I love cooking especially sweets but I'm not a professional.

This time I tried to make ready-to-roll icing for the first time to decorate cupcakes but it was horrible (I used crystallized sugar instead of icing sugar which I can't find and another kind of syrup instead of liquid glucose which i can't find either) so the dough was barely holding together.

So here is my question: What can I replace liquid glucose and icing sugar with?

PS. I live in a country where it is hard to find this kind of ingredients.

  • If you have one of those spinning blade coffee grinders, you can use it to make powdered sugar. A little cornstarch will stabilize it. Commented Sep 15, 2013 at 19:54

2 Answers 2


If you cannot find these ingredients, it will be hard to get this type of icing made.

The first thing is the liquid glucose. If you used any old thing labelled "syrup", chances are that it contained water, and this is what made your mix a sugar. Liquid glucose is mostly sugar, with almost no wetness to it. Substituting something very wet will not work.

Things which will work instead of glucose syrup are agave syrup, treacles, corn syrup, mollasses, golden syrup and honey. You should be aware that most of those will give you a more or less strong coloring and will have a bit of taste on its own. It depends on the type of your cupcakes whether the taste fits them. Corn syrup and golden syrup will be the best alternatives, but they are also less popular around the world.

The other thing is the sugar. It absolutely must be in a powdered form. Crystals won't work. If you have a food processor, just put the crystalized sugar in there and process it. Use it immediately, or it will fuse together due to air moisture.

But you may still be able to find icing sugar. It is just another word for powdered sugar, and it is used in Middle Eastern cuisine (your profile says Lebanon), for example for dusting lokum, but also in some halva recipes. If you can find a confectioner who does these things, you can ask them for a source of powdered sugar.

If you cannot find ingredients which produce an acceptable quality of icing, you can also try other types of icing recipes for decoration. Most do use powdered sugar for easier incorporation, but some are made with sugar dissolved in a liquid.

  • Thanks, there are chances of finding these ingredients here but they may go with another name as for the icing sugar, i just didn't know it was powdered sugar which we have. Commented Sep 26, 2013 at 15:32

Liquid glucose can be replaced with plain corn syrup, in most cases. The icing sugar is almost the same as powdered sugar, if you have access to that. If you can't find powdered sugar either, you'll need to put granulated sugar into a food processor with about 2 tablespoons of cornstarch per cup of sugar and blend it until it's a fine powder. The cornstarch in the icing sugar is what holds the icing together, so that's the most critical part.

  • Interesting. I thought about the role of the cornstarch, but dismissed it as uninteresting, as I do not expect it to hold together anything when not cooked. Do you have firsthand experience with starchless icings? I cannot experiment myself as I don't have a food processor.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Sep 15, 2013 at 17:56
  • Well, a starchless icing is generally going to turn out like the example did. That's why the starch is so vital: when wet, cornstarch is a non-Newtonian fluid, which is what allows it to work as icing. Without the starch, you just have a regular fluid. Powdered sugar and icing sugar (at least in the US), both contain starch already, icing has slightly more to let icings set up thicker.
    – SourDoh
    Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 14:44

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.