all about food coloring


Because the frosting is so essential in a perfectly decorated cookie, the food coloring you use is just as important. There are plenty of food coloring options out there, many of them superb, and you may use a brand and method totally different from mine. But I’ll share what I use and do with the disclaimer that this isn’t comprehensive, it merely works for me. At the end of this post, I included a COLOR CHART you can print on 5 x 7 photo paper, if desired.



concentrated pastes vs. soft gel pastes


First and foremost, I use soft gel pastes exclusively. Craft stores usually carry the more accessible concentrated pastes. Both work well and in much the same way and both come in a huge variety of colors. So if your only option is the baking aisle of your craft store, then these will work fine. But I find concentrated pastes have a bitter, metallic taste. So I don’t use them. Instead I use:


Americolor Soft Gel Pastes

(you’d think I own their stock, but I promise I have no connection to the company other than as a customer)


Soft gel pastes: 1. are tasteless,  2. blend beautifully,  3. come in every color you can imagine.




where to buy soft gel pastes


You can find Americolor soft gel pastes at many cake decorating supply stores, or, click on their site HERE and click “LINKS” for a list of some web resources.


Americolor Soft Gel Pastes are now available on AMAZON: Here is a set of 12 that’s a good start. I also use a lot of the Electric colors. And I buy the big bottle of White.


Other sites:
beryls (they ship internationally)
Cincinnati Cake and Candy Supplies
(If you have a favorite online source, feel free to send it to me, and I’ll add it to the list!)
And from your suggestions in the comments… (Thank you!)
Into The Oven
Golda’s Kitchen (for Canadian bakers!)



which soft gel pastes to buy


To see the full line of 40 colors available, CLICK HERE. I don’t own all of them. I’ll let you be the judge of what colors you like best, of course, but here are the colors I own and use frequently. Some great colors are missing from my collection, but pretty much everything I need to decorate works with these colors, so I rely solely on these:

Red Red, Orange, Egg Yellow, Leaf Green, Electric Green, Sky Blue, Royal Blue, Regal Purple, Electric Pink, Chocolate Brown, Bright White, Super Black, Peach


which size to buy: the pastes come in small, .75 ounce bottles, and larger, 4.5 ounce bottles (and even larger, but I think those are wholesale). Even with all the decorating I do, I buy the .75 ounce bottles. A few drops go a long way, so stick with these unless you have a business and decorate hundreds of cookies a day. Some colors take lots of drops to get the right shade, so you may consider the larger size if you decorate a lot (for example, white, black, brown and the darker shades of any color).



how to use soft gel pastes

You can add coloring to batches of buttercream frosting, to royal icing, to fondant and even to cake and cookie batter before baking.


some tips:

    • always start with one drop and add more as needed. While some colors take a lot of drops, you can always add more, you can’t take it away (if you do go too far, add more frosting to lighten).


    • for whole batches of frosting, simply add coloring (one drop at a time) to the mixing bowl when the frosting or icing is done and mix with the mixer.


    • when making colors for cookie decorating, I usually work with about 3/4 cup to 1 cup of frosting for each color, mixing in a bowl then moving to a prepared frosting bag or a sealed container.


    • you MUST use white coloring to make white frosting!!! Don’t try and use plain, uncolored frosting for your white. It won’t look right.


    • to get different shades of one color, simply add more drops. Dark colors may take lots and lots of drops.


    • you can mix colors, too, for different effects (for example, mix egg yellow and leaf green for lime, mix purple and royal blue for cornflower, etc.)


    • the pastes work well to not affect the consistency of the frosting, but for colors that need lots and lots of drops (like white, black or dark colors), you may get a runnier frosting. Just compensate by adding more powdered sugar if needed to thicken.


    • to mix coloring into fondant, simply add a couple drops to the top of a wad of fondant and knead very, very well until fully blended. If fondant gets sticky from overhandling, just let sit uncovered for about 15 minutes.



Below is a color chart with more tips on which pastes I use for which frosting colors. Again, this isn’t comprehensive! There are plenty more options.

Click on the chart to enlarge and or CLICK HERE to print on 5 x 7 photo paper with your color printer for a postcard to keep for reference.

