Rainbow Bread

How To Make Homemade Rainbow Swirl Bread Recipe
An easy and colorful bread baking project for kids of all ages!

Tea parties with my mom and my aunts were a big part of my childhood. A table spread with thick swirled frosting topped cupcakes from Publix, a floral table cloth, mis-matched teacups, a vase of carnations, and ham sandwiches made with rainbow swirl bread. Those sweet memories led me to my first attempt at rainbow bread during my first year of blogging (which has now been archived). Less sweet, being trapped inside during the stay-home order of 2020 led me to my second!

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Now, dear sweet baby angel Kiya of first year blogging had an okay result with her rainbow baguette, but I think this white-bread-loaf-turned-rainbow came out much better! What I wrote back then still holds true today– I am a bread baking novice– and this super simple white bread recipe (altered from Taste of Home) was much more user friendly. I also used gel food coloring this time around, which yielded an incredibly vibrant result.

How To Make Homemade Rainbow Swirl Bread Recipe

Bread Baking Novices Unite!
During this covid quarantine time, baking bread has been a major trend. At this point in my life, sourdough is a stranger and focaccia is an acquaintance at best– but a white bread sandwich loaf? Yeah I can get behind that! Swirl in some color and she’s almost as impressive as your neighbor’s boules and Carol-from-work’s starry night focaccia. Hopefully you can find flour and yeast. My best wishes go with you on your quest!

How To Make Homemade Rainbow Swirl Bread Recipe

Recipe Notes

Okay, as aforementioned, I don’t know a ton about bread or yeast– I am much more of a cook than a baker. What I do know is that I’ve had dead yeast ruin projects for me, so now I always proof it, regardless of what type of yeast it is. (The deal with instant yeast is that it doesn’t have to be proofed, it can just be added right into the recipe, but I still proof it for extra insurance.) “Yeast, are you alive? Oh yeah? THEN PROOF IT!”
You need two things to proof yeast: warm water (110-115F), and a bit of sugar for the yeast to eat, because we all need a snack after a nap to wake us back up.
I have used water that is either too hot or too cool in the past, both of which can keep the yeast from proofing properly. So now, I use my digital water kettle to set the temperature. You can also use an instant-read thermometer in your water.

I want to warn you, kneading in the color for this bread is laborious. Each color must be kneaded in for about 8 minutes. The food coloring still wont fully incorporate at that point (it will be a bit streaky) but it’s good enough! I suggest enrolling a friend for this part. You may also choose to do 4 colors rather than 6 for less kneading! (Here’s the gel food coloring I use.)

Bread Variations
If you’re more of a bread pro than me, maybe you want to branch out and rainbow-ify other types of bread! Go for it! You can use this technique on any kind of dough that needs to be kneaded.

How To Make Homemade Rainbow Swirl Bread Recipe

Here are some videos to show the swirl process:

Patting out and stacking the colored dough pieces

Rolling the stacked dough together to form the swirl.

Cutting the loaf into 2 loaves!

Rainbow Bread Recipe

Rainbow Bread

White bread recipe adapted from Taste of Home
Servings: 2 loaves


  • 1 package active dry yeast (¼ oz)
  • 2.25 cups warm water 110-115F
  • 3 tbsp + 1/2 tsp sugar divided
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 6.25-6.75 cups bread flour
  • 2 tbsp canola oil plus more for coating bowls
  • 4-6 shades of food coloring gel food coloring will be the most vibrant
  • gloves to avoid staining your hands with food coloring


  • Pour the warm water into a medium bowl, stir in 1/2 tsp of the sugar, and sprinkle the yeast on top. Cover with a dishcloth or plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to proof for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, the yeast should be foamy and fragrant. If it isn’t your yeast may not be active or the water may have been too cool or too warm.
  • Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the remaining 3 tbsp of sugar, the salt, and 3 cups of the bread flour. Place the bowl on the stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Stir the oil into the yeast mixture, then pour into the flour mixture and beat until smooth. As the mixer runs on medium-low speed, add 1/2 cup or the remaining flour at a time until a soft dough is formed.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 4 or 6 equal portions, depending on how many colors you want in your bread. Work with one piece of dough at a time and keep the others covered with a dishcloth or plastic wrap. Put on your gloves and add a drop or two of food coloring to your first piece of dough. Knead for 5-7 minutes or until smooth and elastic and the color is well distributed. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and turn once to coat the surface of the dough with oil. Cover with a dish cloth or plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough with remaining colors. Allow all pieces to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1.5-2 hours.
  • When the dough pieces have risen, turn out the first color of dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat out to a ¼-½” thick disk (like a pizza dough!) This first color will be the outside of your loaf. Pat out the next color into a disk on top of the first disk. Repeat with all remaining colors.
  • When all of the colors have been patted out, roll all the disks together, fairly tightly, to form your rainbow spiral loaf. Cut the loaf in half crossways to form 2 loaves. Transfer each loaf to a greased 9 x 5 loaf pan, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, 1-1.5 hours.
  • Bake the loaves at 375F, about 30-35 minutes, or until lightly browned and the bread sounds hollow when tapped.
  • Remove from pans and allow to cool on wire racks. Cool completely before slicing for the neatest slices.

Looking for more carb-y delights? Try these on for size!

How To Make Homemade Rainbow Swirl Bread Recipe

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