How to Sift Powdered Sugar Without a Sifter

Many baking recipes require sifting the dry ingredients either before or after measuring them. The purpose of sifting dry ingredients like powdered sugar, also known as confectioners’ sugar, is to break up any lumps that might have formed, and to add air. Aerating the sugar ensures that the wet ingredients moisten the sugar evenly and prevent clumping while mixing. If you don't have a sifter on hand, there are alternative methods.

Wire Mesh Strainer Technique

Measure the powdered sugar, then put it into a small bowl or leave it in a measuring cup.

Hold the wire mesh strainer by its handle over a separate bowl. Spoon the powdered sugar into the strainer.

Tap the side of the strainer with your free hand very lightly until all of the sugar has fallen through the mesh. Repeat this technique until all of the powdered sugar has been sifted.

Wire Whisk Technique

Measure the powdered sugar and pour it into a bowl.

Stir the powdered sugar with the whisk until it has a smooth, fluffy appearance.

Fork Technique

Measure the powdered sugar and pour it into a bowl.

Mix and fluff the sugar with a fork to add air and break up any clumps. Although this method isn't as effective as a sifter, wire mesh strainer or whisk, it makes the sugar less compact than it was straight out of the bag.