Natural Food Coloring Made from Superfoods

Ever wonder how your favorite childhood candy, treat or soda pop achieved its bright, vibrant color and taste? More often than not, the answer is artificial food coloring--which consists of chemicals concocted in a lab by scientists you’ll never meet.

Oh wait, do you prefer more natural crushed bugs (used for red 4 dye) or beaver anal sac secretions (used for artificial vanilla flavor) to these chemicals? In addition to colors, taste smell can even be created to achieve a result not quite like the real thing. Oh, we’re sorry--did you really think banana Laffy Taffys came from bananas?

All jokes aside, in an increasingly mysterious food world, the health conscience among us must find natural alternatives to artificial coloring. Can't we all do with one less toxin in our diet? Here are a few alternatives to potentially harmful artificial food coloring ingredients.  Your body will thank you. 

Red and Pink: Beets

 Natural red color beet

Have you ever eaten beets and gone to the bathroom later that day and wondered…never mind. Needless to say, beets have impermeable natural red food coloring powers in addition to its health benefits. The best ways to harness these powers are by juicing or blending the beets with a small amount of water. When juicing, use the beet juice as your dye. If you choose to blend your beets with water, use a mesh strainer or cloth to separate the juice from the side pieces. In addition, you can boil the beets until they are tender and use the colored water as your food coloring.  The more juice you add, the more intense the color will be. Be mindful that the taste will be altered. Beets can also be purchased in powder form for food coloring.

Blue: Spirulina

Spirulina natural blue color

While it may sound like a mythical creature, spirulina may as well be when you think about it’s superfood qualities. Derived from sea algae, it is packed with protein, vitamins and antioxidants.

In the latest hipster news, it’s been used to create blue “smurf lattes”. Cute right? This healthy, natural dye will alter the taste of your food so be sure to monitor the taste when using it. It can be purchased in powder form for easy measuring.

Yellow: Turmeric

Turmeric natural yellow food coloring

Turmeric is the root that just keeps on giving. Can you think of anything else that you can use to make tea, season your food and stain your fingers yellow for a day? In addition to its coloring properties, turmeric is a known, natural anti inflammatory. So yes, there is a way to make your cupcake icing a little healthier.

As with most of these substitutes, turmeric does carry its own flavor. Luckily, a little turmeric will go a long way when used for coloring. Depending on what you are making, it will likely not affect the flavor if it is used sparingly. Turmeric can be purchased in powder form. If purchased fresh, it can be blended to a pulp or boiled and strained with a cloth or mesh strainer to extract the vibrantly colored juice.

Green: Spinach or Pandan

Spinach natural green food coloring

Green is one of the easier colors to replicate. The juicing method can also be used in the case of spinach to achieve a green color. For spinach, it is crucial to use fresh spinach as frozen or canned spinach has a stronger taste and less vibrant color.

Pandan is another way to add natural food coloring and subtle flavoring to your dishes. Simply chop the pandan leaves, blend with water and strain out the colored liquid with a cheesecloth. Pandan leaves can be found in Asian specialty markets. Pandan pasted can also be purchased online but be sure that it does not contain artificial flavors and coloring.

Pureed Fruit Dying Methods

Fruit coloring

Fresh fruit is another easy way to add color, flavor and nutrition to baked good in particular. For example when baking or making homemade icing, pureed fruit can be used for delicious flavor and vibrant coloring:

Blueberries- Blue

Blackberries- Purple

Mangoes- Orange

Pineapples, Peaches- Yellow

Strawberries, Cherries, Raspberries, Pomegranate- Red.


With the fruit method, the possibilities are endless and the flavoring is more controlled.

Have you tried any natural food coloring? Did we miss any?

Let us know in the comments below!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published