Does sprinkles have gluten in them?

The Short Answer

Most sprinkles are gluten-free, but some brands or varieties may contain gluten. It’s important to check the label or ingredient list to confirm if a particular sprinkles product is gluten-free. Sprinkles made with wheat flour or barley malt extract would contain gluten.

What are Sprinkles?

Sprinkles, also known as jimmies, are small beads of sugar used as a decoration or topping on baked goods like cupcakes, donuts, ice cream and more. They come in a variety of colors and add a fun, festive touch to desserts.

The main ingredients in standard sprinkles are sugar, corn starch, palm oil or vegetable oil, soy lecithin as an emulsifier, artificial colors, and natural or artificial flavors. Sprinkles may also contain beeswax or confectioner’s glaze to provide a glossy coating.

Do Sprinkles Normally Contain Gluten?

Most conventional sprinkles do not contain any gluten-containing ingredients. However, there are some exceptions:

– Some brands use wheat flour in place of corn starch as an ingredient. Wheat flour contains gluten.

– Barley malt extract is sometimes added to give sprinkles a malted flavor. Barley contains gluten.

– Cross-contamination can occur if sprinkles are produced in facilities that also process wheat or gluten-containing products.

So while pure sugar sprinkles are inherently gluten-free, some wheat-based and malted varieties do exist. It’s important to verify the ingredients.

Why Would Sprinkles Need Gluten?

There are a couple reasons some sprinkle brands intentionally include gluten:

Wheat Flour – Wheat flour is used because it is less likely to clump compared to corn starch and provides a smooth, fine texture.

Barley Malt Extract – Barley malt extract adds a sweet, malty flavor and darker coloring to sprinkles.

While wheat and barley provide functional benefits, their gluten limits the sprinkles’ safety for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Most brands opt for gluten-free starch sources.

How to Check if Sprinkles Contain Gluten

To determine if a brand of sprinkles contains gluten, check the:

Ingredient List – Read the ingredients on the label or packaging. Avoid any mention of wheat, barley, rye or oats.

Allergen Statement – Sprinkles made in the U.S. must list wheat in the “Contains:” statement if present.

Certifications – Look for GF (gluten-free) or Certified Gluten-Free labels from organizations like GFCO.

Brand Reputation – Choose brands known to offer gluten-free options based on their manufacturing policies.

When in doubt, contact the manufacturer directly to inquire about testing policies and gluten cross-contamination risks.

Popular Gluten-Free Sprinkle Brands

Many major sprinkle brands offer gluten-free varieties or have gluten-free production facilities, including:

Cake Mate – Their Classic Sprinkles are gluten-free and made in a dedicated facility.

Wilton – Their regular sprinkles are gluten-free but they also sell Wheat Sprinkles.

Betty Crocker – Rainbow sprinkle blends are gluten-free, Clearly Delineated.

Necco – Most are gluten-free, but some specialty mixes may contain gluten.

Sweetapolita – Offers gluten-free, vegan sprinkles in fun flavors like cake batter.

The Sprinkle Pop Shop – Specializes in unique gluten-free sprinkle blends.

Taste of Nature – Gluten-free, non-GMO, and allergen-friendly sprinkle options.

Checking both ingredient lists and allergen statements is still advised with any brand. Individual product lines can vary.

Are Most Bakeries’ Sprinkles Gluten-Free?

It’s hard to guarantee the gluten-free status of sprinkles used by bakeries, restaurants, and ice cream shops. These establishments often buy in bulk and use commercial sprinkle mixes that may or may not contain gluten.

Unless a bakery specializes in gluten-free baking and has designated gluten-free sprinkles, it’s safest to assume their sprinkles could be cross-contaminated. Ask to see packaging or ingredient lists to verify. Home bakers using known gluten-free products have the most control.

Can You Make Your Own Gluten-Free Sprinkles?

Luckily, homemade gluten-free sprinkles are easy to whip up. Basic recipes include:

– Granulated sugar
– Corn starch
– Oil or water
– Food coloring
– Extracts for flavoring

The dry ingredients are mixed with the wet to form a dough, then rolled flat and cut into mini pieces. After drying fully, the sprinkles are ready for decorating!

You can adapt recipes to create all kinds of artisanal sprinkle blends. And you’ll have peace of mind knowing your homemade sprinkles are gluten-free and safe.

Are There Dairy-Free and Vegan Sprinkles Too?

Many standard sprinkle products are already dairy-free and vegan, since they’re made of simple ingredients like sugar, cornstarch, palm oil, and colors.

Always check labels though, as some cheaper brands use confectioner’s glaze, which contains shellac from beetle secretions. Others may add beeswax or dairy ingredients.

