Is Icing Sugar Gluten-Free?
If you love to bake, are coeliac or just enjoy eating a gluten-free diet, you may have wondered if icing sugar is gluten-free. This post will tell you everything you need to know, so keep reading to find out!
Icing sugar is a fine, white powder that is made by grinding granulated sugar up super finely. It’s vegan-friendly in the UK and frequently used by bakers. Other names for icing sugar include powdered sugar and confectioner’s sugar. Powdered sugar is the name that’s most commonly used in the USA, while the UK and Canada prefer to call it icing sugar.
As the name suggests, this type of sugar is often use to make icing. Because it’s a powder rather than granules, it gives icing a smooth, soft texture without any grit. All you need to do is mix it with a liquid such as milk or water and you’ve got your icing ready to go. The more liquid you add, the runnier the icing will be. You can also mix it with butter or margarine and a small amount of flavour extract to make buttercream.
Aside from icing and buttercream, icing sugar can be used for decoration. You’ll often see cakes and pastries dusted with it. To ‘dust’ with icing sugar, place some in a sieve or sugar dispenser and gently shake it above your dessert.
In certain recipes, you can even use icing sugar instead of regular sugar. I used it in my shortcrust pastry recipe to add a little bit of sweetness and moistness without compromising the texture too much.
Is icing sugar gluten-free?
In most cases, yes. Especially in the UK! Let’s have a look at the most popular icing sugar brands:
Silver spoon only has two ingredients: Icing sugar and tricalcium phosphate, which is an anti-caking agent and stops the powdered sugar from clumping together. Both of these ingredients are gluten-free. Silverspoon have confirmed on their website that all of their products are gluten-free.
Tate & Lyle
Is Tate & Lyle icing sugar gluten-free? Yes! According to their official website, “All Tate & Lyle cane sugar products can be stated as gluten free”. The ingredients in this icing sugar are listed as cane sugar and maize starch (another anti-caking agent). Maize starch is another name for cornflour, which is also gluten-free.
Much like Tate & Lyle icing sugar, Sainsbury’s version contains only sugar and maize starch. So this one is gluten-free too.
Asda’s icing sugar ingredients are similar to Silver Spoon’s, just icing sugar and anti-caking calcium phosphates. Asda icing sugar is gluten-free.
Can people with coeliac have icing sugar?
The above brands are gluten-free because they are made without gluten-containing ingredients. They are not specifically marked as gluten-free however the only allergy information is about the risk of cross-contamination for eggs. Gluten is not mentioned.
Since both Silverspoon and Tate & Lyle have explicilty confirmed that their products are gluten-free, it would be wise to stick to those if you are coeliac. If using another brand of icing sugar, you may want to double check there is no risk of gluten cross-contamination before consuming it.
Types of icing sugar
There’s more than one kind of icing sugar. The type you need to use depends on which type of icing you want to make. Let’s take a look.
- Regular icing sugar. This is the most common type that you’ll see in the supermarket. You can use it to make glace icing, buttercream or American-style frosting.
- Fondant icing sugar. This is slightly different to regular icing sugar because it has dried glucose syrup added to it. You can use it to make the thick, rollable icing that usually comes on birthday cakes.
- Royal icing sugar. This is regular icing sugar plus dried egg white. When mixed with liquid, it produces a smooth, glossy icing that can be used to ice cookies. If you need it to be gluten-free and eggless too, you can make your vegan royal icing from scratch.
How to make your own icing sugar
If you’re in a pinch with no icing sugar to hand, don’t worry, you can make your own! Here’s how:
- Place granulated or caster sugar into a high power blender or food processor. It’s important that the tool you use is powerful, otherwise it won’t grind the sugar finely enough. I’d also recommend grinding up about 300g at a time. I found that if I used less or more than this, it didn’t grind up finely enough.
- Blend or pulse until the sugar becomes a powder.
- Put the sugar through a fine sieve to get rid of any large granules that may be left.
Once you’ve made your own icing sugar, you can keep it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. If you mix in a little cornflour, you can store it for more than a year!
Ways to use icing sugar
Now that you know icing sugar is gluten-free, how can you use it? I’ve listed a few of my favourite homemade icing recipes below. You can also use it to coat your own crinkle cookies too!
- Cream cheese icing
- Chocolate buttercream
- Lemon buttercream
- White chocolate frosting
- Strawberry buttercream
Which icing is gluten-free?
If you don’t want to make your own, you can buy icing ready-made. Because this is a vegan baking blog, I have only listed ones that are gluten-free and vegan.
- Betty Crocker. According to Betty Crocker’s website, all of their ready-to-spread frostings are labelled gluten-free. This includes their cream cheese-style icing, vanilla buttercream, lemon, chocolate, salted caramel and coffee icing.
- Dr. Oetker. Their classic vanilla buttercream and rich chocolate buttercream are both gluten-free and vegan.
- Cadbury. Their chocolate icing and fudge icing is gluten-free and dairy-free, and you can purchase it in most UK supermarkets.
- Asda. They have a few flavours including chocolate & salted caramel and vanilla.
- Tesco. Tesco have so many gluten-free vegan icing options. Their options include Ms. Molly’s (great if you’re on a budget), their regular own-brand and the Tesco finest range. The Tesco finest range includes flavours like mango and passionfruit, raspberry, strawberries and cream, and Sicilian lemon. Allergen information is clearly marked on each tub.
There are many more gluten-free icing brands out there so just be sure to double check before purchasing! If you need it to be vegan too, keep an eye out for products containing milk, eggs, gelatine or animal-derived e-numbers.
Icing sugar is gluten-free and is made without gluten-containing ingredients. It can be used to make all types of glace icing, buttercream and frosting.