What Color Should A Restaurant Menu Be?

Learn more about writing a restaurant menu with our complete guide.

What color should a restaurant menu be? It’s a question that has been debated for years. Some people say that the menu should be simple and black and white, while others believe that it should be in accordance with the restaurant’s branding. There are pros and cons to both sides of the argument, but what is most important is understanding how color can affect eating habits. In this post, we’ll explore the effects of color on eating and provide tips on which colors to use for your restaurant menu.

The Effect Of Color On Eating

Color is an important factor to consider when designing a restaurant menu. Studies have shown that color affects people’s perception of food, as well as their appetite. Generally, the colors red and yellow are known to stimulate hunger and appetite, while blue has been found to suppress it. Furthermore, certain colors can be associated with certain types of food or dishes. For example, green may make customers think of salads and fruits while brown could trigger associations with meat dishes.

Also worth noting is that warm colors such as red or orange tend to increase perceived intensity of flavors in food. If your restaurant offers spicier dishes, then you might want to make use of these shades in your menu design as they would add an extra layer of flavor.

Menu Colors And Emotions

In addition to affecting appetite, the colors used in menu design can also evoke certain emotions and feelings. This is especially important if you are trying to create a particular atmosphere at your restaurant. For example, shades of blue and green tend to be calming and relaxing, so they would be great for a laid back seafood restaurant. On the other hand, warm tones such as yellow and red can create an energized and exciting environment which might work better for a family-friendly diner or pizza place.

Furthermore, color can also be used to direct customers’ attention towards specific dishes. Using bolder hues like orange or purple on these items will make them stand out among all the other dishes on the menu.

Which Colors To Use

When it comes to selecting colors for your restaurant menu, it is important to keep in mind both appeal and effectiveness. Generally speaking, you should opt for hues that will be aesthetically pleasing and evoke the desired atmosphere but also stimulate appetite rather than suppress it.

For example, if you are going for a more formal look, then black or navy blue would be great background colors with red used as an accent color for specific items. If you are aiming for something more casual and relaxed, then light shades of green or yellow might be better suited. Additionally, using white text helps make the menu easier to read regardless of what color scheme is chosen.


Choosing the right colors for your restaurant menu is an important decision, as color can have a major impact on how customers perceive the food and atmosphere of your restaurant. Generally speaking, warm colors such as red or yellow tend to stimulate appetite and make flavors appear more intense, while cool colors such as blue evoke feelings of relaxation. It is also important to consider the desired atmosphere of the restaurant and use colors that will create the appropriate ambience. With careful consideration of all these factors, you should be able to select the perfect color scheme for your menu.



Related FAQs

Colors that can undermine appetite or evoke negative emotions should generally be avoided. For example, black as a background color should be used sparingly as it is linked to feelings of sadness and depression. Bright neon hues such as lime green and hot pink might not be the best choice either, as they could give customers headaches. In general, muted tones work the best for restaurant menus.
Yes, research has established a link between color and appetite. According to studies conducted at Cornell University’s Food & Brand Lab, people tend to eat more when surrounded by reds and oranges, and less when surrounded by blues and greens.
It is best to opt for brighter hues such as yellow or orange to draw attention to that dish. Additionally, using a different font or slightly larger text size can help it stand out even more.
Warm colors such as red and yellow have been linked to increased appetite, so they might be worth considering if you want your customers to order more food. However, it’s important not to overuse these shades as too much of them could be off-putting.
Yes, you can use the same colors for both your printed and digital menus. However, keep in mind that certain hues might appear differently on different screens or devices due to color calibrations, so it’s best to test them out first before committing to a particular scheme.
Generally speaking, it is best to use 10-12 point type size as this provides enough contrast while still being easy to read. Additionally, using lighter shades of gray instead of black will help make the text easier to read, particularly for those with weaker eyesight.
Yes, minimalist designs are generally preferred as they help keep the focus on the food and drinks rather than being too distracting. Additionally, using simple fonts such as sans serif instead of ornate script can also help create a modern feel.
Other than color and font size, it is important to consider layout and organization as well. Grouping similar dishes together makes it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for, as does having a clear labeling system for dishes with multiple ingredients. Additionally, making sure the menu is easy to navigate and not too lengthy will enhance the overall experience.
Yes, adding photos of your dishes is a great way to give customers a better sense of what they’re ordering. Additionally, using high-quality paper stock with a matte finish instead of glossy will also add an air of sophistication and show that you take pride in your restaurant’s presentation.
Absolutely! Seasonal menus are becoming increasingly popular, and changing up the color scheme to reflect this is a great way to add some excitement and refresh the look of your menu.    

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