How to Dye Pasta

Dyed pasta is great to use in countless craft projects, and it’s also excellent for small children engaging in sensory play. Best of all, it’s so easy to make at home. All you need is rubbing alcohol, freezer bags, food coloring, and the dried pasta shapes of your choice. You can also make edible colored pasta, which is even easier and requires no alcohol or vinegar!


[Edit]Dyeing Pasta for Crafts

  1. Select a variety of dried pasta shapes. Feel free to mix and match pasta shapes as much as you'd like. Having a variety of shapes is a great idea if you’re dyeing the pasta for sensory play. If you’re dyeing pasta for crafting, consider your project and use whatever shapes make sense to complete your vision.
    Dye Pasta Step 1.jpg
    • For example, tube pasta like ziti works great if you’re making beaded jewelry.[1]
    • Bowtie, elbow macaroni, rotini, and penne are excellent for sensory play activities.[2]
  2. Divide the pasta into large, sealable freezer bags. Each bag will be for a different dye color, so if you’re planning to make 3 colors, fill 3 separate freezer bags with pasta. Make the plastic baggies fairly full, with 1-2 cups (100-200 grams) of dried pasta in each one.[3]

    • Be sure to leave about of headspace so you can move the pasta around and distribute the food coloring.
    • Freezer bags are ideal because they seal tightly and are heavy-duty. If you only have regular baggies, though, you can use them.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of rubbing alcohol to your first bag of pasta. Measure out the rubbing alcohol and dump it over the pasta in the baggie. The ratio is approximately of rubbing alcohol for every 1-2 cups (100-200 grams) of dried pasta. It’s best to work with one bag at a time and complete the process before moving on to the next bag/color.[4]

    • If possible, use isopropyl alcohol with 70% concentration. Higher concentrations may cause stickiness and be harder to blend.
    • You can substitute distilled white vinegar if you don’t want to use alcohol. Use 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of white vinegar.[5]
  4. Add 10 drops of food coloring to the first bag of pasta. If you want vibrant results, use a little more food coloring. If you’re going for pastel pasta, use a little less than 10 drops. You can use any color you want and even experiment with mixing colors to create new ones.[6]

    • For example, mixing blue and red food coloring will result in purple dye.
    • You can also use liquid watercolors instead of food coloring for this project, if you prefer. The results may be more vibrant.[7]
  5. Seal the freezer bag tightly and give it a good shake. Shake vigorously and massage the pasta with your hands so that the alcohol and food coloring are both distributed evenly throughout the bag. If the color isn’t coating the pasta adequately, feel free to add a little more food coloring or alcohol to the baggie.[8]

    • Make sure the baggie is completely sealed before you start shaking to avoid making a mess!
  6. Keep the bag sealed and lay it out flat on a baking sheet. If you’re worried about leakage, line your baking sheet with aluminum foil before you start placing the bags on it. You’ll need enough baking sheets to lay all of your baggies out flat without stacking them.
    Dye Pasta Step 6.jpg
  7. Follow the same process to create your other colors. Add 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of rubbing alcohol to the next bag and add the food coloring of your choice. Shake and massage the contents thoroughly and lay the baggie out flat next to the first one. Do the same for your remaining baggies.[9]

  8. Let the freezer bags lay flat for overnight. The longer you let the baggies sit, the more vibrant the colored pasta will be. Flip them over a few times during this time period to make sure the pasta soaks up the dye evenly.[10]
    Dye Pasta Step 8.jpg
    • Every time you flip the bags, take note of the vibrancy. You can stop soaking the pasta whenever it reaches your desired hue.
  9. Scatter the pasta on a flat surface and let it dry for 12 hours. Line a flat surface with newspaper or aluminum foil to avoid staining your surface. Dump the pasta from the freezer bags directly onto the newspaper. Scatter the pasta evenly in a single layer.[11]
    Dye Pasta Step 9.jpg
    • Avoid mixing colors at the point—keep a little space between each color.
  10. Use the dyed pasta or store it in an airtight container for future use. Your colored pasta is ready to use the next day! If you aren’t using the pasta right away, store it in an airtight container to preserve the color. The dyed pasta will be safe to use for crafts and sensory play indefinitely.
    Dye Pasta Step 10.jpg
    • Be sure to keep the storage container somewhere dry and cool to keep the pasta in good shape.[12]

[Edit]Dyeing Edible Pasta

  1. Boil of dried pasta according to the directions. You can use any pasta shape you like for this! Bring a pot of water to boil, submerge your pasta, and follow the package directions to cook the noodles. Be sure to cook them completely, just as you normally would.[13]
    Dye Pasta Step 11.jpg
    • Note that of noodles will make 4 servings of colored pasta. You can adjust the amounts if you need to make more or less.
    • Make the noodles al dente if you plan to warm them back up after dyeing them.
  2. Drain the cooked noodles and rinse them with cool water. Place a colander in your sink and pour the hot noodles and cooking water into it. Let the water drain away, then immediately rinse the noodles with cool water to halt the cooking process.[14]

    • Let the noodles sit in the colander and continue draining as you prepare the food coloring.
  3. Add water and food coloring to resealable freezer bags for each color you want to make. Use 20 drops of food dye and of water in each bag. Food coloring usually comes in shades of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. You can choose any colors you want! Each freezer bag will create a different color, so if you want 4 different pasta colors, you’ll need 4 separate freezer bags.[15]

    • If you want to make pastel noodles, use 10 drops of food coloring instead of 20.[16]
    • You can also mix your own colors. For example, mix yellow and blue together to make your own green shade. Red and blue will make purple, and red and yellow will make orange.
  4. Divide the cooked pasta evenly into the freezer bags. You don’t have to be exact, but try to use about the same amount of pasta for each freezer bag. If you want one color to dominate the finished pasta, just add more pasta to the bag with that food coloring in it.[17]

  5. Seal the freezer bags and massage the contents with your hands. Be sure the zipper closure is sealed tightly before you get started to avoid making a mess! Then, gently massage the noodles with your hands to evenly distribute the dye mixture in each bag.[18]

  6. Let the bags sit undisturbed for 1 minute. Lay the bags flat on their sides and give them about 60 seconds to soak up the food coloring. If you’re worried about spillage, cover your work surface with newspaper or parchment paper first.[19]
    Dye Pasta Step 16.jpg
    • You can experiment with letting the noodles soak longer than 1 minute, but they likely won't get that much more vibrant.
  7. Transfer the pasta back to the colander and rinse it with cool water. Work with 1 color at a time. Unseal the bag and dump the noodles back into the colander. Rinse off the noodles with cool water to get rid of any extra food coloring and put them back in the original pot you cooked them in.[20]

    • Do the same for the rest of the colors.
  8. Toss the colored pasta in the pot to combine the pasta and serve it. Using forks or tongs, move the colored pasta around in the pot so the different colored noodles mix together evenly, giving you a rainbow effect. You can then serve the pasta immediately with any sauce you like![21]
    Dye Pasta Step 18.jpg
    • The pasta shouldn't be totally cold after rinsing it quickly with cool water, but if you want the noodles to be hotter, toss them in a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds.[22]

[Edit]Things You’ll Need

[Edit]Dyeing Pasta for Crafts

  • Dried pasta
  • Rubbing alcohol or vinegar
  • Large freezer bags
  • Food coloring or liquid watercolors
  • Baking sheet
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Newspaper
  • Airtight storage containers

[Edit]Dyeing Edible Pasta

  • Dried pasta
  • Large pot
  • Food coloring
  • Large freezer bags
  • Colander
  • Newspaper
  • Tongs


[Edit]Quick Summary