Let’s talk food coloring.
There are two basic types of food coloring: liquid and gel. As the name implies, liquid food coloring is made of water and synthetic colors. Quite affordable, it’s great for lighter, pastel colors (blush pink, for example).
The downside to liquid food coloring: it’s messy. And you have to use a bunch of it to get darker or more vibrant colors.
That’s where gel food coloring comes in. As you might guess, it is thicker and more like a paste. This food coloring is concentrated—a little goes a long way!
Gel food coloring is great for brighter, more vibrant colors. On the downside, it is harder to mix into dough since it is thick to start with!
To find the best gel food coloring for icing, we tried out seven popular brands. We looked for best color and ease of use (some gel food coloring is thicker than others). The winner: Wilton’s Icing Colors 12 count set. Here’s why:
What We Liked
• Soft gel paste mixes well in icing and frosting.
• Concentrated = a little on a toothpick goes a long way!
• Made in USA.
• Consistent overall quality.
• Blends well in any type of frosting, including buttercream and cream cheese.
What Needs Work
• High fructose corn syrup is one of the ingredients.
• A bit messy. This food coloring comes in jars, which can get messy when we get cooking. We prefer squeeze bottles, like the food coloring recommended below.
• Synthetic dyes include Red #40.
• Allergy alert: made in facility that processes tree nuts, egg and soy.
• Aftertaste? We didn’t notice a problem with this in our tests, but others parents told us they thought some colors altered the taste of buttercream icing. Interesting, one of the colors (red) is labeled as “no taste.”