food color gel

Food Color: Everything You Need to Know

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  • Post last modified:September 12, 2022
  • Reading time:25 mins read

Have you ended up with cake batter a few shades too dark because of natural food coloring? Did you make the seemingly perfect icing only to mess up the color? How about frosting that’s too dark or too light? Thankfully, our beloved food color and Emulco guide can help.

With all those colorful bottles and jars, using food color can be intimidating (shout out to the beginners out there). But don’t you worry, dear baker. We’re here to help you sort things out.

In this post, we will talk about everything you need to know about food color.

Are you ready to talk about colors? Strap your seatbelt and explore the lovely world of food coloring. 

What Is Food Color?

natural food coloring

In technical terms, food color describes the substance added to food or drink to alter its appearance. As you may have guessed, cooks use food color to color food. We know, it sounds like a rhyme.

Rhyming aside, food color can be natural and synthetic. Bakers and cooks use food color to enhance or disguise the original appearance of food. By doing this, they give their dishes (e.g. starch dishes and cereal dishes) distinct characters. 

Food coloring is also a hit among those who decorate cakes and pastries. In particular, when items get exposed to light, air, severe temperatures, and moisture, food color compensates for the loss of natural hues. 

In addition, people tend to associate particular hues with particular flavors. I mean, you always associate the color brown with chocolate cake, right? 

Given this, color can affect how we perceive sensations. From red velvet cake to double chocolate cookies, our eyes often judge treats before we eat them.

Due to this, food producers also include dyes in their products. Sometimes the goal is to mimic a hue that the consumer perceives as natural, such as when red coloring is added to glacé cherries (which would otherwise be beige). 

Although the majority of consumers know that meals with vivid or artificial colors generally contain coloring, much fewer know that items that look natural, like salmon and oranges, sometimes get dyed to cover up natural color variations.

In a nutshell, coloring plays a role in satisfying both the eyes and taste buds of consumers. Think about this: Would you enjoy eating black salmon? 

Food Color and Taste

food color

As I mentioned above, color and taste are related to each other. 

But how does this work in the first place? 

Hold my jar and let me explain.

Exhibit A: We anticipate that orange-flavored beverages will have an orange flavor because oranges are orange, correct? Purple beverages should taste like grapes as well. On the other hand, red beverages should taste like strawberries or cherries.

Exhibit B: We eat a huge amount of processed food. Unfortunately, the color of these items changes. To make them more pleasant to eat, food color must enter the scene. 

In particular, it makes food look more enticing. So, they work like cosmetics, but for food.

Fun fact: Hotdogs would be gray manufacturers stick to their natural color. Gross, right?

But thanks to coloring’s superpowers, you can enjoy red, juicy, and tasty hotdogs. 

Types of Food Color

food coloring

Now that you know the sibling-like relationship between color and taste, you must proceed to the types of coloring next. Here are the different types of food colors: 

1. Natural Food Color

As its name suggests, natural food coloring comes from dyes found in nature. Think about orange extracts and green dyes from leaves. 

Some examples of these dyes include chlorophyll, which gives plants their green color. Another example is turmeric, a plant that is commonly found in India. As you may well know, we use turmeric to color food yellow. 

People sensitive to other types or those concerned about their health should go with natural food coloring. But because the natural ingredients have a relatively low tolerance for heat, you must use them with toppings and desserts that do not require much or any cooking.

In addition, natural ones usually come in powder form. However, when exposed to sunlight, the majority of powdered natural colorings lose their vibrant hue within 24 hours. 

In comparison to other products in the market like Flavocol and Emulco, natural ones can’t last long. Products like Emulco have been engineered to have superior stability, keeping their vibrant hues for longer. 

2. Oil-Based Food Coloring

As its name implies, manufacturers make oil-based food coloring to attach to oil-based items like chocolate, hard candies, and other fat-based products. 

You can use oil-based food coloring to enhance the look of fatty recipes in which the addition of water would cause the taste to change.

Fun fact: You should never use traditional ones with chocolate because the water content will cause the chocolate to seize and become unstable.

3. Powder Food Color

As you may well know, the powdered version of food coloring is fully dry. Again, it does not include any liquid at all. We just had to emphasize that (sorry, not sorry). 

The powdered form works wonderfully for recipes that even small amounts of water can affect, These include coconut macaroons and pandan coconut cookies

Recipes like them should not contain a lot of water, so powder food color works well with them. You can mix powder food color with the batter. As an alternative, you can brush it straight onto food. However, this tricky technique can set you back, so we suggest that you only do this if you have advanced baking skills.

Speaking of baking, powdered ones do not easily mix with a thick batter. Plus, putting excess powder food color might make the mixture dry. So, after adding the dye to the mixture, wait anywhere from five to ten minutes before stirring it again. By doing this, the color can fully shine. 

4. Airbrush Food Color

Although it has a lot of the same components as gel food coloring, airbrush coloring has a significantly different consistency. It has been purposefully formulated to have a lower viscosity so advanced, airbrush-using decorators can use it. 

Moreover, using this type allows you to easily create more artistic effects on fondant, dry icing, chocolate chip cookies, or cakes. Just keep in mind that you need to clean your airbrush gun after each use. Doing so prevents the colors from blending and messing up your masterpiece. 

5. Gel Food Coloring

gel food coloring

You guessed it right: Gel food coloring is just like any gel product. It goes between solid and liquid but is significantly thicker than liquid food color.

