Powdered sugar is a versatile form of sugar that can be used both for its flavor and for its appearance. Use it to dust cakes or doughnuts, or as a fast-dissolving sweetener for cocktails. There are several good alternatives, so there is no need to give up on a dish if you run out unexpectedly. Try one of the following powdered sugar substitutes.
Your best bet: Make your own powdered sugar
The easiest way to replace powdered sugar is to make your own. You can do this with a blender, food processor or coffee grinder. Simply place some refined white sugar in the appliance and pulse for about a minute until the sugar reaches the desired degree of fineness. Use a sieve to separate any grains that have not been ground fine enough. Alternatively, you can use the old-fashioned method. Place the refined sugar into a mortar and grind it with a pestle. Note that this can will take much longer and will call for much more effort on your part.
Use the powdered sugar that you get with these methods exactly as you would any other form of powdered sugar.
A decent second choice: Xylitol powder
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that can be derived from different grains, fruits, and vegetables. It has sugar-like crystals and is available in different grain sizes including a powdered variety. Xylitol powder works perfectly in most powdered sugar applications and comes with the benefit of being calorie-free. If you have large-crystal xylitol, you can use a blender or food processor to grind it just like refined sugar.
Xylitol is just as sweet as powdered sugar and can be used as a 1:1 substitute for it. You can add starch in the form of cornstarch for something that is a closer match to powdered sugar; however, this is not absolutely necessary.
Note that xylitol does not caramelize the way that sugar does, and baked goods sweetened with it tend to dry out faster as a result. Caramelized sugar is what keeps pastries moist. To compensate for this, you will have to increase the amount of liquid in the recipe when baking with xylitol.
In a pinch: Erythritol
Like xylitol, erythritol is a sugar alcohol that functions in much the same way as refined white sugar. You can purchase erythritol in a large-crystal form that you can use in place of regular white refined sugar, or in the powdered form that resembles powdered sugar. It is calorie-free and is like xylitol in that it is derived from plants. There is research showing that erythritol can also provide antioxidant benefits in addition to having no calories.
Powdered erythritol is not quite as sweet as powdered sugar, so you will need to use more to get the same degree of sweetness. Erythritol is 70 percent as sweet as refined sugar, which means that 30 percent more should be a 1:1 substitute.
Like xylitol, erythritol does not caramelize and your baked goods may dry out as a result. To prevent this, increase the liquids in the recipe.
Stevia is another plant-based sugar substitute. It is 300 times sweeter than sugar, which means that you would use much less of it to achieve the degree of sweetness you would get with powdered sugar. Because you are using so much less of it, it cannot provide the same structural support for baked goods and frostings even though it is sweeter. It is best to use it in combination with something like erythritol that is not quite as sweet as sugar, but that can simulate the physical properties of sugar crystals.