The other day I was making marshmallows and ran into a multitude of problems -- broken candy thermometers, overheated mixers, syrup spill, you name it. I thought I'd escaped the clutches of fate and made decent marshmallows until I realized I ran out of powdered sugar.

Well, darn it. I had a big batch of marshmallows already made and ready for coating.

So I remember hearing you can make your own powdered sugar with granulated sugar and cornstarch. I gave it a try in my food processor and it kind of worked, but was still too coarse.

Is there any way to get around this besides to keep on pulsing and hoping for the best? Does a blender, coffee grinder, or another kitchen contraption work better?

3 Answers 3


I'm gonna guess you just didn't go long enough. I make my own in the food processor all the time, but I turn it on high, go have a snack and come back in 10 minutes. It certainly does take quite some time.

  • 1
    Agreed. There's a 1/(number_of_sugar_particles * adjustment_factor) chance that one particle hits the food processor blade. Additionally, there's only a chance that the collision is non-elastic (i.e. the particle hits the blade and some of its energy gets absorbed by the particle, breaking it up). The smaller you want your sugar to get, the longer you have to run it through the food processor. As a particle shrinks, its terminal velocity becomes slower (higher surface area to volume means more air resistance relative to the amount of force exerted by gravity).
    – Eric Hu
    Apr 4, 2012 at 9:11
  • Ah, thank you. Next time I'll just keep it running for longer. Apr 6, 2012 at 2:58

Perhaps a better alternative (I never tried it in a food processor myself) is a coffee mill. That's what I use and it goes very quickly. But of course, you can't put in as much sugar as in a food processor, so it would be slower if you need a lot of sugar.

I'm not sure if it's the coffee mill itself that's better or if it's because you don't grind as much at once.


I use a cheap electric coffee grinder. Like Mien said, you can't make as much in one go but it'll be powdered sugar. Depending the coffee grinder, you could repeat it multiple times, but mine (supposedly) overheats after long use. I never tested it out.

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