UPDATE: how long will they last?
Another reason to love Americolor products? Their customer service is always spot on. Whenever I’ve dealt with the company, they are always quickly responsive. Joan asked in the comments about the shelf life of the soft gel pastes, and I realized I’ve used some of mine for years. Yikes! Well, I asked the company and they quickly responded as follows:

“This product will last many years if stored properly i.e. ambient temperature, away from any source of ultraviolet light. The reference to ultraviolet light is generally for the end user maintaining that any light source will fade certain FDA Certified Food Colors. If this product is stored in its carton the light radiation will not be a factor. Ambient temperature is defined as common range of 18°C (64°F) to 23°C (73°F) Variations in temperature +/- 20° will not affect product. After several years the Soft Gel Paste may break down, if stored properly the color will remain intact, generally recognized as safe for human consumption.”


Phew!!! Looks like I’m in the clear….



Feel free to share (nicely)! While my blog's photographs and text are protected by copyright, I do allow (and encourage) you to share ONE photograph with credit to "the decorated cookie" and link to this blog post. PLEASE don't reprint any part of the blog post and PLEASE don't post a photo without credit. Thank you!


  1. bridget {bake at 350} says

    This post is GREAT!!! And thank you for posting the "real" picture of your colors! When I saw this first "perfect" picture, I was feeling a little food coloring guilt!

    I'll definitely be linking to this post in the future.

  2. A Wedding Story says

    Great post! I've been using Wilton coloring for my cookie biz, but think I'm going to bite the bullet and invest in some Americolor! Thank you!

  3. Chic Cookies says

    Thanks Bridget! (Oh, I can't even share the picture of the cabinet where I keep all my supplies. It was clean and neat for one day.)

    Thanks "A Wedding Story"! I should probably add a note about Wilton in the post, too. While I don't use their colorings, I do LOVE Wilton for a million other things they offer (bags, couplers, tips, sprinkles, fondant, meringue powder, etc etc etc)

  4. Linda says

    Thank you for posting about the Americolor vs other food coloring. Now I have a better understanding and will go with Americolor…

  5. Lora says

    Great info. Thanks. I have only used Wilton and have been wanting to try Americolor. I will buy a set on my upcoming trip to the states. Also bonus points for the Beryl's link for international shipping! Yay! So hard to find good food coloring in Germany. Now I have an alternative.

  6. Chic Cookies says

    Anonymous, you can use this coloring with anything you'd use coloring for, including white chocolate and candy melts, yes, though I find adding coloring to things you melt always tricky to time just right. If this is something you're good at, I would definitely try the pastes :)

  7. Joan says

    Great information! Thank you. I do have a question about the Wilton paste food color. I purchased a bottle of pink a few months ago and when I used it for frosting it gave the frosting an odd flavor. What are your thoughts on this?

  8. Chic Cookies says

    Joan, while Wilton products overall are great, their pastes (which are the concentrated pastes I mention above) have a metallic, bitter taste. There's nothing wrong with the one you got, that's the downside of those products. The Americolor soft gel pastes have no taste… that's why I love 'em! (Except for colors you need tons of, like black or red, you can sort of taste it then, but it's not very strong). They are a tiny bit pricier and harder to find, but totally worth it.

  9. Joan says

    Thank you so much for the information! One more question, what is the shelf life? I would purchase the smallest bottles.

    Thanks again for a wonderful and educational post!!!!

  10. Allison says

    Thank you for such a great tutorial! I am so grateful to have that color chart! I'm always experimenting to find the right color and hardly ever get it right =)

  11. Chic Cookies says

    Good question Joan. Hmmm. I've had some of my (even small) bottles for, yikes, several years now and still use them. That sounds somehow wrong, even though they still look great. I'll email Americolor and ask them!

  12. animeshon says

    Thank you so much for this post. I've been putting off buying decent food colouring because the cost was scaring me (I've just been using the $2 bottles from the supermarket). This weekend however I once again struggled to make black royal icing for outlining and spent half an hour alternating between adding food colouring and then more icing sugar to thicken. I think I shall go invest in some black soft gel paste now…

  13. cookies and cups says

    Great post! I love the mixing color chart…awesome!
    btw, I linked you up in my latest post..hope you don't mind 😉

  14. Jenny says

    thanks so much for this post. i especially love the color mixing chart. i've only used the wilton food coloring and now i know where that odd taste is coming from! i am definitely using the americolors from now on.

