Blocks of cheddar cheese.
What Gives Cheddar Cheese Its Orange Color?

Cheddar cheese comes in colors ranging from creamy white to vibrant orange. If you have ever wondered what accounts for this diversity of hues, there is a simple answer: annatto.

Annatto is a plant-based product that’s used as a food dye in various foods, including cheddar, other types of dairy, and some baked goods.

It's no coincidence that cheddars have the same color as a standard carrot. The orange in annatto derives from pigments known as carotenoids, also found in these root vegetables.

Adding annatto to cheddar has a minimal effect on quality, so whether you embrace or avoid it is, above all, a matter of personal preference.