How To: Make All-Natural Green Food Dye for St. Patrick's Day

Make All-Natural Green Food Dye for St. Patrick's Day

When we were kids, Saint Patrick's Day was a green-hued holiday that promised green eggs in the morning and green mashed potatoes in the evening... along with some traditional corned beef and cabbage, of course.

We still enjoy celebrating this holiday with lots of green today, although the thought of putting unnatural green dyes in food isn't as appealing now that we know the risks associated with using them.

Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 are the most commonly used food dyes in the industry; unfortunately, they are also infamous for containing carcinogens. Recommendations for replacing these dyes have been made by the FDA since the 1980s, but they (and other dyes that cause cancer and photosensitivity) are still widely available on the market.

Thankfully, we stumbled upon this homemade, natural green coloring made from just spinach and water: and it allows us steer clear from those harmful artificial colorings and synthetic chemicals.

Important Note:

You'll need to add more dye than you would with an artificial dye, which means more moisture in your food—so make sure to modify your recipes accordingly. Even if you do use a lot, it won't be as vibrantly green as those chemical food dyes... but it's a small price to pay when trying to avoid cancer-causing agents.

Step 1: Boil Your Spinach

Take two big handfuls of spinach and place in a small skillet or saucepan. Add enough water to just cover the spinach and bring to a boil over high heat.

Step 2: Reduce Heat & Let Simmer

Reduce the heat and let the water simmer on medium for about 15 minutes. Water will reduce by about half.

Step 3: Blend

Let the spinach and water cool, then place both into a blender and blend until smooth (30-45 seconds, depending upon your blender). And that's it—you've created an all-natural dye, just in time for St. Patty's Day!

Step 4: Greenify Your Goodies!

Store your green dye in the fridge when not in use... and get ready to green all the things! Eggs, mashed potatoes, oatmeal, pancakes, pasta, waffles... the list goes on. (Again, be sure to account for the excess moisture that the dye will bring into your recipe—for example, use less milk when making pancake or waffle batter.)

We decided on making green eggs for our St. Patty's breakfast. (Don't worry, the ham is hiding off-camera.)

For these eggs, we used ¼ cup of green dye per 5 eggs. The eggs were fluffy, soft, and—we promise!—did not taste like spinach. We loved the dash of color it added to our plate, and we're sure you will, too.

Wishing you four-leaf clovers and lots of luck. Let us know what you've dyed green for this St. Patty's Day in the comments below.

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Photos by Nick & Bay Nigro/Food Hacks

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