Is powdered sugar icing sugar?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Is powdered sugar icing sugar?” and will discuss the uses of icing sugar.

Is powdered sugar icing sugar?

Yes, powdered sugar is icing sugar. Powdered sugar is also known as confectioner’s sugar. Powdered sugar and icing sugar both are powdered sugar made from white granulated sugar and a tiny quantity of cornstarch.

Breaking the icing sugar and powdered sugar conundrum

There is no difference in the ingredients between icing sugar and powdered sugar in terms of their properties. Granulated sugar is pounded into powder and is known as powdered or confectioner’s sugar. It may also be referred to as icing or confectioners’ sugar. Powdered sugar is granulated white sugar that has been pulverized or milled and mixed with about 3% cornstarch to prevent caking. It is generally available in three degrees of fineness (6X, 10X, and 12X; the higher the number, the finer the product). In terms of texture and fineness, powdered or icing sugar may be as coarse or fine as desired. Confectioners sugar is fine powdered sugar, and fondant and icing sugar are the finest. As the number of X’s increases, the sugar granules become more finely dispersed (1).

In other words, icing sugar and powdered sugar are both types of sugar that are crushed to a very fine powder. If you don’t have a packet of icing sugar or powdered sugar, you may manufacture your own at home. All that’s required is a coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle to grind up the granulated sugar.

Icing sugar, unlike refined sugar, is amorphous and not crystalline. Amorphous powders are necessary and have numerous advantages as compared to crystalline ones in many food applications, although having some undesirable physical properties and changes (stickiness, lumping, caking, agglomerating, or crystallization). Icing sugar dissolves into water much more easily and quickly than crystal sugars, due to the presence of a large proportion of amorphous regions and very fine particles. The fine particles give the sugar a smooth texture, which is required for frosting and decoration of cakes, for example. The fine particles and the amorphous characteristic favors fast solubilization in water and is useful in applications such as the preparation of milkshakes and cold beverages (2).

No of the label on the package, icing sugar, and powdered sugar is used in icings for cakes, frostings for cheesecakes, and in some pastries. When it comes to icing or powdered sugar, bread and cakes are the most common uses. In addition, you may use it to decorate baked items and sweets by dusting them over them.

Composition of powdered sugar

Whether from sugar cane or beet, granulated white sugar is the starting material for the production of other refined sugar products (1). Finely crushed granulated sugar is used to make confectioners or icing sugar, also known as 10X sugar or icing powder. Most often, it is made up of an anti-caking substance like maize starch or potato starch to absorb moisture and avoid clumping as well as to enhance flow. Caking happens when particles of amorphous materials stick to each other and form aggregates (3). Powdered sugar may be manufactured by grinding plain granulated sugar in a coffee grinder or by using a mortar and pestle to ground it into powder.

Other varieties of powdered sugar

Castor sugar (or caster sugar)

Superfine, bar, or baker’s sugar (sometimes known as granulated sugar) is a kind of castor sugar with a smaller particle size than powdered sugar but no additional starch. Because it dissolves more quickly than granulated white sugar, it is often used in baking and cold mixed beverages. White sugar may be finely ground in a food processor to produce caster sugar at home. The reference for this statement is not available. Meringue is the most popular use for caster sugar. 

Caster sugar is produced by adding an invert sugar syrup to small sugar crystals, which are colored to various degrees by caramel formation. Invert sugar is a mixture of glucose and fructose, in which the mono-saccharides can react separately. Each glucose and fructose in invert sugar has its own melting point and crystallization point. This is in contrast to sucrose, also consisting of glucose and fructose, which behaves as one compound. Caster sugar is available in three colors; white, beige and dark brown (4).

Powdered snow

Iced cakes and pastries that need to be refrigerated may be decorated with non-melting snow powder (also known as snow sugar). It is a non-melting form of icing sugar used for visual appeal on cakes or pastries that require refrigeration. Even when sprinkled over somewhat moist baked products like fruit bars and tarts, the powder keeps its structure and appearance even when containing glucose, starch, and anti-binding chemicals (such as titanium dioxide, which gives the powder a vivid white color). Even if sprinkled over whipped cream or ice cream, it will not melt. In most cases, it is utilized for decoration.

Glucose is 20% less sweet than conventional powdered sugar, which also includes fructose, which makes snow sugarless sweet. Fructose is sweeter than glucose by a factor of more than two. Sugar Is a Confectioner’s Best Friend.

What is Confectioners’ sugar?

Confectioners sugar is produced by milling crystal sugars into very fine particles. It has an amorphous structure rather than a crystalline structure from refined or crystal sugar. In production of chocolate and chocolate components which are subsequently used to fill/coat the confectionery products (peanut butter), the use of amorphous sugars instead of crystalline ones offers numerous advantages such as reduction of production cost, decrease of product calories and minimization of oil and/or water migration (2).

Confectioners’ sugar, because of its finer particles, is ideal for producing sweet delicacies with a smooth smoothness. Frosting, icing, and dusting are all examples of baked goods that benefit from the use of this sugar. It’s a common ingredient in recipes for sweets like candy and fudge, as well as chewy cookies and dessert bars. Using it in homemade chocolate milk is easy since it dissolves quickly. 

Using icing Sugar in Your Recipes

Confectioners’ sugar has a fine texture, but certain recipes call for sifting it to eliminate any lumps and enhance the fluffiness. When using organic or conventional confectioners’ sugar, sifting is essential since it tends to be a little lumpy.

When compared to granulated sugar, confectioners’ sugar performs better in recipes due to its unique properties. Confectioners’ sugar, for example, is used in icings, frostings, and sweets because it dissolves readily and creates a smooth texture. When sprinkled on top of pastries, granulated sugar will not provide the same white appearance as confectioners’ sugar. A fine-mesh sieve (strainer) or sifter should be used while dusting, to ensure that the finished product is as light as possible.

In addition, certain cookie and cake recipes ask for powdered sugar to provide a thicker texture. The bigger crystals of granulated sugar make it easier to incorporate air into doughs while beating butter and sugar. Granulated sugar cookies are crunchy, but powdered sugar cookies are soft and melt in your mouth.

Other FAQs about Sugar that you may be interested in.

How to soften hardened brown sugar?

How to melt brown sugar on the stove?

How to Make Sugar Glass without Corn Syrup

Can you eat sugar beets?


In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Is powdered sugar icing sugar?” and discussed the uses of icing sugar.


  1. Mermelstein, Neil H. More than a Spoonful of Sugar. Food Technol, 2015, 69, 11, 67-71.
  2. Ho, Thao M., Tuyen Truong, and Bhesh R. Bhandari. Methods to characterize the structure of food powders–a review. Biosci biotechnol biochem, 2017, 81, 651-671. 
  3. Dozan, Tea, M. Benkovic, and Ingrid Bauman. Sucrose particle size reduction—determination of critical particle diameters causing flowability difficulties. J Hyg Eng Des, 2014, 8, 3-10. 
  4. Catsberg, C.M.E., Dommelen, G.J.M.KV. (1990). Sugar, syrup, confectionery and sweeteners. In: Food Handbook. Ellis Horwood Series in Food Science and Technology. Springer, Dordrecht.