I added some cooked beets to a bread recipe. The result was a lovely pink dough:

Pink beet dough ready to roll Pink beet rolls ready to rise

After cooking, the rolls were yellow on the inside with some of the pink still visible in the crust:

Beet rolls pink on crust, yellow inside

Why? Any way to over come the color change?

3 Answers 3


It appears that the pH of your bread changed during baking. Beets are red because of their anthocyanins. According to Wikipedia:

Anthocyanins can be used as pH indicators because their color changes with pH; they are pink in acidic solutions (pH < 7), purple in neutral solutions (pH ~ 7), greenish-yellow in alkaline solutions (pH > 7), and colourless in very alkaline solutions, where the pigment is completely reduced.[5]

You would have to post your recipe or analyze it yourself to determine what is alkalizing your dough, perhaps baking soda? Changing your recipe to make it more acidic may change the texture of your bread. You could look for another recipe that uses acidic ingredients, such as butter milk that might off set the color change. The pink looks very pretty though.

  • Sugar is acidic, and if this is a yeast-dough (looks like it from the pictures, but can't be sure), then the yeast convert the sugar into alcohol, which is alkaline.
    – kitukwfyer
    Jun 15, 2017 at 1:25

Adding a small amount (0.2% of dough) of ascorbic or citric acid to the dough will help stabilize the red/pink color. MiMintzer's answer explains why.


You will have to use food coloring if you want colored dough.

There are multiple problems with using fruit to color other food. First, the concentration is seldom high enough to get a noticeable color without using large amounts of the fruit, which would change the recipe texture if simply added. In this case, you were lucky to want the fruit there in the first place.

But the other problem is that these colors are not chemically stable. They can be destroyed by temperature, or by pH changes, as MiMintzer pointed out. But I wouldn't go messing with the pH of your dough. If you change it sufficiently to get the color to change, you will 1) change the leavening totally (probably get no leavening), and 2) change the taste a lot, so you end up with either sour bread or soap tasting bread. If what you are making is a yeast bread and not a quickbread, you'll still mess up with the yeast and therefore get bad leavening.

Beside the pH changes, you'll also get some change due to the different texture. The small amounts of dye sufficient to color a piece of solid dough will seem lighter after baking, when you're seeing a foam instead of a solid block. This won't account for the large difference in your pictures, but could contribute.

Bottom line: if you want pink bread, you have to color it with a real dye. Accidental colorations from berries are practically impossible to control.

  • As beetroot juice is often used as a natural food colouring would concentrating the juice possibly have the right effect?
    – Doug
    Mar 3, 2015 at 8:34
  • @doug if you can predict how it will react to any possible temperature and pH and manage to find a recipe which will be within the admissible range, it will work. But how do you intend to concentrate it? Cooking it will dull the color. So you are looking at somehow removing 99% of the juice (its water content) and none of the dye dissolved in the juice, and simultaneously manage to remove the beet taste, and that without using heat. It is probably possible if you have a chemistry lab and the required knowledge, but for the average cook, why not just buy food coloring?
    – rumtscho
    Mar 3, 2015 at 8:39
  • 1
    I wasn't suggesting he tried it. I was just wondering if he could. Personally I can't see the appeal of pink bread. If reducing over heat would somehow change the colour, you could either attempt using room temp evaporation or instead of concentrating the fluid, you could increase the amount used. Maybe by replacing all the water content with beetroot juice, which as you noted is 99% water anyway. Thereby "concentrating" the amount used.
    – Doug
    Mar 3, 2015 at 8:52
  • 1
    You could try concentrating the juice using the freeze-thaw method: cooking.stackexchange.com/a/46411/25059
    – logophobe
    Mar 3, 2015 at 21:57
  • This makes me want to experiment with changing the colour of small buns next time I make bread. I can take some dough out before I finish adding al the flour (main batch to continue as bread) and adding different juices to individual buns to see the results. Going to see if I can make a rainbow collection of buns!
    – Jude
    Jun 15, 2017 at 7:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.