Does powdered sugar go bad?

In this brief guide, we will address the question, “does powdered sugar go bad” as well as other related questions pertaining to the subject at hand like how can you prepare powdered sugar at home, how much time does powdered sugar take to go bad and storage practices needed to prolong the shelf life of powdered sugar.

Does powdered sugar go bad? 

Powdered sugar, also known as confectioneer’s sugar, can last for an indefinite period of time provided it is stored in an airtight container. If stored for a very long time, it may show a decline in flavour but would still be safe to use. The absorption of moisture from the environment can result in non-reversible caking and deterioration (2).

Sugarcane cultivation and processing currently provide livelihoods for 100 million people across the world.3 Looking at the country level, the sugarcane industry employs over 1 million people in Brazil, nearly 25% of its rural workforce. The Thai sugarcane supply chain employs 1.5 million people, including 107,000 smallholders, and around 0.5 million people depend on the sugarcane industry for their livelihoods in South Africa (1).

When does powdered sugar expire? 

Powdered sugar can last for an indefinite period of time if it is properly stored away from moisture and other environmental contaminants. The expiration date mentioned on the label has nothing to do with food safety and is the time during which the product is believed to exhibit its optimum taste.

There are many bacteria and yeast in sugar, originated from the raw material (sugarcane or sugar beet) and the processing steps. However, in its dry granular form, refined sugar will not support microbial growth. When water is combined with the granular form to produce a liquid sugar or if environmental conditions, such as high relative humidity cause the uptake of moisture, the sugar will become more susceptible to microbial growth (4).

How long does powdered sugar last?

Powdered sugar can be stored for an indefinite amount of time. It can last for about three to five years. According to the USDA, Sugar never spoils, but for best quality use within 2 years of opening (5). Powdered sugar falls in the category of dry and stable food commodities, but by the course of time, the quality of the sugar drops substantially, which can affect the quality of whatever food you are making.

If you love baking, you probably have a jar full of powdered sugar in a kitchen cabinet. Powdered sugar is known as confectioners sugar or icing sugar, is also commonly one of the components for baked items. And because of its importance, you might worry about how long it lasts. Along with that, you would want to know how to store it properly, how to determine whether it is bad or not, and even how to restore powdered sugar as well. But, does powdered sugar go bad? In this article, you will find answers to these questions.

Just like other sugars, Powdered sugar is also a huge water absorber so it absorbs even a tiny bit of water and might begin to harden leading to clump formation. Clumps can be removed by sifting the sugar through a fine-mesh strainer. There are proper ways of storing it in order to avoid certain issues. Maintenance of the low water activity of granulated sugar is critical to its microbiological stability. Practices related to dry storage of the ingredient ensure that the ingredient does not absorb moisture (4).

How to store powdered sugar

Whatever type of sugar you have, it should be stored in a dry and cool place such as a cupboard or a specialized container which is away from sources of extreme temperatures like microwave ovens and stoves.

As we already know that just like other sugars, brown sugar is also a great absorber of water. So, in order to prevent it from hardening, always keep it away from moisture. Once the sugar has already hardened or once it is already in clumps, worry not as you could just break it up with a fork or with the use of an electric mixer.

If the package of powdered sugar is unopened, it must be safe from any bugs in its original packaging. But once it is opened, it would be great that you transfer the sugar into an airtight container as you could be sure that there would be no bugs or insects that could crawl inside it. Storing powdered sugar in the airtight container would also guarantee that it might not absorb any odours. Once the sugar has a strange odour, it might be due to poor storage, and it got the said smell from the other foods (2,3).

If the icing sugar has gone bad, find out what you can replace it with.

How can you prepare powdered sugar at home?

Preparing powdered sugar in a home is easy and simple. All you need is a blender, add the granulated sugar and cornflour (corn starch) in a blender (the corn starch is essential as it keeps the sugar dry and for its powdery consistency). Blend the mixture for around 4-5 minutes. Run the powder through your fingers and if it feels gritty then keep blending till you get a fine powder. Store your Homemade Powdered sugar in an airtight container.

Powdered sugar is the major ingredient in baked products and desserts. Here are some desserts where you can use powdered sugar.

  • Sweet potato cake with salted cream cheese frosting
  • Cinnamon-date sticky buns
  • Butter pecan skillet cookies
  • Lemony glazed cake doughnuts
  • Panettone bread pudding

You can read more about these recipes here.

Other FAQs about Sugar which you may be interested in.

Does Sugar Go Bad?


Powdered sugar might not be spoiled, because of its indefinite shelf life, can degrade in quality after a while if not stored properly for a long period of time. Keep brown sugar in a cool and dry odour-free location. Use tightly sealed containers or jars, and you could still use it safely even after the indicated expiration date.

You can make your own powdered sugar by grinding the regular one. If you observe clumps in your powdered sugar, that doesn’t mean that it has gone lousy. Discard powdered sugar if there are mold, bugs and pests in the bag or in a container.


In this brief guide, we have addressed the question, “does powdered sugar go bad” as well as other related questions pertaining to the subject at hand like how can you prepare powdered sugar at home, how much time does powdered sugar take to go bad and storage practices needed to prolong the shelf life of powdered sugar.


  1. Voora, Vivek, Steffany Bermúdez, and Cristina Larrea. Global Market Report: Sugar. Winnipeg, MB, Canada: International Institute for Sustainable Development, 2020.
  2. Kilcast, David, and Persis Subramaniam, eds. The stability and shelf-life of food. 2000.
  3. Storing sugar. Utah State University.
  4. Thompson, Sterling. Microbiological Spoilage of High-Sugar Products. Compendium of the Microbiological Spoilage of Foods and Beverages: 2009, 301.  
  5. FoodKeeper. United States Department of Agriculture.