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 sweet confectionery goodness or do you see sanding sugar, Jimmies or sugar crystals? With all the different sizes, shapes and colors of sprinkles, it is hard to know what is what while standing in the store looking at all the different colors and shapes. It may seem difficult to determine which type of sprinkle will work best as the perfect topping for your cookies, but I’m sure you’ll pick the right one. Let’s talk a little bit about these beautiful sweet treats.

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

That colorful picture makes me swoon! Forget diamonds and chocolate, the way to my heart is a big box of sprinkles!

(contains affiliate links)

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 and adding it to icing it won’t make it dissolve.
  • It is easy to color your own sanding sugar if you purchase white sanding sugar because all you have to do is place a little into a Ziploc bag and add a few drops of food gel color. Shake the bag 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.
  • How cool is it that you can customize sanding sugar and make it 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 coarse salt.
  • My favorite way to use sugar crystals is on white royal icing with white sugar crystals sprinkled on as snow. The larger size makes the cookie glisten like real snow and it’s 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’ll 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, Jimmies!’ Now I bet that will be stuck in your head all day! Hehehe

I think Jimmies are so good we need to dedicate a day to celebrate this wonderful topping.

  • Jimmies remind me of little tiny Tic Tacs that come in every color and combo you can imagine.
  • They’re probably best known as an ice cream topping, but they are also great on donuts or donut cookies. I bet you’ve seen them on cakes, cupcakes, cookies 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 because they’re beautiful.
  • I use them for many different things like a pearl necklace, noses for reindeer, or for a border on the edge of cookies. There are a million ways to use them and here a few examples of them as Fish Eyes or as a pearl in a  Clam Cookie.

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

I hope this helps you know a little about the difference in amazing sprinkles because they’re a great friend to cookie decorators. 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,