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Is Powdered Sugar Gluten Free? Here’s What You Need To Know In 2024
Powdered sugar, also known as confectioners’ and icing sugar, is a staple in many home baker’s pantries. However, what if that home baker is on a gluten-free diet? Is powdered sugar gluten-free?
The answer is mostly yes, provided that the manufacturer does not use wheat-based starch in the powdered sugar ingredients. Confused? Let’s talk about it a bit more.
Is Powdered Sugar Gluten Free?
Most powdered sugar is naturally gluten-free unless it contains added starch derived from wheat. To be safe, always purchase powdered sugar that has a gluten-free certification.
Does Powdered Sugar Have Gluten?
Is there gluten in powdered sugar? Not naturally. Powdered sugar, or confectioner’s sugar, is gluten-free for the most part. It is usually made up of finely ground cane sugar and tapioca starch, corn starch, or potato starch, which are — themselves — gluten-free.
While tapioca and potato starch do not contain gluten, corn starch is usually gluten-free when it hasn’t been processed on equipment that has also processed gluten. Some brands may add wheat-based starch to their powdered sugar; if this is the case, that particular brand would not be considered gluten-free.
Unless additional gluten is blended with gluten added during processing, most powdered sugar brands will likely be safe for a gluten-free diet plan. However, it is always important to read labels diligently and check for allergen warnings or gluten-containing ingredients. Always opt for brands that have gluten-free certification on their label.
What Is Powdered Sugar?
Powdered sugar is essentially finely ground white sugar. Unlike its coarse counterpart, granulated sugar, powdered sugar has a texture that is almost chalky to the touch. Added to the ground sugar is some sort of starch, typically corn starch. This starch acts as an anti-caking agent, preventing the formation of large clumps.
It is very sweet, almost tasting like concentrated sugar, and overconsumption has the same potential negative effects that come with excess sugar consumption.
How To Make Sure Your Powdered Sugar Is Gluten-Free
The majority of powdered sugar is typically gluten-free. While it is uncommon for gluten ingredients to be utilized in powdered sugar production, certain brands can use wheat starch as an anti-caking agent.
Another factor to consider is whether the powdered sugar is manufactured in a facility that also processes gluten ingredients. When uncertain, it is always advisable to carefully read the ingredients label on the package of powdered sugar. Pay particular attention to hidden gluten ingredients, such as natural flavors.
To ensure safety, opt for brands explicitly indicating gluten-free on their packaging. Many companies do not disclose whether their powdered sugar is produced on shared equipment, which makes that certification extra important. Double-checking the manufacturer’s website can also provide additional reassurance. However, if you cannot find a certified gluten-free blend, then why not try making your own?
How To Make Your Own Powdered Sugar
Powdered sugar is refined white sugar pulverized into a powder and contains starch as an anti-caking agent. So, all you need to make your own powdered sugar is a decent blender or food processor, some white sugar, and some gluten-free starch.
1 cup of white sugar.
1 tablespoon of starch, either corn starch, potato starch, or tapioca starch.
Combine sugar and starch together in a blender or food processor. Pulse until the mixture has the correct consistency. This may take a little time, depending on the power level of your blender.
Gluten-Free Sweeteners Substitutes
White Or Brown Sugar
Regular white sugar is gluten-free and safe to use for celiac disease. Brown sugar can be produced by boiling brown sugar syrup or blending white sugar with molasses. As a result, although its color may differ from other sugar varieties, brown sugar is typically considered gluten-free and can be consumed without concerns.
Coconut sugar is derived from coconut palms instead of sugar cane and is naturally gluten-free. It has a unique caramel flavor that pairs well with many recipes, making it an excellent substitute for those with gluten intolerance.
Honey is gluten-free and can be used to sweeten a variety of recipes. The best kinds of honey to use for a gluten-free diet are raw, unpasteurized honey and Manuka honey for their various vitamins and minerals.
Maple syrup is an all-natural, gluten-free sweetener that is produced from the sap of the maple tree. It is gluten-free as long as no extra ingredients are added during processing.
Agave is a plant-based sweetener derived from the agave plant and is gluten-free. It has a mild flavor that is usually lighter than honey or pure maple syrup.
Commonly referred to as intense sweeteners, these widely used sugar substitutes are often found in processed foods. Zero-sugar beverages, diabetic-friendly desserts, and gluten-free protein powders may contain them, though there are plenty of protein powders without artificial sweeteners on the market, too.
If you prefer to avoid artificial sweeteners, you can choose natural sugar substitutes. Stevia is a widely favored option. Aside from potential cross-contact during manufacturing, Stevia is gluten-free. This calorie-free sweetener is available in various forms, including granules and syrups.
Xylitol is another natural sugar substitute derived from plants. It has a similar sweetness and texture to regular sugar, so that it can be blended into powdered sugar easily. It also has fewer calories than regular sugar, which is a good alternative for losing weight.
Powdered sugar should be considered gluten-free unless the starch ingredient used is from a derivative of wheat. It can also contain traces of gluten if it has been processed on equipment that also processed gluten. To be safe, always purchase certified gluten-free brands recommended for celiac disease.
If you are having trouble managing a gluten-free diet on your own, consider working with a dietitian for a gluten-free meal plan or using a gluten-free meal delivery service
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, powdered sugar is a gluten-free food as long as no gluten-containing ingredients have been added in the production process.
Yes, granulated sugar is naturally gluten-free but may be processed on equipment that has been exposed to gluten.
Cornstarch should be gluten-free. However, sometimes it has added gluten-containing ingredients, so it is important to check the label to ensure your cornstarch is gluten-free.
Confectioner sugar and icing sugar are the same thing as powdered sugar and are considered gluten-free as long as no gluten-containing ingredients are added.
+ 3 sources
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- Horstmann, S.W., Lynch, K.M. and Arendt, E.K. (2017). Starch Characteristics Linked to Gluten-Free Products. [online] 6(4), pp.29–29. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/foods6040029.
- Federal Register. (2013). Food Labeling; Gluten-Free Labeling of Foods. [online] Available at: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2013/08/05/2013-18813/food-labeling-gluten-free-labeling-of-foods
- Ahuja, V., Macho, M., Ewe, D., Singh, M., Saha, S. and Kumar Saurav (2020). Biological and Pharmacological Potential of Xylitol: A Molecular Insight of Unique Metabolism. [online] 9(11), pp.1592–1592. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9111592.