India Tree Natural Food Coloring: Is It Worth It?

adding just one drop of food coloring to her cookie dough
adding just one drop of food coloring to her cookie dough

To test the dyes, I gave them to my girls, along with a batch of sugar cookie dough, and challenged them to make a rainbow of cookies. Rainbow colors are VERY important to us, and a set of food coloring simply can’t live in our pantry if it can’t make us a rainbow cake for every kid’s birthday.

The kiddos dove right in. Each kiddo chose to squirt the food coloring directly onto a cookie dough disk and then knead it in, washing her hands between colors. One drop seemed sufficient to color one cookie correctly in the primary colors, adding a couple of extra drops to make indigo, and one drop of each color seemed sufficient for the secondary colors, so I can imagine that it would take a LOT of coloring to make an entire blue-as-the-ocean cake, for instance, or an entire batch of sunshine yellow cookies.

India Tree dyed sugar cookies (2 of 5)
See? Vibrant!

Because my kiddos do a lot of their food crafting by hand (so much messier that way!), it was nice to see that they didn’t stain their hands as they were kneading the color into each individual cookie; this is a HUGE problem with the Wilton gel food coloring. And each finished cookie dough ball turned out really, really vibrant–like, crayon vibrant. Cartoon vibrant.

Were they colorful?

They were vibrant.

Much of that vibrancy was lost as the cookies baked, but they remained true to color. Green stayed green, if not NEON green, and yellow was clearly yellow and blue clearly blue. Red was quite frankly an improvement over the Wilton colors–Wilton red, even their Christmas Red, always turns out pink for me, but the India Tree red has more of a blue cast to it, which makes it a little purpley, but it’s much more clearly red than any tone of pink that Wilton ever gave me.

Yellow also seemed really saturated, and both the yellow and orange cookies, and to a lesser extent the green ones, stayed pretty saturated after baking. Blue felt like the weakest color–it turned out faded in both the blue and indigo cookies, and was overpowered by the red in the purple cookies. If I had made these cookies with the Wilton colors as my aspiration, blue is the only color that would have disappointed me.

She likes her sunshine yellow cookie just fine, thank you.
She likes her sunshine yellow cookie just fine, thank you.

However…for my kids’ health (and mine!), I can compromise a little on cute. Yes, India Tree colors are a little more muted than conventional food coloring, with its high fructose corn syrup to make kids hyper and its synthetic dyes to make them cranky. But yes, India Tree colors do work. You CAN bake a seven-layer rainbow cake using them and end up with seven definite rainbow colors–not crayon/cartoon bright, perhaps, but definitely there.

No-bake food crafts might really be in this dye’s wheelhouse, however. With rainbow icing, or rainbow marzipan, or rainbow white chocolate, you don’t have to bake the vividness away.

But not play dough. For play dough, use your old Wilton gels–you need to get rid of those, anyway!

Full Disclosure: I bought these India Tree food colors with my own money.

Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.

2 Comments

Leave a Reply
  1. Thanks for this review, Julie. We almost never make baked goodies with all the food issues, but when we do, we want them to be fun. The kiddo has a 1/2 birthday coming up and I think I might look at picking up some of these to surprise her with something yummy and colorful.

    Thanks!

  2. Thanks for this review. I have been wondering how well India Tree colors work. We have just been skipping the food coloring in things we eat and using regular food coloring or kool-aid for playdough. I have tried India Tree’s natural sprinkles and really like them.

One Ping

  1. Pingback:

Comments (Keep It Civil...)

To Do: Grow Your Crafty Business

How-to: Upcycled Toy Charm Necklaces–They’re Toys You Can Wear!