Natural Dyes for Buttercream Frosting

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Natural Buttercream Frosting Dyes

Natural Buttercream Frosting Dyes

Natural Dyes for Buttercream Frosting

After successfully coloring Easter eggs with natural dyes and making green eggs and ham with spinach juice (not to mention all of the controversy surrounding chemical food colors) I have been wanting to try coloring buttercream frosting with natural dyes.

I know what you’re thinking: spinach or beet juice in my buttercream frosting?! Yuck!  But you will be amazed at how you don’t even taste them, especially with the small quantities being used.  I didn’t taste anything different with the beet juice {pink} or the carrot juice {orange} frostings.  I tasted the slightest hint of grape with the grape juice {purple} frosting but that’s actually a good combo and I think a large part of that was because I knew what was in it.  As for the spinach {green} frosting, admittedly the one with which I had the largest mental block, I didn’t taste anything different on the first day.  When I tried it the next day after it had been refrigerated I tasted something slightly different but it didn’t taste like spinach and it definitely wasn’t bad.  The real test, however, was with my family and all four colors passed.  My son licked off all of the frosting first – just as he would have with plain buttercream frosting – and asked for more!  As far as I’m concerned, I would much rather have him consume a little spinach, beet or other natural dye than a chemically-produced version.  And the process creates a fun family learning experience, allowing your kids to experiment with different fruits and vegetables to dye the frosting.

This frosting experiment came at the perfect time because the pastel colors from the natural dyes are just right for spring and Easter cupcakes.  Generously spread the frosting on the cupcakes of your choice.

To make pink frosting, mix 1/4 tsp beet juice with 2 Tbsp frosting. (I just used the juice from a can of beets.)

Natural Buttercream Frosting Dyes - Beet Juice

To make purple frosting, mix 1/4 tsp grape juice concentrate with 2 Tbsp frosting.  (*Make sure that the brand of juice you use doesn’t add food coloring!)

Natural Buttercream Frosting Dyes - Grape Juice

To make green frosting, mix 1/2 tsp spinach juice with 2 Tbsp frosting.

Natural Buttercream Frosting Dyes - Spinach Juice

To make orange frosting, mix 1/2 tsp carrot juice with 2 Tbsp frosting.

Natural Buttercream Frosting Dyes - Carrot Juice

Other promising natural dyes that I didn’t try:

Red/pink: pomegranate juice

Bluish/purple: blueberry or blackberry juice

Orange/yellow: golden beet juice

TIP: Be sure to refrigerate any leftover frosting in a sealed container.

Natural Buttercream Frosting Dyes

5.0 from 1 reviews
Natural Dyes for Buttercream Frosting
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Coloring frosting with natural dyes is easy. I know what you're thinking: spinach or beet juice in my buttercream frosting?! Yuck! But you will be amazed at how you don't even taste them, especially with the small quantities being used.
  • 3 ¾ cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp milk
  • Beet juice
  • Grape juice concentrate
  • Spinach juice
  • Carrot juice
  1. Cream the powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and milk until a smooth frosting forms.
  2. Divide the frosting into separate bowls to make the different colors.
  3. Adding the fruit/veggie juices will affect the consistency of the frosting so you can add more powdered sugar or reduce the amount of milk to compensate for the added liquid.
  4. I made small quantities for experimental purposes but you can use the following ratios for any batch size.
  5. You can also change the shade of color by adjusting the amount of fruit/veggie juice.
  6. To make pink frosting, mix ¼ tsp beet juice with 2 Tbsp frosting. (I just used the juice from a can of beets.)
  7. To make purple frosting, mix ¼ tsp grape juice concentrate with 2 Tbsp frosting. (*Make sure that the brand of juice you use doesn't add food coloring!)
  8. To make green frosting, mix ½ tsp spinach juice with 2 Tbsp frosting.
  9. To make orange frosting, mix ½ tsp carrot juice with 2 Tbsp frosting.

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31 Responses to “Natural Dyes for Buttercream Frosting”

  1. Rimma says:

    Hi, Kelsey. Here you wrote half cup butter in the ingredients list, but in white frosting on the link page you wrote one cup butter. Which one is correct?

  2. kelsey says:

    It is 1/2 cup butter. Thanks for the catch and sorry for the confusion!!

  3. Mellissa says:

    Matcha Green Tea powder works very nicely. Even when you use enough to impart flavour it compliments well with certain cakes.

  4. kelsey says:

    Melissa, Thank you for the suggestion. I can’t wait to try it!

  5. Seasen says:

    Hi there,
    I love this! I am making my daughters first birthday cake in a couple weeks and have been trying to come up with ideas. I would love to actually use one of the natural food colorings to actually dye the cake itself.
    Any suggestions in terms of that?
    I am using an organic gluten free boxed cake mix and was thinking of substituting one of the vegetable juices instead of using the 1/4 cup of water the mix lists. I’m not sure what that will do to texture.

