Natural Color for Baked Goods, Snacks, and Bakery Decorations

Color Elevates Baked Goods

As shoppers seek incremental indulgences, many love to treat themselves to delicious baked goods, both sweet and savory. Innovation in this space is rampant and primarily focused on delivering superior or interesting flavors that stand out from the pack.



of sweet baked goods eaters put flavor first when buying these products

Mintel 2021


The right color can increase consumer flavor perception an average of


Sensient Consumer Research 2019

When used correctly, color can amplify a flavor profile and add to the sensory consumption experience. The wrong color, or a color that doesn’t look quite as good as a consumer thinks it should, can be detrimental to a product’s success. Consumers expect delicious baked goods to LOOK delicious: we eat with our eyes first!


Naturalness is an Important Factor

Because over half of US consumers look at nutrition labels when selecting baked goods to purchase (Mintel 2022), many brands are looking to renovate or innovate with clean label ingredients. Mintel reports that natural claims continue to rise among launches of sweeteners and sugar, accounting for 66% of launches in the year leading up to January 2023.

Natural colors are highly appealing to clean label seekers, but depending on the application there are certain factors that developers should keep in mind in order to ensure the most successful color performance in finished goods.

Key Considerations for Color in Fresh & Packaged Bakery


Frostings & Icings

The primary color focus in frostings and icings is a combination of light exposure and color bleed. Unlike fat-based coatings, these applications typically have both water and oil content in the formula. However, it is important to select light-stable color solutions. Color technologies that mitigate the risk of color bleed, like Microfine™, can improve the final appearance of the product.


Fat-Based Coatings

The primary color focus in fat-based coatings is oil applicability to ensure consistent bright shades in the finished application. A solution that is not oil applicable will not be fully incorporated into the coating, resulting in poor color performance.



The primary color focus in sprinkles is oil applicability, much like fat-based coatings. Many sprinkles are cold-pressed, so heat is not a factor, but it is important to select colors that will incorporate fully into oil-based applications.



The primary color focus in gems for baked goods is the combination of successful panning capability with heat stability during the baking process. Successful panning is heavily dependent on the formula and panning process, which you can learn more about in this blog.


Sweet or Savory Baked Goods and Bases

The primary color focus in sweet or savory baked goods and bases is heat stability. Depending on the duration and temperature of the heat processing, some color solutions will be particularly successful.



The primary color focus in fillings is water stability or oil stability depending on the content of the filling. If the filling has any water component, a water-soluble solution can be used; similarly, if there is any oil component an oil-soluble solution is appropriate. Many fillings are also relatively acidic, so selecting color solutions that are stable in low-pH environments is key to success.


Dry Mixes

The primary color focus in dry mixes is to ensure consistent color incorporation in multiple stages, from the dry powder mix to the hydrated batter to the finished baked product. This requires a color solution that can evenly and consistently coat dry powder particles, such as Microfine™ as well as remain stable in liquid scenarios and survive the baking process.

Key Enabling Solutions for Bakery & Bakery Decorations

SupraRed™ is a highly concentrated beet juice technology designed to be heat-stable in bakery applications. Our UberBeet™ portfolio of enhanced beet-based colors also includes Magna Ruby and other optimized beet solutions.

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Designed to enable developers to use water-soluble colors in oil-based applications as well as to provide plating-grade capabilities to natural colors, Microfine™ is one of Sensient’s leading technologies for bakery applications.

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For developers and brands seeking to replace Titanium Dioxide for whitening and opacity across applications, Avalanche™ is the industry-leading portfolio of solutions. Sensient’s R&D team is constantly adding to this portfolio as new sources are discovered and technological advancements are made.

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Sienna™ is Sensient’s portfolio of caramel-free natural browns that are fully compliant with California’s Prop 65. From the lightest tan shades to deep coffee and hickory, Sienna™ can be used alone or in blends to create the perfect brown in bakery applications.

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Learn more about color in bakery applications with these blogs:

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