Natural Food Colors for Sweet Baked Goods

Ingredient Renovation in indulgent Categories

As consumers’ purchasing behavior continues to shift towards “better-for-you” alternatives, innovation opportunities present themselves across all categories. Cakes and cupcakes are the perfect vehicle for “permissible indulgence”.

As reduced portion size offerings becoming the norm, consumers expect rich, adventurous flavor profiles and all-natural ingredients for their snackable, sweet moment.

In fact, 41% of bakery products launched in North America in the past three years include a natural claim (Mintel 2023).


Visual Appeal Drives Initial Purchases

In Sensient’s large-scale consumer research study, brighter, more vibrant color outscored muted/low-colored products and lifted purchase intent by 5%. Preference for visually bold products is due to a couple of notions. First, brighter color was associated with more flavor in Sensient’s research.

Secondly, today’s consumers are seeking products in unique colors, patterns, etc. to share across their social platforms. There are over 3 million Instagram posts with the hashtag #cakesofinstragram showing off the beautiful design work of pastry chefs, at home bakers, in-store bakery creations, and packaged cakes. Natural food color can not only cater to modern demands for natural ingredients, but also can increase overall flavor perception and potentially purchase intent.


Did you know natural colors provide more hue options than synthetic colors? While the broad shade range is certainly a benefit, there are some unique challenges to formulating with natural colors, specifically heat stability for applications like cupcakes and cakes where there is a bake process. Fortunately, the industry offers a full crayon box of natural colors for baked goods with unique innovations that have addressed some major gaps due to heat-stability.



Solution: Beet juice color provides excellent pink and red velvet shades in baking applications, but browns under high heat processing. For lower heat bakery applications, Sensient’s cost-effective and highly concentrated beet juice is a great option.

Solution: Heat-stable reds like carmine and Sensient’s proprietary Magna Ruby and SupraRed beet juices deliver intense, bright red shades at low usage rates.

Request Natural Red Samples Here


Solution: Paprika extract color provides bold orange shades and annatto extract color delivers more golden orange hues; both are heat-stable options for cake applications.

Request Natural Orange Samples Here


Solution: Turmeric color provides the brightest yellow and a heat-stable option but it fades under light exposure, so it isn’t a great option for clear packaged baked items. Another yellow option is beta-carotene due to the good heat and light stability it provides, as well as the vibrant golden yellow hue.

Request Natural Yellow Samples Here


Solution: Natural blue shades are challenging to achieve in baking applications. Sensient’s proprietary natural blue color offers a denim blue color for cake applications, and in combination with heat-stable reds like Carmine or SupraRed™, you can achieve rich purple shades.

Request Natural Blue or Purple Samples Here


Solution: Similar to natural purple blends, green shades are achieved by combining natural blues with natural yellows. Natural blues with turmeric yellow produces the brightest natural green food coloring option.

Request Natural Green Samples Here


Solution: Many cake batters are beige or a brownish hue if cocoa is a recipe component, but brown colors are typically necessary to standardize the end shade. Historically, caramel colors have been the go-to brown solution, but in recent years, Sensient has received many requests for alternative options. We have a suite of natural brown alternatives to caramel colors from golden to peanut butter shades using our Sienna™ fruit juice and darker brown shades with natural blue and brown blends.The darkest Sienna™ blends can even create unique black baked goods.

Request Natural Browns or Black Samples Here


Bakery developers can innovate colorfully with multicolor swirls for an even more memorable visual experience.


Brighten your bakery innovation with a sample of our natural food colors today-select your hue here!

If you are uncertain about a natural color sample or would like to discuss strategies for natural colors for a specific shade, my team and I would love to talk. Please set up a consultation with us here.

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