All Occasion Cakes

How to Make Homemade Sugar Work

Sugar is an incredibly versatile and exciting medium to work with in cake decorating. In the last few years, isomalt has become increasingly popular because of its crystal clear quality and how it works like sugar.

But isomalt can be expensive and hard to find, so I wanted to share another great recipe you can make using more accessible ingredients.

This sugar will not be quite as clear as isomalt, but with a few tricks, you can make beautiful sugar gems, pulled sugar and blown sugar!

Sugar Work Supplies

Play with sugar for sweet works of art!

Title card for Intro to Isomalt Craftsy classFor more fun ideas and techniques on ways to create with sugar, check out the Craftsy class Intro to Isomalt with pastry chef Charity Pykles-George, aka “the Sugar Sorceress.” Bonus: Everything she does with isomalt can be done with your new sugar recipe!

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Sugar work recipe

Adapted from Dominic Palazzolo’s lollipops recipe


  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
  • 2/3 cup corn syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon gel food coloring
  • 2 teaspoons flavored extract (lemon, almond, mint, etc.) or 1 teaspoon of a candy flavoring

Tools you’ll need:

  • A silicone mat
  • A medium or large pot (I used a dark pot so my sugar turned yellow, if you need clear sugar, it’s best to use a very clean stainless steel pot.)
  • Candy thermometer
  • Silicone brush
  • A large glass measuring cup (must holds more than 2 cups)


Step 1:

Place the glass measuring cup in a cold oven, then turn the oven to 275 degrees F.

Yellow Bowl with Sugar

Step 2:

Mix the sugar and cream of tartar in a separate bowl.

Sugar Cooking on Stove

Step 3:

Heat 1 cup water, the corn syrup and the sugar mixture in the pot on medium heat.

Step 4:

Boil the mixture until it reaches 300 degrees F. When the sugar begins to boil, use a pastry brush or silicone brush and a little water, and brush the crystallized sugar off the sides.

Sugar Cooking on Stove, Reaching Bowling


Thermometer in Cooking Sugar

Step 5:

Do NOT put the candy thermometer into the pot until the sugar is boiling, otherwise the sugar will crystallize on the thermometer.

Note: It will take quite a while for your sugar to get to 300 degrees F, but do not walk away from it. The temperature will move very slowly up the thermometer until it reaches about 270 degrees F, and then it will jump up to 300 degrees F very quickly, which can burn your sugar.

Step 6:

Remove your pan from the heat and allow it to cool to 275 degrees F. Once you remove the pot from the heat, the temperature of your sugar may continue to rise, this is normal. Do not touch it, stir it, or add anything until it lowers to 275 degrees F.

Step 7:

Once it reaches 275 degrees F, add the food coloring and the flavoring, stirring gently to mix in. If you have any crystallized sugar on the side of your pan, try to avoid adding it to the mixture.

Sugar Being Poured into Measuring Cup

Step 8:

Once mixed, remove the very hot glass measuring cup from the oven and pour your very hot sugar into it. Please be very careful and make sure to protect yourself and your surfaces. If you do not heat the glass first in the oven, the heat from the sugar may cause the measuring cup to break, which can cause a huge mess!

Sugar in Measuring Cup Sitting in Stove

Step 9:

Place the glass measuring cup back into the oven and let it sit for 5-10 minutes to remove the bubbles.

Sugar in Measuring Cup

Step 10:

Take the sugar out of the oven and you are now ready to create all kinds of sugar art!

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Love that idea. Thanks so much, i always wanted to try isomal but I did not wanted to spend the money.


Thank you for this I can’t wait to try it, isomalt is so expensive sometimes I just want to play.


Surely going to try this. Thank you so much.


It sounds very nice must try


I would like to make flowers with it . Thankyou very much ..


How do you keep your sugar pieces from becoming cloudy?


You can spray them with a little cooking spray like PAM. That will help them stay shiny. If they get cloudy again, just spray them again.

morenike obaromi

Love the idea I will ddefinately try it,thanks

Stacy Brown

When you put the measuring cup back in the oven to get rid of the air bubbles, must the oven be cool/warm, or should it be heated, and if so, what temp?


Your oven should stay at 275 degrees to keep the sugar hot while the air bubbles come to the top.

Danielle Foley

Hi Farida, i took your advice to check out this site- great resource! I’m going to try making this!

Danielle Foley

Hi Farida, i took your advice to check out this site- great resource! I’m going to try making this!

Danielle Foley

Hi Farida, i took your advice to check out this site- great resource! I’m going to try making this!


