this finely ground sugar sweetens delicate desserts and makes the perfect homemade icing.

If you are a baker, powdered sugar may be one of your kitchen cupboard staples. But if you are simply making your mom’s famous chocolate cake with homemade icing and you are all out of powdered sugar, what can you do? Fortunately, there is no reason to panic, because you have several options for substitutes.

What is Powdered Sugar?

Powdered sugar, also known as confectioners’ sugar, is finely ground table sugar. It is made by grinding granulated sugar to a fine powder and then sifting the ground sugar. To prevent caking, most commercial brands of powdered sugar have added cornstarch.

You might use powdered sugar to make icings, sweeten whipped cream, or your holiday sugar cookies. You may also like the finely ground sugar for decorating your cakes, pies, or even donuts. Like other types of sugar, powdered sugar adds sweetness, texture, and color to your baked goods. 

Powdered Sugar Nutrition

Powdered sugar is an added sugar, which means it adds calories but it doesn't contribute significant vitamins or minerals. The nutrition information for 1 teaspoon (2.5 grams) of powdered sugar comes from the USDA.

  • Calories: 9.72
  • Fat: 0
  • Sodium: 0.05mg
  • Carbohydrates: 2.5g
  • Fiber: 0
  • Sugar: 2.44g
  • Protein: 0

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans consume too much added sugar, which potentially contributes to a number of health issues. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest limiting added sugars to no more than 10% of total calories.

That may not sound so bad, but a lot of food you eat may have added sugar, like your salad dressing and tomato sauce. To make it easier for you to spot added sugar in your food, the Food and Drug Administration updated the Nutrition Facts label to include total sugar and added sugar.

Why You Might Need a Substitute

Of course, you may need a powdered sugar substitute if you are in the middle of baking and you discover you are all out. Or, maybe when you are shopping for ingredients and your grocery store is out because of supply issues. 

But running out or experiencing supply issues are not the only reasons you may be searching for a powdered sugar substitute. You may need a powdered sugar substitute if you have problems absorbing sugar.

Powdered sugar is made from table sugar. Chemically, table sugar is a disaccharide, which means it is made up of two monosaccharides—glucose and fructose.

If you have fructose malabsorption, your digestive system may not have the ability to absorb fructose. Consuming foods that contain fructose, including traditional powdered sugar, may cause bloating, gas, and abdominal pain and you may be searching for a more intestinal-friendly option. 

You may also need to avoid all fructose-containing foods if you have hereditary fructose intolerance. People with this rare genetic condition lack the enzyme needed to metabolize fructose and avoiding table sugar, along with most other types of sugar, is the primary treatment.

If you have fructose malabsorption or hereditary fructose intolerance, consult with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian before adding new "sugars" to your diet.

Best Substitutes for Powdered Sugar

No matter the reason you need a powdered sugar substitute, you have options that fit almost any need. Here are some potential alternatives for powdered sugar.

Granulated Sugar

If you are all out of your usual bag of powdered sugar, you can make your own with table sugar. Simply blend 1 cup of granulated sugar with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Sift your sugar through a sifter to improve the consistency. Nutritionally, your homemade powdered sugar is not all that different from regular powdered sugar.

In your recipe, use the same amount of your homemade powdered sugar as you would your usual powdered sugar. Depending on how well you blend your table sugar, the taste and texture should be similar to the original recipe. 

Sugar Substitutes

If you need a powdered sugar substitute because you follow a special diet or have an intolerance to sugar, sugar substitutes may be a good option. Sucralose is a low-calorie sweetener that is 600 times sweeter than granulated sugar.

It is also one of only a few sugar substitutes you can use in baking. To make your powdered sugar substitute, blend 3/4 cups of sucralose with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Making your own powdered sugar from sucralose saves calories and carbs.

Though much sweeter than regular sugar, you use the same amount of powdered sucralose as you would the regular powdered sugar in the recipe. Even though this alternative is a good sugar substitute for baking, your low-carb, low-sugar baked goods may not have the same texture or color as the regular version. 

Stevia also is a sugar substitute that is 300 times sweeter than sugar and made from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. You can bake with stevia and use it in place of your powdered sugar. 

Blend this granulated low-calorie sugar substitute with cornstarch to get the powdered sugar consistency. You can use 12 teaspoons of your stevia powder for every 1 cup of powdered sugar.

Coconut Sugar

If you are looking for a more unrefined powdered sugar alternative that offers some health benefits, coconut sugar may be the right choice for you. Coconut sugar is made from the sap of the coconut tree and has a lower glycemic index than granulated sugar.

To make a coconut powdered sugar substitute, blend 1 cup of coconut sugar with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or arrowroot powder. Unlike other types of added sugar, coconut sugar provides calcium and potassium.

Use the same amount of powdered coconut sugar as powdered sugar in your recipe. Keep in mind, coconut sugar is brown and has a caramel-like flavor, which may slightly change the color and taste of your treat.

A Word From Verywell

Whether you are out of powdered sugar or looking to find a substitute for other reasons, there are a number of options for powdered sugar. What's more, many of the alternatives to powdered sugar can easily be substituted in your recipes.

You might have to experiment somewhat in order to recreate the taste and sweetness you want. But, overall, there are a number of very good substitutes for powdered sugar.

15 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  4. USDA. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025.

  5. Food and Drug Administration. Added sugars on the new nutrition facts label.

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  8. Gaughan S, Ayres L, Baker PR II. Hereditary Fructose Intolerance. 2015 Dec 17. GeneReviews® [Internet]. Seattle (WA): University of Washington, Seattle; 1993–2021. PMID:26677512

  9. USDA, FoodData Central. Sugars, granulated.

  10. International Food Information Council, Food Insight. Everything you need to know about sucralose.

  11. USDA, FoodData Central. Sugar substitute, sucralose, powder.

  12. International Food Information Council. Food Insight. Everything you need to know about Stevia.

  13. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Stevia.

  14. Asghar MT, Yusof YA, Mokhtar MN, et al. Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) sap as a potential source of sugar: Antioxidant and nutritional properties. Food Sci Nutr. 2019;8(4):1777-1787. doi:10.1002/fsn3.1191

  15. USDA, FoodData Central. Coconut sugar.

By Jill Corleone, RD
Jill is a registered dietitian who's been learning and writing about nutrition for more than 20 years.