Homemade All-Natural Food Color

Homemade All-Natural Food Color

Homemade All-Natural Food Color

Happy May and Happy Celiac Awareness Month!

I look forward to helping increase awareness of Celiac disease all month long with you.

Be sure to check out my Facebook Page where I’ll be sharing a FAST FACT about CELIAC each day in May. I hope you’ll “Like” the page, too, and join in the conversations going on there.

If you’re already following along on Facebook, you saw the super-cute Gluten Free “Watermelon” Cupcakes pic I shared yesterday. Those were a fun idea Little Chef shared with me based on a picture she saw on Instagram.

Watermelon Cupcakes GF

We already had cupcake liners with watermelon wedges on them, and we’ve been waiting for an opportunity to use them. These “watermelon” cupcakes were a perfect match!

We decided to create a gluten free version to share with special friends for afternoon tea earlier this week. What a hit these little cuties were!

I know you’ll love them, too.

When you click over to the recipe, you’ll see more “Notes” than on any recipe I’ve ever posted for you. I am hoping to provide enough ideas and info for substitutions so that as many of you as possible are able to make and enjoy this fun treat. Be sure to check out those linked resources. I believe you’ll find them useful.

I also think you’ll find this how-to post useful, especially when it comes to baking colorful cakes and cupcakes.

That’s because “Where do I find all-natural food coloring for baking?” is the most-asked question I receive from parents and grandparents.

And that’s perfectly understandable considering additives and dyes sneak into many foods we eat and may contain gluten or food allergens like soy, wheat and even shellfish! (If this is a concern, you’re sure to LOVE the Ingredients Inside Section of the site!)

Avoiding traditional food coloring doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy fun foods like my Gluten Free “Watermelon” Cupcakes with their bright pink cakes topped with minty green frosting.

It simply means we must seek out all-natural colorings. Several companies offer vegetable-based food dyes.

Of course, in the interest of keeping healthy gluten free living affordable for you, I can’t tell you about any of them. I wouldn’t even accept their offers of freebies to test and share with you. They are pricey! (3 bottles, around $25, shipping not included).

So, for those of you interested in affordable veggie-based dyes for baking, I thought I’d share my how-to for making your own. It’s fun, affordable and totally do-able! Get the kiddos involved and you can even say it’s educational. ;)

The Super-Simple “How-To” for Making Homemade All-Natural Food Coloring

1. Gather and prepare fruits or veggies needed for desired colors.

I use trimmings (roughly chopped or sliced) from veggie prep. For example, the outer leaves of red cabbage, the stem end of bell peppers and the peelings from eggplant.

2. Have one small saucepan with about an inch or 2 of water for each color you’re making (or you can wash and reuse the pan if you’re making lots of colors at once).

3. Add 1/2 to 1 cup of the chopped fruit or veggie you’re using to a saucepan with water.

4. Boil until water takes on the color of the fruit or veggie, then continue to monitor and boil until water is reduced by over half. Reducing the liquid this way concentrates the color, so stay with the pan and reduce as much as possible without burning the pan contents.

5. Discard the fruit or vegetable and allow colored water to cool completely before using.

6. Use colored water to tint cake, muffin or cupcake batters as desired.

7. Store unused coloring up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Freeze up to 1 month, then thaw before using.

A Rainbow of Fruits and Vegetables for Natural Food Coloring

Our options are endless when creating our own food colorings! Here are a few ideas I’ve tried that work well in most applications. Don’t limit yourself to these, though. Keep your eyes open in the produce section of the market for other colorful options to try! I hope you’ll share your ideas in the comments below.

Pink or Red

Beets, cranberries, rhubarb, pomegranate, red cabbage, red pepper


Orange bell pepper (peachy orange), carrots


Turmeric (fresh or ground), yellow bell pepper (pale yellow), golden beets, saffron (only soak saffron threads in a tiny bit of warm water to cause the threads to “bloom” – do not boil)


Any dark leafy green (like kale or collards), spinach, parsley, green bell pepper


Blueberries, eggplant peeling, blackberries, dark skinned grapes (red, purple or black)

Additional Tips for Making Your Own Food Colorings

  • For the darkest colors, use a juicer, if you have one, to extract juices from any of the foods listed above. 
  • Because they are used in such small quantities, most of the foods listed do not impart any noticeable flavor.
  • In some recipes, using mashed or ground fruits or vegetables will work. For example, blend and strain blackberries or raspberries for a puree to add to cake batter for a tasty and colorful end result!

Now, grab the cupcake recipe and bake up some gluten free fun this week! When you do, be sure to come back here and let me know what you made and how it turned out.


Gigi ;)

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As someone with celiac disease and multiple food allergies, Gigi understands how food can harm or heal. Fully restoring her own health with diet alone after a 25-year health struggle, Gigi now uses her own experiences and the skills she gained as a former neuroscience researcher to share practical, easy-to-understand strategies, science-backed nutrition information, immediately useful tips and recipes to make gluten-free living liberating and positive for everyone!
  • glutenfreegigi

    Yes, this is much more affordable, and if I may say so, it is FUN! :)

    Enjoy your experimenting… do keep in mind, natural colors are not nearly as concentrated as those artificial ones, so you may need more to achieve colors you want, or you may opt for a more natural, lighter hue. Either way, so much more healthy and nutritious for you and your family! xo

    • Amanda Davis

      Thank you! It has been fun so far, we used red bell pepper for our red, yellow bell for yellow, carrots for orange and blueberries for a purple-blue hue. The “carrot water” has a slight sediment to it despite careful straining.
      We attempted kale for green, but it never darkened beyond a yellowish color. Any advice on the best vegetable to use for green tinted icing would be wonderful! Kale attempt number 2 begins now with double the amount of kale…

      • glutenfreegigi

        I like spinach for green. :) Dark green is a challenge to achieve. I am LOVING your ideas and that you’re experimenting!! What fun! Thanks for letting everyone here know how easy (and fun) it is to make your own colors! :) xo

  • glutenfreegigi

    Sounds fun! I like your choices and I do think carrot may be too light… maybe some color mixing is in order? A touch of beet juice in with the turmeric? Or something like that to give you the orange you want… I haven’t tried beet/turmeric for orange, but you may tinker with it.

    I do not think blueberry would give too much of a flavor to the noodles.

    Have a great time with your fun project!! I’d love it if you’d email a pic in to RenewYourHealth [at] GlutenFreeGigi [dot] com to show me your results! :)

  • GoDgirl777

    Thank you for all the great tips and recipes! They are helpful! Also, for purple you can use black rice. Turns the water a pretty purple color :)

    • glutenfreegigi

      Absolutely! Black rice, perfect suggestion for purple! :) Thank you!! xo

  • glutenfreegigi

    I reduce my liquid (boil it down until it is about half volume) – this concentrates color. Use it in your glaze for a portion of the liquid called for (i.e., almond milk, etc.). If you get it too thin, you can always just add a bit more confectioners’ sugar to thicken it up. Fortunately, with a glaze, there is “wiggle” room. ;)

    Good luck!