{from scratch holidays} DIY Natural Food Coloring

As the Holidays are upon us, cookie-making season is in full swing.

My kids have a list of cookies they want to make {or rather, eat}, I have my own recipe list of goodies to try, and then of course there are the edible gifts.  At my house, there will be lots of cookie baking in the days ahead.

High on the priority list are the sugar cookies.
My kids LOVE making sugar cookies and frosting them with various colored icings, sprinkles and the such.

I was hesitant to use the concentrated food coloring, so I looked around for alternative ideas of how to color our frosting.

After lots of batches, and many test runs, here is what I came up with:

RED/PINK: beets, chopped  or fresh cranberries

YELLOW/ORANGE:  carrots, finely chopped (or turmeric powder)

GREEN: spinach, finely chopped (don’t try avocado, trust me.)

BLUE: blueberries, fresh or frozen (this has some red to it)

PURPLE:  red cabbage, coarsely chopped


  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 4oz food coloring

A few things to note before starting:

  • Use the natural food coloring within 1-2 weeks of making it, as it will go bad.
  • Store the colors in a sealed container, in the fridge.  
  • This is not a concentrated color so use this liquid in place of all liquid in your frosting recipe. 
  • The intensity of the color may vary, depending on the amount of fruit/vegetable you used to make the liquid.

Now that you have the food coloring, are you looking for a cookie recipe to try out?

Here’s an awesome round-up of cookies that Christina put together.

Or, try these Gluten Free, Dairy Free Sugar Cookie, or Gluten Free, Dairy Free Gingerbread People Cookie recipes.

~Happy Holidays and Happy Cookie Making!


43 Comments Add yours

  1. This is great! I had been interested in making my own food coloring and now I have a recipe. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Becky says:

      Awesome! I hope you have fun making your own coloring!!! Let us know how it turns out!

  2. Thank you!! I’ve been thinking about how to do this for a long time…great 🙂

  3. Eve Fox says:

    Love it! Thx.

    1. Becky says:

      Thanks Eve! Let us know how your food color making goes!!!

  4. Cathy says:

    Sorry, this may be a dense question, but is this something you’d replace say the eggs with? You mentioned replace all liquid – if using egg/egg whites, would you just use this instead or this just in place of vanilla (that’s the only true liquid I can think of)? I’m thinking of doing it to make red velvet (or blue velvet actually…just found a recipe!) cupcakes and there isn’t much liquid in the recipe. I really like to cook organic and even if I make the whole thing organic, it’s worthless if I add red dye #2 or whatever to color it. Also, what do you do with the fruit/veggies left over after straining the liquid? Thanks so much!

    1. Becky says:

      @Cathy: Thanks for your questions and for leaving a comment. I wouldn’t replace the eggs (or egg whites) with the food coloring. You will need the eggs for the cake itself and the coloring will not be a suitable replacement for that. Sorry for the for the confusion in that part. I would say to add the coloring and possibly add more flour??? Also, just a note: the red most likely wont be as dark red as if you used store bought food coloring. So your red velvet might look more pink in the end. Just wanted to warn you. The store bought coloring is a lot more concentrated than a homemade version.

      The fruits/veggies were pretty smashed after I used them to make the colorings, so I just tossed them once I strained it.

      Let us all know how your cake turns out…and feel free to ask more questions.

      1. Erin Olson says:

        You can add pureed beets straight to your cake recipe too to get more of a red color!

  5. narf77 says:

    An excellent tutorial and another thing that I can now make for myself 🙂

    1. Hadia says:

      Hi Becky!
      I am so grateful to you! thank you so much for showing us how to make our own colors, I really wanted to do this, just have a question. since he color will last 1 to 2 weeks in the fridge,can I keep it in the freezer may be, so that whenever I need it I can take it out?
      Thanks a million! 🙂

  6. tammy says:

    Thanks for this! i needed a red food coloring. but didn’t have beets or cranberries. so i used strawberries instead because they were all i had at the moment. I’m in the process of making it now. I hope it works!

  7. Chassidy says:

    I am no longer positive where you are getting your info, however great topic.

    I needs to spend some time learning much more or
    figuring out more. Thanks for excellent information I was
    in search of this information for my mission.

  8. Jessica S. says:

    Sounds awesome. My only question is do the colors end up taking on the flavor of the item you use? Or is the flavor Linda bleached out leaving only the color? Also, have you tried concentrating the liquid to produce more intense colors? Do you know of anything you can add to the liquid so you can concentrate it into powder? And someone already asked this, but can you possibly pour into ice cube trays and put in freezer to save for a longer period of time?

    My kids LOVE when I make rainbow rice but my mother is all concerned about it not being healthy for them… I am totally going to try this and possibly just answer my own questions… I’ll let you all know how it works out. Thanks!

    1. Jessica S. says:

      Just forgot to check the boxes for emails if I get a response. Anyways, thanks again for the info!

  9. What’s Going down i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I have found It positively helpful and it has helped me out
    loads. I am hoping to contribute & help different customers like its aided me.
    Good job.

  10. Rhonda Matthews says:

    Can you color eggs using these recipes? Please, email me your answer as I may not find this Site again. Thanks a ton! Rhonda rsm_66@msn.com

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