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How To Make Homemade Natural Food Coloring ~ Recipes to Dye Buttercream Frosting, Cake, and Easter Eggs

Updated on April 1, 2015

Using Natural Food Dye

With Easter approaching, consider making your own homemade food dye instead of adding color using artificial food dyes that are harmful to our health. We can take a little extra time to create color for buttercream frosting, cakes, cookies and Easter eggs using natural sources from other foods. Have some fun making dye free treats for birthdays and other holidays and celebrations. Beets, turmeric, green tea, and blueberries are examples of food that have staining power to dye desserts and other food. Because the color in these natural dyes is so concentrated, it only takes a small quantity of added color to make your creation while protecting the original taste.

Make your own frosting for birthdays, Mother's Day and other holidays using homemade food dyes. This cake was made using raspberries to make light pink frosting and blackberries to make the bright pink frosting.
Make your own frosting for birthdays, Mother's Day and other holidays using homemade food dyes. This cake was made using raspberries to make light pink frosting and blackberries to make the bright pink frosting. | Source

Copyright © 2015 Melis Ann

Sometimes subtle color is all you need to make a fantastic looking dessert.
Sometimes subtle color is all you need to make a fantastic looking dessert. | Source

Recipe for Buttercream Icing Using Homemade Food Coloring

Homemade Buttercream Frosting Recipe (Makes enough to frost a 9" double layer cake)

Mix in electric mixer:
1 lb powdered sugar (why you should use organic)
12 Tbsp butter (room temperature)
Add liquid ~ depends on color choice below

To Make White: Add 1 Tbsp milk to above, mix. Add additional small quantities of milk, monitoring the consistency after each addition, until desired consistency is reached.

To Make Colors: After powdered sugar and butter, add ingredients from the table below based on desired color.

Desired Frosting Color
Food to Add to Frosting
Amount to Add to Frosting
Other Instructions
yellow
turmeric (stale is more flavor neutral)
1 tsp
for every 1 cup of frosting, add a small quantity of milk to get to desired consistency
baby pink
raspberries
mash and strain juice from a dozen fresh or thawed frozen raspberries
for every 1 cup of frosting
pink
currants
blend handful of currants in a blender and add directly
for every 1 cup of frosting
blue/purple
blueberries
mash and strain juice from a dozen fresh or thawed frozen blueberries
for every 1 cup of frosting
dark pink
blackberries
mash and strain juice from a dozen fresh or thawed frozen blackberries
for every 1 cup of frosting
pale green
avocado
1/4 avocado mashed and added directly
for every 1 cup of frosting, may be thinner than desired
green
kale
2 tsp kale juice (make with juicer)
for every 1 cup of frosting
brown
chocolate
cocoa powder to desired shade of brown
add small quantities of milk or brewed coffee to get to desired consistency
brown
coffee powder
coffee powder to desired shade of brown
add small quantities of milk or brewed coffee to get to desired consistency
Making natural dyes to decorate desserts is beautiful and more healthy.
Making natural dyes to decorate desserts is beautiful and more healthy. | Source

Using Dye in Cake Batter

Have some fun making colorful cake batter using the food dye recipes above.

  • dye the whole cake
  • create a swirl cake
  • make layers of different colors

Blueberries can be mashed to make a natural food dye.
Blueberries can be mashed to make a natural food dye. | Source

Hints for Using Homemade Dyes in Recipes

  • Feel free to apply these ideas to dye other kinds of frosting, cakes and desserts. Experiment with quantities needed to get to the desired color.
  • Taste frosting as you add color to be sure that the flavors don't overpower the original flavor of your recipe.
  • When trying something new, don't use too much water when cooking the fruits and vegetables to extract color. Use just enough water to cover the food in the pot.
  • Try boiling for a longer period of time to boil off more water, leaving a more concentrated solution to add to your frosting or cake batter.
  • Juicing the fruits and vegetables will generate a more concentrated color compared to boiling a food to extract color.
  • Save cooking liquid from foods (like beets) when cooking a meal. Store for when you're ready to bake.
  • Use a cheesecloth to strain liquids.
  • Have some pre-made natural food dye on hand for emergency baking projects.

Coloring Easter eggs with colors found in nature.
Coloring Easter eggs with colors found in nature. | Source
Turmeric powder is a strong colorant without a strong flavor.
Turmeric powder is a strong colorant without a strong flavor. | Source
Beets have staining power to create a beautiful homemade dye for Easter eggs, cakes and frosting.
Beets have staining power to create a beautiful homemade dye for Easter eggs, cakes and frosting. | Source

Recipe for Coloring Easter Eggs With Homemade Food Dye

Some stores and farms carry eggs from chickens that lay naturally colored eggs. Besides brown and white, eggs can be shades of cream, yellow, blue, green or even pink in color. Using these eggs would make an easy and natural Easter egg hunt!

