14 Alternative Uses For Powdered Drink Mixes

Powdered drink mixes are a great staple to keep in the kitchen cupboards, whether there are children in the house or not. There's nothing quite like a giant glass of lemonade on a hot, summer afternoon, just like there's nothing quite like a mug of steamy Swiss Miss on a chilly winter's evening. And that's the truth no matter how old you are.

Iced tea? Kool-Aid? Flavor-Aid? What about Nesquik? They all make great drinks and sometimes bring back some of our fondest childhood memories. Good news! There are actually many more reasons to keep powdered drink mix on hand, and it's not only for fun vodka mixers — you're welcome!

Powdered drink mixes are actually a surprisingly versatile way to add a kick of flavor to a number of different desserts, sides, and snacks — particularly Kool-Aid. Since it's unsweetened when it comes out of the pack, you're not adding something that will be overwhelmingly sugary. Although, let's face it, life's tough and sometimes you just need to treat yourself. Here are some fun ways to do precisely that.


There's not a lot that's great about being an adult, in spite of the fact that adulthood is often marketed to kids as a point in life where you get to set your own bedtimes. But, there's cake and being an adult means you can definitely make a cake for no other reason than because cake is great! Bad day at work? Bake a cake! Kids being annoying? Wait until they're in bed, then bake a cake! 

And here's the thing: That powdered drink mix in your cabinet can make for some really fun frosting, which, let's be honest, is the best part. Just whip up a batch of your favorite buttercream frosting recipe — and it's so easy, no one's going to judge you for skipping the cake completely and just stopping with the frosting. Then, just add a packet of your favorite Kool-Aid flavor.

If there does end up being cake involved, the possibilities are almost endless. Devil's food cake and orange frosting? Chocolate and black cherry? Vanilla and lemon-lime? Strawberry cake and lemonade frosting? Or what about a strawberry cake and peach-mango frosting? Bad days just got a little bit better.

Ice cubes

It's no secret that ice can be kind of a bummer. Whether it's iced coffee, lemonade, or iced tea, getting to the end of a watered-down drink is just a bit anti-climactic. Fortunately, there's a super-easy way to fix that, and that's by making a tray of ice cubes with the help of some powdered drink mix.

Using it to whip up a batch of iced tea or lemonade, then freezing a tray or two into ice cubes is definitely a little bit of extra work for a lot of reward, but that's just the beginning. Reach for the matcha powder and make a batch of matcha ice cubes for your next iced latte. And speaking of iced lattes, you could also opt for ice cubes made with espresso powder for some serious kick to your iced coffee.

This is also a great option for alcoholic drinks, too — especially vodka. Add some flavor to a vodka tonic with lemon-lime Kool-Aid cubes, dress up a vodka-cranberry with some lemonade ice cubes, and next time you pour yourself a gin and tonic, don't forget the strawberry-kiwi ice cubes. Say goodbye to watered-down drinks forever.


First things first: What, exactly, is granita? In a nutshell, it's an icy, refreshing dessert that people have been enjoying for a surprisingly long time. The earliest incarnation of it was enjoyed along the Silk Road when creative travelers would mix snow and fruit for something akin to a snow cone. Today, granita is still popular in Italy, where it's made by scraping a fruit and sugar water mix that's been frozen. See where the powdered drink mix is going to come in?

Although it's traditionally made with fresh fruit and sugar water, fresh fruit might not always be something you have on hand. Get the fruity flavor with powdered drink mix, and even better, mix and match. Say you're making granita with the blueberries or strawberries that you picked up at the grocery store; add lemonade or strawberry lemonade drink mix, and it'll accent the flavors of the fresh fruit without making the entire thing too sweet to enjoy. Raspberries? Reach for the lemon-lime. Cherries? Give them a boost with a cherry drink mix, and don't forget the whipped cream on top.

Fruit salad

There's nothing that heralds the coming of summer quite like a fresh fruit salad. While you might be able to fudge making it with store-bought fruits in the winter, it just isn't the same. Still, keeping fruit salad fresh is one of the biggest challenges and a powdered drink mix might be able to help with that — all while adding some extra flavor.

Sugar and citrus are both great ways to help keep fruit salad fresh, as it slows the process of oxidation, which is fruit's tendency to react with the air and turn brown after it's cut. While you're not going to stop the process completely, sugar can help slow it down. Adding powdered drink mix to the simple syrup solution you drizzle on your salad will not only add flavor but, if you opt for sugar-free powders, it's not going to make your fruit salad taste unbearably and overwhelmingly sweet.

