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Pink Frosting Without Food Coloring

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Pink frosting makes me think of a giant (Jack and the Bean Stalk sized) princess popping bubble gum, smashing it in her face, collecting it in a bowl, and storing it for later.  My pink frosting, however, is not bubble gum-flavored and it does does not have a giant’s cooties on it.  Better yet, I didn’t use any artificial food coloring to make pink frosting.  I didn’t use any berries, either!

So, how did I do it?

How To Make Pink Frosting

As soon as I saw how red my hibiscus tea was, I was excited to try using hibiscus to make pink frosting.  It worked!  Unlike using berries – which leave the frosting with a very strong berry flavor and oftentimes more moisture than you would like – making pink frosting with hibiscus only slightly affects the taste of the buttercream.  The pink buttercream has just a bit of a pleasant tang to it that most people won’t even notice.

The trick to pink frosting is pink butter!

  1. Melt butter with dried hibiscus.  You can do this in a small saucepan on medium-low heat or in a glass bowl in the microwave for one minute.
  2. Stir until you see lots of pink in the butter.  You may see pink oil floating on the butter (like oil and vinegar) rather than integrating with it.  Don’t worry – when the butter cools, the pink will mix right in.
  3. Strain out the hibiscus flowers.
  4. Let the butter come to room temperature, then cool in the refrigerator.
  5. When ready to use, stir (to evenly distribute the pink color) and bring back to room temperature to use in your favorite frosting recipe.

How Did I Use My Pink Butter?

I topped chocolate cupcakes (the recipe from the Better Than Sex Chocolate Cupcakes) with a buttercream frosting made with pink butter.  To make the pink buttercream, I used my vanilla bean buttercream frosting recipe minus the vanilla bean paste (the vanilla bean paste would affect the color of the frosting).

Note: If you want a vanilla flavor and don’t want to affect color, you can use clear vanilla (but, keep in mind that it is an artificial flavor).

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23 comments on “Pink Frosting Without Food Coloring”

  1. Joysays:

    That is a great idea. I would never think of doing this.

  2. Elianasays:

    Thanks so much for this tip. Can’t wait to put it to use because I love all things pink!

  3. What a great idea! I’ve been trying to come up with ways to make red frosting without using buckets of food coloring, and this is probably a great starting point for a nice red. And it’s such a nice pink by itself! Now I just have to get my hands on some hibiscus :)

  4. Laurensays:

    Gorgeous hue! I love that you made a pink frosting without artificial ingredients. Brilliant!

  5. CarinEsays:

    Hibiscus? We actually can eat them? wow! that’s surprising!

  6. Great idea! The pink is beautiful and I love that the coloring is natural!

  7. Mikesays:

    You have no idea how much you have changed my life! All 3 of my kids have sensitivity to red food colouring and my poor 6 year old daughter has been banished to blue cakes for her princess parties ever since. I’m going to make her a pink cake to celebrate!!


  8. Stefsays:

    Jessica – Thanks for sharing. Your comment made me so happy. I’d love to see a pic of the pink cake when it’s done. Feel free to post in on the Cupcake Project Facebook page.

  9. Great idea!! Natural ingredients is always better!!

  10. emily ssays:

    What an amazingly cool idea! I will definitely be using this! Thanks : ))

  11. Peggysays:

    I was for sure you were going to say beets was the pink culprit, but hibiscus! Now that’s genius!

  12. Anonymoussays:

    Hi there- I am so glad I stumbled on to you post about pink frosting. Can you tell me a) Where can I get dried hibiscus at? b)how might I alter this recipe for frosting 24 cupcakes (I was going to use your cold oven pound-cupcake recipe as well!


  13. Stefsays:

    Anon – I’d double it, unless you like a ton of frosting – then, I would triple it. I found the hibiscus at an international grocery store, but you can buy it online here.

  14. Beckysays:

    This didn’t work for me! All of the color seemed to “strain out” with the hibiscus. I pressed the hibiscus against the strainer and skimmed it off underneath, which did put some in the butter, but it wasn’t enough to give it a strong pink color. d

    My backup was beet root powder (1 TBSP) and it gave a *lot* of color. I also added some fresh strawberry juice instead of milk and the results were both bright pink and delicious.

    I don’t know where I went wrong here with the butter! Thanks for the post anyway…it’s nice to try new things.

    I got both the hibiscus and beet powder at Whole Body (not Whole Foods itself).

  15. Stefsays:

    Becky – Bummer! Not sure why it wouldn’t work. Sorry to hear. Glad you figured something else out.

  16. Hi Stef..I came across your site on Pinterest. I love your site and most of all I love cupcakes. With my own cooking site:, I have always wanted to be a baker, but trying. Cupcakes are my favorite. Keep up the great work. Looking forwarded to looking at your past creations and future ones as well. Lisa Montalva

  17. Jenny Dsays:

    Do you think Hibiscus tea would work? I have some from The Republic of Tea in a tea bag. Also, did it add any flavor?
    Great idea, though! I have really been working on eliminating dye from our foods as much as I can. I doubt we will ever be 100% at all times but I definitely want to eliminate as much as possible. I know I can order natural dyes online but they are pretty pricey and at this time just not in my budget to pay for them and the shipping!
    Thank you, I think I will experiment with what I have on hand and see how that works:)

    • Joyoussays:

      Hi Jenny, did you ever try this out using tea bags? Curious to hear how it went if you did. I can more easily find hibiscus tea rather than bulk dried flowers.

  18. Joyoussays:

    GENIUS! I’ve been trying all sorts of different ways to color without food coloring & can’t wait to give this one a go! I’ve just got to find the dried hibiscus and I’m set. This is going to go perfect for my new signature frosting. Thank you so much for sharing this info!

  19. Joyoussays:

    I am almost crying I’m so happy to have found this out! Just tried it tonight & I am so pleased to try this with all color hues & edible flowers. I am against food coloring and don’t like to use it. This changes my bakery in so many ways! THANK YOU!

    ***Anybody figure out anything to do with the strained out hibiscus flowers? I love hibiscus tea… but now they’re saturated in butter…. so looking for some ideas. Thanks again!!

  20. Monisays:

    Hibiscus is delicious!

    One word of caution though that it is not considered to be safe during pregnancy. :)

  21. Chelseasays:

    I wonder if they have it in Blue

  22. Isabellsays:

    Thanks for your help I love this website

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