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Natural Food Dyes for Baking

Raspberry / Mango / Carrot / Spinach / Cabbage

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Natural Food Dyes for Baking

Written by Dr. Kellyann Petrucci

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Never use any of those toxic food dyes in your baking again. You can use these natural dyes to add color to your frostings. Don’t worry about the spinach or cabbage adding flavor to your frosting. The berries and mango will add a bit of fruity sweetness depending on how much you use.


To make red: ½ pint raspberries

To make purple: ½ pint blackberries

To make green: 1 cup spinach, tightly packed

To make blue: 1 small- medium head purple cabbage and ¼ – ½ teaspoon baking soda

To make yellow: ½ large mango



Directions Raspberries (red) and Blackberries (purple)

The process for making food dye from raspberries and blackberries is the same. A half pint of berries will yield about 1 – 2 tablespoons colored concentrated paste.

  1. Put berries in blender and blend on high until liquefied.
  2. Press through a fine mesh sieve to remove all seeds.
  3. Put in a small saucepan over medium heat and reduce until you have a thick paste.
  4. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.



Directions for Spinach (green)

  1. Put spinach in blender and gradually add enough water, 1/3 to ½ cup, so leaves fully liquefy. (Use as little water as possible.) You can also use a juicer, and you will get a more concentrated color.
  2. Press through a fine mesh sieve to remove any solids.
  3. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.

Directions for Cabbage (blue)

  1. Cut cabbage into 1- to 2-inch pieces.
  2. Place in a large pot and fill with water so all cabbage is submerged.
  3. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 20 to 30 minutes until water turns dark purple.
  4. Remove cabbage from pot and retain all liquid in the pot.
  5. Simmer liquid until reduced to ½ to ¾ cup.
  6. Add ¼ to ½ teaspoon baking soda to achieve the blue color you like.
  7. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.


Cabbage dye without baking soda. 


Cabbage dye with baking soda. 

Directions for Mango (yellow)

  1. Place ½ large mango in blender or food processor and blend/pulse until very smooth.
  2. Because mangos have such stringy fibers process/blend for several minutes.
  3. Press through a fine mesh sieve to remove as much fiber as possible.
  4. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.

Directions for Orange

  1. Combine red and yellow.
  2. You can also follow the instructions for spinach but use carrots in a juicer, but it’s more work.

Notes: Because you are working with fresh fruits and vegetables, these natural dyes will only stay fresh in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. You can freeze the dyes in individual cups of ice cube tray to use as needed. If frozen, they will last for up to 6 months.

When using these natural dyes to color Creamy Vanilla Frosting, place desired amount of frosting in a small bowl, add dye little by little, stirring with a fork, until desired color is reached. If you will be using for piping, refrigerate until ready for use. It’s much easier to pipe when cold.

To decorate, put frosting into a piping bag with desired tip, or use a plastic sandwich- or quart-size food storage bag and cut the tip of one of the corners. Start with a very small cut; you can always cut more. As you are decorating cookies, the warmth of your hands on the bag will warm the frosting. If you are doing a lot of decorating, you may need to refrigerate bags intermittently.