The ULTIMATE List of Natural Food Colouring Alternatives: 90+ Things to Use Instead of Synthetic Food Dye

Published: May 31, 2023 · Updated: December 24, 2023 by Sacha

Is your home dye-free? Check out these 90+ natural food colouring alternatives that can be used for cooking, crafts or sensory play! These all-natural food colouring substitutes are a great way to replace synthetic dyes in all of your homemade recipes.

Tabletop covered with an assortment of rainbow-hued vegetables.
Image Credit: © oksanashufrych via

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Whether you are concerned about food allergies, health impacts or the possibility that they might cause hypersensitivity in kids, there are lots of reasons why you may want to swap out artificial dyes for more natural food-based dyes.

And if you’ve been wondering what to use instead of food colouring, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve rounded up all of the natural food colouring options that I could find and listed them below in one handy guide!

These dye-free food colouring alternatives can be used in a variety of ways, including to colour your food naturally or as an all-natural means to dye your play dough and other sensory materials.

Most of these natural dyes are plant-based and made from fruits and vegetables, meaning they contain none of the artificial ingredients you’re likely trying to avoid. So if you’re ready to start making your own healthy food colouring at home, scroll down to see all the options!

Infographic showing 36 natural food colouring alternatives for 12 different colours.

Guidelines for Using Dye-Free Food Colouring

Before you get started with these homemade recipes, here are a few things you may want to bear in mind when replacing artificial food dyes with all-natural food colouring:

  • Natural food colouring tends to produce more muted results than its synthetic counterpart, so keep your expectations realistic
  • If you are looking to produce really vibrant hues without adding excess liquid, stick with powdered alternatives
  • To produce more concentrated food dyes, reduce liquid bases by evaporating some of the water
  • Large quantities of natural food colouring can have an impact on flavour, so keep that in mind when choosing which dye to use
  • Some plant-based dyes can dull or turn brown when heated (the presence of an acid medium like lemon juice can help prevent this)

Feel free to experiment with several different food colouring alternatives until you find the best one for the particular recipe you’re making—there is no one-size-fits-all approach to replacing artificial dyes!

Natural Substitutes for Pink Food Colouring

Picture of pink roses.
Image Credit: © Kolidzei via

If you’d like to produce a pretty pink hue without using artificial ingredients, here are the best dye-free alternatives you can try:

Natural Substitutes for Red Food Colouring

Picture of whole beets.
Image Credit: © LOVE_LIFE via

Looking to naturally colour your food red? Here are some natural ingredients you can use instead of synthetic food colouring:

These red food colouring alternatives can also colour food pink when used in smaller quantities!

Natural Substitutes for Orange Food Colouring

Picture of carrots.
Image Credit: © laughingmango via

As it turns out, there are lots of ways to give your food a natural orange colour—without using any artificial ingredients:

Natural Substitutes for Yellow Food Colouring

Picture of yellow dandelions.
Image Credit: © Neonci via

Looking to colour your food yellow? Here are some ingredients you can use to make your own natural yellow food colouring at home:

Natural Substitutes for Green Food Colouring

Picture of a spoon containing green spirulina powder.
Image Credit: © madeleinesteinbach via

If you’re looking for a natural alternative to green food colouring, here are some more natural options for you to try:

Natural Substitutes for Blue Food Colouring

Picture of a bowl containing blue butterfly pea flowers.
Image Credit: © kitzcorner via

Blue is probably the most difficult hue to replicate using natural ingredients, so make sure to keep your expectations realistic. But if you’re feeling up to the challenge, here are some good alternatives:

Natural Substitutes for Purple Food Colouring

Picture of purple cabbage, cut open.
Image Credit: © fotosuper via

Looking for a more natural way to colour your food purple? Here are some all-natural ingredients to help you achieve that:

Natural Substitutes for Black Food Colouring

Picture of a bowl containing black activated charcoal powder.
Image Credit: © beats3 via

This one can be a little tricky, but thankfully, there are some all-natural alternatives to black food dye:

Natural Substitutes for Brown Food Colouring

Picture of a spoon containing ground coffee powder.
Image Credit: © Photopips via

Finally, if you’re looking for natural brown food colouring alternatives, here are some ingredients you can use instead of reaching for artificial dyes:

Can you think of any ingredients that haven’t been listed here? Let me know in the comments!

Related Sensory Recipes with No Artificial Dyes

Looking for sensory activities that contain only natural food dyes? Check out these articles:

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