One of my favorite childhood memories is dyeing Easter eggs every year. Thanks to my grandmother, we did it the old-fashioned way, using plants. That means that this guide to naturally dyed Easter eggs comes from years of having fun doing it as a kid.
Part of that fun is that, when you dye eggs using natural resources, you don’t get the same result twice. Every egg is beautiful in its own unique way.
Benefits of Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs
While dyeing eggs naturally using produce may be more costly than using commercial dye, there is no doubt that naturally dyed eggs are better for everyone. If you make an effort to read the list of ingredients on packaging when you go grocery shopping, you’re probably looking to avoid color additives. So why would you then consciously purchase those color additives to dye your eggs?
A common list of ingredients contained in egg dye could include yellow 5, red 40, blue 1, and red 3. While these additives have been graded as harmless by the FDA, it’s good to know that yellow 5, for instance, is a synthetic dye produced from petroleum. According to Dr. Oz, the United Kingdom and other countries require manufacturers to put a warning label on products that contain it. The warning states: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” So, I prefer to avoid color additives and stick to naturally dyed eggs.
1. Dyeing Eggs With Onion Skin (Free): Brown
If you’re new to dyeing eggs with natural ingredients, I would recommend starting with onion skin. This method requires some planning. Before you’re ready to dye eggs with onion skin, you need to collect enough skins to produce a dye. For me, saving yellow onion skin for a couple of week usually does the trick.
The best benefit of naturally dyed Easter eggs with onion skin, assuming you regularly use onions for cooking, is that it’s FREE. Yes, you just saved what you’d otherwise discard to make dye which also saves in the cost of buying dye.
How to store the onion skin?
Since I buy onions in bulk, they come in mesh produce bags. So, I use those bags to store the skin until I am ready to use it. If you remove only the skin off the onion, avoiding the layer of onion underneath it, the skin alone should produce no odor while stored in dark and cool spot in your pantry.
Method #1 (preferred):
- Place onion skin in a stock pot and cover with water. Add 2 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and stir. Carefully arrange uncooked eggs in the pot, covering them with the skins. (For more intense color, use brown eggs!)
- Bring to boil and turn the heat off. Let cool completely. The eggs will be hardboiled and beautifully colored. To give them a beautiful luster, use olive oil and a soft cloth to polish them but don’t polish too hard as the dye may come off.
Method # 2 (below):
- You will need 4-5 cups yellow onion skin prepared according to the recipe at the bottom of the page.
2. Dyeing Eggs With Turmeric: Yellow
Turmeric is my favorite medium when it comes to dyeing eggs; I even use it to color deviled eggs. It’s the least messy, requires no prep work, cleans up quick and gives the most beautiful yellow color.
- You will need 2 tablespoons ground turmeric prepared according to the recipe at the bottom of the page.
3. Dyeing Eggs With Red Cabbage: Green to Blue
Red cabbage, together with the onion skin, is a frugal way to naturally dye eggs due to its affordable price. It also gives the most unique color that can range from pale green/turquoise to blue/purplish. Same as with onion skin, you could either boil your eggs in the cabbage or make the dye out of the cabbage and soak hardboiled eggs in it.
Method #1 (my preferred):
- Place chopped red cabbage in a stock pot and cover with cold water. Stir in 2 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Carefully arrange uncooked eggs in the pot, covering them with cabbage.
- Bring to boil and turn the heat off. Let completely cool.
- The eggs will be hardboiled and beautifully colored. Again, use olive oil and a soft cloth to polish them for luster but don’t polish too hard as the dye may come.
Method # 2 (below):
- You will need 1/2 small red cabbage (about 4 cups) prepared according to the recipe at the bottom of the page.
4. Dyeing Eggs With Beets: Pink
I’ve tried both method #1 (cooking) and method #2 (soaking) with beets. What I’ve found is that soaking hardboiled eggs in beet dye works better. Beets present us with a unique challenge when it comes to dyeing eggs: although their juices stain everything they contact, to get a beautiful color on your eggs you need a lot of concentrated beet juice.
When purchasing beets, avoid older looking roots that are probably too dry to release enough juices. The ones that still have green leaves attached are probably the juiciest and will yield the best result.
- You will need 2 pounds of beetroots, chopped and prepared according to the recipe at the bottom of the page.
5. Dyeing Eggs With Blueberries: Blue/ Navy
I love the intense blue color that you get by dyeing eggs with blueberries, but am not too crazy about this method due to the price of blueberries. So, look for sales if this is the medium you want to use.
- You will need 4 ounces blueberries prepared according to the recipe at the bottom of the page.
6. Dyeing Eggs With Spinach: Pale Green
Spinach yields a lovely pastel green hue to eggs. It definitely belongs on the Easter table, but similar to blueberries, spinach can be expensive, and it also requires the longest soaking time.
- You will need 1 pound fresh spinach according to the recipe at the bottom of the page.
And that’s it! Spinach completes my guide to naturally dyed Easter eggs.
Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs
Use plants to naturally dye eggs and get beautiful colors. Yellow onion skin, turmeric, blueberries, spinach, red cabbage, and beets are all natural colorants.
- 4-5 cups yellow onion skin OR
- 1 tablespoon ground turmeric OR
- 4 cups red cabbage, shredded OR
- 2 pounds beets, chopped OR
- 4 ounces blueberries OR
- 1 pound spinach, fresh
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- hardboiled white eggs
Place your chosen coloring medium (onion skin, turmeric, red cabbage, beets, blueberries, OR spinach) in a medium sized stock pot. Cover with enough cold water to submerge it 1 inch under the water. (For turmeric use 3 cups water).
Bring to boil then lower the heat and let simmer for 45-60 minutes. The liquid should be reduced to half and have a very dark hue.
Strain the liquid into widemouth jar or a bowl using a fine mesh strainer. Discard solids. Stir in apple cider vinegar and let cool.
Using a large spoon and carefully lower hardboiled white eggs into the dye.
Let soak until they reach the desired color. Stir occasionally to ensure even color.
For turmeric dye you will need 15-20 minutes of soaking to reach a nice color. For all other dyes, you will need to soak longer. It’s best to place the eggs into the jar and let sit in the refrigerator for a few hours until desired hue is reached.
Use white eggs as they absorb the dye best. It is more difficult to get colorful results using brown eggs, except when dyed with onion skin.
Shorter, widemouth, jars, canisters, containers and bowls are best for dyeing eggs.