How to Dye Pasta for Play & Craft Activities

How to Dye Pasta for Play & Craft Activities

Dried pasta makes an amazing play resource for kids. Best of all it's cheap and chances are you already have a plentiful supply to hand in the kitchen cupboard! To give your pasta extra kid-appeal you can dye pasta lovely vibrant colours using this method.

Pasta & Play

There are so many creative ways that pasta can be used to set up fun play activities or crafts. Here are some of the ways we've used dyed pasta in our play:

Pasta & Play dough

Pasta is a brilliant loose part to use with play dough

Building 3-D structures with play dough and pasta

Building 3-D structures using pasta and play dough

Easter eggs decorated with pasta

Play dough Easter eggs decorated with pasta

Play dough Easter eggs decorated with pasta
Making pasta necklaces

The classic fine-motor activity- making pasta necklaces!

Make a pasta Mandala

Simple pasta mandala

One of the things I love most about dyed pasta is that you only have to make it once and it will last indefinitely to be used again and again. When you're rushed off your feet and looking for an activity that occupies the children long enough to fold the laundry, no one wants to be making something from scratch. So when the pasta play has run its course and the kids have lost interest in it, don't dispose of it! Store it away, wait a few weeks and bring it out when you need those few minutes again!

What you will need


  1. Fill a zip-lock bag or sandwich bag with pasta and add a few generous squirts of paint.
Add paint to a bag of pasta

2. Work the paint into the pasta by scrunching and shaking the bag. Depending on the pasta you choose this may take some time. Penne pasta, for example, is quite easy to cover whereas fusilli takes a little more effort. Add a few extra squirts of paint if needed and repeat the process.

Shake the bag to cover the pasta

3. Lay out the pasta in a thin layer onto a lined baking tray. Allow to dry.

Lay the pasta on a tray to dry

4. Wash out the bag and start the process again choosing a different colour. Repeat until you have all the colours that you would like.

And that's it! It really is so simple to dye pasta!

Alternative taste-safe method to dye pasta

If you have a little one who is still mouthing everything and you're concerned about using paint, the alternative is to colour your pasta using food colouring. The colours may not be quite as vibrant but you can relax knowing it is completely taste-safe! To do this, use the same method as above but instead add a few drops of food colouring and 2 tablespoons of vinegar (this helps the food colouring to disperse).

Personally I've always preferred the paint method for dyeing pasta, rice and other food products, unless of course I've been concerned about little ones mouthing it. This is mainly because I'm not a fan of the smell of vinegar and neither are my kids! It's a pretty strong smell to mask but you can take the edge off it by adding some essential oils like lavender or tea tree. And I have to say when I used the food colouring method to create this ocean for our small world tray I was pretty in love with the look!

Ocean small world

However you choose to dye your pasta, do let me know how you get on! I would love to hear how you incorporate pasta into your play and craft activities too. Feel free to leave a comment below.