Are sprinkles gluten-free? You might be wondering if these fun-shaped and colored decorations are safe for people with celiac.
Maybe the gluten-free sugar cookies are fresh out of the oven and your celiac child is ready to add their favorite color sprinkles. Or, you made the perfect ice cream cone and want to add a pop of color and crunch.
Will you be celiac-safe if you reach for the sprinkles? It can be difficult to know whether decorations and toppings like sprinkles are gluten-free, but you don’t have to choose between avoiding them altogether or risking your safety.
Sprinkles adorn many foods, and it’s possible to enjoy their festive flare while staying celiac-safe. You just need to know what ingredients to look for and what brands carry gluten-free sprinkles (or how to make your own, if you desire). This guide will teach you all you need to know so that you can confidently enjoy the sprinkles on your next gluten-free cupcake.
Please keep in mind that this post, like every other resource I create, is for education purposes only. Always assess the safety and suitability of products for yourself as manufacturing and recipes for products are subject to change.
This blog post was drafted by dietetic intern Jan Wasmuth, and revised by registered dietitian Tayler Siflverduk.
But first, were you ever taught how to identify gluten properly on a food label? If not, sign up for my FREE USA Food Label-Reading Class where I show you EXACTLY what you need to look for on a food label to stay celiac-safe in the USA. Stop stressing over grocery shopping in just 4-simple steps with this FREE training!
Gluten is a protein found in barley, rye, contaminated oats, and wheat. It may be helpful to remember the acronym “BROW” when trying to remember what foods have gluten.
In baked goods, gluten holds things together working as a binding agent. It gives texture and chew to foods.
Most people can safely eat gluten. However, some people have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease which means they need to avoid gluten. It can cause digestive issues such as diarrhea and nausea as well as nonintestinal symptoms such as rashes, headaches, or joint pain.
Next, before we get into if sprinkles are gluten-free, we need to know what sprinkles are. Whether you call them “sprinkles,” “hundreds and thousands,” or “hagelsag,” sprinkles have a long history that goes way back in time.
Although there are many theories, a commonly accepted idea is that sprinkles were invented by French bakers during the 18th century, at which time they were called nonpareils.
By 1936, Dutch chocolatiers had adapted the nonpereils into chocolate sprinkles, which were used to decorate toast and bread.
Later, sprinkles began their famous debut as an ice cream topping. Dr. Sidney Farber, a cancer researcher, formed the Jimmy Fund to benefit pediatric cancer patients. His nephew, Edward Brigham, founded an ice cream shop that charged just a penny extra for sprinkles on an ice cream cone and the money went toward the Jimmy Fund.
Today, sprinkles have many uses. Mainly for decoration, they adorn all sorts of treats. You’ll find sprinkles on cookies, cakes, ice cream, frosted pretzel sticks, donuts, cupcakes, animal crackers, truffles, pop tarts, etc.
Pretty much ANY dessert or baked good benefits from sprinkles on top. You can even find sprinkles inside foods, such as baked into funfetti cakes or stuffed inside crepes along with cream cheese.
Sprinkles come in many varieties. You can still find traditional chocolate or rainbow sprinkles in nearly any bakery aisle. However, it doesn’t stop there. Sprinkles can be found in various colors, from black to yellow to purple. You can also find color combinations for special occasions, such as pink, red, and white sprinkles for Valentine’s Day or red and green sprinkles for Christmas. Sprinkles can even be found in shapes, such as itty bitty candy canes, flowers, or hearts.
Now that we know what sprinkles are, it can help to understand how they are made before determining if sprinkles are gluten-free.
According to Tasting Table, sprinkle-making is an art. It all starts when the ingredients to make the sprinkles are combined, to form a thick paste. This concoction is then fed through a shaping machine.
The result is very long strips of sprinkle “dough” that are essentially ropes of sprinkle. Once on a conveyor belt, the sprinkle strands are tumbled to break them up into the little pieces that you find in sprinkle bottles at the store.
The sprinkles are then coated with a spray made from sugar. This creates a glaze on the sprinkles that protects them, makes them shiny, and lends them a mildly crunchy texture.