Lemonade is a surefire win no matter what fruits you're cutting up. Tropical punch is also a great option, along with orange and strawberry kiwi. The great thing about powdered mixes is that there are so many flavors out there; there's bound to be something that's going to compliment your summer melons, grapes, and berries.

Sherbet powder

Sherbet powder is the generic name for a product you might be more familiar with by the brand names, including Pixy Stix and Fun Dip, and it's a sweet powder that creates a fizzy feeling when it's eaten. While you can definitely still buy it, you can make it at home, too. It's easy, fun, and pretty perfect if you're looking for a science project that the kids are going to love. Candy, chemistry, and a sweet treat? Absolutely. All it takes is a 3:2:4 ratio of baking soda, citric acid powder, and sweetened drink mix powder of whatever flavor strikes your fancy. Seriously, that's it!

Why does it work? Science Notes breaks down the chemistry and says that when the ingredients are combined with a liquid — like saliva — the acid and the base react with each other to release fizzy carbon dioxide. While you could, in theory, use just the citric acid and the baking soda to get the reaction, that's not something you'd really want to eat. Give it to your kids, and they'd be unlikely to trust Science Saturday again. Add the drink mix powder, though, and it changes the powder from a punishment to a sweet treat — just be sure to have some lollipops on hand for dipping.

Kool-Aid pickles

Granted, this one sounds super weird, but it's definitely something that falls into the "don't knock it until you've tried it" category, because an entire section of the continental United States can't possibly be wrong.

Kool-Aid makes a type of pickle called koolickles, and they've been a long-time favorite in the Mississippi Delta. Fortunately, we live in the 21st century and a time when social media, television, and global connectivity make it possible to share ultra-regional foodie favorites with the rest of the world. Koolickles are definitely something that the rest of the world needs ... whether they know it or not.

Alton Brown tells NPR that he discovered koolickles during his travels into the Deep South, and he recommends opting for cherry when it comes time to add the powdered drink mix to a jar of halved dill pickles. Realistically, though, any flavor will add a pop of sweetness to everyone's favorite pickles: Tropical punch? Black cherry? Step aside, deli pickles — there's a new favorite snack to keep in the fridge. Just make sure to let them sit for more than a week before digging in.

Snow cones

It might not seem like there's much call for a refreshing glass of lemonade or Kool-Aid when it's already cold outside, but there's still a very good reason to keep some around. Snow cones!

Snow cones might be a staple of summertime fairs, but they're absolutely brilliant when they're made with real, legit snow ... carefully scooped up from outside (It shouldn't be yellow until you add the lemonade, people!). This will take a minimal amount of prep and chances are good you already have a go-to method for making simple syrup, that versatile addition to numerous drink recipes. If not, don't worry: simple syrup is super easy! Just add powdered drink mix to your simple syrup, and voila: snow cone syrup!

Don't have snow? Use shaved or crushed ice. Here's a pro tip: Use powdered drink mix to flavor the ice for the snow cones, then add a different flavor to the simple syrup. Strawberry and lemon? Orange and black cherry? Snow cones just might become a legitimate dessert.

Icebox pie

While more traditional pies can take a long time, icebox pies are brilliant, easy, fast, and delicious. Start with a no-bake crust: think graham crackers or crumbled Oreos. Add a sweet filling (usually made with condensed milk), let it firm up in the fridge, top with whipped cream, and there's dessert! There's nothing that says dessert has to be complicated or fancy, and at the end of the day, they just need to be good.

Icebox pies are easy to dress up with the addition of powdered drink mix. Just mix a packet, or the equivalent of a packet, into the pie filling, and instead of a delicious but plain filling, you have lemonade, tropical punch, cherry, lemon-lime, or any number of fillings. Add a handful of fresh berries on top, a handful of toasted coconut, a dollop of jam, or a sweet, sugary drizzle, and you'll find you've created a dessert you'd be happy to serve to anyone who drops by unexpectedly.

Kool-aid cakes

Social media is a blessing and a curse. Fortunately, there's one trend that can be replicated pretty easily with the help of powdered drink mix. Rainbow cakes are undeniably cool, and they're easier to make than they might seem. Grab different flavors of powdered drink mix, add to vanilla cake, and bake! Seriously, that's it — and there's a bonus here, too.

While you can add food coloring for the same effect, powdered drink mix will add flavor, too. For something different, opt to use the same color. Adding different amounts of the powdered mix will turn your cake tiers into different shades of the same color, which can be a pretty cool thing to cut into. A coworker's favorite color is red? Up the office cake game by using cherry drink mix to create a layered cake of different shades, and finish with a buttercream frosting that is also colored with drink mix. Whether or not you share your secret is completely up to you.

