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Does Powdered Sugar Go Bad?

Ask the Chef

Question”

I somehow ended up with a surplus of powdered sugar. Does it ever go bad? Can it ever be used in place of regular sugar? What are some ideas for using it up, other than just coating everything I bake in it?
—Dana

Answer:

Powdered sugar, also known as confectioner’s sugar, is granulated sugar that has been very finely ground and mixed with an additive, such as corn starch, to maintain a powdered consistency. As its name suggests, confectioner’s sugar is fundamentally used for dusting desserts or as an ingredient in icings and frostings – its extremely fine texture enables the sugar to instantly melt into any mixture, hot or cold, without resulting in a grainy texture. However, because of the corn starch, confectioner’s sugar is not the best choice for sweetening beverages – better options include simple syrup or superfine sugar.

Powdered sugar is not a direct substitute for granulated and you won’t get the same results. Use powdered sugar in baking only if the recipe calls for it.

The good news is that confectioner’s sugar will keep indefinitely in an air tight container, so you can hang on to it until the next time you want to dust a cake, make whipped cream, or bring a touch of sweetness to fresh fruit.