Introduction: Pixie Sticks (Pixie Stix)

Picture of Pixie Sticks (Pixie Stix)

These dead-simple homemade treats are the best pixie sticks you'll ever eat! They're made with real fruit instead of artificial flavors and colors, but still have the exact sweet-tart flavor you love in pixie sticks. And the recipe for homemade pixie sticks couldn't be simpler.

This is a great hands-on activity for kids old enough to operate a funnel, as you'll probably want help filling all those straws. Keep them occupied and entertained making their own portable summer treats!

Step 1: Tools & Ingredients

Picture of Tools & Ingredients

Ingredients: (scale as you see fit)
60g dextrose1 (I got mine cheaply from Amazon)
3g citric acid (I got mine at the local yuppie grocery, but it's also cheap and easily available online)
10g freeze-dried fruits of your choice (I picked strawberries & blueberries up at Trader Joe's, and cherries at Whole Foods)

scale (especially if you're doing small quantities)
spice grinder (clean coffee grinder or mini food processor)
straws (brightly-colored paper straws look awesome, and hold about 1g powder)
paper funnel & poking stick

1I used dextrose because this is the same sugar used in commercial pixie stix, but you can also substitute table sugar (sucrose).  However, since table sugar is generally estimated to be 1.5-2x as sweet as dextrose, you'll have to use 30-40g of table sugar in place of the dextrose in the recipe above, and it may never taste quite "right".  I'll run the test myself soon, and update the Instructable with suitable quantities, but in the meantime taste and modify as needed.

Step 2: Grind Fruit

Picture of Grind Fruit

Weigh out your freeze-dried fruit, then grind it in your spice grinder. (Or grind a bunch, then weigh out 5g.) If you're going low-tech, a mortar and pestle would work too.

If you want to be super-careful, use a sifter to remove any remaining chunks when you're done.  I didn't bother, and thought everything tasted great. 

Step 3: Add Sugar and Citric Acid

Picture of Add Sugar and Citric Acid

Weigh out the dextrose and citric acid, and add them to your powdered fruit.  It's fine to mix them directly in your food processor or grinder with the fruit, as this will ensure an even distribution.  Otherwise mix thoroughly with a fork or whisk.

Step 4: Fill Straws

Picture of Fill Straws

Grab your straws (paper is best, but plastic works), and make a thin paper funnel.  Clip the end of the funnel so just fits inside the straw.  A piece of thin wire can also be useful.  Now you're ready to fill the straws.

- Crimp one end of your straw (if using paper) or staple or otherwise clip the end of a plastic straw.
- Stablize the crimped end in a cup or other tube; I used the center of my mini food processor.
- Scoop pixie dust into the funnel, and work it through with your wire.
- Fill to last 1/3", and crimp the other end of the straw.

- Match each flavor to a color-coded straw.
- My straws held 1g pixie dust, so you may need LOTS of straws!  Plan accordingly.

Step 5: Share or Store

Picture of Share or Store

That's it!  You've got a fistful of fabulous homemade pixie sticks, minus the artificial colors and flavors.

Store in an air-tight container to prevent moisture from mucking with your nicely freeze-dried fruits.  These pixie sticks will store indefinitely in a dry climate, but if it rains a lot where you live and you'll need to store them for any length of time longer than a couple of days, it's best consider putting a desiccant pack in the container to suck up any extra humidity. 

Of course, these are the most delicious pixie sticks (or pixie stix) you'll ever eat - offer some to friends, and I guarantee you won't have leftovers.


leeski (author)2011-06-10

talk about reliving life through your children. Thanks to Canida my kids got the chance to try Pixie Sticks for the first time. Here's how it went downDad, why am I sucking on a straw..wait, hold that thought...this is good....can I have another....

canida (author)leeski2011-06-12

Uh-oh, I've helped you give your kids fruity sugary crack! Sorry. ;)

ErinK28 (author)2016-03-02

Can these be frozen?

truliwicked (author)2014-03-25

Pixy Stix and Fun Dip!!! My all time favorites...even at 44. Thanks for sharing :-)

Mauigerbil (author)2012-01-25

Why am I the only one that realises it is technically PIXY STIX?

Woodstock Candy Lady (author)2011-11-04

I love Pixie Stix. This recipe is great!!


blinkyblinky (author)2011-09-24

I'm not a big fan of candy but my sister is...she loves these!

