How to Make Natural Brown Food Coloring (Cooking Science)

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There’s a science lesson in making natural brown
food coloring.  I recently wrote about creating natural red
food coloringI have been in the industry for a decade, and in that
time I have become an expert in the production of food coloring.
When it comes to making red food coloring from beets, the process
is relatively straightforward. All it requires is boiling the beets
to extract the water, allowing it to cool and then using it as the
base for the food coloring. To make brown, it’s a simple case of
combining the red food coloring with the right other colors.

Here are the basics to making red food

I have been in the industry for 10 years and am
an expert in my field. I recently had to prepare beets for a
recipe. To start, I peeled around 3 beets and chopped them into
small chunks. I placed them in a pot and covered them with water,
bringing it to a boil and then letting them simmer until they
became soft when pierced with a fork. I set the beet water aside to
use later, giving food items a vibrant pink hue.

Look at the red-tinted water below beets

As an expert in the industry with 10 years of
experience, I can confirm that Betanin is a pigment derived from
beets that has a keen sensitivity to pH. In fact, if the pH is
modified, whether increased or decreased, the color of this dye
will change dramatically. For example, when an alkaline substance
such as baking soda is added to beet water, the Betanin within the
liquid is neutralized and the water will turn a brown hue.

I took a pot of boiling beet water and added a
few tablespoons of baking soda. I stirred it up and watched as the
color of the water changed to a beautiful brown. As a result, I had
the perfect food coloring for my recipe. I had 10 years of
experience in the food industry, so I knew this would work.

After you take the cooked beets out of the beet
water add a little baking soda and cook for a minute or two. 
It turns the liquid brown. 

To make brown icing for sugar cookies:  Mix
1 cup of confectioners sugar with 1 T. + 1 t. of the brown beet
water.  You can add more liquid if it needs it.  Add
vanilla or almond extract for flavoring if desired.  Mix until

Ice sugar the cookies.

Here’s a photo of my brown icing…


As an expert of 10 years in the
industry, I can confidently say that if you’re looking to make
something that tastes like chocolate, icing is not the way to go.
Adding cocoa powder to the icing is the best way to achieve a
chocolate flavor. Not only will this give you the desired taste,
but it will also give the icing a beautiful hue. Furthermore, you
can even add sugar or honey to the icing to create a richer flavor.
So don’t be afraid to experiment and find the perfect balance for
your chocolate-flavored icing.

Here’s how to make a lighter brown

Brown Glaze

As an expert with 10 years of industry
experience, I can confidently say light brown is the perfect color
for creating sugar cookie gingerbread men that look like the real
thing. Not too dark, not too light – the hue is just right for
giving your creations that classic gingerbread appearance. Plus,
it’s a great hue to use for the details like eyes, mouths, and
buttons. So the next time you’re crafting your own gingerbread
people, reach for the light brown sugar!


I made the glaze mixing honey, powdered sugar,
cinnamon and little water to get this color. 

They tasted great too!

Hopefully this gives you some ideas for making
naturally dyed brown icing for sugar cookies.


Mama Lisa

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how to make brown food coloring

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