My daughter asked me if I could make her red bowtie pasta in honor of Matt Smith as Dr. Who.

I'd rather not use an artificial dye. Either way, how would I go about coloring the pasta itself? Assume that I am starting from store-bought dry pasta. Would I have to add the dye to the water in large quantities, or would adding some to melted butter and tossing work?

  • possible duplicate of What ingredients can be added to pasta to give a different color?
    – razumny
    Oct 30, 2013 at 9:32
  • @razumny For me, the wording of the question body was clearly referring to premade pasta. Now that you understood it to encompass pasta from scratch too, I would normally ask the OP to clarify. In this case, if he really meant from scratch, we would have to close as a dupe, so I will edit the title to cover the other case only. This way, we have an interesting question even if the OP decides to go for self-made pasta.
    – rumtscho
    Oct 30, 2013 at 10:00
  • @rumtscho: I must have missed that when I read the question originally. Drat...
    – razumny
    Oct 30, 2013 at 10:32
  • @razumny you didn't miss it, I added it to the body. This is a case where I deliberately changed the meaning of a question to refer to only one of two possible interpretations. It is not done normally, but in the case that the OP had had the alternative interpretation in mind, the q would have been closed anyway, so I decided that it is justified this time.
    – rumtscho
    Oct 30, 2013 at 10:35
  • 1
    I did intend on using pre-made pasta, people. I'm sure it would be trivial to find a recipe for colored fresh pasta. Jul 24, 2015 at 3:15

6 Answers 6


You are not stating whether you are making the pasta yourself or if you are using premade pasta. I am going to assume it is the former.

For red pasta, I would recommend substituting some of the liquids with beetroot juice. You will need to experiment with it to get the color right.

I would also recommend trying it in pasta both with and without egg, as the yolk will play a role in how the color develops.

  • 5
    A bit late for me to respond, but I was referring to coloring pre-made pasta. I thought this would have been obvious, as I expect it's trivial to look up recipes for colored fresh pasta. Jul 24, 2015 at 3:17

I tried boiling the noodles with colored water and it didn't change the color at all.

I made a corn starch slurry with cold water (approx 1/2 cup) and McCormick's Colors from Nature (red 2 tsp), which is just concentrated beet coloring. I mixed it into the drained, but hot pasta and came out with a nice pink color.

I finished it with extra virgin olive oil to help keep the noodles from sticking.

It's not as uniform as I'd like, and a bit dark in some areas, but it'll work for a Minnie Mouse themed pasta salad.


I've tried dying pasta by just adding food dye to the boiling water, but you don't get very deep colors.

I then tried letting it sit in the (cooled) water for a while, but it really didn't get that deep. (I didn't care about the texture as much; I needed something to use as intestines for halloween a few years back)

If you have the time, it might be easier to just make fresh pasta.

  • 4
    On the other hand, even just tossing with beets turns it pink. Coloring after draining might be more promising?
    – Cascabel
    Oct 30, 2013 at 2:54
  • @Jefromi : I could never get anything more than a pink ... not even a deep pink. (I ended up adding blue to get it more purplish). I don't know if vingear would've helped, as that helps to set the color on eggs (but I think that's in part to eat at the calcium) and on really bright t-shirts.
    – Joe
    Oct 30, 2013 at 3:23
  • 1
    Yeah, make it from scratch. Tomatoes or beets to make it red, spinach to make it green.
    – citizen
    Oct 30, 2013 at 9:36
  • Purple cabbage could also help to get colors anywhere from blue to red. The vinegar might not do much to set the color, but it could keep it stable since lot of natural pigments change depending on the pH.
    – SourDoh
    Oct 30, 2013 at 16:53
  • 2
    I haven't tried it, but this how-to suggests cooking normally to al dente, then soaking the noodles after cooking in a fairly concentrated food-coloring dye bath (2 T water + 20 drops food coloring) in a zip-top bag. tablespoon.com/recipes/rainbow-pasta/…
    – NadjaCS
    Oct 9, 2015 at 2:38

If you just happen to have a vacuum pump, you can try infusing the color similar to this article. This method should push the color all the way through.

Otherwise, making it from scratch is the way to go. This video explains how.

  • 2
    Interesting idea, and I am tempted to upvote, but do you think it will really work? The article mentions that the fruits should be airy enough, and pasta is rather dense in its structure. Do you know of somebody having success with that, or was it just an idea to try it with pasta too?
    – rumtscho
    Oct 30, 2013 at 17:38
  • @rumtscho, have seen Dave Arnold (the inspiration to the article) infuse denser things and the physics of it are sound (Pasta flour granules are huge by comparison and fairly porous).
    – MandoMando
    Nov 1, 2013 at 14:04
  • I do happen to have a vacuum sealer. Maybe I'll try this out and report back! Jul 24, 2015 at 3:18

I just saw a video where someone mixed the cooked pasta in gel food coloring, and it took on quite vibrant colors.

I suspect that the colors will then transfer to whatever the pasta comes in contact with (like your kid's face, if they're a messy eater), but it might be useful once in a while.

And in looking at the amounts he was using, I wouldn't be surprised if a pound of pasta required an ounce (2TB / 30mL) or so of coloring. (although he was using a strand pasta, which has more surface area than bow tie pasta)


i added food coloring to my boiling noodles, turned out great! very deep and fun!

  • 2
    How much coloring did you need? Did you use less water? Joe seemed not to have luck with this.
    – Cascabel
    Oct 9, 2015 at 0:01

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