Beautify Your Desserts with These All-Natural Food Dyes

Avoid cancer-causing dyes with these natural alternatives

Photo Modified: Flickr / John Morgan / CC BY 4.0

Beautify Your Desserts with These All-Natural Food Dyes


On the bright side, staying away from potentially harmful artificial dyes like Red 40, Yellow 5, and Blue 1 doesn’t mean you are doomed to eating dull, colorless food.


Photo Modified: Flickr / woodleywonderworks / CC BY 4.0

Beets come in a variety of colors, including deep red and bright yellow. Use red beets to deliver a dramatic hue to your favorite red velvet cake recipe.



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When you are devouring fresh blueberries at the farmers market, pay attention to how the juices dye your fingers a pale blue.  Use blueberries to turn your favorite vanilla buttercream a soft shade of blue.

Carrot Tops

Photo Modified: Flickr / John Morgan / CC BY 4.0

Strangely, you are better off boiling carrot tops to get the characteristic bright orange color than the actual carrot. Use the orange dye to add a beta carotene glow to frosting and cupcake batters.


Chili Powder

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Boil chili powder to release its yellow-orange coloring. Once you’ve completed that step, just cool and add as you would synthetic colors — by the drop.


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The bright yellow-orange flesh of the mango can be puréed and added to baked goods to sweeten and color. If you don’t want an overwhelming mango flavor, use sparingly. Make sure you strain the purée and reduce the juice to make a potent dye.


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This fruit practically bleeds red when it’s cut open. Juice it and reduce the liquid to create a bright red dye that will leave you wondering why anyone ever bothered with chemicals.



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Purple radicchio actually becomes the perfect blue food coloring. Simple chop it, boil in water for 20 minutes, and then strain.  Once the liquid is free of particles, add a pinch of baking soda to turn the powerful dye blue.



If you want beautiful pink cake or frosting, all you need are some frozen raspberries. Just bring to a boil in water, purée, and strain, and you’ll have natural pink dye to make your cupcake decorating dreams come true.


Red Cabbage

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Cabbage also requires a little boiling to extract that deep purple-blue color. Just simmer in water, strain, and reduce until the desired concentration is reached. Remember, natural dyes aren’t always as potent as the artificial ones, so some recipe experimentation may be necessary.



Thinkstock / Lecic

Don’t worry: Your St. Patrick’s Day baking won’t be halted by the revelation that artificial dyes might be  bad for you. Just use spinach. Boil, reduce, blend, and strain to make the natural green dye that we promise won’t make your cookies taste like spinach.


Thinkstock / Azurita

This golden-hued spice makes rich and beautiful yellow frosting.  Simply stir into water and bring to a boil until the desired intensity is reached. Then, reduce the liquid to create a bright dye to use in your favorite buttercream.