How do I get buttercream frosting in a true red?

by Vivienne

Gel Food Colors

Gel Food Colors

Gel Food Colors
Clear Vanilla
Wilton Decorating Icing

Every time I have tried to make red buttercream it has come out pinky orange, regardless of the type of red food coloring. I have tried a variety of brands but always have the same problem, which I put down to the yellow color of the butter making it turn orange. What is the solution to getting a true deep red? Thanks

Lorelie's Response

Hi Vivienne,

This is a great question. Buttercream made with real butter is not pure white, so that is the first problem. Beat your butter as much as possible before mixing in the sugar and flavorings.

Use a clear vanilla versus a dark colored extract.

If you are making Italian meringue buttercream beat the butter as much as possible before you add the sugar syrup, egg whites and flavorings. This will help somewhat as beating the butter makes it more white.

Use gel colors, not the liquid kind.Chefmaster Color Sets or Wilton makes good gel colors. You will need to use a combination of two reds. The Christmas Red and the Red/Red. Start by using about 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon per cup of icing. You may need to add more than this. Just keep adding until you reach the desired shade.

Your buttercream will darken if left to sit for a day or two. So make it ahead if possible.

If you are using the red for small decorating tasks I recommend using the pre colored tubes from Wilton. Have them handy at all times.

Take a look at the color chart at Candyland Crafts
For ruby red they suggest a combination of Christmas red and a touch of black. That color red may be one that you are looking to produce.

Here is the link to my Italian meringue buttercream recipe, I call it Wedding Cake Frosting.

I will ask the Wedding Cakes For You Facebook cake decorators if they have any ideas about making a true red buttercream icing. They usually have great cake decorating tips and techniques that I have not tried yet or that they invent on their own.

God luck and please let us know how it goes, or what you end up doing to get your true red icing.

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