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Pfoinkle

How to Color Sugar

By: Pfoinkle
Category: Cake Decorations

If the price of colored sugar has ever stopped you from adding a bit of sparkle and fun to your cakes and cookies, here’s an easy and inexpensive way to add a wide range of colored sugars to your arsenal of decorating accessories.

Supplies

Supplies

Supplies

  • “zip close” plastic bags
  • granulated sugar
  • liquid food coloring

Place desired amount of sugar (I usually start with 1/2 cup) in a plastic bag and add desired number of drops of liquid food coloring (I use McCormick’s). Zip bag closed and “massage” bag to distribute color.

Once color is distributed, if the sugar color is too light, add more food coloring. If the color is too dark, add more sugar.

Allow sugar to dry thoroughly before using. For darker colors (which require more liquid coloring), drying time might be as much as 24 hours.

Yes, you can substitute gel coloring for the liquid. However, I strongly prefer the liquid because I find it easier to mix in with the sugar and because it’s easier to “measure” and therefore duplicate. Whenever I make a bag of colored sugar, I write the number of drops of each color used — that way I can recreate the color whenever needed.

See the color chart at the end of this article for color “recipes” to get you started making your own (inexpensive) sugar rainbow.

Colored Sugar Cubes

Colored Sugar Cubes

How to Color Sugar Cubes

Colored sugar cubes are a fun way to dress up a tea party or accent a cake, but coloring sugar cubes can be quite challenging.

Challenging, but not impossible. :)

All you need to make colored sugar cubes is a bag of freshly colored granulated sugar (before it has had time to dry) and sugar cubes. Add five or six sugar cubes to the bag of colored sugar and gently shake back and forth.

The cubes will absorb color from the damp sugar. Colored sugar cubes will always be several shades lighter than the granulated sugar color, so choose colors darker than what you want for the final color. If you have heavily colored sugar, you can leave the cubes in the bag to absorb more color.

Colored Powdered Sugar

Coloring powdered sugar… now that’s a tall order. Powdered sugar likes to isolate food coloring (liquid or gel) in a protective little ball of powdered sugar that will not disperse through the rest of the sugar. To break up that little ball you might try placing the whole mess in a food processor or a blender, but I’ve had the most success with a good old-fashioned sifter.

Place the sugar in the sifter, add food coloring, and sift. Dump the once-sifted sugar back in the sifter and re-sift. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat some more.

In my opinion, it’s a tedious messy process and the end result is less than satisfying. But don’t let me stop you from making a mess in your own kitchen. :D

Color Chart

Here are some color recipes to get you started on making your own rainbow of decorating sugars. Unless otherwise specified, food coloring was mixed with 1/2 cup of sugar.

Reds

If there’s one color of tinted sugar that’s worth the price of buying pre-colored, it’s bright red. You can get close by adding a lot (and I do mean a lot) of red coloring (liquid or gel), but I’ve come to the conclusion that bright red is worth the cost of purchase.
Colored Sugar

Light Red 11

  • 1 drop red
Colored Sugar

Med. Red 12

  • 10 drops red
Colored Sugar

Med. Red 13

  • 15 drops red
Colored Sugar

Red 14

  • 50 drops red
Colored Sugar

Red 15

  • Wilton Red (~1/2 pot)

Oranges

From Halloween orange to pastel peach, a nice variety of oranges are pretty easy to achieve with liquid coloring. If you don’t see the orange you want, try mixing up your own by combining reds and yellows in different amounts.
Colored Sugar

Lt. Orange 16

  • 3 drops red
  • 2 drops yellow
Colored Sugar

Med. Orange 17

  • 8 drops red
  • 4 drops yellow
Colored Sugar

Orange 18

  • 20 drops red
  • 4 drops yellow

Yellows

You can achieve pastel to lemon yellows just by varying the amount of yellow coloring you use. But if you want a warmer golden yellow, trying adding a drop of red per ten drops of yellow.
Colored Sugar

