What Colors Make Red Icing? (Food Coloring Red Frosting)

What Colors Make Red Icing

Ever tried to make red icing before? If you answered yes, then you know how frustrating it can be. You drop in the coloring, and no matter how much you put in, you keep coming up with pink, right? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

So, what colors make red icing? Red is a primary color. That means you can’t just mix two other colors to get red. You need a good food coloring dye and you need to know how much of it to add for the shades of red you’re trying to make. You can also make alternative hues of red by mixing it with other colors. 

In this article, we’re exploring tips and tricks for getting the bright red color you’re looking for. We’ll start with how to make red icing and other shades and hues of red.

We’ll also look at some things you shouldn’t do when making red icing and some ways to fix mistakes. So, keep reading for all you need to know about mixing bright red icing shades.

How to Make Red Icing

We mentioned above you can’t mix two colors to make red. Red is a primary color, along with blue and yellow. These colors aren’t mixed; they stand on their own.

They’re the base of all the other colors, as well. For instance, you can mix blue and red to make purple or blue and yellow to make green. 

Read also: What Do You Get When You Mix Red and Pink? (Best Tips!)

Red icing is made by adding red food coloring to your frosting. The trick is to know how much food coloring you need to make the red you’re looking for. 

Generally, food coloring comes in containers that you either add to frosting through drops or with a measuring spoon. You’ll also find the coloring comes in different textures, such as gel or liquid. 

Now, let’s quickly look at how many drops to add for light, medium, and dark red icing.

  • Light red = 1 c. white buttercream icing and 10 drops
  • Medium red = 1 c. white buttercream icing and 20 drops
  • Dark red = 1 c. white buttercream icing and 80 drops

Alternatively, here’s a guideline for mixing red icing from jars of food coloring.

  • Light red = 1 c. white buttercream icing and 1/4 tsp. color
  • Medium red = 1 c. white buttercream icing and 1 tsp. color
  • Dark red = 1 c. white buttercream icing and 1 Tbsp. color

How to Make Red Frosting >> Check out the video below:

Start with the Best Icing

Some buttercream icing has a yellow tint to it. That makes it tough to get a true red tone for your icing. The yellow tint turns the icing into more of an orange or coral color. But how do you avoid the yellow tint?

It’s best to make your own buttercream frosting, for starters. You must choose the right recipe, though.

Don’t use a recipe for all-butter frosting or any type of butter-flavored shortening. Those will yield that yellow tint. You want a recipe for frosting made with solid vegetable shortening without flavor. 

Make Your Red Icing Ahead

Your timing can help you get the bright red you’re looking for. If you can, make your red icing the day before you’ll be using it. The reason for this is the colored icing darkens to its full color when it sits. 

For the best results, make your icing and add your chosen food coloring. Mix it and let it sit for a couple of hours.

When you check on it, you can add more coloring if it isn’t the shade you want. Then, let it sit for another couple of hours. Repeat this process until you see the shade you are looking for. 

You’ll find that this also helps with preventing any separation of your buttercream frosting. Separation is a common problem when mixing colors into icing.

The frosting starts to look thin and soup-like. Don’t worry, though, you can fix this.

How to Fix Icing That’s Falling Apart

This is a problem that happens a lot when you’re making red icing, especially dark red icing. It takes a lot of food coloring to get a deep, rich red shade. All of that dye changes the texture of your buttercream frosting. 

Buttercream enthusiasts like it because it´s thick and rich. The texture is solid, which makes it ideal for decorating cakes and cookies.

You can thicken it back up by adding some powdered sugar. Once you’ve done that, you may need to add more food coloring to darken the red.

Make sure you let it sit with the additional coloring, so it doesn’t get runny again.

Why Does My Red Icing Taste Bitter?

Some kinds of red food coloring can affect the taste of your buttercream icing. Too much of the dye makes the frosting taste bitter. If this happens, don’t panic.

You can save your icing by simply adding clear vanilla extract or almond extract without color. Make sure you’re adding the no-color versions of these, though, so as not to change the red hue.

A good way to avoid this problem is by using no-taste options of food coloring. Wilton has a good No-Taste Red Icing Color. You won’t have to worry about it changing the taste of your buttercream frosting.

Make Different Hues of Red by Mixing in Other Colors

You can use your red icing as a base color and add other colors to make different hues. For instance, add in some violet to get burgundy or maroon.

You can add dabs of white to lighten your red or dabs of black to darken your red. Add in some orange and yellow to make a sunset red. 

Just as when you made the red, make sure to mix the colors and let them sit so they colorfully develop. You can add more color after if needed.

Read also: What Do You Get When You Mix Red and Green? (Three Colors of Light)

Final Thoughts

You don’t need to worry about red icing that looks pink or has a corral tone to it any longer.

Start with white buttercream frosting made from a recipe with minimal butter, add some amount of food coloring, let it sit, and repeat the process until you get the shade you want.

Bright, vibrant red is within reach with just a few simple steps.

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Lindsey graduated with an MBA in 2009. Since then, Lindsey has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Lindsey is also the head writer and Co-founder of Rvandplaya.com. Lindsey is based in Morgantown, West Virginia.

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