How to Make Orange Food Coloring

Whether you want to start with natural ingredients or ready-made dye, follow our step-by-step guide.

October 20, 2022

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Plate with orange cupcakes close-up. Two little boys celebrate Halloween on background.

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Plate with orange cupcakes close-up. Two little boys celebrate Halloween on background.

Photo by: Tatiana Maksimova/Getty Images

Tatiana Maksimova/Getty Images

By Jessie Sheehan for Food Network Kitchen

Jessie Sheehan is a baker and cookbook author.

Orange food coloring is as essential as black food coloring when Halloween baking. But it’s tricky (pun intended) to find it in the grocery store unless your store carries orange gel food coloring. Don’t worry though because we’ve got you covered. We’ll show you how to make natural orange food coloring, using “natural” ingredients (carrot powder anyone?); as well as how to make it by using a combination of different off-the-shelf food dyes that you likely have in your kitchen cabinet right now.

Paprika in a small white bowl. See my portfolio for more...

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Paprika in a small white bowl. See my portfolio for more...

Photo by: Synergee/Getty Images

Synergee/Getty Images

How to Make Orange Food Coloring with Natural Ingredients

Ingredients for Making Natural Orange Food Coloring

Keep in mind that it is best to use natural food coloring in frostings, fondants, etc. as opposed to in batters and doughs that will be baked. The colors can turn brown when exposed to heat.

Carrot powder is the best option when making natural food coloring, as the color is the brightest and most saturated and doesn’t impart savory flavor. With a little planning ahead, you can easily snag some online. You can often find it at health food stores. If you cannot find carrot powder and are in a pinch, you can buy freeze-dried carrots and grind them up. Alternatively, you can use carrot juice. Just keep in mind that carrot juice adds additional liquid, so you’ll want to cut back on other liquid in the recipe.

Paprika works much like carrot powder and is great for savory applications because it imparts its own bright distinct flavor to dishes.

Finally, pumpkin puree or sweet potato puree work as well, just keep in mind that they also add moisture and can impart earthy flavor.

Step-By-Step Instructions for Making Natural Orange Food Coloring

  1. Using carrot powder or paprika: Dissolve 1 to 2 teaspoons of powder in 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to create food coloring. Add a little of this natural dye at a time until the desired colored is achieved.
  2. Using carrot juice, pumpkin puree or sweet potato puree: Because these ingredients are already liquid, there’s no need to mix them with additional water. Instead, simply start by using a little at a time until the color you want is achieved.
Four bottles of food coloring.

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Four bottles of food coloring.

Photo by: tmcnem/Getty Images

tmcnem/Getty Images

How to Make Orange Food Coloring with Ready-Made Dye

Ingredients for Making Orange Food Coloring with Ready-Made Dye

A combination of red and yellow food coloring. Gel food coloring is more saturated and intense than liquid, so if you can find that, it will make your orange that much brighter and Halloween-worthy

Step-By-Step Instructions for Making Orange Food Coloring with Ready-Made Dye

  1. Combine red and yellow food coloring in equal amounts and stir until mixed.

Recipes with Orange Food Coloring

Here are a few recipes showing orange food coloring in action.

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Photo by: Johnny Miller

Johnny Miller

This sweet treat gets its color both from orange juice and from a combination of store-bought red and yellow food coloring. In this instance, the recipe calls for more yellow than red, because the OJ is contributing some of the orange color as well.

Apples_0102.tif

Photo by: Kate Mathis

Kate Mathis

Orange gel food coloring contributes vibrant color. Here this is no need to mix red and yellow, as gel food coloring actually comes in the color orange.

Equal amounts of store bought red and yellow food coloring dye these delicate cookies.

Halloween Cheesecake

Halloween Cheesecake

Photo by: Teri Lyn Fisher

Teri Lyn Fisher

This no-bake cheesecake gets its vibrant orange color from pumpkin puree.

Halloween Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Halloween Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Photo by: Teri Lyn Fisher

Teri Lyn Fisher

One smart solution to avoiding food coloring? Use pre-dyed candy melts instead.

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