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.

Prep 5 mins
Cook 5 mins
Total 10 mins
Dessert
American
48 teaspoons
1 kcal
5 / 6 votes
Print RecipeBuy the Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking cookbook

Want it? Click it.

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

Want it? Click it.

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

#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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

HUNGRY FOR MORE?

Comments

  1. I am thinking of using one of these recipes to color homemade play dough. Will the play dough need to be kept in refrigerator afterwards?

    1. Love your use for this coloring, Susan! Yes, I think refrigerating is essential to prevent the natural ingredients from degrading. And kindly keep in mind, natural food colorings tend to be much less vibrant in color than their artificial counterparts, so perhaps adjust your expectations accordingly (or simply use lots of the coloring!). Let us know how it goes, please and many thanks!

  2. Hi, Can i use the same method to infuse oils as well? I am hoping to use these in lip balms and such.
    thanks, Anu

  3. I’m a barista and I’m doing Latte Art, and I want to use organic food coloring, but I just want to make sure that the ingredients will not affect the taste of the coffee?
    Thank you for your time!

    1. Hi Ceasar, I love the idea of adding a bit of color to a latte! Although we did not detect a flavor in the food coloring, several readers mentioned that they did. I would whip up a small batch and try a taste test before serving to your patrons.

  4. my LO has allergies to blueberries and spinach… any other food I could use to do purple or green? and what about blue?

    1. Hi Rebekah, there are several things you can try to get these colors. Liquid chlorophyll, parsley or matcha green tea for green, blue spirulina powder or red cabbage for blue, and a berry or acai powder for purple. An easy way to test the color outcome is to mix with a bit of yogurt, you can get a feel for the amount needed and have a treat to boot. Some of these powders can be expensive if pre-packaged, I find buying them from the bulk bins at a natural food store saves a bit on the pocketbook.

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Attach it below. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

Rate this recipe!

Have you tried this recipe? Let us know what you think.

Upload a picture of your dish