How to Dye Pasta Beads with one simple trick

How to Dye Pasta Beads for Jewelry, Collage, and Crafts

How to Dye Pasta Beads with one simple trickDyed pasta has entered our lives.

So fun!

We’ve done this before but missed the crucial step and they all turned out soggy.

So this time, I asked my friend Manjula what the trick was for how to dye pasta and she told me:

Rubbing alcohol

Who knew?!

A tiny amount of rubbing alchohol will distribute the food coloring quickly and easily throughout the pasta and will then evaporate, leaving the pasta to simple soak in the dye without any extra liquid.

It worked like a charm!

Here’s the tutorial for how to dye pasta beads ::

Just a warning though—this is a tad addictive. You’re going to want to head back to the grocery store for more pasta shapes and will end up making enough dyed pasta for a neighborhood of kids to string necklaces.

Just go with it.

Make Dyed Pasta Beads

How to Dye Pasta

Materials Needed

  • Pasta of various shapes and sizes (tube pasta such as ziti make the best beads)
  • Rubbing alcohol (or white vinegar)
  • Food coloring
  • Freezer bags


  1. Divide pasta into freezer bags. Use one bag for each color, but you can mix and match the pasta shapes.
  2. Working with one bag at a time, add 1 teaspoon of rubbing alcohol to the bag. Close the top and scrunch it around in your hands to distribute the alcohol.
  3. Then add your food coloring to the bag. Again close the top and scrunch it around in your hands to distribute the color.
  4. Spread the dyed pasta out on a cookie sheet (you may want to line yours first with wax paper or aluminum foil) and let dry overnight.
  5. Make as many colors as you like!
  6. Once your dyed pasta is completed, you can string them as beads, glue them in collages, or decorate playdough creations with them.

P.S. This pasta dyeing technique works great to dye rice as well!

Make Dyed Pasta Beads

We spread the dyed pasta out to dry overnight, then sorted them into jars.

Make Dyed Pasta Beads

Maia and I strung the pasta beads onto yarn for necklaces.

Make Dyed Pasta Beads

And strung some more pasta beads.

Make Dyed Pasta Beads

And kept on stringing.

Kid Craft - Make Jewelry from Dyed Pasta Beads

Maia enjoyed it long enough to make two pasta bead necklaces before moving on.

How to Dye Pasta Beads for Jewelry and Kids Crafts

I, on the other hand, became obsessed and made at least a dozen necklaces! What is it with me and preschool crafts?

This dyed pasta thing is addictive. I want to buy all kinds of fun pasta shapes and dye them in a rainbow of colors!

Have you been wondering how to dye pasta? Well now you know!

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  • Reply
    March 2, 2010 at 7:39 am

    That looks fun. I have thought about trying this myself but I had no idea what rubbing alcohol was so I may try it with vinegar. Last week I finally got round to doing tissue paper ‘painting’ with my toddler group. The parents, and I think the children, really enjoyed it. Thank you as I would never have done it if you hadn’t posted about it.

  • Reply
    March 2, 2010 at 9:06 am

    They look so good though. You could call your obsession with kids craft – finding meditative space in the mayhem of parenting?

    • Reply
      December 4, 2019 at 1:10 am

      I tried your method using vinegar instead of the rubbing alcohol and in the morning I had found at a third of the pasta beads from each colour had cracked. Has this happened to you

  • Reply
    March 2, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Love the pasta and the pigtails.

  • Reply
    March 2, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Wow, the coulours look great, nobody thinks, it’s pasta.

  • Reply
    March 2, 2010 at 11:23 am

    What fun! Thanks for sharing! I died a bunch of white rice several months ago, thinking I would make some of those “find-it” bottles…now I have a rainbow of colored rice cluttering my craft shelf! I think we may need to do some colored rice mosaics. Where’s the glue? I’ve gotta make space for dyed pasta!

  • Reply
    March 2, 2010 at 11:40 am

    This is great. My kids will go crazy for this. I am not sure how the “waiting overnight” aspect will work, but I will certainly try it anyway. Thanks for yet another GREAT idea!

  • Reply
    March 2, 2010 at 11:46 am

    LOVE it, what a great idea!

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    March 2, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Oh, you probably don’t have to wait overnight! Maybe an hour or two would do it.

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    March 2, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Yes! Now I want to dye rice, too!

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    March 2, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Oooh! I’ll have to look for those!

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    March 2, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    I’ve actually only put Daphne in pigtails twice now, but from all the pigtail photos it looks like I have her in them all the time!

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    March 2, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    I like the sound of that! Finding the meditative space in the mayhem of parenting…

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    March 2, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Glad you tried tissue paper painting/dyeing! The rubbing alcohol is available at the drug store with the first aid equipment.

  • Reply
    March 2, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    this looks fun! i can not get enough of your sweet baby in with those pigtails! ;)

  • Reply
    Julie Liddle
    March 2, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Quick tip: you can do this with great results by simply adding dropperfuls of liquid watercolors to the baggies of pasta/rice…no rubbing alcohol necessary. My students really enjoy adding more than one color to a bag for some really lovely multi-colored results. Once again, Liquid Watercolors to the rescue. The colored rice is gorgeous too, and really fun to add to a big rice tray for sensory play.