Pancakes, waffles, and crepes

Weekends can mean taking more time for breakfast than the week allows for, and that means pancakes! Pancakes are delicious but fun. They can be, especially if you opt to add powdered drink mix to your recipe. Strawberry pancakes with fresh strawberries on top and — because it's the weekend — a scoop of strawberry ice cream on the side. Or, what about lemon pancakes with fresh blueberries mixed in and a pile of whipped cream? Try peach-mango Kool-Aid pancakes with fresh peaches and ice cream. The flavor of the pancakes and the sweetness of the fruit might make you even reach past the syrup ... maybe or maybe not. But, seriously, add the ice cream. Life's too short.

Alternately, this idea works just as well with waffles and crepes as it does with chocolate drink mixes like Nesquik and hot chocolate. Add the powdered mix to the batter, get creative with the toppings, and turn Saturday mornings into some fun family time with everyone wanting to gather around for breakfast.


Seriously, who doesn't love popcorn? It's a great go-to snack for anyone who's trying to eat healthier. Plus, there are a million and one ways to dress it up to be packed with flavor and satisfy the need to crunch. But, let's face it, sometimes you just need oh-so-buttery popcorn reminiscent of the kind that comes in a bucket at the movie theater.

One of the great things about popcorn is that it doesn't have to be salty to be good — it can be sweet, too! That's where Kool-Aid popcorn comes in, and it's another "don't knock it until you've tried it" sort of thing. Adding powdered drink mix to a mixture of melted butter and corn syrup isn't just a tasty snack, it's a fun treat for around the holidays, too. Halloween is around the corner? Whip up batches of orange and purple popcorn. Is Valentine's Day inching closer? How about a batch of red, purple, and plain popcorn whipped up for your significant other as the sort of surprise that gets you control of the remote for the night ... or, at least, choice of the movie you're going to watch while sharing that fun, colorful popcorn.


Oatmeal is one of those love-or-hate things, and here's the thing: It's really, really good for you. Fortunately, there are a ton of ways to make oatmeal more palatable to even the biggest skeptic, and one of those ways is by adding a helping of powdered drink mix. And no, that doesn't mean reaching for the Kool-Aid packet or the powdered lemonade. That would be ... weird. 

For this, it means digging out the packets of hot chocolate mix. Add to the oatmeal while you're cooking it, let it simmer, and you'll have a chocolatey, sweet (but not too sweet) oatmeal that lends itself to toppings from chocolate shavings and crushed nuts to toasted coconut. You could even opt to add fruit like bananas, cherries, or strawberries because if there's anything that pairs amazingly with chocolate, it's cherries and strawberries.

And it's not just a packet of Swiss Miss that works great for this. Both Nesquik and Carnation instant breakfast are ingredients that will make your oatmeal more exciting, and that means the option of a vanilla or strawberry version. Who knows, it might just sell your entire family on the idea of eating oatmeal.

Lemonade chicken

While it makes sense that most of the things powdered drink mix would be good for are sweet things, there's a brilliant savory option for them, too. Love lemon chicken? That's right! Reach for the powdered lemonade for a quick and easy marinade or rub.

Everyone has their favorite go-to marinade for chicken, and this is a super flexible addition that will go great with any number of recipes. Let's say that you're using an oil-based marinade with something as simple as Italian seasonings and a little black pepper. Definitely, add that lemonade mix! If you're more of a fan of rubs, it's perfect for that, too: Add the powdered lemonade mix to your favorite thyme, oregano, and red pepper rub, and it will absolutely up your chicken game.

This one has a practical bonus, too. While there's nothing quite like using the zest and juice of fresh lemon, fresh lemon has a shelf life — and they're not always the easiest to get. That powdered drink mix doesn't have that problem, and it'll be there in the cupboard — ready and waiting — whenever you need it.

Coloring eggs

While coloring hard-boiled eggs is traditionally done in the springtime, there's no reason that it can't be more of a thing, especially with the variety of colors that powdered drink mix opens up.

Opt for food coloring and you'll have some standard colors, including a couple that you might manage to mix without getting bland, ugly colors. Don't bother: Reach for Kool-Aid, add some to cups of water just big enough to dunk your eggs, and go nuts! The more drink mix that's added and the longer they sit, the stronger the color will be. You can get a variety of colors easily by just picking up a variety of packets. There's no mixing required!

It's so easy — and there are so many colors — that it might not be for Easter anymore. Hard boil and color eggs for a creepy, alien egg-inspired dish on a Halloween buffet, or opt for some red, white, and blue hard-boiled eggs served on a Fourth of July salad. Sure, it's a little do-it-yourself, but who doesn't love a colorful surprise on their picnic plate?