There are plenty of vegan food coloring brands out there on the market. And we’ve listed some of the best ones in this guide.
Be sure to go to the very end for a video on vegan food coloring that we think you’ll love.
Let’s get started.
As we always say, please double-check ingredients before buying and on the packaging – especially if you’ve got food allergies. We do our best to keep our lists as accurate as possible, but things get outdated, and we make mistakes from time to time!
Read Also: Easy to Follow Vegan Grocery List
Watkins Food Coloring
This food coloring is a liquid type.
It’s free from artificial colors and dyes. The colors are derived from pure vegetable juices and spices.
Because these are plant-based colors and free from artificial dyes, sometimes the colors can be a little less vibrant, but they get the job done.
Even though they are derived from plants like beets and spices like turmeric, they don’t leave a taste in your food like using the actual spice or vegetable juice would.
These colorants come in 4 shades. Red, blue, yellow, and green, all of which are available on their website.
Watkins Red Food Coloring
This color is derived from beet juice.
It does say on their website that for optimal performance on this color, you should mix it with two teaspoons of cream of tartar first and that the color works best in recipes with whole eggs.
However, on its own, it does still have great reviews. People state the color is vibrant the shade range is incredible. From Light pink to bright red, this color does it all.
Watkins Yellow Food Coloring
This color is derived from turmeric.
Though turmeric is a very strong spice, it does not leave a lingering flavor in this colorant.
Because they use turmeric as the pigment, it is very bright. From pastel yellow to bright and sunny, a few drops of this go a long way.
Watkins Blue Food Coloring
This color is derived from spirulina.
Spirulina is actually green in color, so they had to do a little tweaking to make this one happen, but the color payoff is phenomenal.
It gives vibrant blues of every shade, and it doesn’t leave a lingering taste of the powder they used either.
Watkins Green Food Coloring
This color is derived from a mix of turmeric and spirulina.
It’s handy having a green already made because sometimes it can be hard to get the blue and yellow just right to the color you want.
This also has no taste despite using two strong spices as its base.
It is noted on their site that with green, the color may change if baked at a temperature higher than 350 degrees.
Color Garden Pure Natural Food Colors
These colors are 100% plant-based, using fruits and vegetables for pigment.
They are lively, tasteless, and odorless colorants that don’t change the flavor or texture of your foods and beverages.
They come in little packets, kind of like soy sauce at take-out Chinese restaurants, and that is enough color for 1 pound of icing, which is the most common use for these.
They do oxidize quickly, so storing leftovers may not be an option because the color will change.
Unfortunately, these are not baking stable, so they turn dark brown if baked. You can play with it a little bit and maybe get the color to stay a tiny bit, but they haven’t had much success with testing it, so it’s doubtful anyone else will. But you can use this to color loads of stuff, including sugar for sprinkles.
They have a shelf life of about a year. After that, the colors can mold because they’re made from natural ingredients.
Color Garden Red Food Coloring
This color is derived from beet juice. These colors do contain less than 1% ethyl alcohol. By using natural ingredients, these colors are subject to bacteria breeding. The presence of alcohol helps kill that bacteria and allows for the colors to be fresh and have a longer shelf life. You can purchase these packets individually or in the assortment.
Color Garden Orange Food Coloring
Again, I love premixed colors because it can be hard to get that one-to-one ratio and make the perfect color. Especially in this case because the colors come in packets, not droppers.
This color is derived from annatto. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a tropical fruit, and its pulp is used for the dye.
Color Garden Yellow Food Coloring
This color is derived from turmeric, as most yellow dyes are.
And even though that is literally the only ingredient besides alcohol, they still maintain that these will not change the taste or texture of whatever you’re dying.
Color Garden Green Food Coloring
This premixed green is beautiful.
On their website, they have examples of the colors in use, and this has got to be the prettiest green hue of any brand.
This color is derived from red cabbage and turmeric.
The two of these together create almost an emerald green that looks amazing when decorating.
