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How To Make Frosting Without Powdered Sugar

Most cakes and cupcakes are incomplete without a layer or topping of frosting. So if you find yourself without powdered sugar how do you make your frosting? 

Don’t worry, we will show you how to make frosting without powdered sugar that will taste just as good as your regular frosting. 

How To Make Frosting Without Powdered Sugar

What To Use Instead Of Powdered Sugar In Frosting?

Most often the type of sugar used to make frosting is powdered sugar otherwise known as confectioners or icing sugar.

But if you want to ice a cake or brownies and are all out of powdered sugar what can you use instead?

There are actually a few options including granulated sugar, coconut sugar, dry milk powder and hot cocoa mix. 

Granulated Sugar

Granulated sugar is a lot more coarse than powdered sugar which is evident by their respective names.

Powdered sugar has been more finely ground and processed until it resembles a fine powder while granulated sugar has a grainy texture. 

However, you can use granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar to make frosting. Because of the difference in texture you will need to carefully measure the sugar’s volume.

A cup of powdered sugar is equivalent to 4 ounces of powdered sugar. 

Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar comes from the sap of a palm tree and is often called coconut palm sugar. However it is not the same as palm sugar which comes from a different palm tree. 

Instead coconut sugar is extracted from the sap of the coconut palm, although it tastes like brown sugar with a slightly toasted flavor and not like coconut.

This sugar can be used in the same measurements as you would use for powdered sugar. 

Milk Powder

You may have some dried milk powder in your kitchen as a back-up if you ever run out of milk. But in this case you can use milk powder as a substitute for powdered sugar.

Simply mix one cup of milk powder and one cup of cornstarch together. 

There are sugars present in milk powder as only the moisture has been removed from this product, the natural sugar, lactose present in milk will still be in dried milk powder. 

Cocoa Mix

If you want to make chocolate frosting, and you don’t have any powdered sugar then you can substitute hot cocoa powder.

The cocoa mix is very sweet, so it will work well as an alternative to powdered sugar in a chocolate frosting recipe. 

How To Make Ermine Frosting

Ermine frosting is also known as roux frosting due to the way in which it is made, similar to a roux sauce.

This recipe doesn’t require any powdered sugar so is ideal for when you have run out and still need to make a frosting. 

How To Make Frosting Without Powdered Sugar


The ingredients that you need to make ermine frosting are:

  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted softened butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Put the milk, sugar, flour and salt into a small saucepan over a medium heat. 
  2. Whisk constantly to combine the ingredients and wait until the mixture begins to thicken and bubble. 
  3. Take the pan off the heat and pour the mixture into a bowl. Put it in the fridge to cool down.
  4. Now beat the butter in a bowl using a hand mixer until it is creamy and smooth. 
  5. Add the vanilla extract to the butter. 
  6. Gradually add the cooled milk mixture and with the mixer on low continue to beat until the mixture is fluffy and light. 


  • It’s really important to make sure that the milk mixture is completely cooled down before adding it to the butter. Otherwise it causes the butter to melt, resulting in a very thin and runny frosting. 
  • You can pulverize the granulated sugar in a blender before using it to give it a finer texture and avoid any grittiness in your frosting. 
  • For a stiffer frosting simply add more sugar while beating. 


You can also use cream cheese to make frosting if you have no powdered sugar. 

Simply mix a cup of granulated sugar with 8 ounces of cream cheese, and half a cup of unsalted butter in a bowl until creamy. Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract and mix well to combine. 

You can either use this frosting immediately or store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. This is the perfect frosting for carrot cake. 

Using Your Frosting 

There are so many great ways to use your frosting. 

Our recipe will make enough frosting for a single layer cake which can be applied using a spatula to cover the top and sides of the cake. 

Put your frosting into a piping bag and use to cover the top of your cupcakes with enticing and pretty swirls. 

Don’t forget muffins taste good with frosting too. They may have a more dense texture but a sweet frosted topping tastes just as good with muffins as with anything else. 

When you have made a delicious batch of brownies what can you do to make them even more scrumptious? Add a layer of chocolate frosting of course! 

Storing Unused Frosting

If you want to make a batch of frosting ahead of time or realize you have some left over you should store it in an airtight container or a resealable bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

When you want to use it, take it out half an hour to an hour before or if you are in a rush you can add a few drops of milk to the frosting to soften it up. 

You can also freeze the frosting for up to 3 months. Make sure to thaw it out completely in the refrigerator before use. 


We hope that our guide to making frosting without powdered sugar has been helpful, and that you will now know what to do if you ever run out of this ingredient.  

Happy baking!

Anna Ingham
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