The interesting thing is that unless you buy flavored sprinkles, most sprinkles are not typically flavored. Although chocolate sprinkles may have a mild chocolate taste, other sprinkles just taste like sugar. They add more decoration and sweetness than they do flavor.
So, are sprinkles gluten-free? Usually, yes. Commercially prepared sprinkles are commonly made from a handful of ingredients.
The most common ingredients used are table sugar, corn syrup, cornstarch, shortening, food-grade wax, artificial colors, and artificial flavors. They can also contain cocoa butter, soy lecithin, and milk powder.
In rare cases, natural flavors can be derived from gluten. If they are made from wheat, they will be declared as “contains wheat” in the allergen statement.
However, this doesn’t protect us from rye and barley. However, in my 10 years of living with celiac disease in the USA, the ONLY time I’ve come across gluten in sprinkles is with the Holiday Sugar Sparkles with Crispy White Pearls Topping on the Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha drink. This topping has malt extract listed in the ingredients of the white pearls. It’s my opinion that generally, the risk of natural flavors in sprinkles containing gluten is extremely low. But assess the risk and suitability for yourself.
If you’re not sure what to look for on food labels in the USA to determine if something is gluten-free, then check out my TOTALLY free dietitian-led label-reading class. In this recorded class, I’ll show you how to check food for gluten in just 4-simple steps. Plus I give you tons of example problems to practice with you to help you get confident. Check out the free class here.
First up on the list of gluten-free sprinkles we’ll be checking are Betty Crocker sprinkles. Betty Crocker is not only a brand but also a well-loved icon of baking. Having celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2021, Betty Crocker began in 1921.
Betty Crocker invests in the lives of those with celiac disease. The company is a sponsor of the Celiac Sprue Association and the Celiac Disease Foundation.
On their website, Betty Crocker claims that some of their sprinkles are gluten-free. The website also says that these gluten-free sprinkles are made on a dedicated line that does not process wheat.
However, some varieties of Betty Crocker sprinkles do not have a gluten-free claim and contain a warning that they are made in a facility that processes wheat. Factor this into your personal decision on what you will enjoy, however, I do explain the risks of these “made in the same facility as wheat” claims in detail in my free label-reading training which may be mind-opening.
What about Kroger brand sprinkles, are they gluten-free? Kroger began in 1883 when Barney Kroger opened a neighborhood grocery store using his life savings.
Kroger is now the largest grocery store chain in the United States, known by 28 different names. Kroger aims to serve customers through low prices and fresh food, all while being innovative to meet customers’ needs.
Kroger’s Simple Truth brand was created in response to customers’ requests for an easy way to buy natural and organic foods at Kroger stores. The intention behind Simple Truth is to give customers easy-to-identify, affordable products that are as close to nature as possible.
The original Kroger Brand and Simple Truth brand both carry a line of sprinkles. However, neither line of sprinkles has a gluten-free claim.
When it comes to Kroger sprinkles, some varieties do claim that they are free of wheat and its derivatives. For example, the Sugar Topping line and Sanding Sugar line of sprinkles contain only sugar, carnauba wax, confectioner’s glaze, and artificial colors. This means that they have no gluten-containing ingredients and are a safe option.
However, other Kroger sprinkles, including the Sprinkle Mix and Sprinkle Dessert Topping lines contain natural flavors, which can be derived from barley or rye.
Simple Truth offers several colors of sprinkles, including Rainbow, Chocolate, and White sprinkles. The Rainbow sprinkles are gluten-free, as they have no gluten-containing ingredients and call out all the natural colors used, such as turmeric and vegetable juice. On the other hand, the Chocolate and White sprinkles list natural flavors.
When it comes to sprinkles, the risk of natural flavors containing derivatives of gluten like this is extremely low in my opinion. If you’re concerned, definitely contact the company for clarity. But in this case, I’d be comfortable eating all the sprinkles from Kroger and Simple Truth unless I see obvious signs of gluten in the ingredients.
So Betty Crocker and Kroger have gluten-free Sprinkle, what about Whole Foods? The first Whole Foods Market was founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas by four individuals who wanted to bring the natural food industry into the supermarket world.
