Sometimes, you have to substitute certain ingredients for something else. This can because you don’t have what you need at hand or because of various food allergies.
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On occasions, you may need to find an alternative to powdered sugar and maybe today is that day.
Powdered sugar is a very versatile ingredient. It can be used to add flavor and to change the appearance of some foods such as cakes or doughnuts. Although very useful, it may not always be readily available.
Whether you have run out of powdered sugar or just want an ingredient with a lower glycemic index, you can find many substitutes instead.
We have gathered the best substitutes for this important ingredient in baking and sugar recipes.
So if you’re pulling your hair out trying to find the closest substitute possible, leave that hair alone!
Read on so you can carry on baking without the need for powdered sugar.
Powdered sugar: What is it?
Before we delve into the possible alternatives for powdered sugar, we should first understand exactly what it is.
Powdered sugar is achieved by grinding granulated sugar down by milling it into a powdered form. You may also know it as confectioner’s sugar, icing sugar, or 10X sugar.
Finely ground sugar, such as this, is easily dissolved and is ideal for frosting, icing, and adding glazes to baked goods. This is why it is regularly used by confectioners.
Ever noticed a dusting of snow-like powder on different pastries and doughnuts? This attractive scattering is powdered sugar and you’ll typically find it dusted on baked confectionaries as a charming decoration and to add a little sweetness.
Although tasty and attractive to look at, it is not the healthiest ingredient. Too much powdered sugar, and any sugar for that matter, can have serious health effects.
Doctors and experts around the world agree that too much sugar consumption is the leading cause of obesity, type-2 diabetes, and other debilitating, chronic diseases.
As with most ingredients, too much is bad for you but, in moderation, you should be safe.
Powdered Sugar Substitutes
There is no need to worry if you have run out of this finely textured glaze sugar.
It is surprisingly easy to find a substitute so you can get baking in no time.
Here are some of the best substitutes for powdered milk.
DIY powdered sugar
The easiest method of replacing powdered sugar is to make your own. Powdered sugar is just finely ground granulated sugar which is combined with a very small amount of cornstarch.
Using a blender, food processor, or coffee grinder, you can make your own powdered sugar in very little time.
The ingredients you will need are:
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or arrowroot powder
Here’s how to make powdered sugar:
- Ground the granulated sugar in a grinder (or blender, etc) until it becomes a fine powder. This usually takes about a minute or so.
- Sieve this ground sugar so the larger granules are separated from the powder.
- Thoroughly blend the mixture of powdered sugar and ground cornstarch.
- The confectioner’s sugar should now be ready to store in a tightly sealed jar.
Use this in a 1:1 ratio and your DIY homemade powdered sugar will always be a great alternative for the future.
Powdered coconut sugar
Another outstanding substitute for powdered sugar is ground coconut sugar blended with arrowroot powder.
This isn’t as sweet and has the benefit of a lower glycemic index. Many people prefer using this to regular powdered sugar due to its caramel-like taste which is divine.
For this alternative, you will require:
- 1 cup of coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon of arrowroot powder
- Blend the mixture of coconut sugar and arrowroot powder thoroughly using a 1:1 ratio substitute for powdered sugar.
- That’s it! Easy! Store in a tightly sealed jar for future use.
Coconut sugar is ideal in different dessert recipes as well as baking confectionaries. If you don’t have the sweetest tooth but love the taste of caramel, coconut powder is the choice for you!
Powdered dextrose (D-glucose)
One of the main constituents of table sugar is Dextrose Monohydrate. Packaged dextrose powder typically comes in a finely ground crystal form and its texture and function are almost identical to powdered sugar.
Dextrose tends to absorb more liquids than other regular sugars. This is why you must use a little more liquid so your recipe’s consistency becomes better balanced.
Powdered dextrose is also 70% less sweet than regular powdered sugar. Therefore, you will need to use a larger amount of dextrose to achieve the same level of sweetness as powdered sugar.
Other differences include the rate at which dextrose burns and melt. Compared to regular powdered sugar, dextrose burns a lot quicker so you should only use this at the end of your baking process.
On the other hand, you can also reduce the temperature below 250 degrees Fahrenheit once the dextrose is added.
If you’re diabetic or have high blood pressure, you should be mindful of using dextrose as it may increase blood sugar levels and hyperosmolarity quite substantially.
