Does Chef Boyardee Have Red Dye?

You likely know Chef Boyardee as a budget-friendly canned pasta brand. You also likely know that its ingredients are far from natural homemade pasta that your parents might of made as a kid.

However, does Chef Boyardee actually have red dye in it? Let’s explore what is in this pasta and specifically if it contains red dye.

Red Dye In Chef Boyardee?

No, Chef Boyardee does not have artificial red dye in it. In fact, the labels of it indicate that it contains no artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors.

So, what provides the color for Chef Boyardee?

Well, the first ingredient is tomatoes so a lot of its color comes naturally from them.

Additionally, most Chef Boyardee pastas also contain caramel color. It is one of the most popular food colorings found in sodas, cereals, sauces, and more. It is naturally created by heating sugars from sources like sugar beets or corn.

The FDA lists caramel color as a generally recognized as safe (GRAS) substance and it has been used in food and beverages for over 150 years. However, the Center For Science In The Public Interests states that it potentially contains contaminants that the World Health Organization deemed “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. Read more about the topic here.

Carotenal is also found in some Chef Boyardee pastas. It produces an orange-red color and is derived from pigments from carrots, spinach, kale, and similar edible plants.

Lastly, annatto is in cheese ravioli. It is a natural food coloring that is produced from achiote tree seeds. Healthline notes that it appears to be safe for most people to consume but a small number of people can experience an allergic reaction after consuming it. It may also bring on symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in some people.

Below is the coloring used in the various canned Chef Boyardee products. While we believe this information is accurate, you should reference the ingredients listed on the actual product label for the most up-to-date information. The ingredients on the label should be referenced if it is important to you to avoid certain ingredients.

Chef Boyardee ProductArtificial Red Dye (Yes or No)?Coloring Used?
Beef Ravioli (Can)NoCaramel Color, Carotenal
Spaghetti & Meatballs (Can)NoCaramel Color
Beefaroni (Can)NoCaramel Color
Mini Ravioli (Can)NoCaramel Color, Carotenal
Lasagna (Can)NoCaramel Color
Overstuffed Beef Ravioli (Can)NoCaramel Color, Carotenal
Jumbo Spaghetti & Meatballs (Can)NoCaramel Color
Overstuffed Italian Sausage Ravioli (Can)NoCaramel Color
Cheese Ravioli (Can)NoAnnatto
Mini Spaghetti Rings & Meatballs (Can)NoCaramel Color, Carotenal
Mini ABC’s & 123’s with Meatballs (Can)NoCaramel Color, Carotenal, Apo-Carotenal
Mini Spaghetti & Meatballs (Can)NoCaramel Color
Mini Pasta Shells & Meatballs (Can)NoCaramel Color
Mini Beef Ravioli & Meatballs (Can)NoCaramel Color, Carotenal
Mini ABC’s & 123’s (Can)NoNone

Visit for a full list of products with their ingredients.