How to Use Food Colouring in Baking

From coloured buttercream to icing and drinks, master the art of adding vibrant colours to your baked goods with our food colouring guide.

Dr. Oetker Food Colour Gels 

Equipment Needed

• Mixing bowl to mix ingredients and incorporate the food colour gel. 
• Spatula or spoons to stir and blend the food colour gel into your ingredients. 
• Measuring spoons for adding the correct amount of food colour gel.  
• Piping bags if you're colouring icing or frosting. 
• Gloves to prevent staining your hands when mixing food colour gel. 

What is Food Colour Gel?

Food colour gel helps you add colour to your cake mixtures and icings without affecting the consistency or taste, which gives you greater control and flexibility in your baking. By mixing the gels together, you can create any colour you want - without impacting the taste of your bake.  

Is Food Colour Gel the Same as Food Colouring?

Food colour gel is slightly different from food colouring. First of all, it doesn’t change the taste of your bakes at all, whereas liquid food colouring can. Plus, it can help you achieve a bolder colour too.  

7 Ways to Use Food Colour Gel in Baking

1. Food Colour Gel for Buttercream
Picture - Rainbow Ombre Cake

Rather than using chocolate or fruit preserves, you can add food colour gel to colour buttercream. Add it once you’ve combined your butter and sugar, and give it a bit of time to get the depth of colour you’re looking for.  

Top tips for a deeper colour include wrapping your buttercream in cling film and leaving it for 1-2 hours or overnight or microwaving it for 10 seconds which will allow the colour to develop quicker.  

Add in a little at a time until you get the depth of colour you’re looking for. Use our guide to help: 

Red 20 drops per 25g icing 
Blue 10 drops per 25g icing 
Yellow 20 drops per 25g icing 
Green 30 drops per 25g icing 
Orange 50 drops per 25g icing 
Pink 20 drops per 25g icing 
Violet 30 drops per 25g icing 
Black 1 tube 25g icing 

To learn more about How to Make Buttercream and colouring buttercream using natural ingredients, check out our guide. 

2. Food Colour Gel for Cake Mix
Picture - Pinata Rainbow Cake

With food colour gel, you can bring your cake to life with vibrant colours. Our Rainbow Layer Cake is the perfect colourful bake to impress your guests.  

To use food colour gel for cake mix, divide the mix into separate bowls per colour (just put it all in one bowl if you’re only using one colour). Mix in sufficient drops of each colour to the separate bowls to form a vibrant shade. Go slow and drop by drop until you get the desired colour. Remember, for different colours you need different numbers of drops. And you can usually tell by eye when you get the colour you want.  
Our guide should help:  

Red layer: 40 drops  
Violet: 50 drops 
Blue: 50 drops  
Green: 60 drops 
Yellow: 40 drops 
Pink: 25 drops 

3. Food Colour Gel for Chocolate
Picture - Colour Gel in White Chocolate

Want to really bring your chocolate to life with vibrant colours? Just a few drops of food colour gel can do wonders for your chocolatey creations, like our Easter Chocolate Bark 

Once you’ve melted your white chocolate, simply add 2-3 drops of our colour gel and mix together. You only need a little when it comes to chocolate compared to cake mix for example, so go slow. After a couple of drops, mix it together to check your colour. You can add a couple more to really go deep and vibrant with your colour.  

Top tip: use white chocolate to really bring the colour out. It’s a better blank canvas than milk or dark and will take the colour much better. 

4. Food Colour Gel for Fondant Icing
Picture - Animal Cookies

Once you’ve got your Dr. Oetker Fondant Icing, knead it to make it soft and pliable. Then flatten it out and add just a few drops of colour gel on top. Fold the fondant over the gel as this will enclose it. Then carefully knead it into the icing until the colour is evenly mixed through. Again, you only need a couple of drops to get your desired colour. Start with a few drops and knead it in. If you want an even darker shade, add in a couple more drops and follow the same process again.  

And to really bring those colours to life with some vibrant shades, cover your fondant in cling film and leave for 1-2 hours or overnight. You can even microwave it for 10 seconds to allow the colour to develop quicker.   

Why not try it with our Animal Cookies Recipe

5. Food Colour Gel for Meringues
Picture - Adding Colour Gel to meringue

Using food colour gel for meringues requires a slightly different technique. Once you’ve whipped up stiff and beautiful meringues, turn a piping bag inside out and paint it with food colour gel. Use different bags for different colours. Then flip the bag back and fill it with your meringue mixture.  

Then simply pipe it out as you usually would – squeeze from a 2cm height from the baking tray and then let go before pulling up to form the lovely peaks – for fabulous colourful meringues. 

Our Halloween Monster Meringue Cake recipe is the ideal choice to test out your new colourful piping skills.  

6. Food Colour Gel for Whipped Cream
Picture - Colourful Cream Horns

Adding food colour gel to whipped cream is super easy and super fun. Once you’ve whipped the double cream until it forms soft peaks, pop a few drops of your chosen colour into the bowl. If you want more than one colour – like in our Colourful Cream Horns recipe – separate your cream equally into the same number of bowls as colours.  

Once you’ve dropped a few drops in, simply whisk the food colour gel through the cream until you get an even colour throughout.  

7. Food Colour Gel to Drinks

You can easily add food colour gel to drinks for a treat that’s tasty on the eyes as well as tastebuds. Creamier milk-based (or plant-milk-based) drinks work best, like a lovely colourful milkshake.  

Think less is more and add just a few drops to start off with, as you can easily add more if your colour isn’t deep enough. Once you’ve dropped the colour gel in, simply stir and check if you’re happy with the shade.  

Frequently Asked Questions About Food Colour Gel in Baking

How to get food colour gel off skin?  
If you get food colour gel on your skin, simply soak a cloth or towel in some Dr. Oetker Bicarbonate of Soda and wash the stain off. We recommend always wearing gloves when handling food colour gel. 

Is food colour gel safe for dogs?  
Animal experts say that food colour gels are safe for dogs. Just remember, if your dog does nab one of your colourful bakes, there may be some ingredients in there that aren’t safe for them. Plus, cake not specifically made for dogs isn’t good for their diet, so always be on the lookout.  

Can you mix food colour gels?  
Yes, you can mix food colour gels to create different colours. By combining different colours in different amounts, you can create a wide range of shades. It’s best to start with small amounts of each colour and gradually add more until you achieve the colour you want! Be bold and experiment. 

Does food colour gel go off?  

Once open, food colour gel may degrade over time as it’s exposed to light, air or temperature fluctuations. This can lead to changes in colour and consistency. It’s best to use the food colour gel straightaway once opened for the most vibrant colours.  

Is food colour gel vegan/vegetarian?  
Many of our Dr.Oetker Food Colour Gels are suitable for both vegetarians and vegans, but the following aren’t: 


Try our Food Colour Gels

With our Food Colour Gels, you can bring vibrant colours to your at-home bakes. Remember, with a little colour you can make a big difference to your baking. With these simple colourful touches, you’ll bring a smile to your loved ones’ faces. Just a spot of colour goes a long way to personalising a sweet treat for the people that matter.   

Whether you’re making a birthday showstopper, Easter chocolate or some Halloween treats - it’s going to be bright, bold and beautiful.  

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