Introduction: Make Your Own Colored Sugar

Picture of Make Your Own Colored Sugar

I haven't bought colored sugar crystals for decorating baked goods in a long time. I can't imagine spending around $1.50 for 4oz of sugar when it's so simple to color it yourself. You can color regular granulated sugar (which is what I do) or larger crystals if you prefer that look.

This is a ridiculously simple concept but it's a cost-saving effort that requires no special supplies and takes just a couple of minutes.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

Picture of Gather Your Supplies

You need:
Food coloring

You can use liquid food color, gel food color or paste food color. Liquid is the easiest to mix into the sugar and only slightly more is needed to get deeper colors. If all you happen to have is powdered food color, mix some powder with a few drops of alcohol such as vodka, and use as you would liquid food coloring.

Step 2:

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Put the sugar in a bowl and add food color.

Step 3:

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Mix together using a fork or your fingers. As the color saturates all of the crystals, you'll get a good idea of how deep the color is.
Add more color or sugar to adjust the depth of color.

Step 4: Drying

Picture of Drying

When all of the sugar is saturated with color, spread the colored sugar on a plate and let sit out to dry. This may take an hour or so. Once the sugar is dry it will have large clumps. Break these up and the sugar will be free-flowing.


creativegirlz (author)2011-11-02

Heres how my colored sugars turned out! loved it!!!

CrystalN23 (author)2017-05-29

Is it possible to add flavors to the sugar

Big_Kiwi (author)2013-07-22

Hi all I was woundering if any one knows how to make fairy (Candy) floss using little or no sugar, as I have just won a Candy floss machine but as my family are diabetics we can not have sugar. or do I just sell the machine

AshleyL6 (author)Big_Kiwi2016-09-18

If you have one of those hard candy cotton candy machines, you can add sugar free candies.

krinklepeaches (author)Big_Kiwi2014-03-12

Hey there! I have a cotton candy macine myself and in my case it allows you to use hard candy. Many candies are sugar free but i dont know much about diabetics or anything but if your machine can't use hard candy just smash it up. You could put it in a baggie and hit it with a mallet. At least thats what i do. Hope that helped!!

Kittish made it! (author)2015-11-03

My colored sugars. I used liquid food color for mine, after the shown experiment with using gel food color. To get the sugar dry after coloring will take a couple of days in the dryest spot in your kitchen. I've got mine spread out on shallow baking sheets and am giving it a stir every day.

SP79 (author)2015-09-23

Hi instead of alcohol to mix powder colour... What else can you use?

Emily Q (author)2015-07-04

Thank you i used my sugar to make cotton candy

barb1322 (author)2015-04-01

I tried it with powdered icing sugar and found it didn't work and then tried with granulated sugar and it worked well. now I just need to zip it and make it into powdered icing sugar for my fondant. Thank you for sharing this information, hopefully it does what I need it to.

SalhaA (author)2015-02-10

can it be used for dizines

like i put clored suger in a jar then put my mack up brshus there

YoussefB (author)2015-01-18

To prevent solubility of sugar in water, its better to use alcooholique solution like whisky
It's contain less than 60% of wather..disolve color in powder in whisky than add drop to drop
On sugar with shaking...and put it in oven to dry

ChildofGod25 (author)2014-12-23

Thanks. worked wonderful.

tammysue827 (author)2014-07-22

how long does the color sugar last? do u have to use it immediatley or can u store it some were to be used later on? thanks

MsMissyG (author)2012-01-14

Thank you! I was thinking there had to be a way to do this without all the nasty additives they put in the kind you find at the confectioners glaze.....that stuff is made from BUGS!
{if you don't believe me check out this blog on it, or Google it}

accursedmuffins (author)MsMissyG2014-07-03

What do you think food coloring is made of? It's the same stuff my dear.

vmizzi (author)2014-05-30

Hi. Does the sugar discolour or the colour run if put in the fridge on buttercream? Thanks

mzminty (author)2013-02-05

hi can somebody please help me!!!
im trying to colour 25kg of normal sugar without it getting wet. it has to be in 25kg batches.any help would be appreciated

krinklepeaches (author)mzminty2014-03-12

try using paste food colors. They are relatively very dry or maybe find some powder food color and use no achohol or wetting component.

breumer (author)2012-12-13

Nice colors!

Celine1107 (author)2012-08-16

Good idea! You can also put the sugar in a bag, with a few drops of the food colouring and shake it!

Marions Creations (author)2012-06-17

Since I need larger amounts of sugar colored, I use my hand mixer and the balloon whisk with a 4 cup glass measuring cup (to prevent staining). Goes much faster, more even and absolutely no clumps. I also mix my dry flavoring right into because the moisture from the liquid color helps adhering the flavor to the sugar crystals! :-)

Jomy600 (author)2012-01-18

I have a question I just bought a cotton candy machine and it says in the instruction that I can u gradulated sugar or colored sugar can any one tell me if this is true and I wanted to know also has anyone tried to flavor the sugar ? Please help

Yes you can. Use a finer sugar rather than coarse. I just made a batch for my cotton candy machine. Don't know about the kids machines, but my commercial machine is doing well with home made sugar mixes. If you are just beginning, use the pre flavored/colored "flossine" from Gold Medal. Th color and flavor is just right. It takes some experimenting getting the right flavor strength and color the "Home made" style.

