If you want to improve your baking skills and kitchen know-how, this blog post is for you! This is everything you need to know about powdered sugar: how to measure, how to use, and how to keep it fresh. And, most importantly, the answer to how many cups are in a pound of powdered sugar?
If you’ve ever baked anything, you know that baking involves a lot of science, precision and a touch of artistry. There are many variables to consider, and making sure your measurements are exact is big. There’s no simple formula or conversion of one pound to cups for all ingredients because each takes up a different amount of space (volume) per pound of weight.
So why do you need to know how many cups are in a pound of powdered sugar? Well, perhaps you want to make a recipe and you need to plan your grocery list, or maybe you want to impress your book club with your baking/mental math skills (hey, you never know!). Whatever your reason, learning more about this soft, fluffy sugar and how to measure it can only benefit you. I see something sweet in your future!
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What Is Powdered Sugar, and How Is It Different From Regular Sugar?
Powdered sugar has many names — confectioners sugar, icing sugar, 10x (refers to the number of times it’s been processed to produce a fine texture), and of course, powdered sugar. All of these sugar varieties are made by simply taking regular granulated white sugar and grinding it into a very, very fine texture with a bit of cornstarch added to keep it from sticking together. It’s very…wait for it….powdery in texture.
There’s actually no difference between confectioners and powdered sugar unless you make your own powdered sugar (recipe below) and don’t add cornstarch. You can use the store bought kind interchangeably in your baking recipes. That may seem confusing, especially when you consider all of the various types of sugars and ways they are used in baking. So here’s a quick quide to sugars to help you sort it out.
How the Different Types of Sugars Stack Up
- Powdered — Granulated white sugar that’s been ground into a fine texture. Ideal for icing, frosting and decorative dusting on sweets.
- Granulated — We think of as “regular” white sugar and the kind used to make powdered sugar.
- Brown — White sugar with molasses added to add richness to baked sweets.
- Raw — Natural sugar that keeps more molasses than refined which makes it more coarse and can be dark or light in color.
- Superfine — Refined white sugar that’s made up of smaller crystals, so it dissolves quicker in cold drinks. It’s great for stirring into cocktails or whipping up meringues.
- Sanding — Large crystals that are great for sprinkling on top of scones, muffins or other treats and come in various fun colors.
How Many Cups Are in a Pound of Powdered Sugar?
Four cups will be roughly equivalent to one pound when measuring powdered sugar.
However, this is only a somewhat accurate measurement when the sugar isn’t crushed into the cup and is instead gently poured. Once you’ve measured the appropriate amount of powdered sugar, you should always make sure to whisk it to break up clumps.
The Way It’s Poured Matters for Measurements, What Else?
Ah, another variable for you! The answer to the cups to pounds conversion depends on if you need sifted powdered sugar or regular. Why does this matter? Because sifted powdered sugar makes it lighter and fluffier, which means you’ll need more volume (amount) to reach 1 pound.
Whatever sweet recipe or powdered sugar icing recipe you use, be sure to follow the recommendations for sifted or non-sifted powdered sugar.
So with these guidelines, here’s what you need to know about how many cups are in 1 pound of powdered sugar.
- 1 pound = 3½ to 4 cups unsifted powdered sugar
- 1 pound = 4½ cups sifted powdered sugar
The standard 32-ounce package (2 pounds) of powdered sugar has about 7½ cups of powdered sugar.
How to Measure Powdered Sugar
First, get the right measuring tools to know you’re measuring correctly. It won’t hurt to snag some new measuring cups and spoons if yours have had a lot of love. I love these measuring tools for baking. Misshapen tools can affect how things are measured, affecting the outcome of your recipe (it’s science!)
All sugar varieties are dry ingredients, so you need dry measuring cups and measuring spoons.
An alternative option is weighing ingredients with a kitchen scale to eliminate measuring errors and the possibility of inaccurate measuring cups, which can mess up your recipe. So if all this measuring business makes you uneasy, just go for the kitchen scale and weigh your ingredients, in this case, powdered sugar.
When you’re transferring from package to measuring tool, make sure to pour, don’t scoop. This will ensure that the fluffy, refined powdered sugar doesn’t get compacted or crush the remaining sugar in the package. Then, carefully skim a knife across the top to level the cup and transfer to a dry, empty bowl.
Make Sure It Doesn’t Stick Together.
It’s essential to make sure your powdered sugar doesn’t have any clumps because it can affect the measurements and make icing gritty. While it’s less likely to stick together than granulated sugar (thanks to cornstarch), clumping is still possible. In addition, when powdered sugar is exposed to moisture or compacted, it can become clumpy. Sifted powdered sugar has a more delicate texture, so it’s less likely to get clumps than unsifted.
But if you find yourself with a bunch of clumpy powdered sugar as you begin your baking recipe, don’t fret; just grab your fine mesh strainer or sieve to remove the lumps.
How to Store Powdered Sugar
This is a critical step because, as you’ve learned, powdered sugar is delicate and needs to be handled with care. A very, ahem, refined baking ingredient. Boxed or bagged sugar needs to be transferred to a sealed storage bag or airtight container to avoid hardening and clumping and stored in a cool, dry place. If you live in a humid climate, this will be super important.
How to Make Your Own Powdered Sugar
So you found a delicious dessert you want to make right now, checked your kitchen for ingredients, and the only one you’re missing is powdered sugar. Agh! But you don’t feel like leaving your house for just one grocery item. Your mind is set on this tasty treat. What to do?
Get creative, and make your own! This is perhaps the easiest kitchen DIY ever, and you likely already have everything you need.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Get out your regular granulated white sugar and a food processor or blender.
- Measure roughly the same amount of granulated sugar as you need powdered sugar and add it to the food processor.
- Add about 1 tablespoon cornstarch per 1 cup granulated sugar before processing.
- Blend until it’s a super fine consistency. The longer you blend, the more refined it will be.
- Voila! Now you have powdered sugar.
Recipes With Powdered Sugar
- Tiramisu Cupcakes
- Maple Blueberry Scones
- Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes
- Vegan Cinnamon Rolls
- Strawberry French Cake
Now that you have all of the information you need to boost your baking skills, test out some of these recipes, or create your own. Be sure to share what you made and tag us in your posts!