Lt. Yellow 21

  • 1 drop yellow
Colored Sugar

Med. Yellow 22

  • 5 drops yellow
Colored Sugar

Yellow 23

  • 20 drops yellow
Colored Sugar

Golden Yellow 24

  • 10 drops yellow
  • 1 drop red

Greens

Whether you’re seeking out a bright bright green or a soft moss green, you can find it with liquid coloring. To “soften” greens, try adding red, one drop at a time.
Colored Sugar

Lt. Green 25

  • 1 drop green
Colored Sugar

Med. Green 26

  • 5 drops green
Colored Sugar

Green 27

  • 10 drops green
Colored Sugar

Yellow Green 28

  • 10 drops green
  • 10 drops yellow
Colored Sugar

Moss Green 29

  • 5 drops green
  • 3 drops red
Colored Sugar

Dk. Moss Green 210

  • 8 drops green
  • 5 drops red
  • 5 drops yellow
Colored Sugar

Lime Green 211

  • 1 drop green
  • 10 drops yellow

Blues

It’s easy to have summer skies and tranquil seas with just a bit of food coloring blue (and a drop of red or maybe green). However, Navy Blue is a tough order, so that’s one you might put on your “purchase” list.
Colored Sugar

Lt. Blue 31

  • 1 drops blue
Colored Sugar

Med. Blue 32

  • 5 drops blue
Colored Sugar

Blue 33

  • 10 drops blue
Colored Sugar

Aqua 34

  • 1 drop blue
  • 1 drop green
Colored Sugar

Grey Blue 35

  • 10 drops blue
  • 3 drops red
Colored Sugar

Dk. Blue Green 36

  • 20 drops blue
  • 2 drops yellow
Colored Sugar

Dark Blue 37

  • 20 drops blue
  • 2 drops black
  • 2 drops red

Purples, Dusty Rose

Because true red is difficult to achieve, so is a really lovely purple. The NEON (see below) McCormick colors have a decent purple and I recommend starting there. However, if you only have the standard McCormick colors on hands, here are some recipes for a range of purples.
Colored Sugar

Lt. Purple 41

  • 10 drops red
  • 4 drops blue
Colored Sugar

Dk. Purple 42

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 drops red
  • 2 drops blue
Colored Sugar

Lt. Dusty Rose 43

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 drops red
  • 2 drops blue
  • 1 drop yellow
Colored Sugar

Dusty Rose 44

  • 16 drops red
  • 1 drop blue
  • 1 drop yellow

Browns, Black

You can make a couple of shades of brown sugar by adding cocoa, but when you don’t want to add the cocoa flavor to the cake you’re decorating, you can use the chart below to make a range of browns with food coloring.

Since McCormick has introduced black food coloring, you might think it’s a bit silly to include a color recipe for “black”. However, if you just add the McCormick black food coloring to sugar, you’ll soon discover that you have very dark green sugar — but toss in a few drops of red and suddenly you have a believable black.

Colored Sugar

Beach Sand 46

  • 2 drops red
  • 1 drop green
  • 1 drop yellow
Colored Sugar

Earth Brown 47

  • 10 drops red
  • 7 drops green
  • 4 drops yellow
Colored Sugar

Med. Cocoa 48

  • 20 drops red
  • 10 drops green
  • 4 drops yellow
Colored Sugar

Black 45

  • 1 tsp. black
  • 10 drops red

McCormick Neons

The following colors are all made with McCormick’s “Neons”. On their own, the neons are truly bright, but when you start mixing them, they lose a lot of their brilliance. However, I find the neons worth the purchase for the purple. Much better than the red and blue of the standard food coloring as a starting place for a variety of purples.
Colored Sugar

Neon Blue 51

  • 5 drops neon blue
Colored Sugar

Neon Green 53

  • 5 drops neon green
Colored Sugar

Lt. Neon Pink 54

  • 1 drop neon pink
Colored Sugar

Neon Pink 55

  • 5 drops neon pink
Colored Sugar

Lt. Neon Purple 56

  • 1 drop neon purple
Colored Sugar

Neon Purple 57

  • 5 drops neon purple
Colored Sugar

Neon Maroon 58

  • 10 drops neon pink
  • 1 drop neon green
  • 1 drop neon blue
Colored Sugar

Christmas Green 59

  • 5 drops neon green
  • 5 drops neon blue
  • 1 drop neon purple

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