How To Make Orange and Brown Icing: Food Coloring Comparisons


Brown and orange food coloring comes in a lot of shades to make a variety of autumn frosting colors, so I decided to look at some of them to see what the differences were. I did light, medium, and dark versions of Wilton Orange, Brown, Ivory, and Copper.


how to make brown and orange icing

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Mixing method for coloring buttercream icing.

delphinium blue wilton food coloring in icing

The Wilton colors that I was using were the little jars of the paste colors, which will last for a long time as long as you don’t contaminate them by getting icing into them. The jars say “gel” but these aren’t the dropper bottles of gel color.

The best way to avoid contaminating the jar is to use toothpicks to get the food coloring out so that you can use a clean one each time you want to add more color.

I also used to use poultry lacers for this so that I wouldn’t be throwing toothpicks away all the time, but the important thing is to avoid getting icing in the food coloring!

Start with a little color, and add more as you go. Some of the colors are really strong, so start with less than you think you’ll need and work your way up.

These colors are a lot more concentrated than liquid food coloring, and they give you better colors. Click here to check the difference between these, regular McCormick colors, and natural food colorings.


To see the full list of products that I recommend for cake decorating, click here to go to my Amazon page.


Wilton Ivory.

wilton ivory food coloring and icing

Wilton Ivory makes a nice off-white with yellow undertones, so when you add a lot it makes tan first, and then a golden tan color.


Wilton ivory food coloring and icing

I mixed some up using toothpicks and starting with a little bit of color then adding more to get progressively darker tones.

Click here to see Ivory food coloring on Amazon.


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Wilton Orange.

Wilton orange food coloring and icing

Wilton Orange gives you a nice, bright orange color for the darkest version, and a pretty peach color if you only use a little.


Wilton orange food coloring and icing

This gives you a range of colors that could be used for a lot of different things, including Halloween cakes and lighter spring themed piped flowers.

Click here to see Orange food coloring on Amazon.



Click to see a comparison of yellow food coloring.


Wilton Brown.

Wilton brown food coloring and icing

Wilton Brown gives you a good true brown color that could be used to pipe details on chocolate cakes or to make a leather color.


Wilton brown food coloring and icing

Brown makes a nice range of colors that could be used to make tree bark, earth tones, or to combine with other colors to make skin tones if you’re piping figures.

Click here to see Brown food coloring on Amazon.



Wilton Copper.

wilton copper food coloring and icing

Wilton Copper is an orange-y brown that could be used for a bunch of different things.


Wilton copper food coloring and icing

The lighest version is a pale peach, and as you add more it gets to a true copper color. The darkest is like a dark penny copper.

This is a good color to use for Halloween cakes and Jack-o-lantern cake designs.

Click here to see Copper food coloring on Amazon.


Click here to see orange and burnt orage wedding cakes.


Comparing the colors.

orange and brown food coloring icing comparisons

Here’s a comparison of some of the colors that I’ve tested so far. When you see them all next to each other you can tell that some of them are more yellow and some tend to be more pink or green. Since brown is a color that has all of the other colors in it, each shade will have some undertones of other colors.

To counteract the undertones, you can always neutralize the color by adding come of the opposite color (read more about toning down icing colors here.)


Click for a comparison of blue food coloring.


Brown food coloring in real life.

pnk and chocolate brown polka dots wedding cake

Brown icing can be made using food coloring if you don’t want to use chocolate on the cake. The downside of using a lot of dark food coloring in icing is that it will stain everything it touches, though.

One way to avoid giving everyone brown mouths is to use a trick that minimizes the amount of dark icing on the cake. Click here to read my method of how to cover a cake with dark icing.


tall pillared wedding cake with brown piping on hexagonal tiers and gumapste flowers

Brown and orange are good autumn colors that can be used in a lot of ways and in a lot of shades…Check out these autumn leaves wedding cakes to see some examples of different combinations.


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