Why buy at the store when you can make food dye at home using natural, nutritious ingredients? (Photo: Sarah F. Berkowitz)

I wouldn’t call myself an all-out health nut, but I do try to avoid certain ingredients with a well-deserved bad rap. Food coloring is definitely on that list. But as someone who bakes often, and loves making attractive, personalized desserts, I’ve had plenty of occasions where I wanted a bit of color for my food – and using chemicals just wasn’t going to cut it.

Natural food dyes are cost-prohibitive, so I gave the homemade versions a try. It was easier than I thought, and although the color is light, I’m happy to make some compromises for health. Taste testers agreed that the spinach, blueberry, turmeric and beet dyes barely changed the flavor.

For a bright, neon green color, I used fresh wheatgrass – but beware, the taste is strong with this natural – and very healthy – dye!

Food Coloring Recipe

PrintPrep20 minutes Yield2 cups


  • 2 cups loosely packed spinach
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 loose beets (cleaned and cooked, with their juices)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 cup boiling water


  • Light green dye: Combine spinach and water in a frying pan. Heat on low-medium flame, and stir until spinach is wilted. Process in a small food processor, and then strain through a fine mesh sieve.
  • Pale purple dye: Combine berries and water in a tall cup. Use an immersion blender to fully process the berries. Strain through a fine mesh sieve.
  • Bright pink dye: Strain the juices after cooking beets, and reserve the thick, colored water to use as dye. It looks red, but usually ends up a bright pink when added to icing sugar. (Here are a few ideas for using up those beets!)
  • Yellow dye: Mix turmeric into boiling water and stir until combined.

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