  15. Country Girl in the City says

    This post was helpful. And I have wondered about the self life of the concentrated pastes that I have. Some of them have been around for a while! And there is no expiry listed on them…


  16. Jenni @ Project Cookie 365 says

    I know another site! I'm in Canada, and buy from Just for your canadian readers :)Americolor soft gels, and they have the Wilton concentrate ones too

    I'm a soft gel user too. Mostly because I love the squeeze tops :)

  17. Jenni @ Project Cookie 365 says

    Oh, and I also wanted to note that I don't think you can use it for candy melts… but there is a product they sell that makes them work in chocolate…it's called flo-coat chocolate coloring agent.

  18. Chic Cookies says

    Thanks Jenni! I added above. And I'll have to check out that product! I've added to candy melts with only limited success (it's worked, but also clumped a couple times, so that product sounds great…)

  19. Jenni @ Project Cookie 365 says

    I haven't tried it yet either, but *almost* bought it! I don't colour candy melts often, but it would be a good product to have if you do! Thanks for checking out my cookies :) (P.S. My gel collection is similar to yours, and looks just as messy lol… though I did actually "wash" them all and my storage bin last week. sigh!)

  20. lucysd says

    Hi! Thanx for your post! We don't have good food coloring in my country, so now i'm looking for as much info on Americolor as i can to order it on ebay or wherever.
    I just have one question. And i'd be very greatful if you could help me as!

    Are the usual colors of Americolor soft gel pastes BRIGHT enough?
    I really want to bake a cake like this one:

    But i'm not sure if i should buy "electric" colors only or usual ones would be enough to get those bright colours.

    Thank you in advance!

  21. Chic Cookies says

    Lucysd, if you are going to get bright colors, it would be from soft gel pastes like Americolor (you might need a lot of it). The Electric colors definitely. Looking at the pic you sent, I'd say: Electric Pink (for both the red and pink), Electric Orange, Lemon Yellow, might want to mix Electric Green and Leaf Green, Sky Blue (do they make an Electric Blue? Not sure, but if so, that'd work), and Regal Purple, unless they have an Electric Purple.

  22. Lulu says

    Thanks so much for the amazing resources and tips. I actually found the food color at Hobby Lobby for $1.18! I'm looking forward to your new book. Can't wait!

  23. Anonymous says

    I am very much an untrained amateur and make character cakes for my children's birthdays. After much trial and error, I discovered Americolor last December and love it. Easy to use and beautiful colours. Thanks for the colour mixing chart – that is just so useful for me – I'm printing it now.
    You can buy the colours online in Australia from
    I'm sure there are others, but these are the ones I use.
    best wishes from Australia,

  24. Chic Cookies says

    Thanks Janice! I get lots of people from outside the US asking for resources to buy Americolor, and I never know where to send them. Now I have an Aussie link.

  25. the decorated cookie says

    In theory, if you keep the colored icing in the bags or in sealed containers, it should last a couple weeks. But after a week or so, it CAN start to break down, especially icing on the thin side.

  26. JessieMomma says

    Thank you for this tutorial. I have used the Wilton colors for years and always wondered about the taste… I thought I was doing something wrong! I decided to look online tonight for colors for Christmas cookies and found that the only baking supply store in my town ONLY sells Americolor pastes! I am so grateful for your informative review. It makes me feel more confident with my upcoming purchase.

  27. says

    Thanks so much for your excellent info! I was going to try your vegan cutout cookie recipe, but my daughter just passed her allergy test yesterday so she can have dairy baked into things. So I’ll try your regular ones.

    I bought my set of Americolor at for a very reasonable price. Love them, and will never go back to the horrid grocery store liquid food colors 😉

    • meaghanmountford says

      Americolor is CA-based, so more local cake decorating stores may carry it. I also hear the chain, Hobby Lobby, carries it, if there are any near you. Sur la table MAY carry it, but you’d have better luck at a cake decorating specialty store. You can also check the website and click under “links.” There are tons of resources there.

  28. Cassie Baker says

    Thank so much for posting this!! I bought this without doing any research and I am so pleased with what I’ve read and I can’t wait to start using it. There isn’t much on how to use this food color out there so it’s appreciated!

  29. Patrice Klinefelter says

    I am reading this 2 years after the initial post and am going out tomorrow to a store in Salt Lake who carries them. I hate the bitter taste of some coloring and it is fantastic to find some without that. Thanks!

  30. Loretta Lopez says

    Does anyone ever use marshmallow frosting with paste food colors? I like the frosting better because it’s not so sweet, but it only gets to soft pastel colors with cheapy drops. I was wanting to try something different for my son’s birthday on Sun.

  31. may says

    please i need to know the difference between the soft gel and the electric colors of americolors? and both can be used for icing, fondont and white chokolate?

