At Christmas, I made some of my favorite sugar cookies in snowflake shapes and wanted a simpler decoration idea than frosting. Seriously – only Martha Stewart and her army of crafters have time to draw lovely little designs on cookies at Christmastime. I decided to go with simple colored sugar, when my mother suggested saving the crazy cost of decorating sugar and just dye my own. She tells me she learned this as a Girl Scout and I’ll be honest and admit I didn’t really believe it would work, but it turns out to be crazy easy. And, since it’s made from things most of us have in the cupboard, totally free!
Here’s what you need:
– Sugar, obviously. It’d be awesome if you could find the really-big-crystal kind, but no such luck in my area. This not-fine-not-coarse supermarket sugar worked a charm for me.
– Food coloring in whatever colors you like
– A shallow bowl (I used a plate here but discovered later a shallow bowl works even better)
– A spoon
– Measuring cup
– Not pictured: an apron, unless you’re a food coloring daredevil
– About 10-ish minutes per color, if that
To get started, spread out the newspaper and put on your apron because food coloring will go wherever is unprotected, no matter how careful you are. (Ask me how I know.) Measure out however much sugar you want to dye – I did about a half-cup of three colors and had more than enough to cover the cookies I baked – into your shallow bowl.
Drip a few drops of food coloring into the sugar. It’s best to start with too little than too much. Just like adding white paint, you can always add plain sugar to a too-dark color to lighten it, but that’s how you accidentally end up with a huge bag of a color you’ll never use. (Again – ask me how I know.) Here I’ve used 3 drops of pink coloring.
Work the color into the sugar with the back of your spoon, kind of just smooshing it in. There’s probably a million other ways to do this – with your fingers if you wear gloves, mashing it all around in a ziplock bag, etc – but I found this to be just as quick and easy to make sure it’s all even.
Keep smooshing and mixing until it’s all worked in and even, adding more food coloring if needed.
And that’s pretty much it! For this light pink, I used only three drops of color and it stayed pretty dry. Sugar with more food coloring in it might be a bit moist – it’s a good idea to leave in out in a thin layer to dry for a while.
I made three colors for Valentine’s Day:
Do yourself a favor and make these sugar cookies from Our Best Bites, which I promise is the best sugar cookie recipe on earth. Sprinkle them with your hand-dyed sugar before they go in the oven, or you could always use it to decorate cupcakes or anything else you want to sparkle!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Update: Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh, this tutorial was on Craft: magazine’s blog!!! This is my little blog’s most exciting day evar! A bunch of readers also left their particular sugar dyeing methods in the comments below, so have a look through them for further tips and tricks. Thanks for stopping by!