What Is Confectioners’ Sugar?

Sugar is good for so many little things. From sweetening our food and drinks, to handily filling your pockets in case you need an impromptu confetti substitute, it’s one of the most versatile substances in the universe. But there’s more than one kind of sugar. And today we’re talking about a heavy hitter: confectioners’ sugar! What is confectioners’ sugar, you ask? You’re in luck, because that’s exactly what we’re going to answer today. 

What is confectioners’ sugar?

Confectioners’ sugar is basically regular granulated white sugar that’s been pulverized within an inch of its life into a powder so fine it’s essentially sugar dust. But “sugar dust” doesn’t have quite the same air of sophistication as the name confectioners’ sugar.

Is confectioners’ sugar the same as powdered sugar?

Powdered sugar and confectioners’ sugar are not quite the same thing—even though the names are often used interchangeably. According to baking queen, Martha Stewart, confectioners’ sugar is made with cornstarch, which helps prevent clumping. Some bakers prefer true powdered to confectioners’ sugar because they believe the starch taints the flavor. If you agree with these sharp-tongued chefs, be wary, since you may even find “powdered sugar” in the grocery store that is actually confectioners’ sugar. Check the ingredients! 

Is icing sugar the same as confectioners’ sugar?

Yes, confectioners’ sugar and icing sugar are the same thing. Essentially, “icing sugar” is what folks in the UK call confectioners’ sugar, because it’s a common ingredient in icing. Sometimes language really is that simple. 

Does confectioners’ sugar expire?

Though it does eventually lose its luster, confectioners’ sugar can last for years if it’s stored in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place. 

How is confectioners’ sugar made?

Confectioners’ sugar is made by grinding refined white granulated sugar extremely finely. The grind is so fine that the sugar has a powdery or dusty consistency. It can be used to coat baked goods such as donuts or cakes, or you can use it to cover your face during your shift as a birthday party clown. (It’s a gig economy, folks. Take those jobs where you can get them!) 

Confectioners’ sugar may often be confused for the more widely known powdered sugar, but now we can join the valiant few in truly knowing the difference. Please make us proud by only using this knowledge for good.

About the Author

Joe Rumrill

Joe Rumrill is a fictional one-eyed spinach-loving sailor created in 1929 by E.C Se- Wait, no, that's not right... Joe Rumrill is a stand up comedian and writer currently based in Los Angeles. His favorite thing about food is a close tie between the taste and the nutrients one gets from it. His least favorite thing about it is the "gritty, dirt-like quality some food has", but he's most likely referring to the time in third grade he was dared to eat playground sand.

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