If you want to color eggs with your own homemade, natural food dye, first make the base mixture below. Then add the color by cooking spices, fruits or vegetables.

Base mixture: Combine 3 cups water, 2 tsp white vinegar and 2 tsp salt and bring to a boil.

Color mixture: From the table below, add the food of your choice to the base mixture and simmer according to directions. Let the solution cool to room temperature before soaking the hard boiled eggs.

Soak time: Soak the hard boiled eggs for a couple hours. The longer the eggs are soaked, the deeper the resultant color. It's worth the wait. Note ~ Natural colors tend to be more subtle than the neon colors in the dye kits.

Tools: Use disposable cups or bowls for soaking the eggs since the dyes can stain dishware too. Hint ~ Wash and save food containers from your recycle bin to use for soaking.

Desired Easter Egg Color
Food Used to Dye Eggs
Amount to Add to Boiling Base Mixture
Cook time
pale yellow/orange
orange or blood orange peels
peels from 2 oranges
simmer 30 minutes
yellow
ground turmeric (stale turmeric is more flavor neutral)
5 Tbsp
simmer until dissolved, about 3 minutes
blue
red cabbage
1/2 cabbage, chopped
simmer 30 minutes, strain
pink to light brown
beets
2 beets chopped
simmer 30 minutes, strain
pink
hibiscus flowers
2 Tbsp dried flowers
simmer 20 minutes, strain
brown
coffee or espresso
brew strong coffee or boil 4 Tbsp grounds in base
simmer 10 minutes, strain
pale green
green tea (Matcha style)
brew strong tea in base, equivalent to 3 tea bags or more
simmer 10 minutes
spring green
spinach
2 cups chopped
simmer 30 minutes, strain

Your Experience with Homemade Food Dye

See results

Disclaimer: Note that this website portrays my opinion. I want to help others consider a new or different view. Any action taken based on these opinions is the responsibility of the reader.

Copyright © 2015 Melis Ann
Original content written by Melis Ann published only on HubPages at the following web address:
http://melisann.hubpages.com/hub/How-To-Make-Homemade-Natural-Food-Coloring-Recipes-Using-Food-to-Dye-Butter-Cream-Frosting-Cake-and-Easter-Eggs

Making Your Own Natural Food Coloring

Avoiding artificial ingredients is one way to be more healthy. Making your own natural food coloring can be a fun and rewarding way to celebrate holidays like Easter, birthdays and other special occasions. Natural dyes from food sources add beautiful color and flavor dependent upon on how much is used. Starting with these recipes, you can experiment and find out what works best in your kitchen!

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    • Melis Ann profile image
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      Melis Ann 2 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Thank you pstraubie48:) This hub continues to be very popular around this time of year especially. It is rewarding to run experiments in your own kitchen and feel good about eating natural colors instead of harmful chemicals.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      How smart. I am bookmarking and pinning awesome suggestions and great instructions

      Voted up+++ and shared and pinned, of course....

    • Toytasting profile image

      Toy Tasting 3 years ago from Mumbai

      I have never tried doing anything like this. After reading your hub, I am really excited to go for homemade food coloring. Thanks for the information. :)

    • Kristen Walsh profile image

      Kristen 4 years ago from US

      I've never tried making my own food coloring, but you've inspired me to give it a try. I prefer all-natural, rather than using artificial ingredients in my food.

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 4 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Thanks for your comment Purpose Embraced. It's great to find ways to avoid artificial colors while also having some fun!

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 4 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Then you will absolutely love the berries emilynemchick! So much tastier in sweets than beet root! Thanks for your comment.

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 4 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Chris Achilleos, thank YOU for sharing and I'm so happy you found the info on natural colors useful!

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 4 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Thanks for the read preweb. Kids will really benefit from having more natural foods, I'm glad to hear you are going to give the natural colors a try!

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 4 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      This will definitely be helpful then ExpectGreatThings. This is basically the research I have done for my own family. Best of luck!

    • emilynemchick profile image

      Emily Nemchick 4 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      What great ideas! I've used beetroot for red colour before, but I'll definitely give some of these a try. Berries sound like a much tastier addition than beetroot!

    • Chris Achilleos profile image

      Chris Achilleos 4 years ago

      This hub is just great, I found the information very useful. Thanks for sharing.

      Voted up!

    • Purpose Embraced profile image

      Yvette Stupart PhD 4 years ago from Jamaica

      Great ideas for natural food coloring. This also very helpful especially in the context that artificial coloring is bad for our health.

    • preweb profile image

      preweb 4 years ago from UK

      that's interesting...will definitely try the natural colors especially for kids food.