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    March 2, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Thanks, Julie!

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    March 2, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Oh, wow, look what I just found out! The liquid watercolors are on sale for $1 each right now at Discount School Supply!

  • Reply
    March 2, 2010 at 11:12 am

    That is the COOLEST THING EVER!! I don’t know if you’ve seen the pasta called radiatore or not (you can see it here, but it would look great on a necklace! I can’t wait to try this myself at home. Your ideas are so dang inspiring, love it!
    Thanks for sharing!
    M :)

  • Reply
    March 2, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    I did this last week with my 3 1/2 year old and used the neon colors of food color and it made the pasta much more vibrant!!-the blue, pink, purple and green! My daughter loved it too, but I think I liked it more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Reply
    March 2, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Let me know if you find some cooler shapes—choo choo wheels look cool!

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    March 2, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Where do you get neon food coloring? I’ve looked a few places and haven’t seen it.

  • Reply
    March 2, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Funny, I was just going to ask if it could be done with liquid watercolors! Guess I know what we’ll be doing tomorrow. :)

  • Reply
    March 2, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    What a brilliant idea! My 5 and 2 year olds could both join in with this…and those necklaces totally remind me of something I wore when I was young (except the “beads” were plastic – not nearly as environmentally friendly or cool looking.) :)
    My brain is spinning with ideas now!
    I LOVE the photos, too…those pigtails are too cute!

  • Reply
    March 3, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Thank you -I am in the UK and I have realised that we call it surgical spirit.

  • Reply
    March 4, 2010 at 1:17 am

    The necklaces look great! I had to laugh because I am right there with you on the preschool crafting…I also seem to get carried away with it and continue to sit there creating while my kids have long disappeared from the table.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Another fun project. We made three great necklaces this morning. Everyone thinks I’m supermom or something, but the truth is I just steal all my ideas from you. On this project, I would make a couple recommendations. If vinegar works, use that instead, because rubbing alcohol really stinks. My daughter is very sensitive to bad smells. Also, you had the right idea using all straight pastas for your necklaces. Even oversized macaroni were too hard for a pre-schooler to get yarn through. And the little macaroni were impossible even for me. We’ll use those for collage materials.

  • Reply
    Rachel Wolf
    March 9, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    These are wonderful! Any experience with natural dyes on these? We just made fingerpaints
    with beet juice and tumeric and I would love to try it out on noodle-beads as well.
    The finger paint post is here…

  • Reply
    April 1, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Interesting, but it really doesn’t look like food to me.

  • Reply
    October 28, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    I love. your blog Mam… very inspiring me …. I also share your link on my fanpage too..

  • Reply
    Ginger Watkins
    March 1, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    How much food coloring per bag?

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      March 4, 2018 at 5:15 am

      Just a few drops, Ginger. You can mix it up and see how bright it is then add more if you like.

      • Reply
        November 7, 2019 at 7:57 pm

        Hi! I just tried this technique but after using almost the whole little bottle of food coloring there’s barely any color! What am I doing wrong??

        • Reply
          Jean Van't Hul
          November 15, 2019 at 4:53 am

          Hmm. Really? How much pasta? Is it regular pasta or whole wheat or some other darker pasta? And is it a standard bottle of food coloring or is it a natural brand?

          Hopefully we can troubleshoot this for you!

          I can fill a freezer bag half full of regular pasta, add the rubbing alcohol, and then add just a few drops of food coloring and get good color.

  • Reply
    Arlene Taranow
    September 21, 2018 at 10:22 am

    I used Wilton food coloring. It’s not a liquid, but a bit goopy. The pasta has not dried completely after 15 hours. Uh oh. I used alcohol, btw. Advice?

    • Reply
      Arlene Taranow
      September 21, 2018 at 10:26 pm

      Used liquid food coloring. Perfect! Love it!

  • Reply
    October 17, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    How much pasta for 1 tsp vinegar/alcohol?

  • Reply
    April 4, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    How do you keep the food coloring from bleeding if it gets wet. I’m concerned about this for pasta necklaces, and wanting a non-toxic fixative so shirts, etc. won’t get stained by the food coloring.

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      April 5, 2019 at 5:16 am

      Hi Jane – I guess our pasta jewelry has kept pretty dry (and not been worn too often, actually) so it hasn’t been an issue for us. Adding a fixative sounds like a good idea if that’s a concern for you!

    • Reply
      Ashley Greene
      May 8, 2019 at 6:08 pm

      I was wondering the same thing. We were going to do it for an activity at a picnic and was worried about it getting wet. Have you found something that doesnt bleed?

  • Reply
    June 5, 2019 at 1:58 am

    Loved the idea of pasta beads! This is looking so cool and interesting!

  • Reply
    July 17, 2019 at 7:36 pm

    I used this recipe and my noodles ended up very vibrant but very sticky:-/ I can’t figure out what I did wrong. It’s been almost a day and half since they were dyed and put on the wax paper/cookie sheet.

  • Reply
    December 16, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    Any idea what to use to make black color for noodles? Can finger paint or tempera paint be used in place of food color?

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