Making Mexican Sugar Skulls

Mexican Sugar Skulls

And Buying the Best Sugar Skull Molds

November 1st and 2nd is getting closer and…That means only one thing for us at home. Making Mexican sugar skulls.

For many years I only practiced the typical Halloween holiday but soon after I had our son, I decided to start looking into celebrating Day of the Dead.

I started teaching Spanish at Montessori and I wanted to start sharing El Día de los Muertos in my classroom with the little ones. If you want to know more about the history of the holiday visit my Day of the Dead History page.

One of the most fascinating parts of the holiday is the usage of calacas or skeletons and skulls. They are not sinister, sad or scary looking at all.

On the contrary, Day of the Dead skulls have an important role in the festivity. Let see how…

What Are Mexican Sugar Skulls?

Mexican Sugar Skulls

Sugar skulls are simply a treat you make of white sugar that comes from sugar cane. You make them mostly in one piece and without any color.

In some cases people add vanilla and paste food coloring to give them intense colors like pink. I love doing that because color makes the sugar skulls payful and children enjoy the process. So if you are a parent or teacher I recommend you add paste food coloring to the main sugar mix when making them.

To decorate according to the typical traditions you use color tinfoil and icing with lots of bright colors, again with paste food coloring NOT with normal food coloring because it won’t work. Trust me on this one.

The lines you use to decorate are zig zag, round ones and they should be around the eyes, mouth and forehead. The idea is to accentuate the concave parts of the skull.

Green, pink, blue, yellow and red are the main colors, but you can use any color you desire. On the forehead you write the name of the person you want to honor or the name of a friend you love to give the Day of the Dead skull as a joke.

Some people keep the sugar skulls for days as they can last for a year if you store them properly. Others instead, eat them besides enjoying them as a piece of decoration for the festivities.

To make sugar skulls today many people use chocolate, amaranth seeds and dry fruits instead of the typical white granulated sugar.

Mexican sugar skulls are a must have item in the altars. There are three sizes that you can place, one on each level of the altar. To know more about how to make your altar read my article about Day of the Dead Altar.

Sugar Skull Meaning

The truth is that for Mexicans and Mexican Americans skeletons and sugar skulls represent death in a good way. They also serve to remind us of how impermanent life is.

When I started to look into the tradition, I wanted to understand why they used skulls and skeletons to celebrate in such casual way. It all stems from the Mexican the belief about death.

Mexicans consider death a normal part of life, and this belief manifests itself in all aspects of popular and cultural life in Mexico. Look at it this way, it is better to have a great relationship and be friendly with the inevitable, in this case death.

Amongst Mexicans death is not frightening, this concept appeared amongst Mexicans when the conquistadores arrived. Making fun of death is very common, and you can see this in the creation of the small verses called calaveritas, which ridicule and make fun of people including the dead.

Some believe the use of skulls originated in the Tzomplantli Nahuatl or the wall where the indigenous people placed the skulls of the warriors they captured as offerings to the gods.

Choosing and Using Mexican Sugar Skull Mold

After making Mexican sugar skulls and trying several places to purchase them, I have pretty much learned the process and the places I should buy from.

Things to consider when buying sugar skull molds and decorations:

  •  The mold sizes are a bit smaller than you think. The original small size mold is tiny for little hands to decorate, it is 1 1/2″W x 1″D x 2″H. Therefore I don’t use small size molds for children who are 9 years or younger.
  •  The regular medium size molds are the best for children 5 to 9 years old. The skulls are 2″W x 1 1/2″D x 3″H which is an o.k. size for children to manipulate when they are taking out the molded sugar skull and decorating it. Even better is to choose the Oaxacan Medium Sugar Skulls Mold which is 3″W x 3 3/4″D x 4″H.
  •   The Large skulls are good for adults and teens who have good manual dexterity because this size skulls require scooping and handling with care. They need more time to dry, approximately 3 days in total and you cannot separate them from the mold after at least 6 hours of drying.
  •   Choosing the right size makes a huge difference. Also remember to wash the molds every 5 sugar skulls because they become sticky and the molded sugar skull won’t come out.
  •  For complete instructions on how to make Mexican sugar skulls, lesson plans for home or school and 26 magnificent and unique Day of the Dead designs to decorate, purchase my no hassle 30 day money back guarantee Day of the Dead Skull Coloring and Sugar Skull making e-book.

To know more about this holiday read how During Day of the Dead Mexico becomes the center of a festivity to honor the dead. In this article I included foods, meaning of the holiday, decorations you can use, and more.


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*26 unique 8 1/2″ x 11″ printable Day of the Dead skulls
*Sugar skull making instructions
*Complete lesson plans
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