How To Make Edible Spray Paint For Cakes

How To Make Edible Spray Paint For Cakes

So you’re all done baking and you need to make some edible paint to decorate the crowning achievement of your cake decorating repertoire, but you’re out of airbrush paint! Can you make your own edible food coloring for airbrushing? Yes, indeed!

But – how do you do this? What ingredients do you need? Don’t sweat! You’ve found the extensive guide on how to make edible paints for airbrushing cakes, as well as edible paint for spray bottles and hand-painting.

Off we go!

DIY Airbrush Food Coloring

Whether you’re out of airbrush coloring or would simply prefer to make your own, here’s a quick tutorial on the various methods. 

How To Make Airbrush Food Coloring Using Food Gel

Food Coloring Food Gel

Although you can buy pre-made airbrush coloring and pop it right in your airbrush, you can also make your own. This is a great option if you’re mixing colors to create an unusual tone or need multiple variations of the same hue.

You can airbrush both fondant as well as buttercream-frosted cakes (and cupcakes!) using these methods.


You can make this airbrush coloring with just two ingredients:

  • Food coloring gel
  • Vodka (or any other clear, edible spirit)


To make your own airbrush food coloring, mix some food coloring gel with an alcohol base like vodka or edible spirit. This liquid evaporates faster than water and won’t make your frosting or fondant soggy.

Mix the two in a small container (like a medicine cup). You’ll need to stir it so that all the gel dissolves – these little clumps can clog your airbrush nozzle and be a true pain to unclog!

Clumps not dissolving? Don’t stress – simply remove any lingering clumps from the mixture and pour into your airbrush cup.

The amount of spray paint you’ll need will vary depending on the size of the cake you’re decorating and how many coats you intend to apply – darker, more opaque colors will need more passes than lighter, mistier colors.

For a general reference, start by mixing about ¼ teaspoon food gel with 1 oz of vodka or another clear edible spirit. Don’t need that much? Try ¼ to ⅛ teaspoon alcohol to a few drops of food gel.

For best results, you should use a high-proof grain alcohol, as it dries the fastest, but you can also use lemon extract or vinegar if alcohol isn’t available.

You can also mix your colors by pouring the food gel and alcohol into small food-safe bottles and shaking them vigorously to dissolve the clumps. The choice is yours! Mixing colors in small cups is easiest for removing stubborn clumps, but bottles can be less messy and are less likely to tip over if you’re prone to clumsiness. 

Tips and Tricks

Making edible paint using gel food coloring for airbrushing can take some trial and error. Be sure to follow these tips and tricks to avoid a decorating disaster.

Test Your Spray

Whoa, whoa, whoa! You weren’t just going to spray that freshly, mixed food coloring right onto your cake, were you?

Always test your color on a practice area first, preferably on test paper in a similar shade to your cake. No test paper? Wax or parchment paper will work fine.

Now, spray your newly mixed shade onto the test area. If the color isn’t the desired shade, go back and remix. Too light? Add in a tiny amount of additional gel coloring. Once you’ve achieved your desired shade, move onto your sweet treat.

How To Thin Food Coloring For Airbrushing

If your airbrush gun clogs, the mixture may be too thick. If the spray beads up on your cake the mixture may be too thin. Thicken your mixture with more food coloring or thin it by adding a few more drops of alcohol.

Making Different Colors

Need a little advice on color mixing? No worries – it may have been a while since you’ve mixed paint! Remember, you actually only need three basic hues to make an entire rainbow of colors!

Always be sure you have red, yellow, and blue food coloring gel – you can’t make these ones.

  • To make green: mix a little blue with yellow (blue is the more dominant color so you’ll need less).
  • To make orange: mix a little red with yellow – a little red goes a long way!
  • To make violet or purple: mix a little blue with red – this color can be tricky. Prepare to experiment! 

Ta-da! Now you have six colors at your fingertips, even though you only bought three food coloring gels!

How To Make Airbrush Food Coloring Using Luster Dust

Luster Dust

You can also make an edible spray for airbrushing cakes and treats using edible dust, food dust, or luster dust!


