Last week I was researching fun crafts to make with macaroni and of course, Pinterest showed me the glories of dyeing my own pasta tons of fun colors. It’s great for arts and crafts, jewelry making and good ole sensory play. I’m a crafty person so decided this would be a simple activity I could expertly accomplish in an afternoon, and thus, provide educational mediums for my 3-year old to express herself (sarcasm).
Easier said than done.
While I was able to eventually churn out a decent product, there is a bit of an art form to dyeing pasta and it’s not one you’ll find on Pinterest. So I’m here to show you the real deal.
What You’ll Need
Dried Pasta (the smaller the shape the better)
Food Coloring (liquid is best)
Begin by adding 2 teaspoons of vinegar to a large ziplock bag and mix in food coloring. There is no magic number of drops, it just depends on how vibrant you want your color. The vinegar will immediately dilute the color, as will the pasta so you may end up adding more later. Mix the two ingredients together until well combined. I apologize for my example photo and my choice of red- it looks a little morbid!
Now add pasta. I learned through trial and error that no more than 1 cup at a time of dried pasta is best for even coating. Seal the bag and shake, shimmy and just all around coat your pasta in the mixture until coated.
Again, my apologies for my lack of photo of a bag of messy pasta. Once coated, lay out on some wax paper to dry. I suggest going back through after about 10-15 minutes and moving the pasta around so it doesn’t dry and stick to each other. Depending on how saturated your pasta got, it should not take more than an few hours to dry.
Ok, here’s tip #1 when it comes to dyeing pasta: I could not for the life of me get red or blue to properly come out- no matter how much food coloring I added. I probably did over 30 drops of red and still came out with orange. Many people say that gel food coloring is best for those vibrant colors, but there is another hurtle when it comes to gel.
As you may know, gel food coloring is more solid and goopy. That’s why they call it gel. I personally use it for baking because yes, the colors are more vibrant. However, you can’t expect gel to evenly coat a dry product like pasta if you use this method (many people do a submerge method using alcohol), so you have to add vinegar. Adding the vinegar causes the color to significantly dilute:
This was BRIGHT PURPLE. And now it’s blue. I poured it into a ziplock and attempted to use it to cover bow tie pasta- another mistake. Because of the curvature of bow tie pasta, it’s very difficult to get them evenly coated. After three different attempts in the bag, I was still left with this:
So hats off to moms who get a nice coating, but gel food coloring did not make that possible for me. I did a tiny batch of bow tie using liquid food coloring and it was a little better, but I still couldn’t completely coat them all. I gave up on the bowtie and the gel after that. I’m willing to try again, but maybe with an easier shape.
Despite some of those hurdles, I was still able to come up with some great looking pasta! Like I said, I could never get blue to work either, and the result was the teal salad macaroni you see below. I still love the color, but it’s definitely not blue. I actually found that the lighter colors came out the best. The yellow penne is awesome, as is the lime green elbow macaroni. The penne and salad macaroni were also the easiest to work with and coated the most even.
I hope you give this a try and have some fun too!