I love baking during the holidays. Many of my favorite cookie recipes including my rolled sugar cookies, peanut butter blossoms, red velvet blossoms, molasses crinkles, sinfully cinnamon cookies, candy cane blossoms, peppermint sugar cookies, and gummy bear thumbprint sugar cookies call for colored decorating or sanding sugar for a more festive look. Regularly priced, colored sugar is quite expensive per ounce. Whenever I see colored sugars on clearance after holidays (orange and black after Halloween, for example), I pick up as many containers as possible at the lower price. However, I do not always find all the colors that I want. Or the colors that I want are available but with an expensive price tag.
Two years ago, I decided to try making my own colored sugar. I picked up some bags of cane sugar from the dollar store. Granulated sugar is too fine to use as a decorating, but the larger grains of the cane sugar work perfectly. I also picked up some more liquid food coloring to add to my existing stash so that I could play around with colors and hues. Before I started experimenting, I worried that the sugar would simply clump up and harden when I added the liquid food coloring. However, I quickly realized that making my own colored sanding sugar was super easy and super inexpensive.
To make my homemade decorating sugar, I started by pouring some cane sugar in a small bowl. I then squirted the liquid food coloring onto the sugar. I stirred the color into the sugar until all the grains were evening coated and I had achieved my desired color. To my surprise and delight, the liquid food coloring did not dissolve the sugar, but the crystals instead remained intact but dyed. Because of the added moisture, I discovered that allowing the freshly colored sugar to sit out for at least a few hours help dry out the remaining liquid from the food coloring. After a few hours, I stirred the dried colored sugar again to remove any lumps. I could then sprinkle the decorating sugar on top of my rolled cookies or roll balls of dough in the colored sugar. I stored my leftover colored decorating sugar in old sugar containers for future use.
How to Make Colored Decorating Sugar © 2018 Heather Johnson
Coarse Cane Sugar © 2016 Heather Johnson
Adding Liquid Food Coloring to the Coarse Cane Sugar © 2016 Heather Johnson
Stirring the Food Coloring and Coarse Cane Sugar © 2016 Heather Johnson
Orange and Green Colored Sugar © 2016 Heather Johnson
Dandelion Yellow Colored Sugar © 2016 Heather Johnson
Olive Green Colored Sugar © 2016 Heather Johnson
Green, Orange, Brown and Yellow Colored Sugar © 2016 Heather Johnson