Say Goodbye to Bone Char with Homemade Powdered Sugar

A wooden spoon holding a scoop of white powder over a bowl filled with the same powder, with measuring spoons and additional bowls of powder in the background.

Making your own powdered sugar is a great way to avoid bone char, a common mammal-based refining ingredient that can cause reactions for some alpha-gals. Whipping up homemade powdered sugar takes only a few simple ingredients and less than five minutes — and in this article, I’ll show you how.

The information provided on this site is based on my personal experience living with alpha-gal syndrome. I consistently cite and link to expert sources, but nothing published on this site should be perceived as medical advice.

Alpha-gal sensitivities vary by person. You should understand your dietary restrictions, making any adjustments needed, and directing any questions to your physician.

Did you know that sugar isn’t automatically a mammal-free ingredient? One sneaky culprit that may cause an alpha-gal reaction is bone char. Made from the bones of cattle, bone char is often used in the refining process to make cane sugar as white as the sand on a tropical beach.

But don’t worry! Making homemade powdered sugar is easy and a surefire way to keep bone char out of your kitchen and your favorite treats

Close-up of a bowl filled with powdered sugar next to a sifter and a container, with text that reads "Make powdered sugar at home in just 5 minutes!" at the bottom.


In This Article

The Basics of Powdered Sugar

Powdered sugar is granulated sugar that has been ground into a finer texture. You may also hear it called icing sugar or confectioners’ sugar, with the latter also spelled as confectioner’s sugar or confectioners sugar. 

Powdered sugar typically contains a small amount of an anti-caking ingredient, like cornstarch, to prevent clumping and keep it dry. This fine texture makes it ideal for recipes with smooth consistency, such as icings and buttercreams. It’s also sprinkled on desserts like thumbprint cookies and lava cakes.

Is Caster Sugar the Same as Powdered Sugar?

Caster sugar, also known as castor sugar or superfine sugar, is finer than granulated sugar but not as fine as powdered sugar. Instead, caster sugar is a little gritty without a powdery consistency. While both are used in baking, they are not interchangeable due to their different textures and properties.

A bowl of flour and a bowl of sugar are placed on a marble countertop next to a wooden spoon and a blue-and-white striped cloth.
Photo Credit: One Hot Oven.

Ingredients Needed to Make Powdered Sugar

You might be surprised to learn that it only takes two ingredients to make homemade powdered sugar. And, chances are, you have both on hand in your pantry.

Granulated Sugar

Forget fancy ingredients—icing sugar is simply granulated sugar ground into a superfine texture. So, the main ingredient you’ll need is granulated sugar. I always use organic cane sugar. Why? According to Plant Based News, “in the US, certified organic sugar does not use bone char.” So I always use organic sugar, whether I’m grinding it into powdered sugar or stirring it into my cold brew coffee.


Adding a small amount of cornstarch helps prevent clumping and keeps the confectioners’ sugar dry. It helps extend the shelf life of your powdered sugar by absorbing moisture and keeping it light and airy. If desired, you can substitute tapioca starch, potato starch, or arrowroot powder for the cornstarch. 

Equipment You’ll Need

Although a high-end blender such as a Vitamix, NutriBullet, or food processor is perfect for making powdered sugar at home, a coffee grinder or a Magic Bullet can also be used for smaller batches. Experiment to find the appliance that works best for you.

A top-down view of a bowl filled with powdered ingredients on a white marble surface. A wooden spoon and another bowl with similar contents are in the background.
Photo Credit: One Hot Oven.

How to Make Homemade Powdered Sugar

As promised above, it only takes two ingredients and a few minutes to make a batch of powdered sugar at home. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Add the granulated sugar and cornstarch (if you’re using it) to your chosen appliance (high-powered blender, food processor, or coffee grinder). For every cup of granulated sugar, add one tablespoon of cornstarch.
  2. Blend until the sugar is very fine and fluffy. If you’re using a powerful blender, this will take about 30 to 60 seconds. If you’re using a food processor or coffee grinder, this will take about 4 minutes.
  3. Stir the sugar to ensure it’s been thoroughly blended. If it feels gritty when you rub it between your fingers, continue blending until it reaches a powdery consistency.
  4. Powdered sugar made at home can be stored indefinitely. To maintain its freshness, keep it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. If you plan on storing it for a while, remember to include cornstarch to prevent clumping. 

When finished, you should have roughly doubled the amount of powdered sugar compared to the initial amount of granulated sugar. This means that if you start with 2 cups of granulated sugar, you will end up with about 3 ¾ cups of powdered sugar.

An assortment of various sugars and spices in bowls and jars arranged on a marble countertop, accompanied by a spoon and a cloth with floral print in the background.
Photo Credit: One Hot Oven.

Other Sugar Options

The most common powdered sugar in grocery stores is made from refined white sugar. But when you make your own powdered sugar at home, you can go beyond regular sugar and experiment with different types of sugar.

Unrefined sugar will result in a grainier texture and a caramel-like flavor. Experiment with these sugar varieties to add a unique twist to your baked goods and desserts.

  • Cane sugar is similar in flavor to granulated sugar but slightly darker in color and has larger grains.
  • Brown sugar is granulated sugar mixed with molasses and has a high moisture content. When making powdered brown sugar, be sure to always use cornstarch.
  • Turbinado sugar contains some natural molasses, giving it a light brown color and a caramel flavor. It also has larger crystals than brown sugar.
  • Coconut sugar comes from the sap of the coconut palm tree, is tan in color,  and has a rich caramel flavor.  
  • Maple sugar is made from maple sap. While I love cooking with maple sugar, I haven’t tried grinding it into powdered sugar yet.
A person in a striped apron sprinkles powdered sugar over a fruit-topped cake using a small sieve.
Photo Credit: Pexels.

Creative Ways to Use Homemade Powdered Sugar

In baking, powdered sugar lends a silky texture to treats like cookies, fudge, meringues, and more. If you ask me, a crinkle cookie isn’t legit unless it’s covered in powdered sugar! And these snowball cookies (rolled in powdered sugar not once, but twice) are one of my absolute favorite sweet treats!

Powdered sugar dissolves easily in drinks like hot chocolate, coffee, cocktails, and more. Sprinkle powdered sugar into your cold foam for a little sweetness in your coffee.

Use powdered sugar to make a quick glaze for cakes, cookies, and scones. You can also sift powdered sugar over cakes, beignets, brownies, rosettes, or lemon bars to add sweetness and make your desserts look pretty.

Making powdered sugar at home can be a cost-effective option, especially if you frequently use it in your recipes. The satisfaction of creating a staple ingredient from scratch and knowing what goes into it exactly adds an extra layer of control to what you put into your dishes.

Once you learn how to make homemade powdered sugar, you can say goodbye to store-bought. Whether you make your own with granulated sugar or customize it with different unrefined sugars, you will have an essential ingredient to suit your taste. 

Have You Made Homemade Powdered Sugar?

Have you made powdered sugar at home? What type of sugar and starch did you use? Any lessons learned or clever hacks you want to pass along? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

Portions of this article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.

Thank you for sharing!

1 thought on “Say Goodbye to Bone Char with Homemade Powdered Sugar”

  1. Tried this recipe using granulated sugar and arrowroot powder in my Magic Bullet. Worked perfectly, and the powdered sugar is so smooth. Great for making frostings!

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