18 Plants To Use For Natural Dye

There are countless ways to dye your foods, but most of them include some form of artificial food coloring. However, health concerns have arisen around the effects artificial food coloring has on our bodies, such as the possibility that they have carcinogenic or inflammatory properties (via Food Nerd). On top of that, it is often difficult to know exactly what chemicals are in artificial food colorings and how they will interact with your food and body.

Therefore, using food dye that is derived from plants that you can buy at the store or find in your backyard provides not only peace of mind but also a sense of accomplishment. It is incredibly satisfying to forage in your backyard for flowers and leaves that can later be used to brighten up your dishes and desserts. Substituting with natural dyes is also much easier than you may imagine, and you can find almost every color you could ever want on this list, so make sure to read it over before embarking on your next colorful adventure.


If you ever want to add vibrant green color to your pasta, smoothies, sauces, or dips, spinach is your one-stop shop. This superfood veggie is delicious, nutritious, and so very useful. Wonderful frozen, canned, and fresh, spinach will bring a much-loved green pizazz or color and flavor to any meal.

Suppose you want to truly utilize spinach to its best potential, blanch and blend it into a pulp. Then strain this pulp through a fine sieve or cheese close to get a dark green liquid. This emerald liquid is your dye, and my goodness, is it flavorful and beautiful. This dye is the perfect way to bring an artistic flair to your dishes and step up your presentation game. By using this liquid in place of broth or water, you will see stunning results when you use it to make doughs and batters.


Cilantro, also known as coriander, is one of the best herbs around and is vibrant in color and flavor. On top of that, according to WebMD, cilantro is famous for its ability to mediate high blood sugar levels and is also very effective in preventing the spread of food-borne illnesses such as salmonella. So, in addition to its wonderful taste, unless, of course, it tastes like soap to you, cilantro is a great herb for your taste buds and body.

If you are looking for another way to use this delightful herb, try making it into a dye for your food. You can dye batter, dough, and even your easter eggs with cilantro. To make the dye, you can follow the same steps as with spinach dye, and you will find yourself with a lovely green and delicious liquid that stains your food in the best way possible.


Another delightfully green herb that somewhat resembles cilantro in looks but definitely not in taste is parsley. Parsley, commonly available with either curly leaves or flat leaves, is a wonderful addition to salads, sauces, and stocks and is also a hearty winter herb that dries well. Parsley, like spinach and cilantro, can bring a fantastic green shade to your food.

However, unlike spinach and cilantro, parsley makes a slightly darker dye thanks to its naturally darker shade of green, meaning that it can make your doughs and batters a deep, alluring green. If you do not have the time or energy to go through the whole blanching, blending, and straining process, then just mince your parsley very finely. Adding tiny flecks of parsley will create a lovely green-speckled pattern on your final masterpiece; the green spots will be fantastic, whether they are lasagna sheets or savory crepes.


The last green dye suggestion we have for you, and arguably the easiest, is matcha. Matcha can transform your drinks, entrees, and desserts into an enticing green color in just a matter of seconds. But how? This green tea powder is water soluble and plays a huge role in Japanese culture, where it is essential to the Japanese art of tea. So, it is undeniable that matcha makes great tea, but why stop there? Matcha, with its natural, earthy flavor and pastel green color, is the perfect way to both flavor and color your foods.

You can use matcha to color everything from sauces to muffins, and what is even better is that when you bake with matcha, the green color softens slightly, creating a less vibrant green and rather one that is more muted and natural. Also, if you are looking for a way to add color to your foods, using matcha can be a faster and easier solution than blanching and straining leaves like you would have to do for spinach, cilantro, and parsley.


Have you ever stained your hands when cutting beats? What about your cutting board? Well, it should be no surprise that if beets can stain our skin and kitchens, they can also color our foods. The process of making beet dye can be lengthy but wholly worth it. In short, you have to boil red beets, let them sit for about a day, and then boil them again, making it a drawn-out endeavor but one that will result in an entirely natural and very potent red dye.

There are many red food coloring substitutes, and beet dye is one of the best. Not only for food, beet dye is also great for cloth and egg dying, and with the right ratios can result in a rich red or light pink. If you doubt the power of a nice beet dye, try making beet red velvet cake and marvel at the intensity of the beet's natural color.


