How many cups powdered sugar is a pound?

Quick Answer

Approximately 4 cups of powdered sugar equals 1 pound. Powdered sugar, also called confectioners’ sugar or icing sugar, is a finely ground sugar produced by milling granulated sugar into a powdered state. It typically contains 3% cornstarch to prevent caking. Since powdered sugar is less dense than granulated sugar, 4 cups of powdered sugar weighs about 1 pound.

Measuring Powdered Sugar

When measuring powdered sugar, it’s important to stir it first and then lightly spoon it into a measuring cup and level it off. Don’t pack the powdered sugar down at all. Here are some key facts about measuring powdered sugar:

  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar = 0.25 ounces = 7 grams
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar = 1.5 ounces = 32 grams
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar = 2 ounces = 57 grams
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar = 3 ounces = 85 grams
  • 1 cup powdered sugar = 6 ounces = 120 grams

Based on these measurements, 4 cups of powdered sugar weighs about 1 pound or 454 grams.

Weight of Powdered Sugar

Powdered sugar is less dense than granulated sugar because it has been milled into a very fine powder. This increases the volume and decreases the density.

Here is how the weight of powdered sugar compares to granulated sugar:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar weighs 7.4 ounces or 210 grams
  • 1 cup powdered sugar weighs 4 ounces or 120 grams

As you can see, an equal volume of powdered sugar weighs almost half as much as granulated sugar. This difference in density means you need more volume (cups) of powdered sugar to equal a pound.

Converting Powdered Sugar to Cups

To convert powdered sugar from pounds to cups, use this simple formula:

Cups = Pounds x 4

For example:

  • 1 pound powdered sugar = 4 cups
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar = 8 cups
  • 0.5 pounds (8 ounces) powdered sugar = 2 cups

This conversion works both ways:

  • 4 cups powdered sugar = 1 pound
  • 8 cups powdered sugar = 2 pounds
  • 2 cups powdered sugar = 0.5 pounds (8 ounces)

So no matter what quantity you are starting with, you can easily convert between pounds and cups of powdered sugar using the 1 pound = 4 cups ratio.

Powdered Sugar Substitutions

In a pinch, you can make a powdered sugar substitute by blending regular granulated sugar in a food processor or blender. Here is a simple substitution ratio:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar = 1 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon cornstarch, blended

The cornstarch helps prevent clumping and absorbs moisture to balance the texture.

When substituting powdered sugar for granulated sugar, you may need to adjust the liquid in the recipe slightly as powdered sugar has a higher moisture content.

Typical Uses for Powdered Sugar

Powdered sugar is used in both sweet and savory recipes, including:

  • Frosting and icing – Powdered sugar creates smooth, glossy icings and frostings.
  • Dusting desserts – A light sprinkling of powdered sugar adds a pretty finish.
  • Whipped cream – Whipped with cream, it makes a sweet topping.
  • Cookies and cakes – It’s used in many cookie doughs and cake batters.
  • Drinks – Sweetens and thickens coffee drinks and cocktails.
  • Sauces – Used in sweet sauces like caramel and white chocolate.
  • Dredging meats – Some chefs dust meats with powdered sugar before searing.

Powdered sugar dissolves rapidly so it’s ideal for sweetening drinks or whipping. The fine texture also creates smooth, silky textures in frostings and sauces. It’s a staple ingredient in most bakeries and pastry kitchens.

Storing Powdered Sugar

To maximize freshness and prevent clumping, store powdered sugar:

  • In an airtight container or zip top bag
  • In a cool, dry place (not the fridge)
  • Away from moisture and humidity
  • For up to 1 year

Before use, fluff up any compacted areas with a fork and stir to redistribute moisture and prevent clumping. Properly stored, powdered sugar will stay fresh for up to a year.

Tips for Working with Powdered Sugar

Here are some handy tips for hassle-free use of powdered sugar:

  • Sift after measuring – This aerates the powdered sugar so it incorporates smoothly.
  • Keep surface dry – Wet ingredients will make it clump, so avoid splashing.
  • Sift over finished dishes – This creates an even, attractive coating.
  • Add slowly – Gradually incorporate into wet batter to prevent clumping.
  • Use cool liquids – Warm liquids accelerate moisture absorption and clumping.
  • Store in an airtight container – This prevents moisture absorption so no clumps.

With a little care, powdered sugar is easy to work with. Sifting after measuring, adding it slowly, and keeping surfaces dry prevents clumping.

Common Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about powdered sugar:

Is powdered sugar the same as confectioners’ sugar?

Yes, powdered sugar and confectioners’ sugar are two names for the same product. It is a finely ground sugar with added cornstarch.

Is powdered sugar gluten-free?

Most powdered sugars are gluten-free. However, some brands may contain barley malt which does contain gluten. Check the label if gluten is a concern.

Why is powdered sugar used in frosting?

The fine texture makes it easy to dissolve and creates a smooth frosting texture. It also lightens the consistency compared to granulated sugar.

Can powdered sugar be made at home?

Yes, you can make a basic powdered sugar substitute by blending granulated sugar in a food processor. Add a bit of cornstarch to absorb moisture and prevent clumping.

Is powdered sugar necessary for a recipe?

It can often be omitted or replaced with granulated sugar. However, the texture and moisture may differ. Reduce liquids slightly if substituting powdered for granulated sugar.


Powdered sugar is used in cooking and baking to add a sweet flavor and delicate texture. Approximately 4 cups of powdered sugar equals 1 pound. Key tips are stirring powdered sugar before measuring, adding it gradually to batters, and keeping it in an airtight container. With its fine texture and quick dissolving properties, powdered sugar is a handy staple ingredient for cakes, cookies, frostings, and more.

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