Dyeing Easter Eggs with Natural Dyes | The Old Farmer's Almanac

How to Dye Easter Eggs Naturally

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Dyeing Eggs With Beets, Onion Skins, and Spices

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Try dyeing eggs the old-fashioned way—using spices, food, and plants! It turns out that your own kitchen and nature can provide all you need. It’s fun and something different to try. Note: You’ll want to dye these eggs at least one day in advance for the most vivid colors.

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The Easter egg symbolizes new life and coloring eggs is a longtime tradition. Sure, those artificial tablets make some fun bright colors, but there’s a better way to dye your hard-boiled eggs—pickling with all natural dyes. From turmeric to blueberries to beets, it’s neat (not to mention educational) to see how different foods create different colors; the eggs “transform” without a magic wand!

Bonus: Add salt and sugar to the brine for salty sweet eggs that you can later add to sandwiches, salads, and noodles.  However, if you prefer to omit the sugar and/or salt, that’s fine, too.

Natural Dye Colors

Here are some different dye ingredients that we tested out and seem to work best:

  • Yellow: Two teaspoons ground turmeric to turn eggs yellow.
  • Pink: One cup shredded beets to turn eggs pink. (Shred on a box grater.)
  • Blue: One cup chopped purple or red cabbage to turn eggs blue.
  • Blue: One cup blueberries to turn eggs blue.
  • Purple: One cup red onion skins to turn eggs red or purple.
  • Brown: One bag of black tea to turn eggs brown.
  • Orange: One cup of chopped yellow onion skins to turn eggs orange.

How to Make Natural Dyes

First, your eggs need to be at room temperature. (Take hard-boiled eggs out of refrigerator about 20 minutes before you need them.)

For every egg color, you’ll want these same ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1–2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • Desired dye (turmeric, blueberries, beets, purple cabbage, etc.)
  • Optional: 1 to 2 tablespoons salt,
  • Optional: 1 to 2 tablespoons light brown sugar (or regular sugar if you don’t have brown)

For example, if you’re selecting 4 egg colors, then you’ll need (at least) 4 teaspoons white vinegar, 4 tablespoons salt, and 4 tablespoons sugar.

A dozen eggs requires about 4 cups of solution.

Dyeing Instructions

  • Bring the water, salt, sugar, and dye ingredient to a boil, then turn down the heat to simmer the ingredients for about 30 minutes. 
  • Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of white vinegar to help the egg shell absorb the dye.
  • Dip the eggs into the lukewarm solution. The longer they are saturated in the dyed water, the more vivid the color. We prefer to let the eggs sit overnight in the liquid bath to steep, but you can brine from 8 hours up to 3 days.
  • Let the eggs dry. We like to massage in a little vegetable oil to each one and polish with a towel.

Now, you can hide the colored eggs, eat the eggs, or use them as pretty decorations on Easter Sunday! Keep them cool in the refrigerator before you eat them!

Which colors are brightest? Let us know!

Tie-Dyed Easter Eggs

Here’s another idea that the older kids especially love—tie dye!

  1. Hard-boil some large white eggs (use brown eggs for darker colors) and allow them to cool.
  2. Wrap a number of long rubber bands of various widths around each egg, covering the entire egg. The rubber bands should be long enough to wrap around the egg a couple of times. (If the bands keep popping off, don’t wrap them quite so tightly, or use thicker bands.)
  3. Dip the egg into homemade or store-bought dye.
  4. Remove from dye and let dry.
  5. Remove some or all of the rubber bands, then wrap them around the egg again and soak it in a different color until you have the shade you want.
  6. Allow to dry and remove the rubber bands. You should now have a uniquely interesting egg.

Another way to create a tie-dyed look is by wrapping and twisting damp strips of cloth tightly around an egg.

  1. Drop different colors of dye onto the cloth and let the colors blend together.
  2. Let the egg sit until the cloth is dry, then carefully unwrap the egg.

Hope you enjoyed dyeing eggs this way!

Since you’re in the kitchen, check out our Easter Recipe ideas, including carrot cupcakes and more!

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