Does Powdered Sugar Go Bad? How Long Does It Last?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on July 11th, 2022

You discovered an old bag of confectioner’s sugar that had languished in the pantry for a few years. Is powdered sugar perishable?

Powdered sugar, fortunately for you and every other infrequent baker (including yourself), does not go bad.

white and black round cake with black berries on white ceramic plate

It will survive for years if properly preserved. That indicates it’s generally still safe to use, even if the expiration date on the label has passed.

Do you want to know more about powdered sugar storage, shelf life, and spoilage? Continue reading.

Powdered sugar, confectioner’s sugar, icing sugar, and 10X sugar are all synonymous. Therefore, all of these terms are used interchangeably in this article.

What exactly is powdered sugar?

Powdered sugar is finely crushed sugar combined with an anti-caking ingredient. In most cases, it is combined with cornstarch. When blended with liquids, the cornstarch prevents it from clumping.

Powdered sugar is the same as confectioners’ sugar and is also known as icing sugar.

Because it dissolves readily and has a creamy texture, it is frequently used in icing or frosting. However, the frosting would be more gritty, sandy, or grainy if you used normal granulated (table) sugar.

Powdered sugar can also be used to sprinkle pastries and other items. Beignets are a popular usage for this confectioners’ sugar.

Powdered sugar is also known as 10X sugar. It is 10X sugar because it has been treated ten times longer than regular granulated sugar.

Does powdered sugar go bad?

Powdered sugar has a shelf life of around a year.

Powdered sugar typically has a shelf life of one to two years, but if handled properly, it may be kept indefinitely.

The best-by date on the label merely tells you how long the product should be good for. It has no expiration date and no bearing on food safety.

It’s there mainly because people believe food goods with a date are more trustworthy than those without.

In virtually all circumstances, you can’t tell the difference between a new box of confectioner’s sugar and one that’s been sitting on the shelf for three years.

You can use “expired” powdered sugar as long as nothing is wrong with it—more about that in the next section.

Powdered sugar combines extremely finely ground granulated sugar and an anti-caking chemical to keep it powdered. Corn starch is commonly used as an anti-caking agent.

Powdered sugar frequently produces tiny clumps over time.

Because different brands utilize different quantities of cornstarch, the time it takes for your icing sugar to begin producing varies depending on the brand you pick. So there will be some little clumps sooner or later, and this is nothing to be concerned about.

Before dusting the dessert, sift the sugar through a fine-mesh sieve to remove clumps. Alternatively, you may split them up using a fork. If you like, you may do it with your fingers.

Powdered sugar (unopened or opened)Stays fine indefinitely

How Long Does Powdered Sugar Last in the Outdoors?

Powdered sugar may be stored outside for a long period if properly stored. Here are some suggestions to make your sugar linger while you’re outside.

Avoid getting wet.

Rainy days are bad for powdered sugar since the moisture ruins it. Rain will liquefy the sugar, rendering it unusable. It might grow clingy and tough to work with. Mold and other germs will also thrive in the presence of moisture. This is hazardous since parasites may make you sick. It should be discarded if mold is found in sugar or its container.

Keep away from chemicals.

Powdered sugar should not be stored in garages or sheds because scents from chemicals can infiltrate the powder and cause it to smell terrible. Store sugar away from potentially hazardous substances. When storing outside, choose a location where there will be no odors, such as a patio.

How Long Does Powdered Sugar Keep in the Refrigerator?

Powdered sugar has a long shelf life and can even be used after it has expired. However, some locations are not suitable for keeping confectioners’ sugar, and the fridge is one of them. Keeping sugar in the fridge for a week or less is fine, but long-term storage is not advised.

How Long Can Powdered Sugar Be Stored in the Freezer?

Because it has less moisture, the freezer is a superior option for preserving powdered sugar. When you freeze your sugar, though, ice can develop. So here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to freezing.

Ice should be avoided.

If powdered sugar is not kept correctly, ice can develop. Powdered sugar should be stored in an airtight container or a freezer bag, ideally both. Discard any ice formed on the bag or the powdered sugar itself. Moisture is bad for confectioners’ sugar, causing it to liquefy when thawed.

Avoid using air.

Confectioners’ sugar does not like air because it causes it to clump and harden. So when freezing powdered sugar, place it in a zip lock freezer bag and then store it in an airtight container to keep air out. This will keep the sugar soft as it freezes.

What should I do if my powdered sugar has lumps?

You may still use powdered sugar if it contains lumps or clumps. A sifter is an ideal tool for removing clumps. First, sift the powdered sugar clumps until they are soft and simple to use. If the sugar clump is huge and difficult to break apart, use a knife to chop it up before placing it in the sifter.

How to Tell if your powdered sugar has gone bad

Unless you bake frequently, you will only need powdered sugar on occasion. Unfortunately, that means you’re likely to come across open, half-empty powdered sugar packages in your kitchen daily. Yet, surprisingly, you may have long forgotten about the remaining sugar.

But that’s okay since we’ve all been in similar circumstances. When you see sugar, the first thing that comes to mind is whether it has gone stale. So even if you bought the sugar years ago, it should be OK if you stored it in a cool, dry place.

