DIY Sugar Skulls for Day of the Dead

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DIY Sugar Skulls for Day of the Dead What is a Day of the Dead celebration without Sugar Skulls!? I saw my first sugar skull in Cancun last month. The proper name for a Sugar Skull is calavera and it can be made from sugar cane, chocolate or clay. Sugar and chocolate sounds way more appealing though. They are given as a gift to the dead as well as the living. They are beautiful and I would love to see the thousands of stands in Mexico during the Day of the Dead. So let’s make some at home!

Make a Paper Marigold Flower Headpiece!

Ingredients for Sugar Skulls

1 Cup Zulka Morena Sugar

1 1⁄2 tsp meringue powder

1 1⁄2 tsp water



  1. Get supplies ready: Sugar, meringue powder, water, prepared molds, cardboard squares for drying the skulls
  2. Mix together meringue powder, water and sugar and mix until it resembles wet sand ( 1 cup of sugar, 1 1/2 tsp meringue powder 1 1/2 tsp water makes enough for about 2 medium altar sugar skulls)Sugar Skull molds
  3. Press sugar mixture into the molds, evening out the back with a spatula or knife
  4. Immediately turn onto cardboard pieces and carefully remove molds. Repeat until all your molds are made. Let dry at room temperature for 24 hours.
  5. Prepare royal icing (see recipe on back). Keep in an airtight container with a damp paper towel over the surface to keep from drying out
  6. Spread about 1-2 tsp royal icing on the back of one skull piece and glue to the other. Press gently together and wipe any excess that oozes out. Place upright on cardboard and let dry 12-16 hours.
  7. Dye the royal icing different colors using gel food colors. Prepare icing bags with small round tips (Wilton 1, 2, or 3 are best) and fill with 1/2 cup or so of the colored icing in each bag. Don’t overfill. Twist the end of the bag and secure with a rubber band. Place a couple of wet paper towels crumpled up in a cup and place the prepared bags in tip side down. This will prevent the icing from drying in the tip.Sugar Skulls
  8. Decorate the skulls: Using one color at a time, squeeze a little icing out on to a paper towel to make sure there’s no water in the tip from being in the cup. Then gently squeeze the bag and pipe lines, dots or any design you like. Let the icing set up for 5-10 minutes before adding the next color or when layering the same color. For example, for a mouth, pipe the long horizontal line first and let dry for 5-10 minutes. Once dry, pipe the shorter lines perpendicular to the mouth line to look like teeth.

Once fully decorated let dry overnight to set the royal icing. Keep stored in an airtight container when not using as decoration.

Sugar Skulls PaintingIngredients for Royal Icing

2/3 cup water

1⁄2 cup meringue powder

2 lbs. powdered sugar

  1. Mix with an electric/stand mixer until icing peaks (Around 9 minutes and with no more than 2 ilbs. At one time.)
  2. Keep in tightly covered container
  3. Do not refrigerate

Zulka Morena® sugar is minimally processed and comes straight from freshly-harvested sugar cane. what’s great about the sugar is that it’s Non-GMO project verified as well. Find it in a store near you!

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  1. My students will be making various DIY projects for el Día de Muertos. I will post the link to your blog so that they can see your lovely skulls and the recipe! Thanks for sharing!


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