How to Make Your Own Naturally Colored Sprinkles

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How to Make Homemade Sprinkles

Learning how to make homemade sprinkles allows you to decorate your Holiday cookies and other treats without all the GMO sugar and artificial dyes. Enjoy!

I love the holidays. I cook and bake (and make soap, of course) until I’m totally out of storage space. And who doesn’t like sprinkles on their cookies and other baked treats? But, most of them are made from corn syrup, artificial dyes, and wax![1] Can I make an all-natural version instead? Of course!

First: Make Colored Sanding Sugar

Sanding sugar is used for many cookies and cakes, not just at the holidays, but year-round. It turns out that naturally colored sugar isn’t that hard to do. And the first step in making homemade sprinkles is making colored sanding sugar.

Find Your Sugar

You can use a fine grain sugar, a courser grain or a very coarse grain. The type of sugar that you use depends on what you’ll be making. I usually make a fine grain sugar that I can top cookies with. These sugars are vegan. Superfine sugar can’t be used as easily as it tends to melt. If you use a very light hand, you may be able to get it to work.

Figure Out Your Dyes

You’ll need to make a very strong tea from what you want to use. Red cabbage will give you a purple to blue color, orange zest gives you a bright orange to yellow, hibiscus flowers will give you a deep red to burgundy and coffee will give you a nice brown. You can get many other colors from other types of produce, just experiment to get what you want. Be aware though, that the taste may carry through to the sugar. Choose what you want your sugar to taste like.

Reduce by Half

Once you have your color figured out, place it in a saucepan and simmer. You’ll want to reduce it by half or so, to get the most concentrated color. Cool to room temperature and decant into a spray bottle.

Spray Your Sugar and Let Dry

Spread your sugar out on a cookie sheet, getting an even layer. Set your sprayer to the finest setting, so that you barely get a light mist. Spray your sugar evenly over the top. Let dry, stir, then spray again if necessary. Allow it to dry completely before storing. Break up any clumps by running through a strainer. Store in an airtight container. Use as you would any colored sugar.

Homemade Sprinkles

These are a bit more complicated but so worth the effort! You can start with the same steps as above, making your concentrated color. Once you have your liquid, go to the next step.

Make Royal Icing

Use 2 cups confectioners sugar (you can make your own from one of the vegan sugars listed above), 1 Tablespoon milk and 1 Tablespoon Brown Rice Syrup. Blend together well, into a soft paste consistency. You want it to be workable and not mushy. but also soft enough to go through a sieve.

Color the Icing

Separate your icing into as many colors as you want. Add a teaspoon of each color to each bowl and blend well. Again, keep it at a soft paste consistency. If it gets too soft, add a bit more sugar.

Pipe Out and Cut to Size

Spoon into a potato ricer or a fondant extruder. There are several of these available online in places like Amazon. Pipe the icing onto a pastry sheet or piece of wax paper. Cut the length you like. I make mine about 1/2 inch so they look like the sprinkles you can buy. Allow them to dry well. Store in an airtight container.

Use these sprinkles like you would any other sprinkles. Just remember that the flavor of the original item that you used to make the tea may come through.

Vegan or Gluten-free Homemade Sprinkles

Sure you can! Vegan is easy. Just use a vegan sugar and substitute almond or coconut milk for the milk in the recipe. This recipe is already gluten-free, so no adjustments are necessary. If you want to go sugar-free, you can use a sugar substitute like stevia or monk fruit. Use a very light hand with the spray for the first recipe. Spray lightly, allow to dry, then spray some more to get more color. For the second recipe, you can use stevia or monk fruit, but you’ll need to add some arrowroot powder to add body. You’ll need to experiment to see what works best for you.

Bonus: Colored Coconut!

One of my favorite cookies is these coconut balls that my aunt Val used to make every year around the holidays. They had dates and sugar and rum and were coated with coconut. My sister started making them last year and they are still just as good. Making them with colored coconut is just a fun bonus!

  • Make your dye water as above and place it in the spray bottle. Lay your coconut out on a cookie sheet, making the layer even. Spray lightly with the colored spray. Toss to coat and spray again. Let dry, then spray again if necessary. Let dry really well, then store in an airtight container.
  • Use this coconut as you would any other coconut, like in the cookies above.

Ready to make some cookies? Get out your naturally colored homemade sprinkles!



  1. Ingredients in Sprinkles? Accessed Dec 2019.

About Debra Maslowski

Debra is a master gardener, a certified herbalist, a natural living instructor, and more. She taught Matt and Betsy how to make soap so they decided to bring her on as a staff writer! Debra recently started an organic herb farm in the mountains of Western North Carolina. You can even purchase her handmade products on Amazon!

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