Tiktaky (author)2011-12-28

Do you know how well the drying process works in high humidity?
would it dry faster if I put it in the oven with the fan on? (no heat) or do you think that will ruin the texture of the sugar.

starshipminivan (author)Tiktaky2011-12-29

High humidity might be a problem. I do think it would help it dry faster in the oven with the fan and no heat, as you describe. I once tossed the sugar with a tiny bit of tapioca starch (my daughter is allergic to corn or I would have used corn starch) to prevent clumping. It sort of worked but left a slight haze on the sugar. However, you could try drying it as best you can and storing it with a bit of uncooked rice in a closed container to absorb excess moisture and prevent clumps. You can wrap the rice in cheesecloth or put it in a coffee filter tied off with twine to prevent grains from getting mixed in with the sugar.

nowherian69 (author)2011-12-11

Thank You, I was thinking about trying the colouring and then i saw you post and realise it works!!!!!!!!

kersy (author)2011-12-07

Thank You so very much.. I have just made 6 different Coours using your method. I have saved so much money. The best thing is, that you can create your own shades to suit your own creations... You should have made this yourself when you discovered it and made some money from it. Thank You so Very Much for your wonderful outside the box thinking and sharing it with the world...... Ker. :-)

XTL (author)2011-11-03

If I do this with very fine icing cugar - will it break up again to be very fine ?

mictain666 (author)XTL2011-11-19

'm pretty sure you can dye the regular sugar and then just grind it up using a mortar and's how i made powdered sugar to make fondant ( it was a rainy day and i couldn't go out XD )

starshipminivan (author)XTL2011-11-03

Do you mean superfine sugar or confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)?
I suspect it will work for either but I have tried it with confectioners sugar and it does work with some cautions.

I let the sugar dry and then sifted it using a fine mesh strainer which left behind some small clumps. I tried breaking up the clumps with the back of a spoon but this ended up being a mistake because the clumps were actually a lot darker in color than the rest of the sugar. The clumps probably contained food color that didn't distribute through the sugar. So just leave clumps behind in the strainer. This would be great for dusting cakes, brownies, etc., especially with stencils.

XTL (author)starshipminivan2011-11-04

I'm thinking to dye the very very fine sugar black - then use that in a 3D printer similar to the candyfab3000 (main site no longer online but some images can be found) but instead use a laser to heat the black sugar so it melts.
This would make for very fine detail and very cheap medium for large pieces. My 3D printer design is 1m cubed.
Thanks for your advice. I had thought of mixing something like toner with icing sugar but I had not thought this dyeing approach would work as the grains would all clump making it blobby and unven for heating.
But dyeing, drying, sifting looks very promising now.

jdevlieger (author)2011-11-17

I have a small simple question... do you make this using the liquid style food coloring or the gel type??

craig3 (author)2009-06-09

I'm going to try this, i think you n use it to make coloured fairy floss. I have a mini table top one for home and if you use normal white sugar you get white airy floss so maybe this method will make multiple colours for it

dragonsniper (author)craig32011-02-23

tell me the results on if it worked or not ,
i also have a couple of cotton candy machines and have been trying to find a way to color the cotton candy so if it works without making the machine all sticky please let me know!!!

a918bmxr (author)2009-05-21

can this be used to make colored potassium nitrate smoke bombs kwestion mark.

DrCoolSanta (author)a918bmxr2009-10-21

To color the smoke you need something that is volatile and does not burn easily. Possible but I doubt you can find any die that will do both.

nope. i tried it a few years ago. it didn't have any noticeable effect.

Jent13 (author)2009-09-12

I was just wondering if u use colored sugar instead of regular white sugar when making rock candy (sugar crystals) would they be colored in the end or would the crystals be barely colored?

DrCoolSanta (author)Jent132009-10-21

barely or not coloured at all.

I may be wrong, but I am pretty sure that crystals are pure and thus can't contain a dye or food colouring.

Thundertydus (author)Jent132009-10-08

It's fine

ANTQNUT (author)2009-10-11

Delishousness! :D 

freckleface (author)2009-09-24

Well done! Simple yet overlooked concept, easy to follow directions and clear photos. :D My kids love colored sugar so I will be using this and sharing! Thank you!!

opentoedshoesan (author)2009-08-25

I do alot of baking, and plan on trying this so that I can customize my colors. I have a boatload of Wilton gel food coloring. Think it would work?

Sure. I've used gel before and it works fine.

dchall8 (author)2009-03-01

Why doesn't the liquid melt the sugar?

starshipminivan (author)dchall82009-03-01

There's not enough liquid to dissolve such a quantity of sugar. I use only about 20 drops of liquid coloring per 1/2 cup sugar. It takes even less paste or gel colorings to achieve the same depth of color.

nancyta (author)2009-02-26

thanks, I'll try it soon

DIYDragon (author)2009-02-25

I do this as well - However I put it in a ziploc baggie instead of a bowl. Fill the bag with sugar, add a few drops of color, and shake until it goes into the entire bag. Nifty decorating trick really. : D

Dandeman321 (author)2009-02-25

Good idea!

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a Renaissance woman. I love to create things with a fantasy, medieval, or geeky edge. I'm also a math/science nerd. I ... More »
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