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Tips for Using Food Coloring in Cookie Dough

Using food coloring is a fun way and easy to customize your homemade cookies. But as always, sometimes a few tips can make things even easier (and save mess.) 

Tip for Choosing Food Coloring Type

Tips for using food coloring in cookie dough with The Cookie Elf

There are 4 types of food coloring: liquid, gel, paste, powder, and natural ingredients. Which should you use?

It depends on what you’re coloring – cookie dough, icing, or sugar (for decorations.) Top tip: too much liquid food coloring can change the makeup of your recipe. Avoid using it for meringues or decorative sugar, for instance. Also, keep in mind that gel and paste make more intense colors than liquid. If you want a pastel or light shade, opt for liquid, powder, or small amounts of the other types. (More about 4 types of food coloring.)

Tip for Choosing a Color

Personalize! Choose colors for cookies for holidays, to fit an occasion like a wedding or graduation, or to coordinate with a theme, such as your favorite team’s colors.

Tip for Blending Colors

If you choose to combine food colors that you have on hand to make a new shade (like yellow and red to make orange), do so in a small bowl with a toothpick before adding it to the dough. This way you can control the tint.

Tip for Getting the Right Shade

Start by adding small amounts of coloring to the cookie dough and adjust as a you go. You can always add more to make the color deeper, but you cannot remove extra coloring once it is mixed into the dough. Use a toothpick! Blend the coloring into the cookie dough using a slow speed with an electric mixer, a mixer paddle attachment with a standing mixer, or by kneading it in by hand.  Stop to check the color after the first addition. If it is too light, add more color a bit at a time until the dough is the color you want. 

Tip for Adding Food Coloring to Cookie Dough

Before I started “getting colorful” by using food coloring in cookie dough, I always thought I needed to mix the dough and then add color as the final step before rolling it to make cut-out sugar cookies or loading it into the cookie press to make press cookies. That works! But so do other options. I discovered you can add coloring to the wet ingredients. For instance, stir in orange color to melted mixture before adding cereal to make Halloween Rice Krispie Treats.

Tip for Protecting Your Skin

Food coloring can stain your skin. Try using food service gloves to protect your hands (they’re also available in kids’ sizes.) Or you can wash your stained hands with water and then wipe them gently with a washcloth blotted in white vinegar. If stains persist, then use baking soda to make a paste to wash your hands and remove stains.

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