    • meaghanmountford says

      Hi May,
      Americolor food colorings are all “gel paste” colorings. The electric colors are the same consistency of the others, just brighter and more neon-like. You can use gel paste food coloring for icing and fondant, but for chocolate, I would suggest “candy colors,” made especially for candies with a higher fat content. I’m not sure if Americolor makes candy colors, but Wilton does, available in the craft store. Hope this helps! :)

  32. says

    I bought a couple about 2 years ago…they are rather “liquidy” now. Do you still think they are safe to use? I live in Hawaii so it’s obviously very hot & humid…

  33. says

    I bought some about two years ago and I noticed they are rather liquidy now. Do you think it’s safe to use still? I live in Hawaii so it’s very hot & humid. Thanks for your time :)

    • meaghanmountford says

      If they were exposed directly to heat and humidity, probably not, but kept in a dark place and sealed, they actually do last quite a few years! I had asked someone at Americolor about it awhile back, and that’s what they told me. :)

  34. Ianna says

    Hi! I bought just about the entire Americolor gel family (lol) but every time I use them, my icing dries very crumbly to the touch (it literally crumbles off the cookie) and I can’t seem to get the colors to come out right. I’m adding them in after the Royal icing is fully mixed. Has this ever happened to you?

    • meaghanmountford says

      It hasn’t… that’s really odd. Wonder if you got a bad batch? Though I doubt it, Americolor lasts a long time and is a quality product. I would actually contact the company. I’ve done that with questions before and they always respond, they are super nice. Their website: If you scroll to the bottom there’s a link that says “Email me” and they also have phone numbers. I bet they’ll have an answer for you! :)

    • meaghanmountford says

      Hmm, I haven’t seen specks, anyone else? My Electric Pink sometimes kind of clumps though. And when I paint with it, it separates into granules a bit. I wonder if there’s something in that color. Do you use Americolor? I shake super duper well first and stir like crazy.

  35. Carrie says

    Thank you so much for your post!
    I read that someone was asking about coloring for candy. I just checked and Americolor does make oil based candy coloring.

    • meaghanmountford says

      Oh really??? I didn’t know that. Love Americolor, I’ll definitely use their oil-based coloring. Thank you!!

  36. says

    I just bought the Wilton starter kit for cake decorating. I tried to use the thick red that came with it, and it gave the ugliest pink. Calamine lotion would have looked prettier. It was not bright or happy. It was a dusty rose. I was adding it to homemade buttercream. Should I have added some not-included whitening? Thoughts?

  37. Latonya says

    Thank you for the chart and all of the other very useful information. How do I substitute with the gel color for a red (rather hot pink or purple) velvet cake? I usually mix 1 oz liquid color with my cocoa. Thanks

    • meaghanmountford says

      Hi Latonya! I add gel paste to cake batter just as I would color icing. For red, I just add maybe 4 or 5 drops (or until desired shade).

    • meaghanmountford says

      Hi Boomy, It’s just a difference in the shades of colors. Americolor has tons of options, so it’s really your preference. The Electric colors are more vibrant. I’m a big fan, but the assorted may have more basics. I tend to buy individual bottles. My favorite colors are: Super Black, Bright White, Chocolate Brown, Electric Pink (I just like that instead of the “Soft Pink”), Red Red, Orange, Egg Yellow (I prefer to the “Lemon Yellow” or Electric), Electric Green, Leaf Green, Sky Blue, Electric Purple (vs. Regal Purple).

  38. Mari says

    I purchased the AmeriColor in Regal Purple and the taste is horrible. Do you think it could be a bad batch or is it normal to have that bad taste? I bought it recently at Hobby Lobby. I have other colors and none of them have any flavors. This purple makes me gag it’s really gross.

    • meaghanmountford says

      Oh, yikes!! I think maybe the batch. While the stronger colors MAY have a slight taste (black, red, even purple) if you use a lot, lot, lot of drops to make a dark color, it shouldn’t be any different than the other colors. If it’s that bad, I’d take it back to Hobby Lobby. Or, even write to Americolor (their website is I’ve had great luck with the customer service at Americolor!

  39. Jona says

    Hi! I just wanna ask how long can I keep using those food coloring? I have quite a few and it doesn’t say the expiration on it. Thanks.

    • meaghanmountford says

      Hi Jona,
      I actually called the Americolor company once because I was curious, too. Kept in a dark place (ie not in direct sunlight), they last for several years. I’ve had some of mine for about that long!