Given its consistency, the gel form contains more intense and vivid colors. So, its consistency makes it perfect for coloring big batches of dough or buttercream frosting at once.

The caveat? You’ll have a harder time using it than any other kind in this list. 

You might also find yourself adding a little too much pigment because of its consistency and intensity. 

But you can still use it, of course, albeit carefully. To use it properly, incorporate it into your mixture using a toothpick. Add it to your mixture and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, repeat the same process as needed.

Gel colors deepen over time, so you must wait and see how the combination changes before adding more color. Remember, patience is the key to making tasty and colorful dishes. 

6. Liquid Food Coloring

Did you know? Manufacturers combine artificial color and a water base to produce liquid coloring. 

The colors are not highly concentrated because the consistency is watery. So, if you want a stronger or deeper hue, you will need to add a large amount. Doing so can cause your mixture to become more watery. 

However, this is a wonderful choice if you want to create pastel colors. Food coloring in liquid form is also most effective when combined with other liquids, such as chocolate, syrup, and water. 

Why Emulco Is the Best Food Color

natural food color

I might have explained the most common types of food color above, but nothing beats this revolutionary product: Emulco. 

Emulco is an all-in-one solution for inducing that mouth-watering flavor and vibrant color. This food essence slash food color is perfectly blended to fit any recipe. So, using it will help you prepare treats that no one can refuse.

Aside from being the most flexible food color in that market, Emulco gives your baked products natural, deep hues. 

On top of that, they will smell great. It’s because Emulco is specially formulated to mimic the natural scent of the flavors it represents. 

When you combine a flavor that makes mouths water, an enticing scent, and vibrant color, you make your loved ones and customers come back for more.

In particular, Emulco Flavor & Color:

Gives your baked goodies a natural flavor. 

The majority of coloring items on the market produce fake flavors. This greatly messes up the perfectly smooth batter that worked so hard to create. 

Thankfully, Emulco saves the day. Formulated to produce more natural flavors, Emulco produces the most authentic flavors a food color can have. 

Easily mixes with your batter. 

Aside from its authentic taste, Emulco easily combines with your batter. It doesn’t even matter how thick or thin your batter becomes. Just add Emulco and see your batter absorb it like 1, 2, 3. 

Maintains a rich color. 

Products made from red velvet are easily recognizable by their signature deep red color. However, no red velvet flavoring in the market does it like Red Velvet Emulco―keeping a bright red velvet hue all day long.

Makes your baked products smell fresh. 

The benefits of Emulco don’t stop there (aka flavor and color). While we eat with our eyes, makers of Emulco also know that we eat with our noses. So, they saw to it that our beloved Emulco gives your baked goods a crisp, fragrant aroma that comes out as soon as you take your treats out of the oven. 

Is as flexible as it can be. 

To make your baking journey easier, Emulco can also be used in any type of product. 

This includes but is not limited to fruit cakes, red velvet cupcakes, cookies, bread, and even mango ice cream.

Emulco Flavors

Wondering what you can use Emulco with? Here are the Emulco flavors you should check out:

Mango Emulco 

Mango Flavor and Color

Red Velvet Emulco 

red velvet ingredient, red velvet cake, red velvet flavor, red velvet emulco

Ube or Purple Yam Emulco 

yam ube flavor and color emulco

Chocolate Emulco 

chocolate emulco 100g

Mocha Emulco 

mocha emulco 100g

Vanilla Emulco 

vanilla emulco flavor 100g
vanilla emulco flavor 100g

Strawberry Emulco 

strawberry emulco

Blueberry Emulco 

Blueberry EMULCO 100g

Pandan Emulco 

pandan flavor emulco

Lemon Emulco 

Lemon Flavor Emulco 100g

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is called Food Colour?

Food coloring, often known as additives, can refer to any dye, pigment, or substance that changes the color of food or drink after being added to it. They can be bought in a wide variety of formulations. These include liquids, powders, gels, and airbrush-compatible ones. 

Is food coloring safe to eat?

The FDA has given its stamp of approval to food coloring. This means that consumers can safely eat it. However, you should still choose the right brands.

Which food Colour is best?

Your preferences and goals in terms of appearance will determine which food coloring works best for you. For instance, gel food coloring can produce vibrant colors in big batches of icings and frostings. On the other hand, liquid food color works well for making pastel colors. 

How can I naturally color my food?

You can naturally color your food using fruit juice, vegetable juice, the water used to cook your vegetables or fruit, or colored tea.

What is natural food dyes?

Since ancient times, people have colored their food with natural dyes. Natural food dyes include carotenoids, chlorophyll, anthocyanin, and turmeric. 

What can I use instead of food coloring?

You can use the following instead of food coloring: 
Hibiscus flowers 
Boiled cranberries
Red beet juice
Pomegranate juice
Red beet powder

Read Interesting Articles by HICAPS


Colorful desserts might look easy on the eyes, but it takes great effort and time to perfect them. Thanks to food color, you can easily create products that your eyes will love.

But it’s not just about the appearance. After all, your cake can be the most beautiful one on the globe, but if it tastes bad, no one will totally like it. 

The amazing look of your food must come together with a fragrant aroma and natural favor as well. 

Emulco can give you all that and more. Order your all-in-one, affordable Emulco from HICAPS now! 


Over the years, HICAPS has helped bakers and businesses make delicious products by offering ingredients like ChiffonAide Cake Oil, Magic Whizk Whipping Cream, Red Velvet Flavor Emulco, and Instabake Brownie Mix

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