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; 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. Here's what you'll need to make a batch:
- Granulated sugar, sanding sugar or raw sugar
- Food coloring (liquid is best, but gel will also work)
- A plastic, zippered sandwich bag
How to Make Colored Sugar
Homemade colored sugar can be any color you like. Use the chart on the back of the food coloring box for basic colors; refer to a food coloring chart for icing to find even more colors options; or get creative, and come up with your own colors.
Here's what you do:
- Place sugar in a plastic zipper bag. Coloring a half cup of sugar at a time is a good rule of thumb.
- Add a drop of food coloring; seal the bag; and mix until the color is evenly distributed throughout the sugar. Using a plastic bag helps to contain the mess, and allows you to knead the color through the sugar, so it mixes together quickly.
- Continue to add food coloring one drop at a time, until you are satisfied with the color. Try five drops of food coloring for pale colors. Add additional drops to create bolder, brighter colors.
- Once you're happy with the color, break up any lumps in the sugar.
- Use your colored sugar immediately, or dry it out for long-term storage. To dry the sugar, simply spread it out in a thin, even layer on wax paper or a baking sheet, and allow it to air dry. It should be dry in about 15-20 minutes, but may take longer on a humid or rainy day.
- Store your colored sugar in an air-tight container. As long as you dry it out well before you store it, colored sugar will keep for a really long time in the pantry, so go ahead and make a bunch, while you have the supplies out.
Tips for Making Homemade Colored Sugar
- Color your sugar in small batches, so it'll be easier (and faster) to mix in your food coloring.
- If your sugar comes out darker than you'd like, simply add more sugar to the mix, until you get the color you want.
- 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.
- Your colored sugar may be a little lumpy, after you add the food coloring. Once it dries, just run it through a sifter or sieve to return it to its original texture, or stick it back in a plastic bag, and knead the sugar, until it returns to a smooth, consistent texture.
- You can also use this technique to color coconut, for decorating holiday cakes and cookies.
- Flavor you sugar by adding a drop or two of flavoring extract while you're coloring it.
- When sprinkling sugar on top of frosted cookies or cakes, it's best to do it while the icing is nice and fresh. The sugar will stick better and make less of a mess. Icing tends to harden after it's been spread on treats.
- Colored sugar can also be sprinkled on sugar cookies before they're baked.
Fun Ways to Use Your Colored Sugar
- Use your colored sugar to decorate the rims of drinks at your next party.
- Sprinkle it on cake pops, truffles and other homemade candies.
- Make your own marshmallow chicks for Easter.
- Whip up colored sugar scrubs to give as gifts.
- Rent a cotton candy machine, and use it to make cotton candy for your friends. If you use your own colored sugar, you can make your cotton candy any color you'd like.
- Gift a collection of colored sugars to a friend who enjoys baking or mixing cocktails.