How to Make Black Food Coloring

Two Methods:Mixing Food ColoringUsing Natural Ingredients

You can find black food coloring at specialty stores, but it's not nearly as common as other kinds. Mix your own at home from other colors, or explore natural ingredients for coloring frosting, baked goods, or savory dishes.

Method 1
Mixing Food Coloring

  1. Image titled Make Black Food Coloring Step 1
    Buy red, blue, and green food coloring. You can mix these colors to make a dark grey, which is about as close as you can get without buying black food coloring.
    • If you're making icing or frosting, use gel or paste food coloring. Liquid food coloring is less intense and can make the icing runny.[1][2]
  2. Image titled Make Black Food Coloring Step 2
    Mix in cocoa powder (for white frosting only). The end result is always better when you start with a dark recipe. If you're using white frosting, you can fix this by mixing in cocoa powder, one spoonful at a time.[3]
    • Black cocoa powder gives the best result, but ordinary cocoa powder should work fine for this method.
    • If you skip this step, you'll need to use much more food coloring, which can affect the taste and texture.
  3. Image titled Make Black Food Coloring Step 3
    Add equal amounts of red, blue and green to your recipe. Start with just a couple drops of each color, stirring them in well. Repeat until the mixture darkens to a deep grey, always adding equal amounts of the color.
    • You can use yellow instead of green, but the lighter color makes it more difficult to achieve black.
  4. Image titled Make Black Food Coloring Step 4
    Adjust the color. If you see hints of other colors in the grey, make these adjustments:[4][5]
    • If it looks green, add more red.
    • If it looks purple, add more green.
    • Make all adjustments one drop at a time, stirring thoroughly between each drop.
  5. Image titled Make Black Food Coloring Step 5
    Wait for the final color. Most food coloring will deepen in buttercream and fade slightly in royal and boiled icing.[6] If you are making the latter type of icing, consider adding the color a half hour before serving to minimize the fading.
    • In some regions, chemicals in the water can change the color. Buttercream usually has a more reliable color when made with milk instead.[7]
    • Keep the recipe away from direct light and heat, which can cause fading.[8]

Method 2
Using Natural Ingredients

  1. Image titled Make Black Food Coloring Step 6
    Mix black cocoa powder into cake batter. This special type of cocoa powder, labeled "black" or "ultra Dutch processed," has a darker color and more mild taste than regular cocoa. This will make a deep black cake with a chocolatey flavor. When replacing ordinary cocoa powder, make the following changes to the recipe:[9]
    • Add a little extra fat (butter or oil).
    • Use 1 tsp (5mL) baking powder instead of each ¼ tsp (1.25mL) baking soda.
  2. Image titled Make Black Food Coloring Step 7
    Add squid ink to savory dishes. This has a briny taste and is not suitable for sweets or desserts. This is mostly used to color pasta, rice, or savory sauces. For the most intense color, mix it into homemade pasta dough (replacing the salt and a little of the liquid ingredients). For a faster but less consistent method, add the ink to the water while the pasta or rice is boiling. Stir ink into the sauce as well for a more dramatic look.[10][11][12]
    • Fishmongers sometimes sell this, but you may need to ask at several stores.
    • Add squid ink in small quantities. It is quite salty and can taste of iodine in large quantities.


  • If you'd rather buy food coloring, some specialty baking stores may sell black food coloring.
  • Black walnut shells can be boiled to make a dark brown or black dye to decorate eggshells.[13] Eating the dye may be harmful, so do not use it as a food coloring.[14] The juice will stain skin, clothing, and anything it touches.


  • Don't use squid ink if you have seafood allergies.

Article Info

Categories: Frosting Icing and Fondant