Another pink food dye option, but one that will be less vibrant compared to the beets, strawberries still offer a charming pink hue to many baked goods and drinks, like pink lemonade. You can mash them up so that they release their pink hues, or you can blend and strain them so that you are left only with the liquid. These delightful berries, which pair dangerously well with cream and cake, are also very good in salads, braises, and drinks.

If you want to wow your next dinner party guests, try whipping up a strawberry peppercorn smash, and make sure to enjoy the summery pink color that comes from the mashed strawberries. If you want to be even more fun, try making this cocktail with pink peppercorns and revel in the double pink showstopper that you will have created.


Another red berry option that will bring a welcome brightness to your dishes is raspberries. With their zesty and floral flavor, raspberries make the perfect dye for desserts, dishes, and drinks. The best part is that instead of going through the mashing, straining, and separating process, you can simply buy freeze-dried raspberries, and they will dye your food instantly.

Freeze-dried raspberries can naturally transform your batters and frostings into shades of pink in seconds, entirely without artificial food coloring. Simply add powdered freeze-dried raspberries, mix them thoroughly into whatever you are making, and let the color take shape. You can swirl the raspberries to create a twisting pattern or ensure the color is uniform and evenly distributed — whatever you fancy.


Rather than dying your items a dark green or brown, avocado pits and skins, when simmered in water, actually create a rosy pink color that is fantastic for dying. This dye can be used to color your old cotton t-shirts an earthy pink color, even darker when you pre-treat your clothes with alum or soda ash.

But how can you use avocado to dye your foods? While it is not recommended to use avocado to dye your cakes and cookies, the dye can be used to dye other food items, such as hard-boiled eggs. Rather than using artificial food coloring, Inhabitat recommends using avocado skins and pits to dye your next batch of easter eggs. The color comes out a creamy pink blush that will fit perfectly with any easter spread.


Another kitchen staple that often stains our counters, hands, and bowls, turmeric is a famous superfood that brings flavor and color to many of our favorite foods. In addition to transforming meats, stews, rice dishes, and desserts a lovely golden color, turmeric also boasts a handful of health benefits. According to Hopkins Medicine, turmeric can help with digestion, muscle aches, inflammation, and even anxiety.

Therefore, next time you are looking for a way to make your foods an alluring golden yellow, opt for turmeric and you will be pleasantly surprised. In fact, using turmeric as food coloring is so easy you have no excuse. Simply put some dry, powdered turmeric into your dishes, both savory and sweet, and you will be left with stunning, sunny results.


This weed, with cute yellow flowers, which you probably have seen growing along the side of the road or in people's yards is bothersome and slightly sour in taste. Oxalis actually means sour and refers to the plant's high levels of oxalic acid which give it its signature tang. Often confused with other plants, oxalis, also known as wood sorrel, is a wonderful natural dye.

Like avocado, oxalis should be used primarily to dye the outside of foods like egg shells, or your favorite yarns and cloths. However, oxalis is very edible, and while it may be a bit sour, it is a wonderfully bright yellow garnish. If you want to add some yellow bits to your food, try tearing or mashing the flowers slightly and adding them to whatever you are making before the delicate petals oxidize. This will bring a vibrant splash of color to any dish.


Another fantastic cloth dye option, onions, more specifically onion skins, can dye your cloth, eggs, and yarn, lovely earth shades. Depending on the onions you use, the dye can range from brown to golden. The best part is that using onion skins to make dye is incredibly simple and only requires you to simmer the skins in water until the liquid turns dark.

Since onion skins are edible, it is possible to dye food with them, but on the other hand, it is difficult to get a substantial color since the dye liquid is often very diluted. Therefore, the most successful food item you can most likely dye with onion skin dye is once again easter eggs. This easter you should be sure to take on the challenge of dying all of your eggs with naturally beautiful dyes.


Marigolds are stunning flowers that come in shades of yellow, red, and orange. They are hugely important to Dia de Los Muertos celebrations and are warm indicators of fall, and on top of that, these colorful flowers are edible and make wonderful dyes. Using marigolds to make natural dye can involve a couple of methods. You can simply simmer the flowers until the color is leached out and then use this liquid to dye cloth and eggs.

Making marigold food dye is a more scientific process, but one study by the Central Food Technological Research Institute suggests that marigold food coloring is a realm that should be further explored due to its high potential. With more people searching for alternatives to artificial food coloring, marigold food coloring is a great option.


