Rainbow Rice: Make colored rice without stinky alcohol.

Rainbow Rice without rubbing alcohol. blog.jaxinthebox.comRice is a great addition to sensory play. White rice is fun, but colored rice is definitely better!

I’ve been wanting to color our rice for a long time, but wasn’t sure I could stomach the stinky rubbing alcohol smell most recipes require. So when I saw that Jackie of Happy Hooligans (you know I love her!) had tried an alcohol-free method, I had to try it.

I used her recipe, but I’ll share some best practices I discovered while spicing up my rice. This is super easy and takes all of 10-15 minutes (depending on how much rice you are coloring).


Cheap White Rice. I used 24 cups to color 6 cups of rice of 4 different colors.

Vinegar. 1/2 teaspoon per cup of rice.

Food coloring. I tried both regular liquid food coloring and Wilton icing gel. Good ‘ol standard food coloring was much easier to use.

Gallon sealable bags or plastic container with tight fitting lid. I didn’t have an appropriate plastic container to use, so I opted for bags. If you have the sliding lock type of bags, use those, as they are less likely to open when shaking the rice to distribute the color.


Determine how many different colors you want to make, then measure and pour your rice into as many bags. I made 4 colors and wanted 6 cups of rice for each. So I measured 6 cups of rice into 4 different bags.

Add 1/2 teaspoon vinegar for each cup of rice into your bags. For my 6 cups, I added 3 teaspoons of vinegar into each bag. The vinegar sets the color so it won’t transfer to little hands (or clothes) when dry.

Add the food coloring and shake the bag to distribute the color. If you are using Wilton gel, prepare to really work the gel into the rice. In fact, I had to take my hands and manually break the gel down by rubbing it between my fingers and the rice (what a mess!). The liquid color, on the other hand, was easily distributed throughout the rice by vigorously shaking the bag. Add more color as you go for brighter rice as desired.

Pour the rice onto cookie sheets or other containers. And dry the rice by placing it on top of a warm oven, in front of the fireplace, or simply leaving it over night. Mine was dry within an hour when placed in front of our fireplace.


Sifting, pouring and more. Rice is more fun when it’s rainbow rice!

Jax and his little friend enjoyed running their fingers through the colors and pouring the rice between bins. He likes burying rocks, gems and other toys deep into the rice — so I provide different items for him to add to the bins depending on the day (and what I can actually locate at the time!). Sometimes I just plop the bins on the floor. Other times I slip them into the openings we cut into our train table insert (see 1 Table 4 Ways to see the cool ways we use our train table).

Rainbow rice without rubbing alcohol. blog.jaxinthebox.com

Rice bins on the floor are fun too!

Store the rice in a covered bin and it will literally last you for years. If you are anything like me, you just can’t help but run your own fingers through it … it’s just too colorful to resist.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s