This is my first attempt at this so wish me luck! I bake/decorate cakes as a hobby and love learning new exciting things to improve my cakes so i really hope this works


how much liquid sugar does this recipe yeid? and how quickly does it cool down?


I’m wondering, if I only have one mold to use at a time, what do I do with the remaining sugar? Can it stay in the oven at 275 or is it going to ruin it?


Thank you so much!
I am making a cake with a large amount of decorative ice. I’ve heard isomalt can cause some digestive issues if you eat too much of it. Does this recipe have the same effect or can the kids just have at it as if it were hard candy?
Thank you.


This is great, but how would I make a clear bowl out of the sugar, could I cool it a bit and pour it over a small domed bowl or something? This will sit on top of a cake. Please help, I’ve looked everywhere online with no help.


If you are making a sugar bowl, fill a water balloon with water with no air at the top. Place your balloon that have been wiped dry completely onto a smaller bowl with the balloon tie at the bottom. Make sure you have your bowl setting on a lined baking sheet with parchment paper or (newspaper) for easy clean up. You can then pour your sugar onto the bowl and allow the over flow to drip off. Make sure you do at least 2 pours for strength. If you don’t like the driplets and want a smooth edge for your bowl just cut these off with a pair of scissors and reheat the edges of your bowl with a torch. I have even seen people use a long handle lighter to do this and smooth out with a silicone spatula. Once your sugar has hardened on the balloon, remove and go to the sink. Cut a “SMALL” hole and allow the water to drain out of the balloon slowly and be sure not to allow the water to touch the sugar bowl. Once the water has been released from the balloon you can just gently pull it away from the inside of your sugar bowl. ENJOY

patricia staley

Thank you so much you just don’t know how I Appreciateyou sharing,I am on disability and have to watch money I just feel so over charged from these craft stores and some web pages when persons like you just put it for followers. Thank You again!
Patty Staley


What if I use dark corn syrup


At what step do you add the flavoring?


Great resource I’ll try it out. Thanks

esther olusoji

Thank you so much. I tried using glucose and sugar yesternight, I poured into icecube makers to get that cube shape, but after some minutes, I discover d sugar cubes became shapeless and was melting so I decided to come up here to get your recipes. I will definately try this out ASA


I would like to know if you can make sugar glasses with this recipe


If I want to make bubbles out of this how do I handle it or at what pink can I handle it without it burning me?


Hi I like the measuring cup in the oven. Does that take the place of the heat lamp for the whole procedure. I noticed you don’t take the white foam off…why not?
wear a pair of gloves to keep from getting burned.


Hi.. thanx for your receipt, but i have a questions.. i can use this to make a cristal bowl to put above of the cupcake??


If I wanted to use the sugar to cover a balloon to make a dome at what temperature would I start covering the balloon?

Madelynn Riddle

This tastes AMAZING it is very time consuming and you may need a second hand to help.


Hello! Thank you for this recipe.
I plan to make this for a bejewelled cake for mother’s day. However, I come from a tropical country and sometimes temperatures reach 37- 40 degrees centigrade. I would like to know if after all the molding and shaping, will the hardened sugar melt? Thank you.


Christine – your hardened sugar syrup shapes will not melt because of hot weather, however moisture in the air may make it sticky.

Rebecca Dunstall

Also wondering the same things i will be making a trolls head and this will be the hair…my daughter birthday is in mid feb and ALWAYS a heat wave….how did u go with youra holding up in the heat?


hi there,

is there is substitute for Corn Syrup?


I cooked the sugar syrup only to 280 as it started to get an amber tint. What am I doing wrong? I tried last night as well, bring the temp just to 250 as I read somewhere else that is what she did, but I got a sticky gooey mess. So I tried this tonite and if I were doing bottles, it would be perfect, but not for ice. Can you please tell me what I am doing wrong?


I did the receipe, came out great, but I live in a humid area and my sugar art drooped and did not get hard. I tried putting under a fan to cool after, but still sticky and dropped. What can I do

Rowena Tebaldi

can you use this to make spun sugar? I tried to make spun sugar but i barely have sugar web before the caramelized sugar hardened. thanks.

Terren Williams

To make spun sugar all you need to do is melt granulated sugar by itself and then flick it. You can YouTube it, its very easy.


I have tried just corn syrup and sugar and it was cloudy. How do I get it clear for ice on a cake? How should I store them and when should I put them on the cake?


I made this yesterday but it has not gone hard yet, how long till it goes hard


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