Color Garden Blue Food Coloring
This color is derived from red cabbage juice.
Because they use red cabbage, which has a very deep saturation, the blue is vivid. But not so vivid that it’s not good for mixing.
On their website, they have absolutely stunning examples of purple.
Chefmaster Natural Food Coloring
These are my favorite food colorants because there is so much variety.
Eight colors! They take all the mixing and guesswork away and make baking simple and easy colors.
They are bake stable so that you can use them in cakes and all other baked goods and frostings and toppings.
The formula is lightweight, odorless, and tasteless. So, it won’t stink up the food or change the texture. The fact that these are plant-based blows my mind because they perform like they’re artificial—vibrant and beautiful colors.
They also sell them in large bottles if you’re a baking aficionado.
Chefmaster Red Food Coloring
This color is derived from beets, lycopene which comes from tomatoes, and red cabbage.
By mixing all of these bright hues together, they’re able to create a red that stands out.
It’s crimson, almost as if you used McCormick or something of that nature.
Chefmaster Orange Food Coloring
This color is derived from paprika.
They call it sunset orange, and that is very fitting because it is as beautiful as something you see on the horizon.
It’s so intense the color is nearly animated. This color matches the skin a fresh orange or orange pepper.
Chefmaster Yellow Food Coloring
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This color is derived from beta carotene.
They use the natural coloring of carrots to create this yellow shade, which is unique because most companies choose to use turmeric for their yellows.
They say this one tastes like sunshine, and I believe them, judging by the brilliant color it produces.
It looks like they captured the essence of a yellow Crayola crayon and put it in a bottle
Chefmaster Green Food Coloring
This color is derived from beta carotene, and like Watkins, they use spirulina.
The natural hue of this colorant is dark hunter green.
Depending on the concentration, it can go as light as pastel, making this green versatile across the spectrum.
Chefmaster Blue Food Coloring
This color is derived from spirulina as well. Because they use such a green-colored powder, they consider it a royal blue after tweaking. It is gorgeous.
By changing the concentration, you can create a whole range of blues, from pastel to sky to dark, and all of them be beautiful without leaving a weird taste in your mouth as some artificial colors do.
Chefmaster Purple Food Coloring
You will be hard-pressed to find a premixed purple colorant that isn’t artificial—just another reason to love this brand.
They take the speculation out of it for you to just bake and color to your heart’s desire.
This color is derived from grape juice.
Now, this is one I wish was flavored because how good would that be to just have a hint of grape in your frosting. It’s a perfect royal purple that reminds me of plush velveteen or, in this case, juicy grapes.
Chefmaster Pink Food Coloring
Another color that will be difficult to find in natural brands is pink, which is a shame because pink goes great on every baked good, in some way or form.
This color is derived from beets as well. The concentration is the difference between this and some other companies considering their red derivative.
A lighter amount of beet juice will produce a lighter color. And I think the fact that they mix their red with two other derivatives to create a more crimson color is why we’re able to enjoy this pretty pink.
Chefmaster Black Food Coloring
This last one will be nearly impossible to find in a natural product because it can be a little hard to make. Yet Chefmaster has done it.
They don’t sell this one in a large bottle, but it does come in the multipack.
This color is derived from spirulina, and they use caramel color to get it a really deep black.
Color Kitchen Food Color Packets
These food color packets by Color Kitchen are handy.
They are a power food coloring, so they can be a little hard to mix, but they offer a good range of colors, including pink, which is hard to find and mix.
These are Non-GMO and gluten-free, in addition to being vegan. It is water-soluble, so you can always mix it with water before using it in your goodies to make sure the color is what you’d like Not only is the food coloring environmentally friendly, so is the packaging! It’s made with a 100% recyclable box and printed with vegetable inks.
This pack is an assortment, but their whole selection is available on their website.
Color Kitchen Blue Food Coloring
This blue in its natural element is kind of s sky blue, and it’s not very dark. But you can mix in more color if the blue isn’t as dark as you’d like.
