How To Make Colored Sugar at Home

Don't Waste Your Money on Colored Sugar, It's Easier Than You Think

Snickerdoodle Sugar Cookies
••• D. Sharon Pruitt Pink Sherbet Photography/Moment Open/Getty Images

Colored sugars are great for decorating cookies, cakes and other baked goods. They also cost way more than they should! If you learn how to make your own, you can cut your baking costs considerably.

The best part? It's super easy, a lot of fun and the color possibilities are endless and it is a great project to do with kids.

3 Things You Need for DIY Colored Sugar

Making your own colored sugar is easier than you think. It's also likely that you already have everything you need right there in your kitchen.

  • Granulated sugar, sanding sugar or raw sugar
  • Food coloring (liquid is often preferred over gel)
  • Plastic sandwich bag or waxed paper

How to Make Colored Sugar

Homemade sugars can be any color you like. Use the chart on the food coloring box for basic colors or a food coloring chart for icing to find even more colors. 

Tip: You may not need to use as many drops as you would for icing, but you can use the ratios on a chart to get close to the color you want.
  1. Place sugar in a plastic zipper bag or on a piece of waxed paper.
  2. Add a drop of food coloring and mix until the color is evenly distributed throughout the sugar.
    • The plastic bag works perfectly because you can knead the sugar without a lot of mess.
  3. Continue to add food coloring one drop at a time until you are satisfied with the color.
    • Five drops of food coloring will typically create pale colors. Add more to intensify the color.
  4. Break up any lumps in the sugar.
  5. Either use your colored sugar immediately or allow it to dry.
    • To dry the sugar, spread it out in a thin, even layer on wax paper or a baking sheet. It should be dry in about 15-20 minutes.
  1. Store in an air-tight container. It'll keep for a really long time in the pantry, so make a bunch.

Tips for Homemade Colored Sugar

  • If your sugar comes out darker than you'd like, simply add more sugar to the mix.
  • Liquid food coloring is easier to mix into the sugar. It's less sticky, so it doesn't clump like gel food coloring. However, some bakers prefer the brighter colors possible with gel food coloring. Experiment and see which you prefer.
  • The colored sugar may be a little lumpy. After it dries, run it through a sifter or sieve to return it to its original texture.
  • You can also use this technique to color coconut.
  • Flavor you sugar by adding a drop or two of extract while coloring it.
  • When sprinkling sugar on top of frosted cookies or cakes, do it when the icing is nice and fresh. The sugar will stick better and make less of a mess.

Fun Ways to Use Your Colored Sugar

  • Use it to decorate the rims of glasses at your next party.
  • Sprinkle on cake pops, truffles and other homemade candies.
  • Make your own marshmallow chicks.
  • Whip up colored sugar scrubs to give as gifts.
  • Rent a cotton candy machine and use it to make cotton candy for your friends.