How to Ice a Cake

Powdered Sugar vs Icing Sugar. What’s GF?

Powdered Sugar vs Icing Sugar. What’s GF?

If you’ve almost given up deciding whether to use powdered or icing sugar for your cakes, we understand completely. We’ve been there too!

The good news is that you won’t be making a mistake choosing any of the two as they’re the same. Powdered sugar is confectioners’ sugar or icing sugar. This is a finely ground sugar made by milling granules of sugar into powder.

Different brands offer diverse textures and fineness degrees. 

These two sugars are both finely ground and may or may not contain starch. You can use them for cakes and desserts interchangeably. 

What Are the Differences in the Composition of Confectioners vs Icing Sugar?

the image displays the various types of sugars available for use

Various baking sugar

The composition of icing and powdered sugar is the same. 

In fact, icing sugar is just another name for confectioners’ or powder sugar. It differs from granulated sugar in texture.

The powder sugar’s texture and fineness may vary. Xses are indicators of the sugar’s fineness. The more Xses are there, the finer the sugar is.

How Do These Sugars Differ in Granule Texture & Size?

When you grind granules of sugar into a smooth and soft powder and then sift it, you get 10X confectioners’ sugar, also called icing sugar.

It’s ideal for cakes and various other desserts and baked goods.

Powdered sugar is a super-fine sugar, finer than castor sugar. 

You can find different texture levels of confectioners’ sugar. They’re usually labeled XXX or XXXX, etc. If you want the finest granulated sugar, look for more Xses. 

The crystal sizes of granulated sugar vary. For example, that of 10X powder sugar is 0.010 mm, that of the confectioners’ sugar is 0.060, and the size of icing crystals is 0.024 mm. 

Powder sugar is an umbrella term for all of these sugars.

Are Powdered and Icing Sugar Gluten-Free?

Not all types of granulated sugar are free from gluten

To know if granulated sugar is gluten-free, check the list of ingredients. If you need it to be gluten-free, choose ones labeled gluten-free and ones without starch as an ingredient.

Starch from potatoes, wheat, or corn may be present in confectioner’s sugar as a means to prevent clumping in finer textures with smaller particles. 

What Are the Common Uses of Powdered & Icing Sugars

the image displays powdered sugar

Confectioners’ sugar has a long list of applications in baking. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • For baked goods

You can use icing sugar to make meringues, cookies, fudge, and candies. 

  • Frostings and icings

Confectioners’ sugar is essential when you’re preparing whipped cream, buttercream frostings, icing, and fondant. It’s an essential element for thickness. 

It also dissolves fast and creates a smooth consistency in combination with milk or water and it’s ideal to drizzle over desserts.

  • To decorate desserts

Dust icing sugar on top of cookies, cupcakes, cakes, and waffles to add a decorative element and a touch of sweetness. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Use Powdered & Icing Sugar Interchangeably in Recipes?

Yes, you can. 

Icing sugar is just another name for a fine sugar known as powdered sugar. If you don’t have it, you can easily make it yourself. 

You need a powerful blender, a cup of granulated sugar, and a tablespoon of cornstarch. Blend until powdery and soft, usually a minute or two, depending on your blender.

What Are Some Alternative Sweeteners or Thickening Agents?

If you don’t have powder sugar at your disposal, there are some excellent alternatives you can use as sweeteners or thickening agents.

the image displays erythritol, an alternative to powdered sugar

Erythritol makes a great replacement for powder sugar when you need to make frosting or decorate cakes

There are a lot of brands that offer powder sugar based on this alternative sweetener. Most of them are used in a ratio the same as that of regular granulated sugar.

You can choose from various alternative thickeners for the batter. The three most popular are cornstarch, gelatin, or agar-agar.

Final Thoughts

Powdered sugar is icing sugar. These two fine sugars are frequently added to the batter to increase the thickness or used to ice cakes and other desserts.

Not all brands of confectioners’ sugar are gluten-free, so make sure you check the label. When you don’t have a pack of powder sugar, you can easily make it with regular sugar and a blender!


How To Ice A Cake

How To Ice A Cake

Compiled and written with love from our editorial team.

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