This color is derived from spirulina, so that’s why it can’t be too dark; otherwise, the color would oxidize into the green.
Color Kitchen Pink Food Coloring
I applaud any company that has the courage to take on pink food coloring.
This color is derived from beets, just like Chefmaster, and it’s very pretty.
I would defiantly consider it a “16 Candles,” “Pretty in Pink,” Molly Ringwald color. It’s bright, vibrant, and fun.
Using this to decorate alongside the other colors, it defiantly stands out.
Color Kitchen Yellow Food Coloring
This yellow is dazzling.
It’s not quite a pastel and has just enough punch to remind you of a sunny day.
I thought this would be strong because it’s derived from turmeric, and it’s a powder, but it doesn’t have any smell or taste.
It does have that beautiful turmeric color, though.
Color Kitchen Orange Food Coloring
This color is derived from turmeric and annatto.
It is very similar to a pumpkin color but not as deep.
It has a pretty hue that would be great for any seasonal baking in the fall or something of that sort.
Color Kitchen Green Food Coloring
This green is a little too limey for me.
It doesn’t taste like limes, but it does have that lime green color, and it just doesn’t suit any of my needs.
They used spirulina and turmeric for this, and I think the turmeric made it a little too light.
If you need a lime green, this would be perfect for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Food Coloring Vegan?
The answer isn’t always clear-cut. Some food colorings have been tested on animals, while others may contain crushed-up insects. However, suppose you’re just transitioning to the lifestyle. In that case, it’s recommended that you not focus on these things and worry about eliminating all labeled meat, eggs, dairy, fish, gelatin, etc. – not about food coloring.
But if you’re worried about glycerin. Don’t worry – it’s usually from plants when used for food.
We’ll answer some of the most common questions about synthetic food colorings. For reference, we’ll be going by the FDA’s website (source) to figure out where the origins of these products come from.
Do Note: whether it’s vegan doesn’t necessarily mean it’s health-promoting. You may want to avoid these colors for other reasons.
These artificial colors were also probably animal tested at one point, which is another reason to choose the plant-based dyes above.
Is Red 40 Vegan?
Yes, Red 40 is vegan because it is not derived from animal products (despite what some other sources might say). It’s derived from petrochemicals.
The same applies to Red 40 Lake. Lakes are processed colors so that they can be mixed with fats, oils, and sugars.
Quotes from the FDA website, here’s the process for making Red 40 Lake or other artificial color lakes.
“Lakes for food use are made with aluminum cation as the precipitant and aluminum hydroxide as the substratum. Mixtures are color additives formed by mixing one color additive with one or more other color additives or non-colored diluents, without a chemical reaction (for example, food inks used to mark confectionery).”
As you can see, it’s a synthetic process that doesn’t involve animal products.
Is Yellow 5 Vegan?
Yes, just like Red 40 – Yellow 5 is synthetically created through the raw materials found in Petroleum.
Is Yellow 6 Vegan?
Like the other synthetic colors we’re talking about here, yellow six is vegan. It’s not made from animal products.
Is Blue 1 Vegan?
Indeed it is. Blue 1 falls into the same category as the rest of the artificial colors we’ve listed here. It’s made by synthesizing raw materials in Petroleum.
Is Carmine Vegan?
No, Carmine is not vegan. As previously mentioned, Carmine is a Lake (which means it’s a dye mixed with a binder). The problem is that it’s made from cochineal extract, created by crushing up cochineal beetles. So if you say Carmine or cochineal extract in something, be sure to avoid it (food or beauty products). Be sure to also avoid Crimson Lake – another form of this bug-derived food coloring.
Before you go, you have to watch this quick video on making your food coloring from fruits and vegetables!
It’s a great way to add some phytochemicals to your food and super easy.
Plus, you know what’s going into it!
Give it a quick watch…
Want to take all of the guess-work around going vegan?
Click here to check out the Vegan Starter Kit.