Sweet rainbows: How to make your own colored sanding sugar

Guestpost by Liz Gubernatis on May 24th
This Cupcake is Dragon Approved!

This Cupcake is Dragon Approved!

As a rainbow-loving lady, I'm always trying to add color to my confections. As a newly-diagnosed diabetic, I have to watch what I'm adding to sweet treats. This is a trick I've used to color sugar for topping cupcakes and candies many times, and it works for sugar substitutes, too!

Making your own sanding sugars lets you create just the right hue to add to your sweet rainbow and dragon, here, is going to show you how it's done.



Materials and Tools

  • Sugar or sugar substitute (Splenda and Whey Low work great for this, too!)
  • Food coloring (the good ol' box from the grocery or fancier versions, up to you)
  • Bottle or jar with tight fitting lid
  • For this example, we're going to match this Dragon Green.
Match the Dragon Green

Dragon sez: Try and match me!

Step 1: Clean bottle or jar and dry thoroughly.

Step 2: Measure out your sugar or sugar substitute. Don't fill the bottle/jar more than about half-way as you need room for shakin' it.

Pour Sugar into Container

Pour sugar into container

Step 3: If you are mixing custom colors, try mixing the drops together first so the color distributes evenly. To match the green of my hubb's dragon, I'm using one part blue to three parts green.

Style Points for Light Saber!

Style points for light saber chopstick stirring assist!

Stir to Make Dragon Green

Stir to make dragon green

Step 4: Add your coloring, a drop or two at a time.

Add a Drop or Two

Step 5: Shake it like a Polaroid picture! If you go too dark, add a bit more sugar. Too light, add a bit more coloring. If it clumps, like it did here for me, use a fork/knife/chopstick/ light saber to break it up and stir it up.

Clumps are Ok - Just Stir

Clumps are okay — just stir


It's a Match!

It's a Match!


  • You can color an entire rainbow of cupcakes, candies, whatever you like with colored sugars.
  • Works for salts too, in case you're topping some salted caramels, for example.


  • Colored sugar will start to clump a bit like brown sugar does, thanks to the added moisture. Usually another good shake or a tap on the counter should separate the grains again.
  • Colored sugar substitutes make sweet treats more accessible to some dietary requirements, while still making it pretty and sparkly.
  • You can also use a salt shaker even if you're using sugar/sugar substitute – great for sprinkling on top of sweet cuppin' cakes! Don't have a jar? No problem — a plastic baggy works great too — instead of shaking, you might gently massage the coloring into the sugar to distribute evenly.
Other Ways to Shake It

Other ways to shake it

PS: Can you tell which green is sugar and which one is sugar substitute? HINT: NOPE! Sparkling Dragon Green for all!

Your Turn!

What will you sprinkle with your homemade sweet rainbows?

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About Liz Gubernatis

Liz is Offbeat Bride's DIY editor, and a Pepsi addict who married her sword-wielding urban Viking on 1-1-11. She sews, paints, cooks, bakes, plays with paper, computers, and cats, loves chocolate, peanut butter, and popcorn, and frequently purges her apartment to make room for more fabric, craft supplies, and projects to play with.