How to Make Colored Rice

05/27/2012. This post may contain affiliate links. Read my Disclosure Policy.

How to make colored rice

If you are looking for ways to entertain the kiddos this summer, here is one really simple craft project.

Our family went to a community festival last weekend and there was a booth for a daycare center. The center had a simple sandbox set up with colored rice and I could not believe how long our children wanted to sit and play with the rice!

I decided to head right on home and make the exact same thing pronto since they enjoyed playing in it so much.

So this is super simple and very inexpensive to do.

I made colored rice and just set it out to dry in the sun.  The girls actually helped me with each color and then once it was dry a few hours later, they sat with buckets and played for ages.

To make the rice could not be easier:

  • 4 cups of dry white rice
  • 3 tablespoons of vinegar (or use rubbing alcohol)
  • 3-6 drops of food coloring (we had Neon McCormick leftover from Easter and regular food coloring colors).  If you use the gel coloring available in the baking aisle at craft stores or Walmart (or buy them online here) you will get much prettier and bolder colors.

colored rice 042

Step 1: Measure 4 cups of rice into Ziploc bags.  You can also put them in a bowl. My girls took turns measuring into the bags.

Step 2: Add food coloring and 3 tbl of white vinegar.  I used a mason jar and the girls took turns shaking the jar to mix and adding it to the Ziplocs.  You can also just dump the vinegar and food coloring straight into the Ziploc.

Add more food coloring if needed to achieve the color you like.

Step 3: Shake that bag like crazy!  You want the colors to be nice and even all over the rice.  Just keep adding more color until you see what you like.

Step 4: And last but not least, let the rice dry out a bit.  We left it in the sun for about 2 hours and that seemed fine.  You can leave it inside too if the weather isn’t nice- you should be able to bake it on a cookie sheet on the lowest temperature of your oven too.  I’d say 15 minutes or so?

How to make colored rice

Step 5: And now you are set!  I used a storage tub to put all the rice in and gave each girl a bunch of random items from the Dollar Spot at Target and from the kitchen plus a few Hot Wheels cars.  They got spatulas, an egg strainer, plastic cups, measuring spoons… just little things that seemed like it might be fun.

Pretty right?  The neon colors looked fantastic– I do wish I had purchased some gel food color.  We tried to mix red and yellow to make orange and the orange turned a tiny bit brown ;).  I think it is fun for the kids though to mix colors and see what they come up with.

homemade colored rice


So this was super easy to do and the girls had a great time playing with the rice!  I dumped it all back into Ziploc bags to put away for another day once they were finished.

DIY colored rice- perfect alternative to sand!

So the price of this entire activity was about $8.00.  I got a huge bag of rice from Costco for $8 (this project didn’t even make a dent in that monster bag), we had the food color leftover from Easter and the vinegar as well.

One note if you decide to try this.  Rice can supposedly be very harmful to birds-  some people say it can kill them and others say it won’t hurt them at all.  If you want to be extra safe just lay blankets or old sheets outside to catch the spillover.

We had a picnic blanket out on our grass or if we are playing inside I just have a few minutes with my Dyson and all traces of rice are gone.

This would be a great item to put on your Summer Fun List for the little ones!

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