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Is Powdered Sugar Gluten-Free?

Most of the time powdered sugar is gluten-free, but it can sometimes contain gluten. Read on to learn where gluten might hide.

What is Powdered Sugar?

Powdered sugar, also known as icing sugar or confectioners’ sugar, is exactly what it sounds like—granulated, white sugar ground into a fine powder. It is often dusted over a baked good as decoration. When mixed with a liquid, it makes icing.

Powdered sugar can be made at home by pouring granulated sugar in a coffee grinder, or by grinding it with a mortar and pestle.

Why Would Powdered Sugar Contain Gluten?

You can purchase powdered sugar in varying degrees of fineness. The smaller the particles, the more moisture the powder absorbs, which results in clumping. To combat this, manufacturers add anti-caking agents to powdered sugar, usually corn starch, potato starch, or tricalcium phosphate. Wheat starch could also be used, but this isn’t as common. Learn more about modified food starch as an ingredient. 

To be safe, read the ingredients list before enjoying powdered sugar to ensure no gluten was added. Avoid any product that lists wheat starch as an ingredient. If possible, buy powdered sugar labeled gluten-free.

Other Sugars

Caster sugar

Caster sugar, sometimes called baker’s sugar or superfine sugar, is about twice as fine as granulated sugar, but not as fine as powdered sugar. It has no added starch. Therefore, it is safely gluten-free—it is raw sugar.

Caster sugar is commonly used in baking (especially for meringues) and drinks because it dissolves faster than granulated sugar.

Snow Sugar

Sometimes also called non-melting powdered sugar, this is a type of sugar designed to not melt. Because it is designed to hold its shape, it often contains additional starches and anti-caking agents. As with powdered sugar, read the ingredients list before indulging to ensure it’s safe!

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