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Sprinkles are synonymous with cakes and donuts, and many other sweet treats. So chances are that if you have ever had a sudden urge to start making some sweet treats, you would have bought yourself some sprinkles. If that is the case, and it has been a long time, you may be a bit reluctant to open them up and start using them again. Well to stop you worrying, let’s answer “do sprinkles expire?”

Close up of tiny candy sprinkles. Makes a fun and very colorful wallpaper!

What are spinkles?

Sometimes referred to as sugar strands, sprinkles are very tiny pieces of crunchy confectionary that are used almost exclusively in baking as a topping or garnish. They can most commonly be found on ice cream, donuts, cookies, cakes, and cupcakes. They are used to improve how an item looks but they also serve as a way to add a crunchy texture to an otherwise crunch-less food. On top of this, they also add a little bit of flavor due to how sugary they are. They look especially great on top of a white background such as powdered sugar on a cupcake or donut.

What are sprinkles made of?

Sprinkles are incredibly sugary so you may be wondering what they are made of. The typical ingredients found in sprinkles are;

  • Sugar
  • Cornstarch
  • Flavorings (mostly either vanilla extract, caramel, or cocoa)
  • Food coloring

The ingredients used may vary from brand to brand but those are the most popular ingredients. Using these ingredients, a paste is made which is passed through an extruding sprinkles machine which is what gives them their iconic shape and look. After this they are coated with a sugar glaze and a bit more food color so that they really pop and help any cake they may be covering later in their life. The ingredients should not change too much as they are just colored sugar strands.

What is the shelf life/expiration date for spinkles?

Sprinkles can indeed go bad. They have an expiration date and past this, they are considered bad but this is not what you may think. They will not go moldy like some other foods as soon as they reach this date, they will instead start to decline in taste and texture. They will go moldy if they are introduced to moisture so it is important to keep them in an airtight container.

Bad sprinkles are not easily identifiable, and you may have to put them through a taste test if you are not sure. If they have bad taste and are no longer the crunchy confectionery you once knew and loved, it is time to use your best judgment and get a new pack.

As mentioned earlier, moisture makes sprinkles vulnerable and they may become moldy if you are not careful. When this happens, and the bacterial growth begins, they may produce a rancid smell. You cannot just pull out the lump of moldy sprinkles, you have to discard them all.

Can you eat expired sprinkles?

Assuming that they are just past any expiration dates they were given and are not moldy, then yes you can eat expired sprinkles. They will not be as tasty or as crunchy as they once were but they will not be harmful to you. They will not taste bad by any means, but the taste will be less bold and might just not exist at all.

How to properly store sprinkles

When storing sprinkles it is essential they are handled properly so that they do not get moldy or bad before their expiration date. There are a few ways you can ensure this and that is by putting them in an air-tight container. If their original container does not have a seal that allows for this, then pour them out into an air-tight container of your own and make sure you shut the lid properly.

If you do not have an air-tight container then you can store them in a zip lock bag, just make sure you squeeze all the air out first so that they don’t go stale. It is also important to keep them away from any direct sunlight or sources of heat or moisture. This will ensure that they are as fresh as possible the next time you want to garnish some baked goods.

To really stretch out their shelf life, you can opt to refrigerate sprinkles but this is not recommended. However, it is an option if there is nowhere else you can store them. You can also freeze sprinkles if you are determined to keep them and use them past their expiration date but it is not recommended as freezing them will decrease their quality and will make them taste just as bad as they would if they passed the expiration date by a week or so. It is an option, but you might as well buy a new pack. If you are insistent on storing them in the fridge or freezer, put them in a zip lock bag first.

FAQ – Do sprinkles expire?

Do Wilton sprinkles expire?

They will eventually expire, although as long as they are left in the proper conditions, this expiration will just be a decline in taste and texture. They should be good to eat for up to a month after expiry.

Are sprinkles safe to eat?

Sprinkles are just sugar decorations to put on treats and baked goods. They are completely safe to eat and will not harm you. However, if you have any allergies it is best to check to make sure the ingredients are safe for you.

Does decorating sugar go bad?

Decorating sugar will not go bad past its expiration date, it will just decline in taste, texture, and quality. If it is exposed to moisture then it may become moldy and then be bad, so it is best to store it properly.

Can I store sprinkles in the fridge?

Feel free to store sprinkles in the fridge. However, doing so will make them less crunchy when you take them out to use them. Other than this, they are safe to put in the fridge just make sure you also put them in a zip lock bag with the air squeezed out first.