Clumps That Are Easily Noticed

Powdered sugar that has gone stale is quite straightforward to recognize. When sugar is exposed to moisture and humidity, it creates visible lumps. These lumps are caused by the cornstarch used in the sugar production process. As a result, the wetness and high humidity create an ideal environment for the cornstarch to oxidize, generating clumps.

However, clump formation does not always indicate that the sugar has gone bad.

Sometimes it’s merely little oxidation that has no negative effects on your body. When the clumps are little, and the sugar hasn’t lost its flavor, you may remove them and still use them. To summarize, the easiest approach to remove clumps from sugar is to sift it through a fine wire mesh before putting it on your dessert.

Smell Alteration

The fragrance of powdered sugar may tell you if it is old or new. This is because the oxidized cornstarch in stale sugar provides an extremely intense stench. However, every serious baker is familiar with the neutral aroma of fresh powdered sugar. As a result, identifying stale sugar would be a simple procedure.

Powdered Sugar Storage

Powdered sugar should be stored in a cold, dry place. A pantry or a kitchen cabinet are also wonderful options.

When you open the packaging, ensure it’s well packed so that no moisture or pests get inside.

Leave the sugar in the packaging if it is resealable. If not, I recommend storing the powder in an airtight container.

You may buy a pretty container and exhibit it elsewhere if you like. But preferably not in direct sunshine. Anything goes as long as the sugar is kept in a sealed container from moisture and heat sources.

Finally, keep the powdered sugar away from any strong scents. Of course, the tight seal should keep any odors out of the goods, but it’s best to be cautious than sorry.

As you can see, the rules for brown sugar and white sugar are the same.

What should I do if my powdered sugar becomes wet while being stored? Powdered sugar should not be mixed with liquids. They have the potential to cause the sugar to liquefy and dissolve. If a tiny bit of liquid has gotten on your sugar, discard it and utilize the remaining dry sugar. If all of your powdered sugar is moist, discard it.

Is it possible to freeze powdered sugar?

It’s possible to freeze powdered sugar, but it’s pointless. Your icing sugar will last for years at room temperature if you follow the storage requirements described above.

If you must place your powdered sugar in the freezer for whatever reason, be sure it is firmly wrapped. Here, a freezer bag or an airtight container is required.

If the powder is not properly covered, it may:

absorb moisture and develop lumps (which isn’t always a negative thing)

detect a freezer-like odor (which is much worse)

If you use freezer bags, press out the air before sealing the bag.

Label the bag or container with a name if you freeze powdered sugar. Otherwise, you may have no clue what this white powder is when you (or anybody else with access to your freezer) discover it after a couple of months.

What is the best way to thaw powdered sugar?

Powdered sugar can be thawed and re-used. However, room temperature is the best way to defrost powdered sugar. Here are two techniques for thawing frozen confectioners’ sugar.

Put it in a basin of water.

This is the quickest method for thawing frozen powdered sugar. Fill a basin halfway with boiling water. Put the unopened sugar jar in the water. Make sure the sugar does not become wet from the water. Check after approximately twenty minutes with an unopened jar of sugar in the water. If the sugar is frozen, soak it in water until it thaws.

The temperature in the Room

Although room temperature is not the quickest way to defrost powdered sugar, it is the most effective. That’s because there’s no way to make the sugar moist. So instead, remove the sugar from the freezer and set it on the countertop to defrost at room temperature. Allow sitting on the counter for many hours. After around five hours, check the sugar level.

Do not put it in the oven.

Do not put sugar in the oven to defrost since it will melt. Too much heat will liquefy the sugar, rendering it ineffective.

How to make your Powdered sugar: a step-by-step guide

There is some positive news! It’s simple! You can create your powdered sugar if you don’t have any on hand. To do this, you will take normal sugar and mill it into fine sugar.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch 
  • A food processor (alternatively, a coffee grinder or blender) 
  • A rubber spatula
  • Add 1 teaspoon cornstarch to each cup of icing sugar you produce.


The first step

In a food processor, combine the sugar and cornstarch.

the second step

Pulse or grind for a long time (approximately five minutes) until a fine powder forms. Stop every minute and scrape any sugar attached to the food processor’s walls using a rubber spatula.

the third step

Take a small amount of crushed sugar and rub it between your fingers. Grind it for another minute or two if you feel the grit. When you feel a powdery consistency, you’re done.

the fourth step

If you carefully store any remaining powder sugar, it will last a long time.

Fresher is still preferable, and a fresh bag of generic powdered sugar will likely cost less than $2. You are deserving of nice things.

Work in smaller batches and be patient using a coffee grinder. In such a situation, I would only produce as much sugar as you require at a time.


I hope you enjoyed our powdered sugar shelf life and expiry information. Let’s review the most critical details:

Is powdered sugar perishable? Powdered sugar will never go bad if kept in a cold, dry area and well packed. Some clumps may form over time, but these may be broken down by sifting.

What is the shelf life of powdered sugar? Confectioners’ do not expire, even though it normally has a best-by date stamped on the label. It will keep for years if kept in a cool, dry area away from any odors (or until you finish it up).


Editorial Staff

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