Just wanted to say hi after the Maker Faire...I did eventually see Randofo (when he was leaving though!) but thanks for the Sugru!

canida (author)blinkyblinky2011-11-04

You're welcome! You should make her some for her birthday. :)

YoshiB (author)2011-09-19

another question sorry,
What do you mean by crimping the end and how do you do it/ what do you do it with?
thank-you once again in advance.Great instructable by the way!

canida (author)YoshiB2011-11-04

To crimp = to pinch the end together and fold it over so the powder doesn't fall out. Check out the initial picture to see what that looks like.

YoshiB (author)2011-09-17

Riddle me this!
it looks like you have powdered dextrose and liquid citric acid.
i found that glucose is the same as dextrose and so i have powdered citric acid and glucose syrup/. Will this work?
thank - you in advance!
toodle pip

canida (author)YoshiB2011-11-04

You need to use powdered versions of all of these - if you use a syrup, it will be syrupy, not powdery. Look online for powder if you're having trouble.

jmccoy2 (author)2011-10-26

You have to fold the bottom. Fold it under. Do it with your fingers,but if you are worried it would come undone,I guess you could tape it done.

kimnga (author)2011-08-21

wow ! you have great instructions !!!

porcupinemamma (author)2011-07-21

Ingeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeenious! :0) We had something in Canada called Lickamade. It came in a pouch and wasn't as much fun to look at as yours.

codongolev (author)2011-06-12

I made carbonated pixie sticks using kool-aid, sugar, citric acid and baking soda. it was a hit at school. (I tried to make them caffeinated using crushed caffeine pills, but it just tasted nasty.)

canida (author)codongolev2011-07-05

Ooh, please post! Sounds like fun.

codongolev (author)canida2011-07-05

if I get my hands on some citric acid again I will. however, I got it at the ashery (grocery place) in amish country, and it's not really a place I tend to frequent (it's about an hour away and the ashery is the only really interesting thing there; the rest is just amish stores and restaurants). I might buy some online if I get the gumption to do it, but unfortunately I doubt I ever will.

I wa thinking of ways to carbonate these earlier, how much baking soda did you use? I'm afraid to try it and accidentally use too much and be left with a bad taste.

I didn't really need to use much. just a bit. just start out with barely any and then keep working up until it fizzes.

elvisisdead (author)codongolev2011-06-12

You can buy anhydrous caffeine powder online from many different sources for about a buck a gram. Even at 200mg per stick (like strong coffee), it's relatively cheap. It could very well taste nasty, though. Especially if the straws only hold 1g. That would be around 20% caffeine.

codongolev (author)elvisisdead2011-06-13

yeah, and it wouldn't surprise me if the makers of the caffeine pill I was using put a bitterant into it to stop meddling kids from trying to eat like, eight of them at once. but the taste was more of the nasty "too much caffeine" taste. (is it bad that I know what caffeine tastes like?)

clunymph (author)2011-06-13

if you want organic kiddie crack, just tomatoes has a wide slew of freeze dried organic fruit. they have bags of powders, too, but those are sometimes a little chunky. this would be fun for a birthday party! hmm...

beehard44 (author)clunymph2011-06-15

haha kiddie crack

bajablue (author)beehard442011-06-18

I laughed, too!

teche (author)2011-06-15

yum chocolate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

dmiles2 (author)2011-06-09

Perhaps you could taste and measure for some artificial sweeteners, too? My wife's diabetic and LOVES Pixi Stix.

kcbirder (author)dmiles22011-06-09

You're right: I don't think it's logical (?) to encourage a diabetic to pour sugar into her mouth ;-) However, I bet you could do a decent version of this with a combination of the fruit, the tart (citric acid) and a mixture of Splenda (the kind you can measure/pour, in the yellow bag) and Whey Low. Whey Low is a sweetener developed for diabetics by a chemist, and it has 1/4 the glycemic load of regular sugar, and behaves just like sugar. (No, I'm not affiliated with Whey Low!) We've used Whey Low while low-carbing, and it doesn't knock us out of ketosis, and will caramelize on the top of our SF creme brulee! if you're curious.

zodono (author)kcbirder2011-06-10

you might also try xylitol...

Citwi (author)zodono2011-06-14

xylitol doesn't always agree with the digestive tract.
it gives me the runs.

RaNDoMLeiGH (author)zodono2011-06-13

Xylitol is good for your teeth, doesn't nuke your immune system the way sucrose does, and doesn't steal calcium from your bones. I use it in Kool-aid, and the family never even notices they're accidentally being healthy (er, healthier than sugar). Tastes exactly like sucrose to me.

Stevia, though... well, they're getting pretty good with stevia. For years it was soooooo sweet and had that nasty "I just licked an IRS envelope" aftertaste. (Have you ever licked an IRS envelope? Nearly as bad as ear wax, but envelope flavored. Just a bit of extra nastiness to remind one just whom one is dealing with.)

