Every generation has their food, the thing that reminds them of childhood. For those who grew up in the 80s and 90s, the technicolor explosion of colorful buttercream known as Rainbow Chip Frosting is something that reminds everyone of sleepover sheet cakes, ad-hoc bake sale goodies made the night before, and classroom birthday cupcakes. The processed frosting of the past gets a homemade glow-up, and it tastes better than you ever remembered.
Colorful desserts go hand and hand with marketing. Injecting cakes and frostings with a dose of color wasn’t new, but the bright colors of the 20th century’s last two decades saw food become more and more vivid. Despite being owned by the same parent company General Mills, Pillsbury’s rival — Betty Crocker — needed a reply to the Funfetti baking line, and they did so with the rainbow chip frosting. This is the frosting that changed the game. Betty Crocker responding to popularity used this frosting in another product called Dunkaroos, which was probably the emblematic snack of every 90s child.
Despite both products doing well, Betty Crocker discontinued the rainbow chip line in the early 2010s. The backlash was so strong that they released both the frosting (and later on Dunkaroos as well), showing how much people’s nostalgia plays into product demand.
While there’s no precise description of what rainbow chips are, a little bit of taste testing and a lot of guessing had me conclude it is a chocolate-based nib, rather than a sugar-based Jimmy sprinkle. The rainbow chips are softer than funfetti frosting and make it a more appealing bite.
To create the frosting start by making the rainbow chips. After microwaving the white chocolate with a little bit of vanilla oil, you divide the melted white chocolate into at least four bowls. The great part about this recipe is that you can control the colors, which are perfect for special occasions like holidays or birthdays. Here I just went with the classic red, yellow, blue, and green.
After spreading the white chocolate onto the prepared parchment-line sheet pan, you’re faced with the most difficult part — waiting for the chocolate to firm up. You can speed up the hardening process by placing the pan into the refrigerator. Use a sharp knife to cut the chocolate into small bits. Clean your knife between cutting colors, this will keep the colors from being muddled.
Now comes the easy part — the frosting. A duo of cream cheese and butter makes this frosting way better than the rainbow chip frosting of your childhood. The cream cheese cuts through the sweetness of the rainbow chips and makes for a balanced flavor.
Since the frosting is super simple, make sure not to skimp on the vanilla, it brightens up the frosting and gives it a great floral note!
When folding in the rainbow chips, I reserved some of the chips to garnish on top, but you can easily add them all into the frosting.
Pair it with this classic sprinkle-filled Funfetti Cake, and you have a nostalgic cake from the past made even better in the present!
Rainbow Chip Frosting
Makes 2 cups
20m prep time
- 6 oz white chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- Red, blue, green, and yellow food coloring
- 6 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment, set aside.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, melt white chocolate and vegetable oil in 15-second intervals, stirring each time until completely melted.
- Divide melted chocolate into four separate bowls, tinting each portion a different color. Using an off-set spatula, spread each color onto the lined baking sheet, making sure to not mix the colors together.
- Refrigerate until completely hardened, about 1 hour. Use a knife to chop the chocolate into small chips.
- In a mixer, beat cream cheese, and butter on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 5 to 6 minutes scraping the bowl frequently to prevent lumps.
- Lower the speed and gradually add powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt. Scrape bowl and paddle frequently.
- Using a rubber spatula gently fold in 3/4ths of the rainbow chips into the frosting. Garnish the frosting with the reserved rainbow chips.
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction