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Whether you're frosting a Little Red Riding Hood cake or you want an authentic gore scene for Halloween, you'll need dark red food coloring. The standard set of food coloring offers four choices: red, yellow, blue and green. As with any dark coloring, taste can suffer. If you've ever eaten an Elmo cake, you know that red icing can taste bitter. Protect your food's taste by using dark red food coloring sparingly.

Create a small pool of black food coloring by mixing one drop each of yellow, blue and red on a small white plastic or paper plate. Mixing any coloring with a little black darkens the original color.

Dispense a single drop of red food coloring into your second mixing dish. Using white surfaces for mixing allows you to see the color in its truest form.

Add 1 drop of black color to your red drop using the eye dropper. Mix the 2 colors with a small spoon.

Mix half a spoonful of whichever food (icing or batter, for example) you intend on coloring with the dark red dye. This gives you a preview of how the 1:1 ratio of red to black coloring will appear in your food.

Create a darker red by adding an additional half-drop of black or make a brighter red by adding an additional half-drop of red. Write down the total number of drops each time you add more so you can easily recreate that same color later.


Different icings or foods respond differently to dyes. Complete a test batch of each food you intend on coloring before mixing half the bottle of food dye.


Dark red food coloring can stain your fingers and clothing. Wear an apron, food-safe gloves and mix your colors over the sink.

About the Author

Christina Schnell

Christina Bednarz Schnell began writing full-time in 2010. Her areas of expertise include child development and behavior, medical conditions and pet health. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international relations.