Sprinkles 101- Sanding Sugar to Jimmies

Sprinkles, Pearls, Jimmies, Crystals, and Nonpareils What's the Difference | The Bearfoot Baker

When you hear the word sprinkles, what do you think of? Do you vision a rainbow of colors in different shapes of that sweet confectionery goodness? Do you see sanding sugar, Jimmies or sugar crystals? Do you know the difference?

With all the different sizes, shapes and colors of sprinkles it is hard to know what is what especially while standing in the store looking at all the different colors trying to decide which one will be the perfect topping for your cookies, cakes, cupcake or cake pops. Let’s talk a little bit about these beautiful sweet treats. Jimmies, Sprinkles, Nonpareils, Crystals and Pearls | The Bearfoot BakerThat colorful picture makes me swoon! Forget diamonds and chocolate, the way to my heart is a big box full of sprinkles!


Sanding Sugar-Lavender
Pearlized Sugar Crystals-Blue (Some people call this coarse sugar)
Pearls-GreenSprinkles, Nonpareils, Jimmies, Crystals and Pearls | The Bearfoot Baker

  • Sanding sugar is a fine sugar that is lightweight which makes it a great topping for cookies, cupcakes, cakes and many other treats. The sugar grains are a little larger than granulated sugar grains. When you add it to icing it won’t dissolve.
  • It is easy to color your own sanding sugar. You can find white sanding sugar here. Place a little into a Ziploc bag with a few drops of food gel color and mix until all the sugar is the same color. To keep it from sticking together, add a little corn starch and shake it until all the sugar has a fine coat. Let it dry and store it in an airtight container. You can customize any color you want!

Crystals, Sprinkles, Jimmies, Nonpareils, and Pearls | The Bearfoot Baker

  • Sugar Crystals are larger than sanding sugar. It’s very close in size to course salt.
  • My favorite way to use sugar crystals is on white royal icing with white sugar crystals sprinkled on as the snow. The larger size make the cookie glisten like real snow. It is also great for Santa’s beard!

Nonpareils, Pearls, Crystals, Sprinkles, Jimmies, and Nonpareils | The Bearfoot Baker

  • Nonpareils are like tiny little colorful edible bouncy balls. If you have ever used them you will know what I am talking about. No matter how hard you try to contain them, they will go everywhere!
  • I like to make my own color combinations to make things like the crowd on these Decorated Football Cookies. Just mix the team colors and watch those nonpareils bounce all over your kitchen!
  • Another way I like to use them is for ice cream topping or baking them into cookie dough like these Sprinkle Sugar Cookies.
  • Use nonpareils and you will have a ‘ball!’

Jimmies, Crystals, Sprinkles, Nonpareils, and Pearls | The Bearfoot Baker

Do you remember that song ‘Oh Mickey?” I think they should rewrite it to ‘Oh Jimmies, your so fine, your so fine you blow my mind! Hey Jimmies! Hey, hey, hey Jimmies!’ Now I bet that will be stuck in your head all day! Hehehe Jimmies are so good we need to dedicate a day and celebrate this wonderful topping.

  • Jimmies remind me of little tiny Tic Tacs that come in every color and color combo you can imagine.
  • They are probably best known as an ice cream topping but they are also great on donuts or donut cookies. I bet you have seen them on cakes, cupcakes, in cake mixes, on cookies and cake pops and just about anything else you can imagine.

Pearls, Sprinkles, Jimmies, Nonpareils, and Crystals | The Bearfoot Baker

  • Pearls look like, well, pearls! They are round shiny little edible candy balls that will dress up any cookie, cake or cupcake.
  • I use them for so many different things like, a row of white for a pearl necklace, red and black for reindeer noses, a border on the edge of cookies, sprinkles on cupcakes. There are a million ways to use them. Check out these Fish Eyes or these Clam Cookies with a pearl on the inside.

Sprinkles, Jimmies, Nonpareils, Crystals and Pearls | The Bearfoot Baker

I hope this helps you know the difference in those amazing sprinkles. Do you know what I do when I am looking at them trying to figure out what is what?

This is what I say to myself to help keep it all straight: 
Sanding Sugar is like sand.
Pearlized Sugar Crystals is like Sanding Sugar on Miracle Grow.
Nonpareils are little edible bouncy balls.
Jimmies are like little tiny Tic Tacs.
Pearls are like, well, pearls!

I hope you remember these tips when you are shopping for sprinkles.

Bear hugs,