9 Best Red Food Coloring Substitutes


This is the ultimate list of substitutes that you can use for red food coloring in your cooking and baking.

So, dive right in. 

Best Red Food Coloring Substitutes

The Best Red Food Coloring Substitutes are- Pure Beet Juice, Beet Powder, Pomegranate Juice, Hibiscus, Cranberries Juice, Cherries, Tomatoes, Strawberries, and Pink & Black Food Colouring.

They are discussed in detail here-

1. Pure Beet Juice 

Beet juice is a healthy and all-natural alternative to red food coloring that is also rich in fiber.

It is easy to make at home – boiling, blending, and straining beets to get a deep red hue.

You could also experiment with the ratio of beets, to get the right shade of red that you want. 

How to Substitute? 

The measure of beet juice in your recipe will depend on the depth of color that you are looking for. You might also want to adjust sweetness levels in dessert recipes.

Here is how you can make some beet juice food coloring at home with the help of this video tutorial – 

2. Beet Powder

Beet powder is another great alternative to red food coloring if you are looking for healthier options.

It is also great for dessert recipes because it does not have the earthy flavor of beets. Mixing it with baking powder can help change the shade to your liking. 

How to Substitute? 

Red beet powder coloring, once made, can be substituted in more or less the same measure in any recipe.

To make your own beet powder to use as red food coloring, you can check out this YouTube tutorial – 

3. Pomegranate Juice

Pomegranate juice, made from boiled and strained pomegranates, is an ideal healthy and natural substitute for red food coloring.

It is perfect for sweet recipes, where the fruity and citric flavor will add to its taste. 

How to Substitute? 

You can play around with the measure of pomegranate juice to find the ideal shade and then fix the consistency of the recipe accordingly. 

4. Hibiscus 

Boiled and strained dried hibiscus flowers are yet another great way to get naturally rich red coloring.

It is easy to make on your own and goes a long way.

Depending on how long you simmer the flowers, you can get the shade of red that you prefer.

How to Substitute? 

Once you have made the hibiscus red stain, you can use it in more or less the same measure as a red food coloring. 

5. Cranberry Juice

Cranberries boiled and strained are a good alternative to red food coloring.

You can tweak the shade of red depending on how long you boil the cranberries and how well you strain them.

Keep in mind that the final dish will have a slight cranberry flavor to it.

How to Substitute? 

Depending on what kind of shade and the type of recipe you are using, you can play around with the measure of cranberry juice to get the recipe right. 

6. Cherries 

Pureed cherries are the perfect way to give a strong red color to your desserts and add to their flavor as well.

It is both healthy and naturally sweet and tart, making it perfect for baking recipes.

You could also use freeze-dried cherries for coloring your recipe.

How to Substitute? 

When using pureed cherries, you might have to experiment with the ratio of cherries as well as other elements to get the right texture and color. 

7. Strawberries 

Much like cherries, strawberries or freeze-dried strawberries are great for color sweet recipes.

Pureeing them with a few spoons of water can give you a lovely red hue along with its sweet flavors. You could also try a combination of strawberries with other frozen fruits. 

How to Substitute? 

To get the perfect color shade and texture, some experimenting with ratios of strawberry mash and other elements might be needed. 

8. Tomatoes

Well suited for both sweet and savory recipes, tomatoes are yet another healthy and flavorful alternative to red food coloring.

It is easy to make – with simple steps of blending and straining the seeds out.

How to Substitute? 

The exact ratio of tomatoes as food coloring will depend on the shade of red you are looking for and also the other elements of the recipe so that the texture remains the same. 

9. Pink and Black Food Coloring

Although this is not an all-natural alternative, it can come in handy if you are in a pinch and want to make do with the food coloring you have at hand.

A few drops of pink with a drop of black food coloring can give you red food coloring easily.

How to Substitute? 

Once you get the right hue, you can substitute this combo shade of food coloring in a 1:1 ratio for red food coloring. 

Bottom Line 

I hope this guide has given you some great alternatives to red food coloring.

If we have missed some substitute, do let me know, I will be happy to add it 🙂

Feel free to share this article with your friends and loved ones who like to experiment in the kitchen. 

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About Jane Lewis

Jane loves spending time with her family, cooking delicious meals, traveling to explore new cultures and wines, and tending to her backyard garden. She's a passionate home cook who enjoys trying out recipes from all over the world.