3X, 4X, and 10X Confectioner’s Sugar: What’s the Difference and Which One Should you Use?

What exactly is a 3X Sugar?  A 10X sugar?  Most of us read a recipe calling for confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar—and know immediately what the instructions need:  a superfine, powdery sugar that readily dissolves in liquid without heat.  Most of us have a bag of powdered sugar stored away for baking, frosting creations, and candy making.  But, do you know what 3X sugar is? Or 10X?  As our food themed Blogging from A to ZChallenge continues today with the letter X—we’ll demystify those X labeled sugar ingredients present in older or non-U.S. originated recipes. 

What do the X’s mean on confectioner’s sugar labels?  The X’s on the labels of confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar indicate the degree of grinding that the sugar has endured.  The higher the X rating—the more finely powdered, or ground, the sugar.  Finer sugar dissolves more readily in liquid without requiring the heat needed to break down table sugar grains.  Powdered sugar ranges in fineness from a 3X to a 14X—but, most of use a 10X when we grab a bag off our local grocer’s shelf.

Is there that much difference between 3X and 10X Confectioner’s Sugar?  There is a difference in the fineness of the sugar granules.  10X sugar is of a more refined, finer texture than a 3X or a 4X.  Does it matter much in most home kitchens?  Not really.  As mentioned, the finer the sugar, the more readily it dissolves in liquid.  Realistically, 3X sugar yields great results for the average home baker or home candy maker.  10X confectioner’s sugar is the one most commonly found on grocery store shelves in the United States—and is often the one in the unlabeled bags of generic powdered sugar as well.  While a 14X sugar would be ideal for whipped cream—10X is perfectly suitable and far easier to find in most grocery stores. 

What if the recipe does not specify the fineness desired?  Most agree that confectioner’s sugars of different textures may be interchanged with little impact.  Whether a recipe specifies an X label or not—the odds are the powdered or confectioner’s sugar on hand will do the trick.  No need to stress about the “correct” variety unless you are working on some spectacular sugar recipe that absolutely requires a 14X Sugar—but, you may have a tough time finding that in your local Kroger or Walmart baking aisle!  The carrot cake cupcakes shown in the picture above were made with 4X sugar--for some reason I picked that up at some point in the store (without noting the difference on the label) and it worked great in our Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Pecans!

Now you know what those X’s signify on the powdered sugar bags—and if you see a 3X sugar listed in an old recipe—you’ll know exactly what it means!

Post a Comment


  1. Hi Angela,

    I just love your blog and those yummy recipies! I just had to add your blog and post to my A.D.'s FAV 5 of the A to Z Challenge today!

    You are #1! If you go there and do not see my post just yet, do check back...I am working through to bonus #6 :0)

    HAve a wonderful weekend!

  2. Hi,
    hehe, thx for this post. Last night the hubby and I got into the same conversation only it was "is there a difference between powdered sugar and icing sugar lol. I still assume they are always the same till I need to do the cooking ;)
    New follower from MBC.

  3. Great Blog following from the blog hop I would love for you to follow Little Bits

  4. Hi! Thank you so much for that great explanation! I picked up an Amish cookbook at a used book store today, and my husband found a recipe that called for 10x sugar. We weren't sure what that was, so I, of course, went to the internet for the answer, and yours was right at the top of the list! I had no idea there were levels of fineness to powdered sugar. :-)

  5. I was raised in the Chicago area, Polish relatives on maternal side and Italian relatives on the other side. Our family used the word 10x SUGAR as meaning powdered/confectioner sugar. So, I agree the 10x usage may be regional. I lived in many different regions...and always got a goofy look when I use 10x verbally or in a shared recipe. Plus it is shorter to write on a recipe card....another benefit.LOL

  6. recipe calls for 1.5 cups 4 X sugar, should you use same amount, didn't turn out the same...

  7. I need 4X sugar but all I can find is 10X. Can I make 4X?

  8. I'm still not completely clear. I have a recipe calling for XXX sugar. But I never see any X's on bags of sugar that I buy. Is xxx the same as confectioners sugar or would it be more like Baker's ultra fine sugar? Thanks for your help.



The ZOO banner 3