These pesky weeds have impossible taproots and bloom into whimsical puff balls. Dandelions, if you do not know how to consume them, can be very frustrating to deal with. But the good news is that you can eat them, both the leaves and yellow fluffy flowers. Cooking dandelion leaves can be done in a similar fashion to how you would cook other braising greens. They are nicely bitter and can be used for a braise, or blended and strained to make a green dye like you would for spinach or cilantro.

The yellow flowers will give you yellow dye, what a surprise. The fluffy flowers are great deep-fried, or if you want just the springtime yellow color, you can tear off the petals and add them to your concoctions. Dandelion petals are delicious and beautiful in shortbread cookies or pancakes and there is that added level of satisfaction knowing that you harvested them yourself.


One of the best sleepy-time teas, and a very comforting herbal remedy for stomach aches, chamomile flowers are charming and versatile in their uses (via Medical News Today). With delicate white petals and light yellow centers, you may be wondering how chamomile has enough color to dye food or anything for that matter.

Much like with dandelions, using the chamomile flower whole, rather than making a puree and extracting the liquid, will leave you will delightful flecks of color. The creamy yellow and white of chamomile can add flavorful and pretty dots of decoration to whipped cream, bread, cookies, and much more.


These stunning flowers that are so commonly bought and discarded actually have great potential when it comes to dying your food and fabrics. When dying cloth, you can use almost any rose and simmer it to extract the color. You can then let your fabric soak in this liquid until it has absorbed as much color as possible. You can also place the petals directly onto your fabric and then steep the fabric bundled around the petals so that they directly infuse into the cloth.

To use rose petals in your food, it is recommended that you use a type that has been specifically bred for eating. While all roses are edible, some taste better than others, so when using them to flavor and color your foods, it is important to use the best ones. If you do want to add some sprinkles of pink or red to your dishes, not to mention white, yellow, purple, and orange, then try mixing some rose petals into your foods and appreciate their delicate beauty.


This well-beloved flower and herb are world-famous for its light purple color and irresistible smell. On top of that, lavender has well-renowned health benefits such as soothing anxiety (via Medical News Today). Due to its lovely color, it should come as no surprise that lavender is also a great way to dye your foods. Also, when adding lavender to dishes, you will not only add the pale purple color but also its wonderful floral flavor.

Using lavender to dye cloth is a no-brainer, but did you know you can add whole buds to your drinks and desserts? Removing the small purple flowers from the main stem and either blending, chopping, or grinding them into a paste will create a purple-brown dye that can be added to most dishes. If you want to retain the true lavender color, just add the purple buds in whole and enjoy the flecks of color.

Red cabbage

Red cabbage does not, in fact, dye things red; it actually, when mixed with baking powder, turns a bright blue. Cyan, to be more exact, is one of the base colors that is needed to create other pigments, such as green. Mixing red cabbage with baking powder has been a well-known home-dying hack for a long time, but it was not until recently that scientists began trying to duplicate the color for food (via ScienceAdvances).

Recreating the cabbage's signature blue proved to be difficult and time-consuming. The best candidate is still very labor-intensive to produce but is a promising option when looking for a natural blue food dye. Therefore, while you cannot likely use cabbage to dye anything other than eggs or cloth at home, keep your eye on the natural food dye market for when cabbage-based food coloring makes it big.

Butterfly pea

These adorable flowers are delicious and one of the best ways to bring color to your dishes. They have a very soft floral flavor that can be hard to detect, but if you try making a butterfly pea tea latte with just a splash of milk, the soft pea flavor will bring you back for more. On top of that, butterfly pea tea is very good for your hair and skin and is also believed to help with weight loss (via Healthline). 

Rather than adding butterfly pea tea to baked goods or entrees, try coloring your hot drinks or cocktails with this tea. The resulting bright blue color is difficult to find in other natural food dyes and is a fantastic way to achieve a stunning color from only one plant. When mixed with milk, the bright blue, almost turquoise, transforms into a stunning baby blue.


These adorable berries are delicious and can bring a very vibrant blue color to your desserts. They are named blueberries for a reason, and if you have ever had a handful of frozen blueberries, you will know that they have a strong color that can stain your skin. Like raspberries, when blueberries are freeze-dried and blended into a powder, the resulting blue dust is the perfect way to turn your desserts into a fantastic blue.

Adding blueberry powder to frostings, cookies, and drinks will also give them a subtle blueberry flavor. Who would be mad about that? With their scrumptious flavor and naturally bright blue color, blueberries are the best way for you to start dying everything blue.