Top 8 Red Food Coloring Substitutes

Red Food Coloring

Food coloring is part of many bakeries as a way to provide colors and mixture among the cookies or cakes that are made. They are safe to be used in your cooking.

If you are making a velvet cake, cookies in different colors, the food coloring is a staple here. The bright red color of the velvet cake can be accomplished by adding red food color which is safe to consume and added to your recipes.

There are artificial and natural colors. The artificial ones are sold in markets, candy shops, etc. The natural ones are derived from natural sources. They’re both perfect to bake with.

However, what if you are in the midst of making your recipe and you realize that you have no red color for your recipe, is there a way to make something at home?

Can I  substitute red food coloring? If you have no red color, there is always a way to make a natural color. You can use Puree beet juice, Beet powder, Pure pomegranate juice, Boiled cranberries, Dried hibiscus flowers, tomatoes, cherries, or strawberries instead.

Find out more on how much you need to use and what is the best way to make the perfect red color. Also, find out more about what to use in red velvet cake as a substitute.

Substitute for Red Food Color

As we mentioned there are two types of food colors that you can add to your cooking. Here we have placed the best natural juices that can help you make the best red color.

Useful tip: You need smaller amounts for each coloring. Start with little then increase if needed. This is due to the natural tastes of the ingredients below.

1. Pure beet juice

beet juice

In order to accomplish the best red color for your recipe, the first thing that comes to mind is beet. You can use three large red beets, remove the root and slice them into chunks. You need to boil them over medium heat and bring them to a simmer.

This way you’ll get the beats to be tender. Make sure that you save the water since that is your resource for coloring the food. Depending on how much you use, you either get a nice pinkish red or strong red color. Use the juice of the roasted beets to get a nice red color.

2. Beet powder

Another way to get the red color is to use red beet powder. Add ¼ teaspoon of beet powder with a teaspoon of cold water. Mix it all together until you get a red color. If you want to get a pale red then add less powder. Strain the red beet mixture and squeeze out the colored liquid. 

3. Pure pomegranate juice

pomegranate juice

You can also use pure pomegranate juice to get a natural red color for your cooking. You can add 1 ½ of pomegranate seed in a ½ cup of water. Place them in a pan and boil them. The color of the water will turn deep red and it will be ideal for further use.

This is a nice and simple way to accomplish red color. Use a strain to mesh the water and store it in a glass. You can also save it for further use in your fridge.

4. Boiled cranberries


Another fruit that comes to mind that can provide you a nice red natural color is by using cranberries. All you need is 2 cups of cranberries and water to cover them over. Place them in a pot and leave them to simmer for 15 minutes.

Then you can crush the berries once they get soft and leave them for extra 25 minutes. Once the mix is ready, strain it. You can also save the berries for further use.

5. Dried hibiscus flowers

By adding dried hibiscus flowers in hot water, you’ll make the perfect natural red color that you can use in your cooking. Just place the dried flowers in a pot on a stove, leave it to simmer and you can get the perfect color.

6. Tomatoes


Tomatoes are not just used in salads or as part of our meals, but they have another use as well. You can always use tomatoes to make the perfect red color for your cooking.

Select the juices, meaning add the tomatoes in a food processor. Then, strain the skin and seeds. This way you’ll have enough for one use. If you are left with more you can store it in the fridge.

7. Cherries

Cherry Juice

As we know, fruits have nice natural colors. Cherries are another way to extract a nice red color for your recipe. Like other berries, they are excellent to dye the desired products.

Squeeze them or place them in a food processor. You’ll get a nice puree, squeeze out the juices to get the perfect strong red color.

8. Strawberries

Strawberries juice

As we mentioned the berries are a good way to extract a nice red color for cooking and adding it to your cooking. Strawberries are also taken into consideration.

You can use a strainer or food processor to mash them. Afterward, you can use the liquids to provide a nice strong red color.

Red Food Coloring Substitute for Red Velvet Cake

To achieve the redness in the famous red velvet cake, you need food coloring. otherwise, you’ll just have a cake with cocoa. In case you don’t have any artificial red color to put in your mixture, we have the solution for you.

You can add natural red food color with unrefined sugar to save the recipe. The juices that can be derived from some fruits or beet can help you as well.

Related Questions

How to make red food coloring without red?

You can always use beet, beet powder, hibiscus flowers, cranberries, strawberries, or any other berry. They can all help you achieve the best natural red color.

How do you make natural red food coloring?

If you use beets, you need to chop them, place them in a pot with water, and then place them over medium heat. The mixture will begin to boil and afterward the water will be good to use to make a natural red color.

  1. Thank you for this blog. I have this question since it is a friends favorite cake I’d like to make for her. Which is your favorite source for the red color for red velvet cake which least impacts the taste, or maybe improves the taste. Also you mentioned pomegranate seeds as one source, and said to add 1 1/2, but didn’t indicate whether that was cups or T? Thank you!

    1. Sakurabh Hi! I have the same question as Susan. Could you tell me what is best to use and how much?



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