You’ll need the following ingredients and items to make airbrush coloring using luster dust or edible food dust.

  • Food-grade luster dust or other edible dust
  • Vodka, lemon extract, or any other clear, edible spirit


Use equal parts luster dust and a clear grain alcohol like vodka and mix thoroughly in a cup to break up all the clumps so they won’t clog your airbrush nozzle. Pour into your airbrush cup and spray away.

Spray your entire cake for a lustrous masterpiece like this spacey geode cake or apply atop a stencil for an ornate pattern reminiscent of a French court. Don’t forget to top with borders, flourishes, and other show-stopping cake decorations.

Love shimmery gold and other faux metal shades? Learn how to create stunning metallic cookies and cake decorations using gold dust in your airbrush here:

You can use edible dust like luster dust to create a DIY airbrush spray for both fondant and buttercream cakes. Apply this technique to achieve a wide variety of themes and aesthetics from undersea designs to galaxy-inspired masterpieces.

Spray Bottle Food Coloring

No airbrush? You can make a DIY airbrush with a food-safe spray bottle and food coloring!

You’ll need the following items and ingredients to make spray bottle food coloring:

  • Food coloring gel
  • Vodka or any other clear, edible spirit
  • Clean, food-safe spray bottle

To make your edible spray paint simply fill a small spray bottle with food-grade alcohol or vinegar and add a few drops of gel food coloring. Shake vigorously to dissolve those pesky clumps and spray away! 

Food Coloring For Painting Cakes and Cookies

Food Coloring Painting

Just for fun, here’s how to make edible food coloring for painting right on cakes and cookies. This method works best on fondant or royal icing, although it can be used on buttercream if properly chilled.

How To Use Gel Food Coloring For Hand-Painting

You’ll need the following ingredients and items to make paintable food coloring:

  • Food coloring gel
  • Vodka or another clear, edible spirit
  • Clean, food-safe brushes

For this method, you’ll also be using gel food coloring and alcohol, although you can use less alcohol for a thicker consistency coloring which will be easier to paint on baked goods since you don’t have to worry about clogged spray nozzles.

Use just a few drops of alcohol or lemon extract with a dab of food gel. Stir as you paint to keep the two from separating while you work. Press the brush against the side of the cup to remove excess liquid before painting. Use this method for royal icing, fondant or even buttercream and ganache!

Try this tutorial to flex your cake-painting skills:

Alcohol is the preferred ingredient for making this edible paint as it dries the fastest, but lemon extract can also be used. 

Have neither on hand? For a water-based recipe, The Anthony Kitchen recommends using a mix of  ½ teaspoon gel food coloring to 1 teaspoon water for painted sugar cookies, although be aware, this method isn’t recommended on fondant or buttercream.

You can, however, paint on fondant, ganache, and buttercream cakes with a mixture of food dust and either alcohol or cocoa butter. More on this below!

How To Use Luster Dust For Hand-Painting

There is also an option to make a paste-like paint to brush on your baked goods using luster dust and alcohol. 

First off, make sure you’re using edible, food-grade luster dust. Mix this with a little bit of high-proof alcohol or lemon extract, being sure to blend well to dissolve all clumps. 

You can create either a thick acrylic-like paste for painting opaque designs like flowers and foliage or thin it with more alcohol for a watercolor effect.

Try this on royal icing, buttercream, or fondant-covered cakes.

To use cocoa butter and edible dust, melt your cocoa butter by placing some on a warmed plate (cocoa butter melts at 93-101°F or 34-38°C) and add to your edible dust to make a thick paint. 

Use different brushes for different colors and paint away to achieve expressive floral designs or abstract masterpiece

Who knew there were so many ways to make and use edible paints for cake decorating! We’ve covered how to make edible paint for airbrushing using both food coloring gel and luster dust. Airbrush out of commission? No fear – you’re in the loop on how to mix coloring for a spray bottle in addition to making a painterly paste for hand-painting cookies and cakes. 

Whether your preferred tools are brushes, bottles, or airbrushes, you’re armed with the know-how to decorate your next spectacular creation. Now, hop to it!

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