Your guide on how to make black food coloring at home within minutes!
🏴 Types of Food Colorings
In a nutshell, food-grade colors can be made from natural or processed ingredients.
These dyes are safe for consumption, hence why food grade.
Natural Food Shades
Common natural food grade colorings are black charcoal and squid ink.
Black charcoal is great for baked goods but it can make your poop black too and it can get messy in the kitchen.
Some will remember the days when we had to eat black charcoal when we had diarrhea back in the 90, it's basically the same thing.
Squid ink isn't vegan but it is still the most common way to stain pasta black. This is how you can turn your food the deepest black.
Processed Food Coloring
Processed food coloring is usually safe for consumption (depends on the brand) and can be used in all foods.
Common ones are either liquid, powdered, or gels that come in tubes or little jars OR black cocoa powder.
Black Cocoa powder, aka Dutch cocoa powder, is currently popular amongst bakers. It's used in batters to make cookies and cakes.
Liquid, powdered and gel food hues can be used in icings, frostings, and more.
Different qualities exist so getting the right one is important!
Cheap food coloring brands may add questionable ingredients and the shade might not pop.
Especially black food dyes can be a disappointment if you buy a budget brand because the food that you are attempting to color is turning out grey.
I personally use and recommend gel-based food colors from Dr.Oetker, those never failed me. I'm not associated with them, I just love their products, and that's the only one we ever used in Europe anyway.
🌈 Ingredients for Black Gel Coloring
This guide will focus on DIY black gel food dyes
I don't recommend using liquid food colorings or hydrated powders because you won't get a deep dark black. It will turn out rather a dark purple or grey.
You can also buy ready-made black food coloring or you just mix it together.
To mix it together, you will need:
If you can get them in a set, that's a plus point! Wilton also makes great food colorings, they have a set with blue, green, red, and yellow in it.
🥣 How to make it?
Here is how it's done, the printable recipe card is located further below.
It doesn't matter the quantity, you can set the amount as per your needs.
Add an equal amount of blue, red, and green food gel coloring to your mixing bowl.
Mix the colors together.
Take some and spread over a white plate.
Adjust your black by adding some more of the red, blue, or green shades. Just add a small quantity.
Mix it up and test again. If you are satisfied with the black, you can use it or repeat this step until you are happy with the black shade.
Once you have mixed together with your black gel color, it will start to harden at room temperature.
Use it up quickly by mixing it into your batter, icing, or whatever you want to color.
But there is an option to store your black food dye!
Either leave it in the bowl if you intend to use it within days and wrap a cling film over it. That will stop the oxygen from hardening your food colors.
Besides, exposure to air will cause it to lose its vibrancy over time.
The black dye can be stored in a small clean bottle too. Close it with a lid and you can leave it that way for as long as your colors are good. Check your best before-date labels on your tubes.
Here are some ideas to use up your black food coloring:
- any cake, cookie, pastry or muffin batter
- bread, pizza, puff pastry or choux dough
- icing, fondant icing or frosting
- couverture chocolate or regular chocolates
- basic marzipan or candy
- milkshakes, smoothie, juices
- whipping cream, buttercream, cream cheese, sour cream etc for dips and toppings
- sauces and gravies (for Halloween)
- rice, pasta, wheatberries
I think black food dye is great if you want to color one food black and another with a bright color to give a contrast.
You could make black and pink cookies for Valentine's day or white and black-themed food for a party.
No, because red adds the right color shade to balance out the blue and green. But if you don't have red you can do it with a purple food color too. If you skip the read, your DIY black food color will turn out blueish-greenish.
Make the black food coloring as per recipe instructions and add a few drops of white food coloring to it to mix a grey color. Adjust the amount of white or black that you add to ake a lighter or darker grey.
Black gel food colors taste neutral. They do contain gelatin, so it may smell a bit when it comes out of the tube. Mixed in foods you won't notice a flavor at all.
Check the labels. If it contains gelatine it's not vegan. If your gel colors contain agar agar, it's vegan because that's an alga.
Start by adding a few drops of food coloring to your food. Mix it in and add more if it's way too light. I recommend letting the batter or whatever sit because the colors will get more intense and will start to develop and get deeper after 10-15 minutes of sitting time.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas with us in the comment section further below!
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DIY Black Food Coloring Mix
- Green Food Color
- Red Food Color
- Blue Food Color
- Pour equal amounts of red, blue, and green food coloring into a small mixing bowl.Green Food Color, Red Food Color, Blue Food Color
- Combine the color with black. Use a toothpick to mix.
- Test your black by spreading some on a white plate.
- It will mostly appear blue or greenish. In that case add a little more red, a drop or so. If it appears too red, add a drop of blue, it appears too purple, add a drop of the green.
- Mix and test on your plate until you are satisfied with your black.
- When using it in your food, as for example in frosting, add a small quantity to some ingredient that you want to color. Check if it's black enough or if it needs more black. Add more if needed. *See Notes
- Store leftovers in a small bottle that you can close or in a small bowl with a cling film over it and keep in your fridge.
- Toothpick or small spoon handle
- A small white plate to test