The Important Food Coloring Tip For Making Your Own Sprinkles

Nothing says it's a party like a homemade classic white cake or red velvet cupcakes bedazzled with sprinkles. Those multi-color candy confetti pieces are just a little, extra-special touch that ups the festive vibes. Sprinkles are the piece de resistance when showered over an ice cream sundae; They make donuts even more delicious; And when pancakes are for dinner, give that container of sprinkles a good shake over your short stack and watch your kids eat it in its entirety. Sprinkles are just magical.

According to Mr. Sprinkles, these little candies that come in bright primary colors as well as softer pastels and often go by the moniker "jimmies," were most likely invented in France in the 18th century. But it took until 1936 for Dutch chocolate makers to create a chocolate version. Today, you can buy sprinkles at just about any grocery store or you can make your own. A quick Google search will yield a cornucopia of DIY homemade recipes for this celebratory decoration, including ones from Martha Stewart and Food Network's Molly Yeh. 

It's surprisingly easy to create your own jimmies and customize the colors, but if you are going to make your own, there is a food coloring that you are going to want to know.

Stick to gel-based food coloring

Molly Yeh says you can make your own sprinkles simply by using your favorite royal icing recipe. All you need to do is pipe lines of it on some parchment paper, allowing it to dry, and then break or chop them up into sprinkles. The best thing about making your own is that it gives you control over the colors you want. But according to America's Test Kitchen, if you are going to make sprinkles to use on your baked goods, skip the water-based food dyes and use gel food coloring. They explain that water-based food coloring contributes more moisture to your icing, causing it to thin. This in turn makes it spread when you are creating your lines of piping, not giving you the thin lines that are synonymous with sprinkles. 

But being able to customize the color with your gel-based food coloring isn't the only benefit of DIY sprinkles. Food52 shares you can also control the taste by adding ingredients like cinnamon, your favorite flavor extract, oils, or even alcohol. If you are adding liquids, this makes using a gel-based food coloring even more important because that added fluid will likely loosen up the consistency of your icing. If you encounter this, Food52 recommends adding a little more confectioners sugar.