  40. lovestobake8587 says

    have you made the following colors and if so which colors did you start out with and what proportions of each? This is for a wedding and I don’t have any swatches to match.

    • meaghanmountford says

      Great questions! For blush I would try just a drop or two (then add more depending on how much icing you have) of Deep Pink. They used to have a “Rose” color, I think, but not any more. For champagne I would try the Ivory. If needed, you can add a touch more yellow with Egg Yellow. Hope this helps! :) meaghan

  41. Ashley says

    Hello. This question was probably already asked and answered but is the AmeriColor soft gel paste perfect for coloring candy melts? I plan on coloring white candy melts so I can have colored cake pops?

    • meaghanmountford says

      Hi Ashley!
      The fats in candy melts tend to resist regular food coloring, so they are NOT ideal for coloring candy melts. You should use special food coloring just for that purpose. They are called “candy colors” and they should be available in the craft store (though your color choices will be more limited). Hope this helps!!
      :) meaghan

  42. Ashley says

    Thank you Meagan so much for responding back so quickly! I purchase the 4 color Wilton Candy Color Set. Will this work for coloring white candy melts? I tried to look for a product that would need the flo coat. I just wanted a simplier way to color my white candy melts.

    • meaghanmountford says

      Yes! Those are the ones I have, too, for coloring candy melts, so they should work. Sometimes adding coloring can harden the candy melts a little more quickly. So if you find that’s the case and you need them runnier for dipping, I often (almost always) add a teaspoon or two of crisco when melting to make it runnier.

  43. Delynn Tracy says

    GREAT INFO! THANK YOU!!! Wonder if you know or could find out for us and post here… how to tell just how OLD the color is by the LOT #? Quoting your quote “After several years the Soft Gel Paste may break down…” I’m wondering if THAT’S what was wrong with my Maroon color… VERY RUNNY!!! Example #1: Electric Orange #163 (.75 oz)has the Lot#23020 printed sideways above the bar code. Example #2: Red Red #119 (.75 oz.) has the Lot#3121B on the cap. Thanks in advance :)

    • meaghanmountford says

      Oh wow, that’s such a good question Delynn! I have no idea how I’d figure out the lot number/date, BUT I have contacted Americolor directly and they are super-responsive! I bet they could tell you exactly. If you go to their website: and scroll to the bottom, they have a 1-800 number listed. I think that’s what I called to find out the other info!

  44. Delynn Tracy says

    Here’s an update regarding how long the Americolor Soft Gel Pastes last, which I just found out from them today: They’ll guarantee quality for 2 years, however they will last many years… EXCEPT 3 colors: Maroon, Dusty Rose and Mauve which they only guarantee 1 year. If you happen to find the lot # on the .75 oz. bottles (on the cap or above the UPC #) you can decipher by Googling the Julian calendar). For example look at the first 3#’s: Lot #2302D means it was made on the 230th day of the year. The 4th # represents the year = 2012. Here’s a quick reference chart… Don’t ask me what happens when 2022 comes around… Do they start over? If so, I’m left wondering… how can I be sure the bottle I mentioned above isn’t from 2002??? YIKES Also, another interesting tidbit… “Spectrum” by “Ateco” is MANUFACTURED BY AMERICOLOR! According to the rep I talked to, they make it for them under a private label. Hmmm Needless-to-say, I’m going to check dates on supplies I buy from now on just so I can buy the freshest possible, especially since I’m a 1 woman show here :)

    • meaghanmountford says

      Can I just say Delynn… you ROCK!! This information is fantastic!!!! I’m going to do exactly the same and also go through the colors I have. I have tons of REALLY old ones. This is great, thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  45. Denise says

    After reading all of the above comments I am going to give AmeriColour Soft Gel Paste food colouring a try when I dye some 100% pure wool shortly. I have found 2 places in the UK that sell them and with all the encouraging comments about the dye colours and quality, I would like to say ‘thank you’ in advance! :-)

  46. Geetha says

    Hi…please temme the difference between AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste Food Color Cake Decorating Student & AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste Food Color Cake Decorating Electric Sets?

    Can we use both for frosting/icing/whipping and fondant? I wanted to buy online?please help me and clear my queries.Thanx in advance.

