How To Make Natural Food Coloring

How to make natural food coloring? The answer’s easy. You can make it from scratch in shades of pink, purple, green, and yellow, with no artificial coloring, no preservatives, and no monumental price tag. Just fruits and vegetables.

Four bottles of natural food coloring in different shades.

Knowing how to make natural food coloring from scratch is something we’ve been wanting to do for literally years and years and years. And after trying countless different approaches, we finally we have the DIY natural food coloring recipe we’ve been wanting, seeking, and needing. No artificial colors. No preservatives. And no monumental price tag. Just vegetables and fruits and water.–Renee Schettler

How do natural food dyes compare to store-bought food coloring?

Keep in mind that when mixed into frostings or icing, natural food coloring will create shades of pastels rather than incredibly vibrant and nearly neon hues. But, on the other hand, these all-natural, one-ingredient colors are kinder and gentler to everyone involved. And there’s something to be said for softness, no?

How To Make Natural Food Coloring

  • Quick Glance
  • (4)
  • 5 M
  • 10 M
  • Makes 48 (1-tsp) servings | 1/4 cup
5/5 - 4 reviews
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Ingredients

  • For pink food coloring
  • For yellow food coloring
  • For purple food coloring
  • For green food coloring

Directions

Choose your color below and simply follow the instructions. Originally published November 29, 2014.

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    Choose Your Color

    • Pink
    • In a high-speed blender or food processor, mix the beets and juice together until smooth. Strain if desired.

    • Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Add 1 teaspoon to icings, frostings, or batter for starters to impart a pink hue. Add more coloring, if necessary.

    • Yellow
    • In a small saucepan, boil the water and turmeric for 3 to 5 minutes. Allow to fully cool.

    • Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Turmeric can stain, so use a container you don’t mind turning yellow. Add 1 teaspoon to icings, frostings, or batter for starters to impart a yellow hue. Add more coloring, if necessary. [Editor’s Note: Be careful when working with turmeric as it tends to stain whatever it comes in contact with, including countertops and wee fingers.]

    • Purple
    • In a high-speed blender or food processor, blend the blueberries and water together until smooth. Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain the skins from the mix.

    • Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Add 1 teaspoon to icings, frostings, or batter for starters to impart a purple hue. Add more coloring, if necessary.

    • Green
    • If using fresh spinach, in a small saucepan, boil the spinach in enough water to cover for 5 minutes. Drain, discarding the cooking liquid. If using frozen and thawed spinach, skip to the next step.

    • In a high-speed blender or food processor, blend the spinach and water together until completely smooth. If the mixture clumps or stubbornly refuses to blend, add more water as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time. Strain, if desired, and let cool.

    • Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Add 1 teaspoon to icings, frostings or batter for starters to impart a green hue. Add more coloring, if necessary. Originally published November 29, 2014.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    These instructions for how to make natural food coloring are easy to follow and everything came together quickly, each one taking less than 5 minutes (if you don't count the half hour to allow some of the mixtures to cool). Our color testers included a 10-year-old and an 8-year-old. They swirled the final colors into bright white vanilla yogurt and and the results were delightful. Each color is a pretty hue—soft green, lemony yellow, light purple, and a pale pink that got the most enthusiastic chorus of "Ooooh!" and "Ahhhh!"

    A few notes: Our blender must not be as powerful as some as the mixtures were a bit chunky. So we ended up straining each. It was easy to do and added maybe another 30 seconds to the overall time. We had fresh beets and fresh turmeric in the house, so we used those, grating each finely. The lemon yellow from the fresh turmeric is especially bright and fresh and satisfying. (Be aware! Turmeric REALLY stains. Make sure everyone is wearing an apron when playing with the colors.) We had a great time with this simple recipe and definitely will make these colors again.

    With the problems of artificial colorings in our food chain, this natural food coloring recipe was a pleasure to try. For the pink, I believe you can use fresh beets that have been cooked and use the cooking water. For the purple, the total time, including clean up, was just 5 minutes. For the green, I used fresh spinach.

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    Comments

    1. Hi, I’m planning to use them for decorating sugar cookies in Icing. Any recommendations on the quantity? Also, do you have more ideas for other colors? Thanks so much

      1. Anila, as with most food coloring, a little goes a long way. Unless you’re trying to get a vibrant frosting, you shouldn’t need a lot. As for other colors, we have heard that dried pea flower makes a bright blue color.

    2. If I wanted use these to make colored ice cubes should I be worried about them changing the taste of the drink as they melt?

      1. Sarah, it would depend on how much of the food coloring you added to the ice cubes. I don’t think you’d need a lot so I doubt that any change in flavor would be noticeable.

    3. I’m planning on using the yellow/turmeric in a cake. Does it have any taste? Will it change the taste of the frosting?

      1. Amber, turmeric does have a bit of an earthy taste, but you will need so little to achieve color that I doubt it will be noticeable in your cake and frosting.

    4. Hi
      Would applying these food colourings into ice cream change the overall flavour and taste of the ice cream? If yes at how much of an effect would it have on the ice cream flavour. Each hue that is (pink, blue-purple, yellow)

      1. Itumeleng, it’s hard to say if it would have any impact on the flavor. Typically you only need a very small amount of food coloring, so I wouldn’t expect the flavor of it to be noticeable. However, if you’re aiming to get vibrant color and use a lot of food coloring, you may notice a change in flavor.

      1. We haven’t tried making a powder from these, Julieta, so we really can’t say. I think you could probably use the turmeric in its natural form as a powdered food coloring. As for the others, even if you evaporated or boiled off all the liquid, I don’t know that you’d end up with a powder, or any appreciable amount. If anyone has tried it, we’d love to hear from you.

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