Powdered sugar

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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[edit]

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[edit]


  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.