Sugar Skulls

Sugar Skulls

Sugar Skulls, used to celebrate Day of the Dead, go hand in hand with leaving possessions of the deceased during this Mexican holiday. Observed around the world in many different cultures, the Mexican Sugar Skull tradition has been around for generations.


1 large skull or 4 mini skulls


Sugar Skulls

  • 2 cups C&H® Granulated Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons meringue powder
  • 2 teaspoons water

Royal Icing

  • 2 cups C&H® Confectioners Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 3 tablespoons warm water
  • assorted food coloring


Sugar Skulls

In a large bowl, combine sugar and meringue powder.

Add the water to the bowl and, with your hands, blend the mixture together until it feels like wet sand.

Pack the mixture firmly into all parts of the mold and all the way to the rim of both the front and back of the skull. Use an icing spatula or the flat side of a dough cutter to smooth and level the sugar mixture.

If desired, “test” the mixture by turning it out onto a cutting board. If it holds its mold shape, then the sugar mixture is the right consistency. If it doesn’t hold its shape and is too wet, turn the mixture back into the bowl, add a bit more sugar, and try to mold it again. If the mixture seems too dry, add a drop or two more water and try again.

Smaller, one-piece skulls can be decorated as soon as they dry, often within a few hours. Larger skulls may need as long as overnight to fully dry then need the insides “scooped out”, like a pumpkin, to lighten them and make them easier to hold together when the two sides are “glued” together. The “scooped out” mixture can be used to make more molds.

Royal Icing

In a bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat confectioners' sugar, meringue powder and warm water until stiff peaks form, about 5 to 7 minutes. If icing is too thick, add a few drops of water. If icing is too thin, add additional confectioners' sugar, and continue beating until desired consistency.

Portion into small bowls with fitted lids, depending on how many colors you want. Tint icing with desired food coloring. Use gel colors to get the most intense colors for decorating. Keep icing covered until ready to use to keep it from drying out. Using pastry bag with decorator tip, decorate as desired.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups icing.

To Assemble Sugar Skulls
If using a two-sided mold, begin by gluing the front and back of the skull together with Royal Icing. Allow to dry before proceeding.

To Decorate
No rules here! Use all icing or a combination of icing and ornamental beads or sequins, cake decorations, mini chocolate chips or nuts. Make hair out of string or pipe cleaners.


Meringue powder is available in specialty stores wherever cake-decorating equipment is sold. Use icing immediately. Keep covered with a damp cloth or with plastic wrap to prevent drying.

The skulls will produce best on a day with relatively low humidity. For additional information on making sugar skulls or to purchase a mold visit or