6X or 4X powdered sugar
Regular powdered sugar generally comes in a 10X crystal size in the form of very fine powder.
There are other varieties of powdered sugar available but these come with slightly larger crystal sizes. The higher the number, the finer the sugar is ground. Therefore, 10X is the finest form while lower numbers such as 6X or 4X are slightly bigger.
6X or 4X powdered sugar are great substitutes if you don’t have 10X confectioner’s sugar. However, you should be aware that these larger crystals can be quite difficult to dissolve in your cake’s frosting.
Nonetheless, they are perfect dust toppings for desserts, doughnuts, pastries, and cakes.
This sugar alcohol can be used as an effective substitute for powdered sugar. It is usually derived from various grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Its crystals are sugar-like and come in a range of different sizes such as the powdered kind.
Xylitol powder is very effective in most powdered sugar recipes and unlike regular sugar, it has the benefit of being calorie-free.
If your xylitol is in the form of large crystals, you can use a blender, grinder, or food processor to blend them into smaller crystals like refined sugar. As xylitol powder has the same levels of sweetness as powdered sugar, you can use it as a 1:1 substitute for it.
Although not necessary, you can add some cornstarch to achieve a closer consistency and texture to powdered sugar.
It is important to note that xylitol can cause your food to dry out faster than powdered sugar. This is because xylitol does not caramelize like sugar so baked goods that are sweetened with it will dry out much quicker.
Pastries retain their moisture thanks to caramelized sugar but you can attain this moisture with xylitol by adding more liquid into the recipe.
Dry milk powder
Looking for a sugar-free substitute? If so, you should try dry milk powder. This is a far healthier option, especially when using nonfat dry milk powder.
This way, you will reduce your sugar intake and keep those calories down.
To make this substitute, all you need is:
- 1 cup of dry milk powder (skimmed)
- 1 cup of cornstarch
- ½ a cup of Splenda or another sugar-free substance
- Use in a 1:1 ratio to confectioner’s sugar.
- Blend all of these ingredients into a very fine consistency using a blender or similar device.
- As milk powder absorbs more liquid than powdered sugar, add a little more liquid to achieve your desired consistency.
- That’s it! You’re ready to bake!
Keep in mind that dry milk powder is very good when being used as icings or dessert toppings.
Hot cocoa mix
You may be surprised by this one but the main ingredients in hot cocoa mix make it an admirable alternative to powdered sugar.
These central ingredients are melted chocolate or cocoa powder, heated milk, and, most of the time, some sort of sweetener.
A sweetened version of hot cocoa mix can be an excellent choice when substituting powdered sugar.
All you have to do is blend this hot cocoa powder mixture until it has a powder-like consistency. Of course, it is best suited for chocolate-flavored recipes.
Yet again, the substitute ratio should be 1:1 but you can experiment to get your desired chocolate flavor and sweetness in your food.
Baker or caster sugar
Baker’s sugar or caster sugar is granulated sugar that has been blended into a powder. It can then dissolve much easier than regular granulated sugar as it doesn’t contain added starch.
Compared to powdered sugar, baker’s and caster sugar has larger particle sizes. However, it is a great alternative when used in baking goods such as meringue as well as some drink recipes.
Also known as snow sugar, this doesn’t melt in the same way as confectioner’s sugar. Snow powder is usually used for decorative purposes on cakes.
To make snow powder, simply begin by mixing a cup of glucose with 2 tablespoons of tapioca starch, arrowroot, or cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon of titanium dioxide.
Once you have snow sugar, it is best suited for recipes that require refrigeration. Furthermore, it is not as sweet as powdered sugar so may not suit certain recipes.
This is similar to xylitol in the terms of it being a sugar alcohol. It functions in a very similar manner to refined white sugar and is usually found in large-crystal forms.
It can be used in place of regular white refined sugar or in the powdered variety to resemble powdered sugar quite closely.
It is beneficial for your health with zero calories and, just like xylitol, it is derived from certain plants. Research has discovered that what makes up erythritol can provide many antioxidant benefits on top of being calorie-free.
Another common feature between erythritol and xylitol is how both do not caramelize so your baked goods may dry out quicker. This can be remedied with an increase of liquids into the recipe.
Powdered sugar is far sweeter than powdered erythritol so you may need to use more of it to achieve the same degree of sweetness in your recipe.
As erythritol is 70% as sweet as powdered sugar, you should add 30% more with the 1:1 substitute.