Since then, Whole Foods has grown extensively. It’s mission is to “nourish people and the planet.” The website has a whole page dedicated to gluten-free living. It has a guide to eating gluten-free, a 7-day gluten-free menu plan, a gluten-free grocery list, gluten-free recipes, and a list of gluten-free products available at Whole Foods.
Whole Foods offers two varieties of sprinkles, Chocolate and Rainbow. While most of the ingredients are certainly gluten-free, both sprinkle varieties contain natural flavors.
Per speaking with a company associate, they cannot guarantee that the sprinkles are gluten-free as they are not tested for gluten (representatives often say this). They also cannot confirm what the manufacturer derives the natural flavors from.
It is my opinion that the risk of natural flavors containing derivatives of gluten in sprinkles is extremely low. In this case, I’d be comfortable eating these sprinkles but it’s also fairly simple to grab another brand of sprinkles to use if you’d feel more comfortable.
For all my Walmart shoppers, you might wonder if the off-brand sprinkles are gluten-free. Walmart’s Great Value, first pioneered in 1993, was revamped in 2009 to offer a larger product selection, better packaging, and higher quality.
Its aim is to give families grocery and household items that are comparable to leading brands, yet affordable. Great Value carries a line of gluten-free products that are reviewed and certified by the National Foundation of Celiac Disease Awareness’s Gluten-Free Certification Program.
This means that all of the certified gluten-free products must be within the FDA’s 20 ppm gluten threshold. Sadly, none of the Great Value sprinkles themselves are in this certified gluten-free line.
Regardless, a variety of Great Value sprinkles have similar ingredients, including sugar, cornstarch, palm oil, tapioca starch, dextrin, xanthan gum, soy lecithin, confectioner’s glaze, carnauba wax, gum arabic, artificial flavor, colors, and butylated hydroxytoluene. With some containing an allergen advisory indicating a chance of trace amounts of wheat.
These general ingredients do not contain gluten. The biggest concern is the allergen advisory which some people would be uncomfortable with but may not be as much of a risk as people thought. Make a decision based on your own comfort level here, but I’d feel pretty comfortable enjoying these sprinkles as an individual living with celiac and as a dietitian specializing in celiac.
Next up on our list of gluten-free sprinkles are Cake Mate sprinkles. Cake Mate was founded by a brother and sister in 1951. The brand has changed hands several times and now is owned by Signature Brands LLC. Cake Mate offers icings, sprinkles, candles, and baking tools.
Cake Mate products are designed to help people show their love through baking personalized treats. Cake Mate is a great brand for those with celiac disease. All of their products are gluten-free per their FAQ page, including decorating sprinkles, sugar shapes, sugar crystals, nonpareils, and decorating gems.
Cake Mate has sprinkles for all sorts of occasions. Below are some Amazon affiliate links for different versions you can order online.
With the many brands of sprinkles listed here that have allergen advisories or natural flavors with small chances of containing gluten, Cake Mate is a fairly easy brand to get your hands on and can offer peace of mind for those who are concerned about gluten in sprinkles.
Now you may be wondering if Wilton sprinkles are gluten-free. Wilton is a baker’s playground. They offer bakeware (cake pans, silicone molds, etc.), tools (cookie cutters, candy molds, etc.), and decorations (candy melts, candles, icing, etc.).
Their website even has a recipes & ideas section, where you’ll find tips and tricks for how to fill an icing bag, how to make buttercream tulips, even how to make a fondant bee and lots of other must-knows for blooming bakers.
Wilton’s website explains that wheat ingredients and potential wheat contact will be called out on their products’ labels. However, they choose not to label any products as gluten-free. Their naturally gluten-free products are made in the same facilities as products that contain gluten and the company states there is a risk of cross-contact.
Still, Wilton has allergen protocols in place at all their locations to lower the risk of cross-contact. Make sure to carefully check the label of all Wilton sprinkles. All the ones I’ve checked appear to be gluten-free by ingredient.
If you worry about allergen advisories (which are different from allergen statements) you’ll want to pay attention to that section of the label as some do carry an advisory for wheat. For information on this, again, I cover this in detail in my free recorded label-reading class. Sign up here.
