Decorative Sugars, Pearls and Sprinkles: A Beginner’s Guide

May 10th, 2019 by Desiree Smith

If you’ve ever shaken decorative sugar containers like maracas before gleefully showering your cupcakes, you know the joy that sprinkles can bring. Ground up into a fine dusting or pressed into shapes, plain or bright, there’s a big wide world of toppings out there waiting to add color and whimsy to your baked sweets, desserts and ice cream. Here’s our guide to what they are and how to use them.

Sanding Sugar 

Ever since we discovered sugar, we’ve been putting it everywhere – and it tastes just as good on the outside of a treat as the inside. The sparkling variety is a fine, sand-like grain that reflects light and comes in a dazzling variety of colors. It’s basically delicious sugar glitter.


Sparkling Sugar 

Ditto everything above, but with coarser, polished crystals that reflect even more light. Great on buttery cookies or sweet breads.



Named after the old French for “without equal,” these tiny sugar spheres also come in a jumbo size. The most popular kind of nonpareil color is a mix of white and bright primary colors. The MVP of the sprinkles team, they’re popular enough that there is a candy named after them covered in – yep, you guessed it – nonpareils.

Rainbow or Chocolate Sprinkles

If your favorite jeans were a dessert topping, this would be it. Also known as hundreds and thousands or sugar strands, these classic sprinkles come in single colors, good ol’ chocolate or rainbow mixes and are the go-to choice for topping ice cream or donuts and baking into cookies. Made by extruding colored dough and chopping it up into small bits, they have a distinctive bite that contrasts beautifully with soft icings and poured glazes.


Sugar Pearls

Switching up the jeans for a little black dress? For a fancier cake topping, sugar pearls are the perfect choice. Their opalescent sheen adds a certain flair to your decorated treats. Gold, silver and black sugar pearls are especially dramatic and luxurious-looking on wedding cakes, anniversary cupcakes or graduation sweets.

Edible Glitter

The perfect marriage of sweet and sparkle, our edible glitter works beautifully in poured mirror icings and suspended in gelatins. These special sprinkles come in classic shimmering star and heart shapes that shine on everything from anniversary cakes to humble brownies.

Shaped Sprinkles 

Whether cut dough (soft and papery looking) or dextrose-based (harder and shiny), the sky is the limit with shaped candy sprinkles. There’s a universe of shapes and colors you can use to match your theme or jazz up anything from hot chocolate to a simple iced cake. Feeling adventurous? Make your own mix by tossing some shaped sprinkles, nonpareils and pearls in a bag.

Wilton Color Dust and Pearl Dust Decorating Powders

If making your own topper from fondant or gum paste is something you’d like to try, edible decorating powders are another great way of adding a colorful matte or metallic sheen. Simply brush them on dry with a decorating brush or mix with equal parts lemon extract for edible watercolor paints. It’s like edible fairy dust.

Now that you know a little about all the kinds of sprinkles you can use to top your treats, go crazy! Tap the sides of an ice cream sandwich in nonpareils or add sugar pearls to a spoon that’s been dipped in melted candy. Sprinkles are just another way to show off your creativity, so show us what you got by exercising that imagination and tagging us on Instagram @WiltonCakes.


A beginner's guide to sprinkles Pinterest image.  Rainbow nonpareils, chocolate jimmies, rainbow jimmies, sanding sugars, rainbow confetti sprinkles, sparkling sugars

Desiree Smith Desiree is the Public Relations Manager at Wilton. She spends her days monitoring media opportunities, working with newspaper, magazine and television contacts, collaborating with bloggers and handling a variety of other odds and ends. Desiree has a degree in journalism and experience writing for newspapers and television. Outside of Wilton, she enjoys running and planning outings with friends.

2 Replies

  1. Janine says:

    Can pearl dust be used on molded candy melts? I am making sea shells and thought they would look even more special with a pearlized finish.

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