During a recent trip to the grocery store, we found ourselves on the sugar aisle standing in front of the sprinkles and jars of colored sugar.
My three year old son was completely enamored. He wanted to buy every shape and size of sugary goodness in front of him so we could take it home and decorate our cookies with them!
He didn't know about all the food dye and chemicals hidden inside the glittering edible gems... but I did!
So I gently told him no, but that I would find a way to make some organic, all natural, dye free colored sugar for him to use instead!
How to Make Colored Sugar
While we make colored sugar with all natural coloring options and organic sugar, the process still works if you are able to use regular food coloring and sugar!
Due to our son's food sensitivities we can't use chemical coloring options, but I know not everyone has that same issue. Feel free to use whatever versions of these ingredients you are comfortable with!
Step 1: Choose your all natural food coloring
There are several different all natural food coloring options that you can purchase.
We used the Watkins all natural liquid food coloring, which includes red, green, yellow, and blue!
You can also find the Color from Nature by McCormick at most grocery stores in my area, though they weren't with the food coloring, but with the spices instead. Weird.
Note that the Color from Nature all natural food coloring is in powdered form.
You can also make your own all natural food coloring, which is probably what I will do in the future! Gemma the Bold Baker has a great tutorial on making you own food coloring, though it is not concentrated, so you will have to use much more than the liquid or powdered versions.
Step 2: Choosing your sugar
Most common is going to be white sugar, which is fine and will absorb the color best. However, if you need to use organic sugar, as we do, then expect a lighter color in the finished product.
I have not tried this with coconut sugar, but it should work the same way and create a darker more muted version of the colors in question.
Step 3: Combining the sugar and coloring
Once you've chosen your food coloring option, add 1/2 cup of white sugar to a ziploc bag. You need to be able to knead the mix, so don't do this in a bowl.
Add 4-12 drops of food coloring to the bag, depending on the shade you want to achieve.
Note: If you are using a powdered food coloring, you will need to add a bit of water (a few drops) to the bag in order to get the powder to activate.
Knead and shake the bag until a consistent color is achieved. Repeat with additional coloring if you want it to be darker.
Step 4: Using and storing your homemade colored sugar
Now that the colored sugar is ready, you can use it right away. If you want to store it, you'll need to let it dry for a while before putting it in a jar as the moisture with cause issues long term.
To do this, you can place the sugar on a paper plate and leave it out at room temperature for a few days, stirring occasionally.
If the mix is really moist (like if you used homemade food coloring), place the colored sugar in the oven at the lowest temperature for 2-4 hours, or until fully dry. Allow to cool completely before storing.
Once your sugar is ready to store, place it in an air tight container with a moisture absorber and use as you would store bought colored sugar or sprinkles!
My three year old decorated the cookies pictured above and had a ball with our gorgeous homemade colored sugar! And I had a ball knowing it was chemical dye free and completely natural!