Shower your next dessert with a rainbow of sweetness with colored powdered sugar! Colorful powdered sugar is great for adding a touch of fun to cakes, muffins, cookies or other baked goods — without using of frosting or fondant. We’ve found four simple methods for turning plain old confectioner’s sugar into an eye-catching, colorful decoration.
4 ways to make colored powdered sugar
Images via ErinBakes.com.
1. Start with sanding sugar
With this method, you get to use sugar that’s pre-colored and ready to go. Sanding sugar is available in a wide variety of hues including primary colors, brights and pastels.
Color-matching is tricky with sanding sugar, since the color will lighten after you grind it. Plus, to adjust the color, you’d need to add petal dust or powdered food coloring. Sanding sugar is also on the pricier end of sugars. Plus, my husband, children and cat did not appreciate listening to 15 solid minutes of the food processor grinding sugar.
Add 1 cup of colored sanding sugar and 1 tablespoon of corn starch to the bowl of a food processor. Process on high speed for 10-15 minutes, until the sugar has been ground down to a fine powder.
Sift the sugar through a fine mesh sieve to remove any large chunks. Store powdered sugar in an airtight container until needed.
2. Use powdered gelatin
Powdered gelatin is inexpensive and available at all supermarkets and box stores. It also adds flavor to the sugar mixture, and the sugar’s color brightens significantly when water is added to make a glaze.
The added flavor could also be seen as a con if it doesn’t go with the project you want to make. Color choices are limited and not as bright as other options. Raspberry was the brightest color I could find. Others, like lemon and blueberry, were more muted.
Combine 1 cup of powdered sugar and half a packet of powdered gelatin mix in a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Use more or less gelatin powder depending on how deeply colored and flavored you want your sugar to be.
Sift the mixture to further distribute the colored if needed. Store in an airtight container at room temperature until the gelatin’s expiration date.
To create a glaze, add a small amount of water, a teaspoon at a time, to the gelatin and sugar mixture until your desired consistency is achieved. Dip an item into the glaze our it glaze over. Allow the glaze to set until firm at room temperature. Items that have been glazed are best if eaten within 1-2 days.
3. Petal dust or powdered food coloring
Petal dust comes in a wide variety of colors, so this is the best way to make colored powdered sugar in a specific shade. It’s easy to make and doesn’t require the use of any special equipment.
Petal dust and powdered food coloring need to be purchased at a craft store or online, as they’re not typically available in supermarkets. Petal dust can be cost prohibitive, especially if you need a lot of it to make a very bright color.
Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and approximately 2 grams of petal dust (half a small container or ½ teaspoon) or powdered food coloring to a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Add more petal dust or food coloring until you achieve your desired shade.
Sift the mixture to further distribute the colored if needed. Store in an airtight container at room temperature until needed.
4. Freeze-dried fruit
If food coloring isn’t your thing, this is the route to take. Freeze-dried fruit gives sugar a pleasant but not-too-sweet fruit flavor. Freeze-dried fruit can be found in specialty markets or online.
It’s nearly impossible to achieve a specific shade, and the color will be more muted than the other options. You’ll also need to use a food processor or something similar to grind the freeze dried fruit to a powder. Freeze-dried fruit may be difficult to find in some areas. And finally, the added flavor may not be desired depending on how you plan on using the sugar.
Add ½ cup of freeze-dried fruit to the bowl of a food processor (you can use more or less depending on how deeply colored and flavored you want your sugar to be). Process on high speed for 5-10 minutes, until the fruit has been ground down to a chunky powder.
Turn the processor down to low speed and add 1 cup of powdered sugar a spoonful at a time. Once all of the sugar has been added, turn the processor back up to high heat and process until the mixture is uniform in size and color.
Sift the sugar through a fine mesh sieve to remove any large chunks. Store powdered sugar in an airtight container until the freeze dried fruit’s expiration date.
How to stencil with colored powdered sugar
Stenciling with colored powdered sugar is a fun and simple way to decorate cakes and pastries without using frosting or fondant. I had loads of fun creating funky doughnuts, but you can use the same techniques to dress up cakes, cupcakes, cookies, pastries or even the plate the dessert is being served on!
I created the 3 patterns below with paper towels or parchment paper. If you’re feeling adventurous, get even fancier with laser-cut stencils available online or in the painting aisle of the craft store.
1. The two-tone doughnut
Create a simple design with a split personality by covering up half of the area you’re working on with a paper towel or parchment paper. Sprinkle one color of powdered sugar over the exposed area. Cover the coated area and sprinkle the other half with a different colored sugar.
2. The striped doughnut
For a striped design, first sprinkle the entire area with one color of powdered sugar. Lay strips of paper towel or parchment paper over the sugar coated area and sprinkle with a second color. Remove the strips to reveal your design.
3. Creative cut-outs
Create a stenciled relief similar to how you make stripes (above). Start with a clean surface or dust with a colored powdered sugar. Cut your desired shape out of paper towel or parchment paper. Place the shape and sprinkle over it with a different color of sugar. Carefully remove the paper to reveal the color below.