How to Make Bubble Sugar

Yellow cake decorated with bubble sugar
Pastry and Food Photography / Getty Images
  • 01 of 06

    Cook the Sugar Syrup

    sugar syrup
    The Spruce / Elizabeth LaBau

    Bubble sugar is an easy cooked-sugar decoration that adds a beautiful touch to cakes, cupcakes, and pastries. You can add coloring and flavoring to make this elegant lace decoration match your desserts. This recipe calls for clear alcohol, but you can substitute clear alcohol-based extracts instead if you are worried about some guests consuming a small amount of alcohol. The resulting bubble sugar will taste fairly strongly of whatever flavoring you use, so take that into account when making the substitution.

    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons corn syrup
    • 2 tablespoons clear alcohol

    Begin by placing the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then insert a candy thermometer and cook the candy to 315 F.

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  • 02 of 06

    Prepare the Baking Sheet

    Parchment paper & baking sheet
    The Spruce / Elizabeth LaBau

    While the candy is cooking, prepare the tray for the bubble sugar. Take a piece of parchment and crumple it between your hands, then smooth it out and place it on a rimmed baking sheet. Keep some of the wrinkles as a little bit of texture is necessary for the final product.

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  • 03 of 06

    Rub Alcohol on the Parchment

    Prep the cooling surface
    The Spruce / Elizabeth LaBau

    Shortly before the sugar has finished cooking, pour the alcohol or alcohol-based flavoring on the parchment, and rub it between your hands to spread the alcohol over the entire surface of the sheet.

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  • 04 of 06

    Pour the Sugar on the Tray

    Pour the warm sugar syrup onto the surface
    The Spruce / Elizabeth LaBau

    Once the sugar reaches the proper temperature, remove it from the heat and remove the candy thermometer. If you want to color your bubble sugar, add a drop or two of food coloring at this point. You can stir just a few strokes, to make swirled bubble sugar, or stir until it is fully incorporated.

    Tilt the baking sheet at a slight angle and carefully begin pouring the sugar syrup on the top of the sheet, so it runs down the parchment paper. The alcohol will make the sugar bubble up.

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  • 05 of 06

    Peel the Paper off the Bubble Sugar

    Remove the Parchment Paper from the sugar
    The Spruce / Elizabeth LaBau

    Once the sugar has been poured, allow it to cool, undisturbed, at room temperature until fully set. Carefully peel the paper from the back of the bubble sugar.

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  • 06 of 06

    Use Your Sugar as Decoration

    Bubble Sugar
    The Spruce / Elizabeth LaBau

    Once your bubble sugar has hardened and been removed from the paper, break it into small pieces to use as decoration on cakes, cupcakes, and tarts. Store any unused bubble sugar at room temperature in an airtight container for several days. Bubble sugar is best made and kept in a low-humidity environment.