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Natural Dyes For Buttercream Frosting And Easter Cupcakes

Kelsey Hilts continues to experiment with natural dyes, and today the turn has come to Cupcake frosting.
Text And Photos By Kelsey Hilts

Natural Buttercream Frosting Dyes

After successfully coloring Easter eggs with natural dyes and making green eggs and ham with spinach juice (not to mention all of the controversy surrounding chemical food colors) I have been wanting to try coloring buttercream frosting with natural dyes.

Natural Buttercream Frosting Dyes

I know what you’re thinking: spinach or beet juice in my buttercream frosting?! Yuck! But you will be amazed at how you don’t even taste them, especially with the small quantities being used.  I didn’t taste anything different with the beet juice {pink} or the carrot juice {orange} frostings.  I tasted the slightest hint of grape with the grape juice {purple} frosting but that’s actually a good combo and I think a large part of that was because I knew what was in it.  As for the spinach {green} frosting, admittedly the one with which I had the largest mental block, I didn’t taste anything different on the first day.  When I tried it the next day after it had been refrigerated I tasted something slightly different but it didn’t taste like spinach and it definitely wasn’t bad.

Natural Buttercream Frosting Dyes - Spinach Juice

The real test, however, was with my family and all four colors passed.  My son licked off all of the frosting first – just as he would have with plain buttercream frosting – and asked for more!  As far as I’m concerned, I would much rather have him consume a little spinach, beet or other natural dye than a chemically-produced version.  And the process creates a fun family learning experience, letting your kids experiment with different fruits and vegetables to dye the frosting.

This frosting experiment came at the perfect time because the pastel colors from the natural dyes are just right for spring and Easter cupcakes.  Generously spread the frosting on the cupcakes of your choice.

Natural Dyes for Buttercream Frosting
 
Prep Time
Total Time
 
Coloring buttercream frosting with natural dyes is surprisingly simple and creates a fun family learning experience. Not to mention that I'd much rather have my family consume a little beet or carrot juice than a chemical dye!
Author:
Recipe Type: Dessert
Serves: 12-24 cupcakes
Ingredients
Buttercream frosting
  • 1 lb (3 ¾ cup) (453g) powdered sugar
  • ½ cup (114,7g) butter, softened
  • 1 tsp (5mL) vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp (44mL) milk
Pink frosting
  • Beet juice
Orange frosting
  • Carrot juice
Green frosting
  • Spinach juice
Purple frosting
  • Grape juice concentrate (*Make sure that the brand of juice you use doesn’t add food coloring!)
Instructions
  1. Cream the powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and milk until a smooth frosting forms.
  2. Divide the frosting into separate bowls to make the different colors. Adding the fruit/veggie juices will affect the consistency of the frosting so you can add more powdered sugar or reduce the amount of milk to compensate for the added liquid.
  3. I made small quantities for experimental purposes but you can use the following ratios for any batch size. You can also change the shade of color by adjusting the amount of fruit/veggie juice.
Pink frosting
  1. Mix roughly ¼ tsp (1,2mL) beet juice with 2 Tbsp (2 spoonfuls) frosting. (I just used the juice from a can of beets.)
Orange frosting
  1. Mix roughly ½ tsp carrot (2,4mL) juice with 2 Tbsp (2 spoonfuls) frosting.
Green frosting
  1. Mix roughly ½ tsp (2,4mL) spinach juice with 2 Tbsp (2 spoonfuls) frosting.
Purple frosting
  1. Mix roughly ¼ tsp (1,2mL) grape juice concentrate with 2 Tbsp (2 spoonfuls) frosting.

Be sure to refrigerate any leftover frosting in a sealed container.

Kelsey Hilts

Kelsey Hilts

Kelsey Hilts is the founder of Itsy Bitsy Foodies, an online resource for families looking for ways to spend more time together enjoying food and exploring the world beyond the children’s menu.

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Originally Published: April 22, 2011

5 Responses to Natural Dyes For Buttercream Frosting And Easter Cupcakes

  1. Tamara Novakoviç

    Tamara Novakoviç Reply

    April 23, 2011 at 7:34 am

    This is really interesting, looks great

  2. Miriam Garcia

    Miriam/The Winter Guest Reply

    April 23, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    I find this soooo interesting!

  3. Christin Reply

    February 28, 2012 at 12:40 am

    It’s fun to see what you have come up with. I’ve been doing this for a few years, as we can’t tolerate red food coloring. I also make our powdered sugar, since we can’t do corn. The home made works well in frostings too. (1/3 cup sugar + 1 tsp. tapioca starch in a coffee grinder.)

    I looked up natural food colorings and found a site that sells some too! Thanks for your information.

  4. Jeanna Fredericksen Reply

    March 13, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Exactly what I was looking for. My dd cant tolerate food dye. She has a birthday coming up which she has requested to have a “pink princess cake” and I was at a loss on how to make pink buttercream. Thank you!

  5. Kelsey Hilts

    Kelsey Hilts Reply

    March 14, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Jeanna, if you are looking for pink you can also use strawberry or raspberry juice (microwave berries for 30 seconds or until the berries begin to pop and strain out the juice). To achieve a bright pink you may need to use more berry juice and the berry flavor comes through but depending on the flavor of your cake that may not be a problem.

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