    Alternatively, has anyone found an organic all natural bottled food coloring that can be trusted? I would think one might exist out there somewhere by now…
    Thanks in advance for any help!

  6. kelsey says:

    @Seasen The following link will take you to my Rainbow Cake made with natural dyes: http://itsybitsyfoodies.com/rainbow-cake-with-natural-dyes-for-the-dailybuzz-moms-9×9/. I’m not sure if you want to do one color or a multi-colored cake but this should at least give you some ideas regarding natural dyes. And at the bottom of the article I link to India Tree Natural Dyes. I have never used them but they have been recommended by others. I think that stores like Whole Foods also carry their own brands of natural dyes. Good luck and happy 1st birthday to your daughter!

  7. Monica says:

    Love your ideas! wonder is there any dye to make a bright deep orange buttercream ? Thanks 🙂

  8. Amanda says:

    Do you have a suggestion for red? My son was a lightning McQueen car and I refuse to use the red food dye.

  9. kelsey says:

    Amanda, unfortunately I have yet to be able to make a vibrant red with natural dyes. You could try store-bought natural versions such as India Tree vegetable-based dyes. I’m not sure if they would turn out true red or not; if you try them I would love to know what you think!! Depending on what you’re making it might work to frost it with plain buttercream and then spread raspberry or strawberry jam on top, or decorate plain frosting with red berries or red candies/naturally-dyed fruit snacks, etc. Good luck and let me know how it turns out for you! 🙂

  10. Robyn says:

    http://www.sophistimom.com/red-velvet-cake-all-natural-no-red-dye/ This is an awesome website that shows the science behind tinting a natural dye to make it brighter! She got her information from this website: http://bittersweetblog.wordpress.com/2009/03/19/seeing-red/. Now these focus on the cake only, but I’m sure the same would probably apply to the frosting. My son will have a spiderman birthday party in November, and I’m anxious to try this out.

  11. kelsey says:

    Robyn, thanks for the link. I’d love to know how your red spiderman frosting turns out!!

  12. Mary says:

    Have been looking into this for my boys’ birthday this year, since I’m trying to eliminate all articifial food dyes from our diet. I found out avocado also works great for buttercream frosting! Thanks for your helpful advice, will be trying some of your ideas!

    The kids and husband are happy to have me “practice” beforehand! 😉

  13. kelsey says:

    Mary, thanks for the tip on avocado. I’ve used it in chocolate frosting before {color obviously didn’t matter but to eliminate the butter} but I can’t wait to try it in plain buttercream.

  14. Kate in kansas says:

    How do you reccomend making the spinach and carrot juices?

  15. kelsey says:

    I used a juicer so that the natural dyes were more intense in color. I have tried dyeing Easter eggs using the water after cooking the vegetables but the color was more faded and I’m not sure how that would work in the frosting. You could also try using the liquid in the canned vegetables. I haven’t tried this with carrots or spinach but I know that it works with beets. Good luck! I’d love to hear what you use and how it turns out for you!

  16. Katherine says:

    I think this is awesome, being that I have a child who is allergic to RED and YELLOW dyes. He face brakes out when she eats them. I cannot wait to make them for her.

  17. Christina says:

    I just used a bit of pumpkin purée mixed with confectioners sugar to make a decorating icing. Little to no flavor. The result was a beautiful orange. I’m guessing that along those same lines, butternut squash purée would make a yellow color.

  18. kelsey says:

    Christina, thank you for the suggestion! I will definitely try this the next time I need orange.

  19. Julieta says:

    Wonderful, I am also thinking that turmeric powder might add a nice pigment without much of an offensive flavor. It may even add color to a juice – like help in “color mixing” – Thank you for the tips!

  20. Jo says:

    Great recipes!! Do you know how to make black icing?? Have to make a peguin cake for my daughters bday.

  21. kelsey says:

    Jo, I have not done black icing yet. If you discover any tips, I’d love to hear about them!! Thank you 🙂

  22. Nayoma says:

    I used sesame spread (black)to get black color. I mixed it with little bit of water and then piped it where I wanted. This may not easy if you want to decorate large areas..I just used them to cover eyes only

  23. kelsey says:

    Nayoma, thank you for sharing your idea for natural black color. I can’t wait to try it!

  24. Bianca says:

    I am on a quest to come up with as many eccentric cupcakes as possible so I have been coloring and flavoring at the same time. I either substitute the milk in my buttercream with whatever I am flavoring with or I infuse flavors (and the colors) into the milk. Some of my favorites: Lemon cupcakes with mixed berrry BC — makes a vivid purple, strawberry with basil buttercream (light green), dark chocolate with tangerine buttercream (pale orange).

  25. Sarah says:

    Thank you! My son is allergic to food dyes. I cannot wait to try these!

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