There are plenty of dedicated dairy-free, vegan sprinkle options available, like:

– Sweetapolita Vegan Sprinkles
– Indie Sprinkle Vegan Rainbow Jimmies
– Color Coco Vegan Sprinkles
– Kate Naturals Rainbow Vegan Sprinkles

Making your own is another way to control ingredients for dietary needs. Natural vegetable juices or fruit purees can replace artificial coloring.

Gluten-Free Sprinkles for the Holidays

The holidays are the perfect time to decorate cookies, cakes and holiday treats with festive sprinkles!

Christmas – Red and green are classic, or use snowflake shaped sprinkles.

Valentine’s Day – Pink, white and red heart sprinkles spread love.

Easter – Pastels like yellow, lavender, and robin’s egg blue set a spring mood.

Halloween – Orange and black add spooky flair. Candy corn shaped sprinkles are fun too.

Birthdays – Pick the birthday boy or girl’s favorite colors.

With so many gluten-free sprinkle options, you can add a joyful touch of color to your next holiday or celebration without worrying about gluten.

Gluten-Free Baking Tips with Sprinkles

Here are some tips for baking delicious gluten-free treats with sprinkles:

– Add sprinkles on top of cupcakes or cookies right before serving to keep their vibrant colors from running.

– When adding sprinkles to cake batter, mix them in gently and briefly to avoid breaking them down.

– Fold in sprinkles at the end when making gluten-free doughs to keep them evenly distributed without overmixing.

– Use royal icing to decorate cookies and gingerbread men. Let it set before adding sprinkles.

– Press sprinkles lightly into frosted cupcakes or cakes to help them adhere.

– Mix coordinating colors, shapes and textures for depth, like yellow stars and red hearts.

– Store extra homemade or purchased sprinkles in an airtight container.

With these tips, your gluten-free baked goods will be picture perfect every time!

Nutritional Value of Sprinkles

Sprinkles are a decorative topping, so they don’t offer much in the way of nutrition. The basic nutritional values in a 1 tablespoon (8 grams) serving of sprinkles are:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 37
Fat 0.1 g
Sodium 35 mg
Carbohydrates 9 g
Sugar 8 g
Protein 0 g

As you can see, sprinkles are almost entirely carbs and sugar with minimal fat or protein. The coloring contributes negligible vitamins and minerals.

While sprinkles add lots of bright color and fun texture, the focus should be on the nutrition of the baked good or dessert they garnish. Enjoy them as a topping instead of a daily snack.

Should Kids or Anyone Eat Sprinkles Plain?

It’s generally not recommended anyone eat large amounts of straight sprinkles on their own regularly. However, an occasional taste here and there won’t cause harm.

The main reasons not to eat sprinkles plain:

Choking hazard – The small size and texture make them a choking risk, especially for little kids.

High sugar – Sprinkles are nearly pure sugar. Eating too many contributes empty calories.

Artificial colors – Large doses of artificial dyes from excessive sprinkles could potentially cause behavioral issues in sensitive children.

Little nutritional value – Sprinkles provide almost zero nutrients. Kids need healthier foods for growth.

In moderation as part of artistic decorating or mix-ins to baked goods, sprinkles are an innocent treat. But sprinkle-only diets wouldn’t sustain anyone.

Fun Facts About Sprinkles

Beyond decorating baked goods, there are some fun facts about sprinkles worth noting:

– Decorative sugared anise seeds were early predecessors to modern sprinkles, used in Germany in the 1800s.

– Machines in the late 1800s revolutionized mass production of decorative sugar shapes and sprinkles.

– The city of Hamont, Belgium claims to produce 80% of the world’s sprinkles today.

– National Sprinkle Day falls on January 3rd in the United States.

– Cake decorators often call long, skinny sprinkle strands “Jimmies.” Round sprinkles are known as “nonpareils.”

– Vermicelli sprinkles are made to resemble thin cinnamon sticks.

– Popular sprinkle shapes include flowers, stars, hearts, circles, rods, ovals, flakes, and more.

– Multicolored mixes are fun, but single-color sprinkles provide versatility in decorating.

– Brides often match sprinkle colors to wedding themes, using them to decorate cookies or cakes.

The history, art, and craft behind the humble sprinkle is surprisingly complex! Their miniature format provides huge creative potential.


While most conventional sprinkles are gluten-free, some specialty varieties do contain wheat or barley-based ingredients. It is important for anyone following a gluten-free diet to thoroughly read labels and check brands for gluten-free manufacturing when buying sprinkles.

Many major brands offer gluten-free options, and homemade sprinkles let you control the ingredients. While sprinkles aren’t the most nutritious decor, they add vibrancy and fun to birthday cakes, holiday cookies and all kinds of baked treats to be enjoyed in moderation by kids and adults alike.

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