Naturally Colored Liquid Dyes

To make most types of naturally colored liquid dye:

  1. Boil or steep vegetables (1 cup), spices (1 tablespoon), or dried flowers or teas (1/2 cup) in boiling water (1 1/2 - 2 cups) for 10-20 minutes.

  2. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Discard, compost or reuse the solids.

  3. Add vinegar and stir. Use ~1 tablespoon vinegar to 1 cup liquid dye. Use less for acidic mixtures like berries cooked in lemon juice.

Steep: to soak (food, tea, etc.) in hot water so as to extract its flavor or color or to soften or reconstitute it

Boil: to cook (food) in boiling water over a heat source


  • Red: 1 cup shredded red beets* + 2 cups water + 1 tablespoon smoked paprika. Boil. Strain.

  • Pink: ½ cup dried hibiscus flowers** + 2 cups boiling water. Steep. Strain.

  • Rust: 1 tablespoon chili powder or smoked paprika + 1½ cups water. Boil. Strain.

  • Orange Spotted: Sauté 1 tablespoon smoked paprika + 2 teaspoons of turmeric powder in 1 tablespoon canola oil. Add 1½ cups water. Boil. Strain.

  • Pale Yellow: 1 tablespoon grated fresh turmeric root** + 1 cup water. Boil. Strain.

  • Yellow: 1 cup shredded golden beets + 2 cups water. Boil. Strain.

  • Green: 2 cups chopped spinach or kale + 2 cups water. Boil. Purée. Strain. (Not recommended, since greens will turn brown or olive green with the addition of an acid). OR mix 1/2 cup yellow (turmeric root) with blue (butterfly pea flower) added 1 teaspoon at a time.**

  • Blue: ½ cup dried butterfly pea flowers** + 2 cups boiling water. Steep. Strain.

  • Violet: 1 cup shredded red beets + 2 cups water. Boil. Strain.

  • Purple: 1 cup blueberries* + juice from ½ lemon + 1 tablespoon sugar. Cook until berries have popped. Purée. Strain. Whisk in 1 cup water.  

  • Brown: Coffee** brewed per your usual method.