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Candy Cane Cookies (Without Artificial Dyes!)

This time of year is so fun with the kids, but one thing I don’t love are all of the red and green cookies filled with artificial dyes everywhere we go. That’s what makes this new candy cane cookie recipe a lifesaver! These are so fun to make for the holidays and you won’t be poisoning your loved ones with artificial ingredients. 

As I wrote about in my new book, Food Babe Family, I have zero tolerance for artificial colors in my food or my children’s food. We don’t eat products with artificial colors…ever. This may sound extreme—but there are so many reasons why we shouldn’t be eating them, especially children.

Artificial colors…

  • Have been shown to disrupt the immune system. Research has found that “The molecules of synthetic colorants are small, and the immune system finds it difficult to defend the body against them. They can also bond to food or body proteins and, thus, are able to act in stealth mode to circumvent and disrupt the immune system.” (1)
  • May harm children’s health and best be avoided according to a 2018 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement. (2
  • Have been banned in countries such as Norway and Austria. Titanium dioxide was more recently banned in Europe due to studies linking it to genotoxicity, which is the ability to damage DNA. (3
  • Are known to cause an increase in hyperactivity in children, which requires a warning label in Europe that states “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children. (4
  • Can be contaminated with known carcinogens (a.k.a. an agent directly involved in causing cancer). (5
  • Have a negative impact on children’s ability to learn. (6
  • Have been linked to long-term health problems such as asthma, skin rashes, and migraines. (7)
  • Do not change the flavor of food and add absolutely no nutritional value to the foods we are eating. They are used solely for aesthetic purposes. There are safer alternatives.

You’ll find them listed on an ingredient label as Red 40, Red 3, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Blue 1. 

Besides artificial colors, you’ll find a shocking amount of processed artificial ingredients in popular holiday cookies. Many of these are linked to cancer and heart disease! 

Don’t poison your family with all of these artificial processed ingredients!

This is why it’s sooo much better to make homemade holiday cookies. 

But don’t make this mistake…

Almost everyone reaches for food colors made by McCormick and Betty Crocker to make their holiday cookies, but this is a BIG MISTAKE.

These popular food colors are made with the same artificial dyes that you find in holiday cookies from the store.  Plus, they are suspended in a solution made with nasty processed ingredients like carrageenan, propylene glycol, and parabens (endocrine-disrupting chemicals linked to breast cancer and reproductive problems).

To make cookies without artificial dyes at home, you’ll need natural food colors. There are natural coloring kits available made from real food like beets, spirulina, and turmeric, such as the Supernatural brand. The red color is simply made with BEETS…how amazing is that?!?

These candy cane cookies are easier to make than they look! 

You simply make a basic sugar cookie dough and divide it into two portions. Then you add natural red coloring to one half and chill the dough for a couple of hours. This makes the dough really easy to work with, so you can effortlessly roll it into ropes and twist the white and red ropes together to make the twisted candy cane shape. This is super fun to do with the kids and creates great memories! Now you won’t need to buy those processed “ready to bake” Pillsbury cookies full of dyes and other shady ingredients…yay!

The cookies bake up perfectly on my favorite 360 Cookware cookie sheets. I use these stainless steel cookie sheets for all of my baking and couldn’t be happier! This is the same brand that makes the non-toxic slow cookers I use in my kitchen. Because I love their products so much, I was able to partner with them for a big discount for the Food Babe Army:

Use the code FOODBABE at checkout to take 25% OFF all Cookware 360 cookware & bakeware: CLICK HERE

Food Babe's Candy Cane Christmas Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 12 to 15 cookies
  • ½ cup grass-fed butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk of choice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups spelt flour (gluten free: use oat flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon natural food coloring (brand I like: Supernatural)
  1. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla extract. Beat until combined.
  3. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt and add to the bowl with the wet ingredients. Mix until a dough forms.
  4. Divide the dough in half. Place one half in a covered bowl in the refrigerator.
  5. Add the natural food coloring to the other half and mix until the dough turns red. Cover and place in the refrigerator with the other dough for at least 2 hours.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Take roughly 1 tablespoon of the red dough and roll into a ball. Repeat with the white dough. Using your hands, roll each dough ball out to a 4 to 5” long rope. Place the ropes next to one another and twist together. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Curve the top part of the dough to look like a candy cane. Repeat with the remaining dough. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
*Please choose organic ingredients and natural food color.


I hope you enjoy a batch (or two!) of these candy cane cookies with your family for the holidays. They also would make a great edible gift for someone on your list! 

Here are more holiday cookie recipes without dyes that my family loves:

We also need to keep sharing the truth about artificial colors, because they are EVERYWHERE this time of year. Please share this post to spread the word. 



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5 responses to “Candy Cane Cookies (Without Artificial Dyes!)

  1. Thx u for all u do
    I try never to eat anything with dyes I have been using beet powder for years for coloring
    The receipe looks great my daughters family are allergic to gluten and eggs and whole lot more , so I wonder if I sub the egg for egg replacement and they are allergic to vanilla but I could do peppermint .

    1. Thanks for the recipe. I can’t wait to try it. I wonder if I can use coconut sugar instead of cane sugar, and have the same result?
      Thank you

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