ANYWAY, it's much better now. I think they're even calling it "rebiana" just to trick people from thinking it is the same old yukky stevia. Hm... Just looked that up... Rebiana, which is Coca-Cola/Cargill's trade name for stevia, is the main ingredient in Truvia. Pepsi's competing product is PureVia.

Erythritol-inulin-stevia blends would work as a dessicant, so that would go well with the freeze dried fruit. They're available here and there, even in Walmart.

They totally need to come out with a stevia-xylitol blend... Sucralose/splenda gives me migraines.

zodono (author)RaNDoMLeiGH2011-06-14

Yeah, I love xylitol, its awesome. I wish coca cola was made with it.

dmiles2 (author)kcbirder2011-06-09

Awesome. Thanks. Now I can make sugar-free creme brulee, too! :-)

canida (author)dmiles22011-06-09

Cool idea, thanks to both of you for the thread! I've got some Splenda, but have never played with Whey Low. I've put this on my to-do list, but if you try it first please post your recipe!

Rowen27 (author)canida2011-06-12

If you do try Splenda, I would suggest using quite a bit less, as it is a great deal sweeter than sugar or dextrose. If done right the only way you'll be able to tell the difference is that the sweetness will stay longer on your tongue, at least that's what the folks at the candy trade shows tell me...

suayres (author)kcbirder2011-06-11

I read the reviews of whey-low on Amazon, and quite a few diabetics reported blood-sugar spikes after consuming it. TANSTAAFL. Sigh. (For those who do not read Robert A. Heinlein," There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.")

splazem (author)2011-06-12

Great job! I love the pictures!

dodgedehaven (author)2011-06-12

What a cute idea! I wonder if one could substitute Stevia for sugar?

canida (author)dodgedehaven2011-06-12

Probably not on a 1:1 ratio - you'd have to do some taste-testing to get the mix right, and it will never taste exactly like a "real" pixie stick. But a potentially good substitute! If you try it let me know.

Rayney (author)2011-06-12

I might have to make some of these for my grandma and put crush her vitamins in them. lol She loves to eat any kind of candy but she doesn't like vitamins. We have the gummy ones but those gum up in her dentures.

canida (author)Rayney2011-06-12


suayres (author)2011-06-11

Not that kids need a way to eat more sugar, but do you think the fat "bubble-tea" straws would work?

canida (author)suayres2011-06-12

Of course! Just heat-seal the ends - one of the other comments suggested using pliers and a lighter.

suayres (author)2011-06-09

One pointer: DON'T try to make these on a hot, humid day--not only are your ingredients likely to clump up on you while you're trying to work, any product you DO get made is liable to set up like cement in the straws. Also, any you don't consume immediately, you might want to store in a container with a desiccant of some sort (a dryingnagent). Even a cup or so of ordinary rice would work. Of course, they may not hang around that long.....

canida (author)suayres2011-06-09

I kept mine around through a couple of days of heavy rain, and was pleasantly surprised to find they didn't soak up too much water. I also habitually roll my pixie stix to soften them before opening the straw - a childhood tactic I didn't even repeat consciously. Weird. ;)

But yes, I do mention desiccants above - if you're somewhere extremely humid that's smart.

suayres (author)canida2011-06-10

So you did--I didn't read your directions carefully enough. My bad! In any case, I plan to make these with my granddaughters. I'm sure we'll have a blast! We get together every week or two, to play together. One of the best perks of Gramma-hood is playing with my "Grannies"!

canida (author)suayres2011-06-10

Awesome, let me know how it goes! If you post a picture of your version I'll send you a 3-month Pro code. ;)

Knightsabre (author)2011-06-09

Nice idea, I like it!

Seems to me that if you use plastic straws, you could heat-seal the ends, then they would be effectively air-tight, presumably extending their shelf life, especially in humid conditions.

Use a small torch and a sharp knife. Heat the blade and "cut" the end of the straw. That should seal it right up.

The only drawback to this is the need for a pair of scissors or a knife to re-open the straw.

perignon (author)Knightsabre2011-06-10

I used to make something similar as a kid, using plastic straws, and you don't need a knife to open them (especially if the straws are a bit stiffer).

Just hold the very tip of the straw to a flame, and then pinch it with pliers. If the seal is only 1-2 mm wide and at the very end of the straw, then it'll break open if you bite it (perpendicular to the direction of the seam, if that makes sense), but still be strong enough to stay sealed. I don't know if just cutting them with a hot blade will effectively do it - worth a try.

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Bio: I've been posting Instructables since the site's inception, and now build other things at Autodesk. Follow me for food and more!
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