You know, other than pure happiness.
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Sprinkles are arguably one of the most *extra* ingredients out there. They exist purely for aesthetic purposes and don’t add much in the way of flavor—but so what?! They’re delightful.

I mean, who doesn’t like sprinkles? People who hate puppies and sunshine, probably.

But, besides pure happiness and rainbows, what the heck are they made of? Let’s investigate:

What Are Sprinkles?

Sprinkles Getty 6/18/20
Credit: Victor Cardoner/Getty Images

Victor Cardoner/Getty Images

Confectionery sprinkles are itty bitty pieces of candy that are used to decorate or add texture to desserts.

They’re made of sugar, corn syrup, cornstarch, shortening, food-grade wax, and artificial coloring and flavoring (via Food Republic).

The ingredients form a thick, doughy paste that is pushed through an extruder with tiny holes to make very thin “noodles.” Those noodles are broken into appropriately sized pieces and then sprayed with color and hardening glaze.


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Are Sprinkles Gluten-Free?

It depends on what kind they are. Most varieties should be gluten-free, but there’s always the possibility of cross-contamination at certain factories.

Betty Crocker Rainbow Sprinkles, the kind you’re probably most familiar with, are considered gluten-free.

Sprinkles Uses

Ice cream sprinkles Getty 6/18/20
Credit: Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Sprinkles are used to top all sorts of desserts, including ice cream, cookies, cakes, and doughnuts. The only requirement is that the dessert has a somewhat sticky surface—like frosting—for the sprinkles to adhere to.

They’re typically added right before serving as a decorative touch, but they are sometimes included in the baking process. For example, you mix sprinkles into the batter for confetti cake. As the cake bakes, the sprinkles dissolve and create colorful dots that look like confetti.

Sprinkles also have different uses around the world: In the Netherlands and Belgium, chocolate sprinkles are often used as a sandwich topping.

In Australia and New Zealand, meanwhile, fairy bread (buttered white bread topped with rainbow-colored round sprinkles) is a fixture at childrens’ parties.

DIY Sprinkles

Credit: Photo by Rebecca Firkser

If you’re so inclined, you can make sprinkles in the comfort of your own kitchen. You’ll need:

  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Vanilla extract
  • Food coloring
  • A pastry bag with a small tip

Combine the first three ingredients and stir until the mixture has a glue-like consistency. Divide the concoction into different bowls before adding the food coloring (if you want three colors of sprinkles, use three bowls, etc.).

One color at a time, place the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a small tip. Carefully pipe long, very thin lines onto parchment paper and let sit, uncovered, overnight.

When the lines are hard, break them into sprinkle-sized pieces.

Get the full recipe from Homemade Sprinkles

Recipes With Sprinkles

Make your day a little brighter with one of our favorite colorful, sprinkle-loaded recipes: