Does Powdered Sugar Go Bad?

We use sugar almost every day, but when it comes to powdered sugar, most people use it only every once in a while. Sometimes we might end up with a surplus of it and that’s the time when the question ‘does powdered sugar go bad’ arises. Similarly to normal sugar, powdered sugar doesn’t go bad as long as it isn’t exposed to moisture. If you’d like to learn a little more about powdered sugar, read along!

How to store powdered sugar

Powdered sugar should be stored in a cool and dry area. After opening the package, make sure it’s always tightly sealed when not in use or transfer the sugar into a container that can easily be sealed. The main thing about storing powdered sugar is to keep it away from moisture. Many people recommend storing it in the pantry if possible, but storing it in the cupboard in the kitchen is fine too. Just make sure it isn’t anywhere near any sources of heat like heaters, stoves, etc. Why not near any sources of heat? In typical conditions in the kitchen the hotter the place will be (e.g. above the stove), the more humid the air is. And as you probably know, sugar can absorb moisture from the air.

Powdered-sugar raised donuts
(credit: Salim Virji)

Shelf life of sugar

As mentioned earlier, if stored properly, powdered sugar basically stays fine indefinitely. Many manufacturers suggest using it within a year or two to get the best quality, but it’s not like its quality will be much worse after another 3 or 5 years. Chances are you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

One thing to remember – the longer you store sugar, the bigger the chance that small clumps will form and that’s definitely not what we need when using powdered sugar. In most cases you can get those clumps and smash them against the counter or sift it through a strainer to get the results you want.

How to tell if powdered sugar is bad

As mentioned above, powdered sugar doesn’t go bad unless it’s exposed to moisture. If it’s exposed to it, large clumps will form and it will become too difficult to use. If that’s the case, just discard it.

As you should know by now, powdered sugar (also known as confectioners’ sugar) doesn’t go bad unless it’s exposed to moisture. One more thing to note – it’s not a substitute to normal (white) sugar, so if a recipe calls for powdered, use powdered, and if it calls for white sugar, make sure to use white sugar.