Some definitively marked gluten-free sprinkles you can buy are Color Kitchen Food sprinkles. Color Kitchen aims to help people find joy in baking through pure, simple, natural ingredients. You won’t find chemicals in any of their products.
Their products are also plant-based and the colors come from turmeric, spirulina, beet, radish, cabbage, and annatto.
Although their products are made in a facility that processes wheat, all of their gluten-free items are third-party tested to gluten-free limits and have a gluten-free claim on the label. The company even goes as far as to disclose the sources of its maltodextrin, which is corn and tapioca.
Color Kitchen offers two varieties of gluten-free sprinkles. Both are rainbow, so it’s a matter of whether you want tiny spheres (nonpareil sprinkles) or traditional sprinkles. Either one will add celiac-safe pops of color to your favorite treat.
Do Watkins sprinkles contain gluten? Watkins has operated in the same factory in Minnesota since 1868. The building now takes up a whole city block and has more than 5 acres of the floor surface. The brand offers a wide variety of products.
When it comes to food, Watkins has recipe mixes for everything from chili to salad dressings. They also have herbs, spices, and extracts. For baking, the brand introduced a line of baking decorations free of artificial dyes in 2019 and has food coloring, sugars, sprinkles, and nonpereils.
The company’s website explains their gluten-free protocols. Watkins has a commitment to good manufacturing practices, one of which is extensive cleaning procedures to eliminate cross-contact.
Additionally, the brand claims that all of their decorating sprinkles are gluten-free. You will find a variety of options, including Nonpareils Rainbow Sprinkles, Green Decorating Sugar, and Holiday Sprinkles.
Are there any gluten-free Pillsbury sprinkles? When people think of Pillsbury, what often comes to mind first is the cute, white, plump little Pillsbury Doughboy, and for good reason.
Pillsbury has been a name in baking since 1869. You likely can recall watching commercials of a mom and her child baking cookies during Christmas time and then seeing the Pillsbury Doughboy appear on the screen.
Pillsbury’s mission is to enable families to make memories with food with easy, affordable recipes and products. Pillsbury offers a whole line of gluten-free baking mixes, including a Funfetti Gluten Free Cake and Cupcake Mix.
Pillsbury sprinkles are sold along with their Funfetti frosting line. Each container of frosting is accompanied by a small container of sprinkles. The colors and shapes of the sprinkles match the frosting theme. For example, the sprinkles that come with Funfetti Galaxy Space Blue Frosting include moon, star, and rocket shapes. The Funfetti Hot Pink Vanilla Frosting comes with little pink sprinkles.
According to the website, all of the Funfetti frosting and sprinkle sets are gluten-free, except for the Funfetta Vanilla Frosting with Oreo Cookie Pieces, which makes sense given that it has wheat-containing Oreos in it.
Baking decorations don’t stop at just gluten-free sprinkles. You can find all sorts of fun gluten-free decorations for every occasion. Below are some options, some of which contain affiliate links to Amazon.
As the base, frosting is important and you can find lots of gluten-free options, such as:
Once you’ve perfected the first layer, you may want to use some fun add-ons. If you need to have your treat looking back at you, try edible candy eyes.
For fancy occasions, add some glittery sugar crystals that look like diamonds. For springtime flare, decorate with edible flowers and butterflies. Icing flowers are perfect for wedding cakes. You can even order gluten-free edible cake images.
You can make your own gluten-free baking decorations too. Gluten-free frosting is simple, creamy, and customizable. Using gluten-free frosting, you can design your own edible flowers or buttons. Even edible glitter is easy to make and perfect for any occasion.
Now that we know which sprinkles are gluten-free, how can you use your sprinkles? Just like in foods that contain gluten, sprinkles can be found in a variety of gluten-free foods.
You can add sprinkles to gluten-free cakes, cookies, cupcakes, ice cream, frosted pretzels, donuts, etc. You can even add them into the batter for these treats to make a funfetti version.
Although there are lots of gluten-free recipes with sprinkles, you can even get creative to use sprinkles without a recipe. Try going back to the history of sprinkles and add them to toast. Or, sprinkle them on top of waffles or pancakes. You could add them to gluten-free rice crispy treats or even blend them into gluten-free protein shakes.
