Natural Food Coloring Recipes

Many conventional / commercial food dyes are made from coal tar. Not something I care to put in my food. To learn more about what’s in conventional food coloring click here. There are a few companies that make natural food coloring, but I cringe at the price…. $18.00 for a box of 3 colors at Amazon. It’s a bit much. I’d rather make it myself for a lot less. Homemade food coloring will only keep 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator. I confess I haven’t used food coloring in over twenty years, but for those of you who still have young children at home or grandkids who come to visit, you may consider making it yourself.

Making natural food coloring is easier than you may think. It involves simply chopping a fruit or vegetable, covering with water and simmering until the water has achieved your desired color. Strain, let cool and you’re done. Herbs, spices and teabags also offer wonderful options for dyes.
You can go the simple route, use your Vitamix, blender or food processor and pulverize the berries, then strain out the colored liquid using a mesh sieve or cheesecloth. You can also do this with steamed vegetables, but you will alter the flavor more with adding pureed vegetables to your recipe. So when I use veggies to make food coloring, I use the boiling water method.


There are many options for making food coloring. Consider what you have in your refrigerator or pantry, fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, even tea bags will all work to make beautiful, natural dyes. Don’t forget these dyes can be used on frosting, in baked goods or even to color Easter eggs.

Reds/Pinks-Beet, Black/Purple Carrot, Elderberry, Purple Sweet Potato, Cranberry Juice Concentrate, Cranberries, Pomegranate

Yellow/Orange -Tumeric, Carrots, Paprika

Purple-Grape Juice Concentrate, Red Cabbage

Blue-Blueberries, Red Cabbage (see note below)

Green-Spinach. Green Tea


1. Add 1 cup of the chopped vegetable or fruit into a saucepan.
2. Pour in enough water to just cover the pieces. Heat over medium-high heat and let cook.
3. Mash the mixture once it has cooked and become soft, using a fork or potato masher. Continue to cook, adding more water if needed.
4. You will see the liquid take on the color of the food. Remove when you have the desired consistency and shade. {If you want a really intense color, you may have to add more of the chopped vegetable/fruit.}
5. Let cool, then strain the mixture through a cheesecloth.
6. Store in the fridge, in a sealed jar.
7. This makes approximately 4 oz food coloring.


Coloring Notes:
Only make as much as you plan on using within 1-2 weeks, this will go bad even when refrigerated.

Store the colors in an air tight container in the fridge.

This is not a concentrated color so use this liquid in place of all liquid in your frosting recipe.

Intensity of color varies depending on the amount of fruit/vegetable you used to make the liquid.

Red cabbage can be used to make both purple and blue food coloring. For the purple, cut and boil the cabbage until the water is very dark and concentrated.

For the blue, slowly stir in baking soda, a bit at a time. It will react with the cabbage juice and produce a perfectly pretty blue hue.


Specific Food Dye Recipes
Tumeric Dye
1. Bring 1-cup of water to a boil.
2. Let the water cool for 1 minute.
3. Add a small amount of turmeric to the water.
4. Continue adding little bits of turmeric until you reach the desired color.
5. Store in a glass container after cooling.


Beet Dye
1. Add several medium-size, unpeeled beets to a pan and cover them with water.
2. Simmer the beets for 35 minutes or until they can be pierced with a fork.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool.
4. Peel the beets.
5. Chop the beets and put them back into the pan with the water.
6. Leave the pan for several hours, watching as the color of the water changes.
7. Strain the liquid through a piece of cheesecloth into a glass jar.
8. Mix 2 teaspoons of organic white vinegar into the water.
9. Shake well and store.


Spinach Dye
1. Place 2-cups of fresh spinach leaves in a pot.
2. Cover the leaves with water.
3. Boil the leaves for 1-minute.
4. Let the pot simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Allow the water to cool.
6. Strain the colored water through a cheesecloth into a glass jar.
7. Store with a tight fitting lid.


Companies That Sell Natural Food Colorings:

Written By

My Health Maven offers information on a wholistic approach to healthy lifestyle choices.