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.–David Leite

Natural Food Coloring FAQs

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?

Will I be able to taste the food coloring ingredients in the frosting?

Yes, to some extent, although it should be minimal. The more food coloring you use, the more noticeable the flavor will be. In some cases, this is desirable, such as with blueberries. However, if the food coloring uses an ingredient that may be off-putting to some, start with a small amount and monitor the flavor.

How To Make Natural Food Coloring

Four bottles of natural food coloring in different shades.
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.
Cara Reed

Prep 5 mins
Cook 5 mins
Total 10 mins
Dessert
American
48 teaspoons
1 kcal
5 / 5 votes
Print RecipeBuy the Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking cookbook

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Ingredients 

For pink food coloring

  • 1/4 cup canned beets drained
  • 1 teaspoon drained beet juice from the can

For yellow food coloring

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

For purple food coloring

  • 1/4 cup blueberries fresh or frozen (if frozen, thaw and drain)
  • 2 teaspoons water

For green food coloring

  • 1 cup spinach fresh or frozen (if frozen, thaw and drain)
  • 3 tablespoons water plus more as needed

Directions
 

  • Choose your color below and simply follow the instructions below.
Print RecipeBuy the Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking cookbook

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Notes

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.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1teaspoonCalories: 1kcalCarbohydrates: 0.1gProtein: 0.03gFat: 0.01gSaturated Fat: 0.001gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.003gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.001gSodium: 1mgPotassium: 5mgFiber: 0.04gSugar: 0.1gVitamin A: 59IU (1%)Vitamin C: 0.3mgCalcium: 1mgIron: 0.03mg

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.

Originally published November 29, 2014

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Comments

    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.

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for writing this!
    My sister and nephew had to cut artificially colors out of his children’s diet. While this resulted in a HUGE difference in their behaviour, it’s hard watching them go without the treats that don’t effect their cousins (i.e., cookies with M&Ms, colored cake icing, etc). Your recipes are going to make two children extremely happy. I’m going to be experimenting with mixing the colors the colors together to create new ones. Once again, thank you for this article. ❤️

    1. You’re welcome, Sandra. We’re so pleased that this will help your family. As a parent of a child with severe allergies, I know how hard it is to watch them have to miss out on enjoying so many childhood treats.

    1. Yes, Elizebeth, butterfly pea flower is a beautiful vibrant blue-purple flower. It’s often used in its dried form to make tea, but the color of the ground dried leaves also works well as a natural dye.

  2. Hi! I kept seeing people struggling with the color blue but it’s honestly the easiest! Use butterfly pea flower, it’s tea so it doesn’t change the taste of your foods. Is it easy to attain in your country? It’s a very popular ingredient in Asia

    1. Thanks, Nedd! Fantastic tip. I do believe you can order butterfly pea flowers online here.

      1. I was requested to pipe a name with purple wordings … using butterfly pea flower is such a great idea! Would it work on cheesecake?

        1. Cynthia, I think it would work as long as your cheesecake was fairly firm and dry on top. I would be concerned that if the surface was wet, the piping might bleed.

          1. Thank you for your reply, Angie! i have tried using strawberry puree with some corn starch to pipe some hearts on cheesecake, it did not bleed, however, the surface was dull after some time. Will try using butterfly pea and blueberries this time to test it out!

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