Even if you don’t prefer to bake from scratch, you can find plenty of pre-made gluten-free items that have the additional fun of sprinkles.
If you’re ready to get creative with sprinkles in your kitchen, here are some fun recipes to get you started!
This gluten-free Cake Batter Chia Pod made by yours truly, is such a fun way to enjoy sprinkles. First, it has the option of being made dairy-free if you use a non-milk-based alternative. Perfect for my friends who are lactose intolerant with celiac.
And second, this recipe is full of gluten-free fiber from the chia seeds. Just be careful not to overdo it with enjoying this recipe as too many chia seeds could give too much fiber and cause constipation. The chia seeds and milk (if it’s cow’s milk or fortified) will also provide you with a gluten-free calcium source. Perfect to support your bone health with celiac.
Lastly, this recipe is perfect to make ahead for the week. The chia seeds need to soak, making this a perfect receipt to add to your meal-prep rotation.
My Cake Batter Bliss Bites are probably one of my favorite recipes with gluten-free sprinkles in them. This literally tastes like a funfetti cookie dough bite.
To make it you’ll need shredded coconut, almond flour, coconut butter, cashew butter, gluten-free protein powder, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and maple syrup. If you’re anything like me, you might think the ingredient list is long, but trust me it’s worth it.
Plus, these freeze well so you can make a big batch and freeze some for snacking later.
Whether you’re baking with the kids or going to an office cookie exchange, these Easy Gluten-Free Funfetti Cookies by The Real Food Dietitians are fun recipes with gluten-free sprinkles.
These cookies are soft and chewy in the middle, with the ideal amount of crispiness on the edges. Plus, with plant-based stick butter, this recipe easily becomes dairy-free..
These cookies are great for any occasion, as you can easily switch up the colors of the sprinkles for birthdays or holidays. Any way you decorate them, try pairing them with a glass of milk for gluten-free source of calcium and protein.
Can’t eat a whole batch yourself? No worries. You can easily freeze the dough or the baked cookies to enjoy later.
These Gluten-Free Funfetti Oatmeal Waffles by Orchids + Sweet Tea feature gluten-free sprinkles and are super fun to make. They’re perfect for breakfast, brunch, or even breakfast for dinner.
This recipe only takes 25 minutes, from start to finish. Be sure to use gluten-free oats and gluten-free flour, as this recipe can be made conventional or gluten-free. If you need help with knowing when oats are celiac-safe, check out this post.
These waffles can be topped with whatever you please, from butter and syrup to chocolate chips to even more sprinkles!
The last recipe that uses gluten-free sprinkles are these Chocolate Donuts with Sprinkles Recipe by Flavor Walk. Donuts are a classic for Sunday mornings, coffee dates, and office meetings. And this recipe allows you to enjoy these moist, tender donuts while staying celiac-safe.
These donuts are for chocolate lovers of all ages. Not only are they chocolate donuts, they also are coated with a chocolate glaze. Then, top them with any sprinkles you prefer, from rainbow sprinkles to… you guessed it… chocolate sprinkles!
Most sprinkles are gluten-free. In my 10 years of living with celiac and as a gluten-free dietitian who regularly checks food labels for clients, I’ve only come across one time where sprinkles directly contained gluten and that was with a Starbucks drink.
Sprinkles are an addition to many foods that serve one primary purpose… bringing fun, joy, and festiveness! You may have thought that staying celiac-safe meant no more ice cream cones dipped in sprinkles or sprinkled-covered donuts.
However, this isn’t true. Many brands carry gluten-free sprinkles in a variety of colors and shapes. You can even make your own gluten-free sprinkles. Enjoying gluten-free sprinkles comes down to knowing what to look for on the label. Now that you know how to identify gluten-free sprinkles, you can add a fun flare to all your gluten-free treats.
And a big disclaimer, just because I’ve only found gluten in sprinkles once, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to check the label for gluten. If you’re not sure what to look for on food labels in the USA to determine if something is gluten-free, then check out my TOTALLY free dietitian-led label-reading class. In this recorded class, I’ll show you how to check food for gluten in just 4-simple steps. Plus I give you tons of example problems to practice with you to help you get confident. Check out the free class here.