    • ExpectGreatThings profile image

      ExpectGreatThings 4 years ago from Illinois

      I love this!!! Thank you so much! My son can't have food coloring, but so far I've been too lazy to do any research on how to make his treats more kid-friendly. Thanks for doing the work for me :)

    • Melis Ann profile image
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      Melis Ann 4 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Thanks for your vote of confidence FullOfLoveSites!

    • FullOfLoveSites profile image

      FullOfLoveSites 4 years ago from United States

      Nice one, Melis Ann! Natural is the best way to go, even in food coloring. I like your suggestions! Voted up and useful, awesome. :)

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 4 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Thanks for sharing this article Thelma! I absolutely love the surprise that people have when they find out that the colors in homemade treats come from real foods. Have fun!

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 4 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      DommaLeigh ~ hope you have some great success trying these new ways to color Easter eggs this year. I'm glad to hear that you already do this and that you are going to try these methods in addition to your own. Turmeric is definitely my favorite and I love the subtle colors that the eggs become as they mimic the colors of nature.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

      Wow! This is very useful for my cakes and cupcakes color. Thanks for sharing this.Voted up, useful and pinned.

    • DommaLeigh profile image

      DommaLeigh 4 years ago

      Here I thought I was the only one, that makes their own egg colors. Loved the hub. I plan on trying out your method to see what colors they make. The only shared color, comparing mine to yours, is the beets.

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 4 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      I'm glad you love the article on making natural food dyes in the kitchen Bill!

    • profile image

      bill 4 years ago

      hi I LLLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

      THIS sight

    • Melis Ann profile image
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      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Thanks for the comment Bob and glad you enjoyed the info in homemade food dye.

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      That's great Lucy! I'm glad to hear you are so creative at 13! I hope this hub is a useful resource for you to keep experimenting with using natural and homemade food dyes. My favorite is making the cake batter different colors so I'm sure you will have fun with rainbow layer cupcakes.

    • profile image

      Lucy 5 years ago

      Hey, im only 13 and love experimenting with food. I have tried, for example, colouring rice/potatoes with saffron for a yellowy glow and enhanced taste but I never knew you could create every colour of the rainbow using natural ingredients. I look forward to baking layered rainbow cupcakes using this method. It saves so much money and is healthier for your body, thanks :) xx

    • profile image

      Bob 5 years ago

      Wow, this is awesome :D

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      I'm glad you have found this information in homemade food dye useful millie. I hope you can refer back to it as needed as a resource!

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Thanks Dye Free Living! I appreciate you posting my hub on how to make natural food dyes.

    • profile image

      millie 5 years ago

      i just love this website it gives me lots of iformation

    • profile image

      Dye Free Living.com 5 years ago

      Love this! We have added your link to our Facebook page.

    • sadie423 profile image

      sadie423 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Great information! I made my daughter's birthday cake this past December using naturally dyed frosting.

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Definitely jpcmc! Using foods to make natural food coloring is a great project for kids in the kitchen. My boys love guessing what color the final results will be and coming up with new ideas. It's also fun to do taste tests when baking as some of the foods (like raspberries) leave a nice hint of flavor in frosting for example.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      It's always nice to go natural. Moreover, it's better if you make it yourself. I love to cook and bake but I didn't think much about making my own food coloring. This is really interesting. Perhaps I can use this as a kitchen activity with my daughter when she grows up.

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Turmeric is such a great colorant and easy to use at home in many different recipes. Thanks for sharing your experience Debby! I hope this hub and your comment help encourage others to start incorporating more natural methods of dyes in food.

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 5 years ago

      Dear Melis ~ I clicked across the board on this succinct look at food dyes and making your own healthy safe substitutes. I use turmeric in everything which adds plenty of vibrant color. However, since I don't bake anymore, I don't need to make any colorful frosting or icing.

      What you have presented here looks so delicious and inviting. I hope many people will take up your suggestions in the kitchen. Blessings, Debby

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      That sounds yummy JoAnn:) Will have to give it a try. Thanks for commenting!

    • JoAnn Knight Coe profile image

      JoAnn Knight Coe 5 years ago from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

      Great article with a lot of ideas. My mom used raspberries and currents to make a variation of a pink champaigne cake. Yum and all natural! Thanks for bringing natural coloring to our attention again.

    • Melis Ann profile image
      Author

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      You are very welcome suzzycue! I'm glad you found this information on making natural food dye for frosting and easter eggs useful.

    • suzzycue profile image

      Susan Britton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Wow this is very interesting and very informative. Tell you the truth I never even knew about making your own dyes so this hub is great advice to me. Thank you Melis Ann for answering my question with a totally new way to decorate eggs and frosting that is healthy also.Well done!