How to Make Frosting Without Powdered Sugar

Powdered sugar is a common ingredient in many frosting recipes. Also known as confectioners' sugar or icing sugar, it has a smooth, fine texture that makes it easy to blend into frosting.

How to Make Frosting Without Powdered Sugar

Ingredients to Use Instead of Powdered Sugar

When making frosting without powdered sugar, here are some of the main ingredients you can use:

  • Granulated sugar - The most straightforward substitute for powdered sugar is regular white granulated sugar. You will need to blend or process it into a finer powder.
  • Honey - For a more natural frosting, honey can provide sweetness. Reduce any liquids in the recipe to account for the extra moisture from honey.
  • Maple syrup - With its robust, earthy-sweet flavor, maple syrup is another tasty option. Like honey, be mindful of the extra moisture.
  • Coconut sugar - This natural sweetener has a hint of caramel flavor. Use it in place of granulated sugar.
  • Brown sugar - For deeper molasses notes, use brown sugar instead of regular granulated sugar.
  • Milk - Non-dairy milks like almond, coconut, and soy can be used to create dairy-free frosting.
  • Cocoa powder - To make chocolate frosting, use unsweetened cocoa powder for rich chocolate flavor without excess sweetness.

How to Grind Granulated Sugar into Powdered Sugar

One of the easiest ways to make powdered sugar at home is by grinding regular granulated sugar into a finer powder. Here is a simple method:



  1. Add sugar and cornstarch (if using) to a high-powered blender or food processor.
  2. Blend for 1-2 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. The sugar should become super fine and powdery.
  3. Sift the blended sugar through a fine mesh strainer to remove any remaining coarse grains.
  4. Use as you would powdered sugar in frosting recipes.

Key Takeaway: Blending granulated sugar into a powder creates a simple powdered sugar substitute for frosting.

Easy Frosting Recipes Without Powdered Sugar

Here are some simple tried and true frosting recipes that do not require powdered sugar:

1. Cream Cheese Frosting

This tangy frosting pairs perfectly with carrot cake or red velvet cake.


  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1⁄2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1⁄4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar


  1. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth.
  2. Add vanilla, salt, and sugar. Beat for 2-3 minutes until fluffy.
  3. Chill frosting briefly before using.

2. Peanut Butter Frosting

For peanut butter lovers, this frosting is irresistible on chocolate cupcakes.


  • 1⁄2 cup peanut butter
  • 1⁄4 cup softened butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1⁄4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. In a medium bowl, combine peanut butter and butter until smooth.
  2. Add powdered sugar alternately with milk and mix to combine.
  3. Beat in vanilla until frosting is light and fluffy.

3. Chocolate Ganache

Glossy chocolate ganache makes an easy frosting for glazing cakes and cupcakes.


  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1⁄2 cup heavy cream


  1. Heat cream just until simmering.
  2. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips. Let sit 1-2 minutes.
  3. Whisk together until smooth and creamy.
  4. Allow to cool slightly before using.

4. Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

For a hint of honey, try this lightly sweetened cream cheese frosting.


  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1⁄4 cup butter, softened
  • 1⁄4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt


  1. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  2. Add honey, vanilla and salt. Beat until combined.
  3. Chill frosting briefly before using.
Type of FrostingBest Uses
ButtercreamCupcakes, cake decorating
Cream CheeseCarrot cake, red velvet cake
GanacheGlazing cakes, filling layer cakes
Whipped CreamTopping pies, cheesecake

Tips for Making the Best Frosting Without Powdered Sugar

Here are some helpful tips to ensure your homemade frosting turns out perfect:

  • Allow butter to soften to room temperature before creaming for a smoother consistency.
  • Beat the frosting well with a hand mixer for several minutes to incorporate air and make it light and fluffy.
  • Add liquids like milk or cream slowly and beat well after each addition.
  • For richer flavor, use unsalted butter. Add a small pinch of salt to enhance sweetness.
  • Make sure any milk, honey, or maple syrup is at room temperature too.
  • If the frosting seems too thin, chill it briefly in the fridge to firm it up before using.
  • Store unused frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Vegan Frosting Without Powdered Sugar

To make dairy-free and vegan frosting, use non-dairy milks and plant-based butter or shortening. Here are some recipes to try:

Coconut Milk Frosting

  • 1⁄2 cup non-dairy butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1⁄4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Maple Cashew Frosting

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked
  • 1⁄3 cup maple syrup
  • 1⁄4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Chocolate Avocado Frosting

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1⁄4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1⁄4 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 2-3 Tbsp nondairy milk

Storing Frosting Without Powdered Sugar

Properly stored, your homemade frosting without powdered sugar should last about:

  • 1 week refrigerated
  • 2-3 months in the freezer

To store:

  • Place frosting in an airtight container, smoothing the top evenly.
  • Refrigerate up to 1 week.
  • For longer storage, freeze for 2-3 months.
  • Thaw frozen frosting overnight in the fridge before using.

Key Takeaway: Store frosting without powdered sugar in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for 2-3 months.

FAQ About Making Frosting Without Powdered Sugar

What are good substitutes for powdered sugar in frosting?

Some good powdered sugar substitutes include granulated sugar, honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and brown sugar. For dairy-free recipes, try coconut milk, almond milk, cashews, or avocado.

Why blend regular granulated sugar into powdered sugar?

Blending the granulated sugar gives it a finer, powdery texture similar to powdered sugar. This helps it blend smoothly into frosting for a creamy consistency without grittiness.

Does frosting without powdered sugar need to be refrigerated?

Yes, it's important to refrigerate frosting made without powdered sugar. The frosting may be softer due to lack of cornstarch in powdered sugar. Refrigeration firms it up and prevents spoilage.

What is a good frosting for cupcakes without powdered sugar?

Cream cheese and chocolate ganache both make excellent frostings for cupcakes without using powdered sugar. Whipped cream is also a light and fluffy option.

Can you use brown sugar instead of powdered sugar for frosting?

Yes, brown sugar can be substituted for powdered sugar in frosting recipes. The frosting will end up with a hint of molasses flavor. You may want to reduce other liquids slightly to account for the extra moisture in brown sugar.


While many conventional frosting recipes rely on powdered sugar for smooth sweetness, there are numerous options for making great frosting without it.

Natural sugars like honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar can provide flavorful sweetness instead.

For an easy powdered sugar substitute, simply blend granulated sugar into a fine powder.

Key Takeaway: Using alternative sugars and proper preparation methods allows you to make all kinds of delicious frostings without powdered sugar.

Sarah Cortez
Sarah Cortez

My name is Sarah and I'm a baker who loves trying out new recipes and flavor combinations. I decided to challenge myself to use a new spice or ingredient powder in my baking each week for a year. Some successes were the cardamom sugar cookies, vivid turmeric cake, and beetroot chocolate cupcakes. Failures included the bitter neem brownies and overwhelmingly hot ghost pepper snickerdoodles. Through this experience I've discovered amazing additions to spice up desserts while learning how to balance strong flavors. Follow my journey as I push the boundaries of baking with unique powders!

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