How To Make Flavored Sugar

3 ways to make flavored sugars and how to use them

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If you've ever scraped a vanilla bean into your sugar or have a weakness for cinnamon-sugar toast, get excited: There is a world of possibilities for next-level flavored sugars. Citrus, spice and herbs are simple ingredients that transform sugar into an interesting condiment.

Who knew something so simple could add such depth and balance, letting all of your baked goods and cocktails shine like the delicious and unique creations they are?

Best with Zest

Orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit—no matter the type of citrus, it adds subtle sour, bitter and floral notes to sugar, because being only sweet can get boring. Use this combination to make ginger-lime bread, grapefruit sugar cookies, Meyer lemon-pumpkin pie—anything that could benefit from a little sour zing.

Citrus Sugar:

1 cup sugar + ½ cup zest

½ cup zest = 3 grapefruits | 4 oranges | 6 lemons | 8 limes

Make: Microplane the fruit zest directly over your sugar, letting the natural oils release and infuse into it. Store it in the fridge and use within one week for maximum flavor.

Spicy Snacking

A flavor bomb of sugar and spice leaves no room for bland food, ever. And believe it or not, sugar neutralizes heat, giving all the more reason to kick the spice into gear. Sprinkle this spiced sugar onto fruits, giving each sweet bite enhanced flavor; toss a pinch onto nuts before roasting for a caramelized crunch; and rim cocktail glasses to make spicy margaritas.

Spiced Sugar:

⅓ cup sugar, divided + 1 teaspoon crushed red chile pepper flakes

Make: Pile a tablespoon of the sugar and the chile flakes onto a cutting board. Chop with a large knife, slicing and scraping with the knife's sharp edge until fine, and combine with the remaining sugar.

Herbal Remedy

Look no further than your herb garden (or someone else's, or the grocery store) to add earthy undertones in sweet and savory dishes and drinks. Dried herbs and flowers, like mint, lavender and rose, give an amped-up taste to baked goods and are an excellent replacement for artificially flavored extracts. And you can throw a pinch into soups and sauces.

On the fresh side, muddle leafy herbs, such as parsley, basil and mint with sugar, and use it to flavor spritzers and cocktails. Woodsy herbs like rosemary, thyme and sage are ideal to bake with, because their hearty stems don't get mushy. You can also sneak herbal and flower sugars into pie doughs and shortbread cookies, or steep them into an ice cream base.

Flower Sugar:

½ cup sugar + ¼ cup fresh herbs and flowers

Herb Sugar:

½ cup sugar + 3 tablespoons dried herbs

Make: In a food processor, pulse the sugar with the flowers or herbs until fine. Store the fresh herb sugar in the fridge for up to one week and dried herb sugar in a cool, dark place for up to one month.