    • meaghanmountford says

      Hi Geetha, I’m not sure what colors each set contains, but they probably both contain the same KIND of food coloring (which means, they would both work for frosting, icing and fondant), but the difference would only be what colors you get. Looks like the Student set would be good for beginning because it has all the basic colors you might need. The electric set contains their brighter colors. But they are all the same in terms of how they work. I tend to buy colors individually because I have my favorites: Super Black, Bright White, Chocolate Brown, Red Red, Orange, Egg Yellow, Electric Pink, Electric Green, Sky Blue and Electric Purple. But that’s just preference. And you can get them all on amazon!

  47. Dot Cash says

    I’m new at decorating royal sugar cookies. It’s a hobby when your stricken with MS! I made some beautiful royal icing sugar cookies for Thanksgiving to take to my daughters house. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go. I sent the cookies over, so they could enjoy them. They were all amazed I could make something that professional looking.

    They could hardly wait to eat one. I received mixed reviews. They were in awe how beautiful they were, but didn’t like the taste AT ALL! I have to agree royal icing cookies are eye catching, and festive, but I would never ever crave one of those cookies!

    I followed the recipe to the t. The cookies taste awesome, but the icing is so bad it’s hard to get down. I just can’t understand how these nice bakeries sell thousands of them. I would sure appreciate all the feed back on this. It’s sad because I love, love love decorating them, but I’m embarrassed to give them a way. I’m positive they would trash them. Can you tell me why some people say that royal icing cookies are so delicious!

    Thanks, Dot

    • meaghanmountford says

      Hi Dot, The recipe that you used simply must not have been a good one. Traditional royal icing is designed to harden, and it’s no more than egg whites and sugar. But there are a lot of great recipes that taste fantastic and still harden enough to handle. I encourage you to try my recipe for icing. I love it and have had fantastic feedback. Also, the food coloring has a HUGE effect. A lot of food coloring adds a metallic taste to icing. I also encourage you to use the Americolor food colorings (nope, they don’t pay me or even know that I promote them! I just love their stuff). It adds no taste to the icing. Here’s the link to my icing recipe:

  48. Lisa says

    I like the Americolors. By the way, they are peanut and tree nut free (who knew that some are not?). But I need a good neon color, and the electric pink just doesn’t do it. Any suggestions?

    • meaghanmountford says

      Are they really Lisa? I had no idea some aren’t! That seems sneaky. Have you tried Americolor’s Fushia? I think that’s a little more of a neon-esque pink!

  49. Beth says

    I have referenced your chart many times. I have it pinned on Pinterest. My cousin is getting married and he and his bride chose “Champagne” and “wine” for their colors. Wine I get (burgundy). But what is champagne? Is that gold? Is is cream? I’m making butterfly cookies for the bridal shower and I don’t want to ask for a swatch since it’s just the shower (not the wedding). What do you suggest?

    • meaghanmountford says

      Ha, Beth, go you!! I forgot that answer and I was just racking my brain trying to think of the answer! Especially if they have more of a metallic color (that’s tricky unless you get gold lusterdust). Also, if their invite has the colors or if they have swatches in helps immensely to have those in the kitchen when mixing up colors.

  50. Beth says

    Sorry. I just read someone’s question for blush and champagne and found your answer. You don’t need to post mine :)

    “For champagne I would try the Ivory. If needed, you can add a touch more yellow with Egg Yellow. Hope this helps! :) meaghan”

  51. Valerie says

    Hi….how can I avoid color bleeds? I added pink flowers on top of a black iced cookie and the black bleed onto the pink flower and leaves
    Thank you

    • meaghanmountford says

      Aaah, Valerie, great question. Adding light colors on top of dark (black is the worst culprit) often leads to that frustration. There are a few things you can do that have helped me, but never a total guarantee. One, I don’t thin my icing too much. I know it’s useful for flooding, but I keep it as thick as possible to still achieve a smooth(ish) look. The more water, the more bleeding. Second, I find Americolor pastes hold up well, but it’s in its nature to bleed, so even the finest food coloring will bleed. Third, I let the background dry completely, sometimes overnight, before adding the detail on top. Fourth, I serve within a day or two. Freezing cookies usually works super well for me, but if there is a light color on dark, the risk of bleeding in the freezer is greater. And even without freezing, using the techniques above holds off the bleeding, but after a few days, it may start, so I don’t make them too far in advance in that case.

      Overall, the best thing you can do is tip 3: Let the black icing dry super duper well first. It doesn’t work for wet on wet techniques, but is the best way to prevent bleeding otherwise. Hope this helps Valerie!!

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