Mexican Travel Spotlight: Mexican Sugar Skull Recipe

JNR stays close to home this month, with a journey through the heritage and culture of Mexico. Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, falls on the first and second of November and honors those who have passed. During these days, it is said that the spirits of the dead visit their families and loved ones. It is common for Mexican households to prepare altars with offerings for the deceased and to visit gravesites with gifts and decorations.

Rituals include making the deceased’s favorite food and serving it as an Ofrenda (Offering). These items may include tamales, Pan de Muertos (Day of the Dead Bread) and sugar skulls.

Sugar was first introduced to Mexico by the Italian missionaries in the 17th century and often used for decorations in churches as it was a cheaper alternative to the expensive European imports. Sugar skulls were incorporated in the Dia de los Meurtos rituals in the 18th century and have since been used to represent the souls of the departed. It is common for the skulls to bear the name of the deceased across the forehead and they are characterized by big happy smiles and colorful icing.

Today we are sharing a recipe for this vibrant tradition below.

Sugar Skull Recipe 

Total Time:     35 min

Prep:     10 min

Cook:    25 min (additional time for icing to dry)

Yield:   2

Level:    Moderate



  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg white
  • 4” plastic skull mold


Icing Ingredients (additional required for decorating)

  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • Desired food color



Heat the oven to 200 degrees F.

Combine the sugar and egg white in a bowl. Blend mixture together with your fingers.

Pack sugar firmly into the front and the back sections of the plastic skull mold. Using a spoon create a shell that is ½” thick in the mold. Place baking pan behind the mold and invert the mold onto the pan. Tap the mold gently to release the sugar skull as you lift the mold off. If the mixture crumbles add more egg whites. Repeat the process to make the second sugar skull.

Bake the sugar skulls for 25 minutes or until the surface feels hard and solid when lightly touched. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Using an electric beater on high, whip the egg white and cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually mix in the powdered sugar.

Join the front and the back sections of the sugar skull using the icing sugar as glue. Let stand for 1 hour or until the icing is firm.

Repeat directions above to make additional icing sugar to decorate sugar skulls. Add the desired color and amount of food die. Using a pastry bag with a plain tip, pipe icing onto the sugar skulls in desired decoration. Let stand for 1 hour or until icing is firm.

To store, wrap airtight.

If you would like to learn about how JNR can organize a magical incentive trip to Mexico, where participants can taste the delights of traditional Mexican food first hand, please email


Other recipes to check out:

Indian Spotlight: Indian Vegetable Biryani Recipe

German Spotlight: German Honey Cookies

South African Spotlight: Bobotie Recipe

United Kingdom Spotlight: Yorkshire Parkin Recipe


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By JNR Incorporated

Written by Stephanie Thomas


JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Photo: “Sugar Skulls” by Alex Alonso is licensed under CC By 2.0

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