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Food Coloring 101

The Martha Stewart Show, April 2008

Using food coloring to tint icing is a great way to make your baked goods extra special. There are several kinds of food coloring to choose from.

Liquid is the most familiar form of food coloring. It gives the weakest color compared to other types of food coloring and, because of its liquid consistency, it will thin out whatever it is being mixed with.

Liquid Gel
Liquid gel gives a deep, rich color without thinning and blends well. It is available online and in specialty stores.

Gel-Paste Coloring
Gel-paste gives deeper, more vivid colors than gel or liquid. It is very concentrated and should be used in very small quantities.

Powdered Food Coloring
Powdered food coloring is very concentrated. It can be combined with sugar to decorate cookies, and with lemon extract to paint onto iced cookies (just roll cookies in it to color them).

General Tips

  • The longer the icing sits, the stronger the color will be.

  • Mix color in daylight so you can see the true color of the icing.

  • Add less color at first so you can adjust as you go.

Our viewer mail participant received an apron and cookie cutters from the Martha Stewart Collection at Macy's.

Comments (6)

  • 16 Feb, 2014

    I have a question does anyone know how to make natural food color jell if so I would like the recipe

  • 11 May, 2013

    I love you Martha but there are a few misconceptions here! The liquid color sold in the grocery store have very little color %, this has nothing to do with the color being a liquid gel or a paste or the % of dye. Liquid gels are made from gums and starches just like the paste colors, Today's liquid gels are superior in color % and were made to make the paste colors pourable, accurately dispense.with out breaking down your Icing or dough. The best colors are made by Tru Color! (

  • 21 Jun, 2012

    I have seen on her show she uses natural food coloring in some recipies what brand is this and where cani find it

  • 10 Mar, 2011

    do you still sell food colors? if yes, where can i purchase them???

  • 16 Apr, 2008

    Yes, Martha -- blue and yellow make green - not green and yellow make blue.

  • 15 Apr, 2008

    Oops! Sorry, Martha. Yellow and green make yellowish-green. Blue