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Sprinkles 101: The different kinds and how to use them

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Learn about all the different kinds of sprinkles, which are good to add to doughs and batters for baking, which should only be used for decorations, and examples of recipes where each are used!

Not all sprinkles are created equal. Some can hold up to baking as part of your favorite cookie dough, but others can’t stand the heat! It’s important to know which are which for the best results.

Read on to learn about all the different kinds of sprinkles, the ways they can be used, and example recipes using each kind.


These are the little rod-shaped sprinkles that you probably see most often, typically in rainbow colors or plain chocolate, and they are the best for baking. They hold up to being mixed into dough without bleeding and don’t melt in the end result.

There’s a long-standing battle over the use of the word “jimmies”. People are divided over whether or not jimmies are only chocolate sprinkles, or if that also encompasses rainbow sprinkles.

To be totally honest, I don’t call either of them jimmies and just go with… chocolate sprinkles and rainbow sprinkles :)

Recipes where you’ll see jimmies:


These tiny little balls are great for topping frosted sugar cookies or a cake, but not great for adding to cookie dough batter as they tend to bleed and leave a less than appetizing presentation.

You’ll find them in all sorts of colors, but rainbow nonpareils are pretty common.

Some places also refer to this type as “hundreds and thousands”, which is pretty adorable, but a total mouthful (pun intended).

Recipes where you’ll see nonpareils (aff link):


While their flat, round shape can make for a great decoration, they melt if mixed into dough and batter and baked. You’ll find them in all sorts of different shapes – I love these heart shaped quins to make my Grinch Crinkles Cookies every Christmas.

Other recipes where you’ll see quins:

Sugar pearls

Also known as “dragees”, these hard, round sprinkles are great for decorating baked and frosted cookies to add a nice crunch – but you don’t want to add them to dough or batter.

Recipes where you’ll see sugar pearls:

Coarse sugar

These are great for rolling cookie dough in before baking for a little crunch and shimmer, but don’t do much for the recipe if you add it to the dough. In the photo above, I used King Arthur Flour’s Sparkling White Sugar on my Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies.

Other recipes where you’ll see coarse sugar:

Sanding sugar

Sanding sugar is also great for rolling cookie dough in before baking to add a little shimmer, but be warned – depending on the type of cookie you’re making, the moisture content of the cookie dough might absorb more of it than you’d like.

In the photo above, I rolled my Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookie dough in sanding sugar before baking to give them a subtle sparkle.

How to store sprinkles

We talked about the fact that not all sprinkles can hold up to the heat of the oven, but that also means they don’t like being stored in warm or humid environments.

You want to pick a cool, dark place with low humidity to store them in airtight containers – especially if you choose to store them in clear, glass containers. I store most of mine in adorable mini mason jars on a two-tier lazy susan in a dark corner of my pantry.

How long do sprinkles last?

The general rule of thumb for sprinkles that have been store properly is that they’ll last 12-18 months.

I hope this helps! Are there any questions about sprinkles that I didn’t answer? Let me know in the comments below!

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