Valentine’s Day Cookies – Just Say No to Red #40

I love Christmas and Valentine’s Day, and I especially love baking for both holidays. But I detest artificial food coloring. I won’t go into the myriad reasons why it’s awful,  unnecessary, and  should be banned. But I do want to make you aware of all the places it shows up. Yes, it’s on virtually every birthday cake your child will eat. Plus, it’s in rainbow-colored goldfish crackers, most candies, maraschino cherries, jello, popsicles, commercial breakfast bars, and those gummy fruit-flavored snacks that are somehow passing for fruit. Food coloring also sneaks its way into children’s Tylenol and Ibuprofen, as well as the majority of toothpastes.

With that said, my kids are no different than anyone else’s. They love colorful icing, sprinkles and candies. And while I appreciate how beautiful desserts can look with artificial food dye, I want nothing to do with eating them. As for S and C, that’s another story. To satisfy the whimsy in my kids and me, I decided to make my own red food coloring—from beets. And you know what? It worked! Plus, it was super easy.


I always have beets on hand because of my CSA, so I decided to slice one beet into four slices and steam it with a 1/3 cup water. You have to be careful not to let the water burn off, so add more water as you steam, if necessary. After about 15 minutes, I had a beautiful deep red liquid in my pan. I added about a tablespoon of it to my icing and voila it all turned pink. Since beets are naturally sweet, it didn’t impart an unusual taste to the icing. I was happy and the kids were ecstatic, because their mom was going to let them frost the cookies and eat them, too! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Pink Icing (made from beet juice)

1/2 stick butter, at room temperature

1 lb. powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

Beet juice


Beat butter with powdered sugar until well blended. Add vanilla and beet juice. When you’ve achieved the desired color, add milk a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency. Spread over cookies, cake or cupcakes.

4 Comments to “Valentine’s Day Cookies – Just Say No to Red #40”

  1. Love it! Do you tase the beets?

  2. Thank you so much for a natural food coloring! My daughter gets horribly sick after ingesting red food coloring, now we have a safe yummy way for her to share in the treats that have to be pink!

    • Wendy, I’ve heard of lots of kids who have reactions to food coloring. Know that you’re not alone. I’m glad I was able to offer an alternative, so that holiday treats can still be colorful. Now, I’m trying to figure out how to make natural green food coloring for St. Paddy’s Day. Let me know if you have any ideas.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: