How to Color Your Own Sprinkles!

with Blog Contributor: Liz Butts of Sprinkle Pop

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Hello fellow cake crazed individuals! My name is Liz Butts and I’m the owner of Sprinkle Pop, and a cake decorator with 13+ years of experience. Like many of you, I am self-taught with the help of wonderful tutorial platforms like Avalon’s Cake School. In March of this year, I branched out from cake decorating and launched Sprinkle Pop where I curated some gorgeous sprinkle mixes that I sell online to my fellow cakers….and well…whoever else wants to buy beautiful sprinkles…and let’s be honest…who doesn’t want to sprinkle all the things?

I’m here today to let you in on a little secret: I color 90% of my own sprinkles and you can too! I’m going to show you how to color three types of sprinkles. The process is essentially the same, but there are some tricks to getting good coverage depending on the sprinkle type.

So first things first…let’s talk about types of sprinkles. There’s quite a few different types of sprinkles…and lucky for you, I happen to be a self-proclaimed sprinkle expert!

Sanding Sugar – like…sand…this comes in a variety coarseness’. I prefer a fairly large grain, sometimes it’s referred to as Sugar Crystals. I absolutely love sanding sugar because it really adds sparkle to whatever you are decorating.  I use it in almost all my mixes.

Non- Pariels – you’ve all seen these and for good reason. They’re delicate, colorful and add a lovely crunch to baked goods… and my preference, ice cream!

Jimmies – These tiny sugar rods are probably the most commonly known type of sprinkle. While you usually find them in rainbow or chocolate…if you look hard enough you can buy them in quite a variety of colors. These are a staple in my sprinkle mixes. Fun Fact: in some parts of the world they call these “Hundreds and Thousands”

Sugar Pearls – You’ve probably seen these in white at your local high end grocery, or craft store. These make wonderful decorations, but they are very hard and must be consumed with some amount of caution as they could potentially damage sensitive teeth. Sugar pearls come in quite a variety of sizes from 1MM to 15MM+.

Dragees – Typically when someone in the cake world refers to a Dragee they are talking about a 2-3MM metallic, nontoxic, bead for decorating cakes and cookies. The truth is they are the exact same thing as a sugar pearl, they just have an extra special shiny metallic coating. In the US, these are considered nontoxic and “for decoration only”…but truth be told, we all use them and most of us have been eating them since we were little kids.

Quins – I saved the best for the last, because quins are my absolute favorite type of sprinkle! A quin refers to a small shaped sugar sprinkle. They are created by extruding sugar dough in fun shapes, and they are cut in rapid speed as they are extruded. You can find these in such a wonderful variety of shapes and colors. At sprinkle pop, I make my own quins using a super-secret method. It’s what sets me apart from my competitors…you won’t find unicorn or pineapple quins anywhere else!


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Ready to color some?!

So now that you know all about sprinkles I’m going to show you how I color the three main types of sprinkles: Sanding Sugar, Non Pariels, and Jimmies. Here’s the tools you’ll need:

The one disclaimer that I NEED to make about coloring your own sprinkles is that there is a learning curve and you will inevitably mess up a few batches…I certainly have!

Pick your colors

You may have a specific cake or baked good that you already know the colors for…so that makes this process easy. But if you are just looking to make a super fun and original sprinkle mix, I recommend turning your attention to pinterest. There are so many awesome color pallets on pinterest for inspiration. Here are a few of my favorites that I’ve actually turned into mixes


Want to just buy these adorable sprinkles? You CAN, click on the image!

Color your Sprinkles

You’ll need a separate bowl for each type of sprinkle and also for each color. So, if you are doing Jimmies and Non Pariels in 4 colors, you will need 8 bowls. I’m typically working with 12 bowls or more at a time…so you can imagine I run short on counter space real quick! Ha! It’s easiest and most time efficient to work with one color at a time. I recommend you start sparingly, as you can get very dark colors very quickly.

You may be wondering why vodka is on the list of materials. I use vodka to help with coverage. You may be going for a light purple, but the amount of airbrush color you need to achieve the right color may not have enough liquid in it to thoroughly coat your sprinkles. This is where the vodka comes in. It allows you to use color sparingly and also get solid coverage. And, no you won’t taste it, and it won’t give you a buzz (no matter how many sprinkles you shove in your mouth), it evaporates leaving only color behind!

Ok, so you’ve put your color in…how do you distribute? Well you may think…duh! I stir it….and you’re partially right. The trick, however, is to fold and spread. I think of the motion the same as icing a cake. You want to rub the sprinkles against one another to distribute the color evenly. I use the flat side of my spatula in a tilted bowl to “spread” the color back and forth on the sprinkles.

Another color distribution method is to place your sprinkles in a small container with a lid and shake. This works pretty well for small batches of sprinkles, however I find the color distribution isn’t quite as good with this method.

If you find your color isn’t distributing evenly, add more vodka in small increments until it’s spreading better. When you do this, it may appear like it’s taking color off your sprinkles. Fear not, keep mixing…it will redistribute. The process is the same for all three sprinkle types.

Notes by sprinkle type

  • Sanding Sugar – requires very little color, be sparing. (These are the easiest to color.)
  • Jimmies – requires the most color/liquid and typically the most mixing.
  • Non Pariels – Pretty easy to color with moderate amount of liquid.


Once you’ve mixed all your colors, you’ve done the hard part…the rest is patience. You need to let your sprinkles air dry until they are completely dry. Stirring occasionally is essential. You don’t want a giant block of sprinkles. I.e. this isn’t something you want to do right before bedtime, or you’ll have sprinkle bricks in the morning☺.

There is an additional step you should take with your non pariels after they are dry. Non pariels will form small clumps as they dry no matter how vigilant you are at stirring. To combat this, I pass them through a colander once they are dry. This separates them perfectly.


Your sprinkles are dry and you are ready to combine them. Throw them in a bowl, add your metallics (if you like that sort of thing) and stir to combine. And if you are feeling adventurous….get someone to video you while you are mixing them together….because if there is one thing I’ve learned since launching Sprinkle Pop, it’s that people LOVE to watch a sprinkle mix come together! This particular batch was for my Milky Way Sprinkle Mix.

And there you have it!

…a not-so-short explanation on how to make your very own sprinkle mixes.

And….if DIY isn’t your thing…or maybe you just want these babies ready-to-go..head over to Sprinkle Pop!

Where you can find a super fun slection of sprinkle mixes you haven’t seen anywhere else! Including fun & unique shapes and gorgeous colors!



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  1. Sheri Johnson 1 year ago

    So fun! Thank you for sharing!!

  2. Manda 10 months ago

    Do you find the dyes bleed into icing from your diy colored sprinkles? I tried it once and the non pareils left dye spots where they touched icing. Maybe I just used the wrong dye.

  3. Liz Butts 10 months ago

    No I’ve never had that issue. It’s possible this could happen if your icing had a lot of condensation on it. Or if you sprinkled a cake/cupcake and then put it in a humid fridge unprotected. Sprinkles in general will bleed when exposed to water.

  4. Kristen 8 months ago

    Beautiful photos! I never thought about dying my own… I usually end up buying 6 or 7 different colors/styles and mixing them, but this will save so much time and headache and less “waste” with extra sprinkles in my cabinet.

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