Homemade Organic Food Colouring




About: Synth chick for electro-rock band, Former Human Beings

It's no secret that the standard store-bought food colouring is made with chemicals. It's said that Red Dye #40 comes from petroleum. Ew! Making your own vibrant, organic, edible dyes is very easy, and all you need are a handful of fruits and vegetables. Have no fear, these homemade tints will not affect the scent or flavour of whatever you're colouring! If you'd like to make my organic rainbow marble cake pictured here, read further for its ingredients!

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Step 1: Gather Your Materials

The ingredients:

For blue:

  • half a head of red cabbage
  • water to cover cabbage
  • 1/4 tsp natural sodium bicarbonate (I used Bob's Red Mill Baking Soda)

For green:

  • half a cup of frozen organic spinach, thawed
  • 1/4 cup water

For purple:

  • 1/3 cup blueberries
  • 3 Tbsp water

For pink:

  • 1/4 cup cooked beets
  • 3 Tbsp water

For yellow:

  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 cup water

The tools:

  • medium pot
  • medium bowls
  • blender or food processor
  • fine-mesh sieve
  • spatula
  • 5 containers to store the colours

Step 2: Blue: Red Cabbage

Place sliced red cabbage in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Strain out the cabbage (save it for a recipe), then return the purple water to the pot and boil another 10 to 15 minutes until it's thickened up a bit. Sprinkle in the baking soda, stir, and watch it turn blue.

Step 3: Green: Spinach

Blend the spinach and water together in blender until totally smooth. You can add a bit more water if it gets stuck. Push through a fine-mesh sieve.

Step 4: Purple: Blueberries

Puree blueberries and water in blender. Push through fine-mesh sieve.

Step 5: Pink: Beets

Puree cooked beets with water. Push through fine-mesh sieve.

Step 6: Yellow: Turmeric

In a small pot, boil water and turmeric for a few minutes. Allow to cool.

Step 7: Storage and Use

Store colours in airtight containers. Keeps well for a couple weeks. I use about a teaspoon of each for my batters and frostings. If you'd like a heavier tint, lessen any liquid in your recipe a bit, if possible, and add more colouring.

Step 8: How to Make My Organic Rainbow Cake


  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup natural grape seed oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp Bob's Red Mill baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup organic milk
  • 3 large egg whites


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare one 8-inch round cake pan by lining the bottom and sides with parchment paper and greasing the sides.
  2. Beat together butter, oil, sugar, and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Alternate adding flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture until well-combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, add egg whites and use a mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form.
  6. Use a spatula to gently fold your egg whites into your batter until well combined.

  7. Grab 5 bowls and add 1 tsp each of your new food colourings inside. Divide the batter into the 5 bowls and stir well.

  8. Slowly pour each coloured batter into the pan so you have 5 layers of colours.

  9. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  10. Allow to cool on a rack for 15 minutes before removing from pan.

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    16 Discussions


    3 months ago

    This tutorial is so cool. I never realized how simple natural colourings can be made...thank you for sharing.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 months ago

    You're so welcome! I'm very "You are what you eat" so doing this is comforting ;)


    1 year ago

    I love this! What a nice, creative instructable. Well done.

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Aww thank you so much! :)


    Question 1 year ago

    if you put beet coloring in a cake, won't the cake have beet taste where it's been applied?

    1 answer

    Answer 1 year ago

    Not at all! In fact, I find it more pure and clean than using the usual store-bought red food colouring. I have a sensitive nose and tongue and that stuff seems so hairspray-like to me. This is clean as long as you don't go overboard with it. I was mostly worried about the turmeric, as I'm so sensitive to it, but there was nothing. :)


    1 year ago

    I think you did a great job on coming up with an idea and your entry. Fantastic work!

    1 reply

    1 year ago

    Thanks for posting, I don't like synthetic food colourings and did not realize that it's possible to get such bright colors with natural products, I'd really like to try out the rainbow cake recipe that you included in your instructable :)

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    I'd be so happy if you tried it out! Let me know how it goes. I also don't like the synthetics. A lot of times, you can absolutely smell/taste the chemicals. Bleh :)


    Reply 1 year ago

    Well! That comment's got me blushing like a pureed beet!