Can you eat gold leaf?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “Can you eat gold leaf?” with an in-depth analysis of edible gold leaf, the uses of gold leaf, the taste of gold leaf, how to store edible gold leaf, and substitute for edible gold leaf. 

Can you eat gold leaf? 

Yes, you can eat a gold leaf. However, the gold leaf has no taste at all. This food decor is solely used for its rich and sparkling appearance, and to bring a bright and exciting finish to a dish. The gold leaf has no nutritional value with no fat or calories.

What is an edible gold leaf?

Edible gold leaf is a gold material that is used to decorate food items. It is composed of pure gold or at times a composite of gold and silver. As the name indicates, it is edible, since gold is classified as ‘biologically inert’ which implies that it moves through the digestive system without undergoing assimilation.

So, edible gold leaf is not dangerous for humans. But, if it is composed of pure gold, it would be one of the expensive foods.

However, the courses decorated with flakes and sheets are comparatively not expensive. Therefore, consider getting high-quality gold leaf produced with pure gold instead of purchasing cheap variants that consist of contaminants.

The uses of edible gold leaf 

Edible gold leaf is mostly used for garnishing the dessert, candy making, and adding in cocktails, to bring a glamorous element to a dish. At times, it is used for decorating meat as well. 

Edible gold leaf comes in flakes and sheets. The flakes provide a gold glitter to candies and cupcakes; they are also commonly used by fancier barkeepers for adding floating gold flakes to alcoholic beverages. 

While the gold sheets are marketed in two ways mainly: loose leaf and transfer leaf. Loose-leaf is most useful when split into small bits for garnishing sweets and truffles. Transfer leaf, on the other hand, is fancied when decorating a wide surface, such as a cake, fully with gold.

Although it is commonly used to enhance desserts, it has also made its way to the fast-food menus and other tasty food items. Some eateries even serve gold-flaked chicken wings and hamburgers with gold leaf bread.

Edible gold sheets are fragile and can be difficult to handle. They quickly rip and can crumple, and as they are so flimsy, the gold sheets will blow away if contracted by a little breeze of air (even when you inhale). They will also adhere to the skin if touched and will be unfit for usage. 

Therefore, it is necessary to follow a few directions and make sure the necessary equipment is nearby, including a knife or razor blade and a clean, dry brush; a pair of cotton gloves are also essential. 

As the gold leaf adheres to most surfaces, the knife or razor blade can be utilised to move the sheet to the food it is coated upon. A set of small tongs or tweezers is perfect for lifting the flakes from the container and setting them on the food product.

How to store edible gold leaf?

Edible gold leaf is very fragile and needs to be managed with diligence. The booklets of gold sheets should be placed flat and kept in a sealed container in a cool, dry place away from any hot and humid conditions. The flakes should also be kept in a cool, dry area. If stored correctly, the edible gold leaf will last endlessly.

When choosing edible gold leaf, it is essential to select gold that is as refined as plausible. This suggests it must be 22 to 24 carats, which is higher pureness than most gold jewellery. Gold leaf with a less carat content has more contaminants and is less safe to consume. 

The square sheets range in size from one and a half inches to five and a half inches and are marketed in booklets of ten to a hundred pages. The flakes are packaged in jar-like containers and range from 100 mg to 1 g in weight.

What can we use instead of edible gold leaf?

The most inexpensive substitute for gold leaf is the imitation gold leaf. It is formed of brass alloy with a composite of copper and zinc. This mixture has been established to generate tones that resemble a pure gold leaf. It is referred to as Schlag metal, composition metal or Dutch metal.


In this brief guide, we have provided an answer to the question, “Can you eat gold leaf?” with an in-depth analysis of edible gold leaf, the uses of gold leaf, the taste of gold leaf, how to store edible gold leaf, and substitute for edible gold leaf. 


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.