How to Naturally Dye Easter Eggs

How to naturally dye Easter Eggs
Photo by Lindsay Ponta

They symbolize creation and life itself. Each spring, eggs are dyed a multitude of colors, their dazzling shades enchanting those who display them, hunt for them or offer them as gifts during the Easter holiday.

This year, skip the store-bought dye kits and turn eggs into gems with natural dyes. Your kitchen is already stocked with the ingredients you need: ground turmeric, onion skins, blueberries and heads of cabbage.

Together with your kids, you can create dye in subtle shades or vibrant hues — the fun is in the experimentation. Double dip for two-toned eggs. Wrap them with kitchen twine and rubber bands to make stripes. When the dye has dried, young artists will delight in their colorful creations.

Dye Ingredients

Beets: 1 large beet (about 2 cups), cut into small dices

  • 30 minutes in hot dye yields a bright pink.
  • 3 hours in hot dye as it cools to room temperature makes a brighter pink.
  • 12 hours soaking in the refrigerator creates a deep magenta.

Blueberries: 2 cups fresh or frozen berries, blended or mashed

  • 30 minutes in hot dye yields a light blue-gray.
  • 3 hours in hot dye as it cools to room temperature makes a medium blue-gray.
  • 12 hours soaking in the refrigerator creates a deep purple-gray.

Red cabbage: 1/2 medium head (about 3 cups), shredded

  • 30 minutes in hot dye yields a very light blue.
  • 3 hours in hot dye as it cools to room temperature makes teal.
  • 12 hours soaking in the refrigerator creates a deep cobalt blue.

Red onion: Dry, papery skins from 6 to 8 medium and large onions

  • 30 minutes in hot dye yields a light brown, similar to the color you’ll find with a
    naturally brown egg.
  • 3 hours in hot dye as it cools to room temperature makes a medium brown.
  • 12 hours soaking in the refrigerator creates a dark reddish brown.

Turmeric: 3 tablespoons ground turmeric

  • 30 minutes in hot dye yields a light yellow.
  • 3 hours in hot dye as it cools to room temperature makes a medium yellow.
  • 12 hours soaking in the refrigerator creates a brighter yellow.

Yellow onion: Dry, papery skins from 6 to 8 medium and large onions

  • 30 minutes in hot dye yields a medium orange.
  • 3 hours in hot dye as it cools to room temperature makes a deep orange.
  • 12 hours soaking in the refrigerator creates a deeper orange.
Dyeing eggs using natural ingredients
Photo by Lindsay Ponta

How to Naturally Dye Easter Eggs 

  1. Combine the desired dye ingredients and 2 cups water in a large saucepan. Bring water to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for at least 30 minutes. The longer the mixture simmers, the more vibrant the dye.
  2. Strain mixture into a glass jar or container. Use or compost leftover dye material.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar per cup of dye.
  4. Soak hard-cooked eggs in dye following the instructions above.
  5. Remove the eggs with a spoon and blot with paper towels. Rub eggs with vegetable oil to apply a shine to the shells, if desired.
  6. Optional: Create designs on the shells by wrapping undyed eggs in rubber bands, lace or twine. You can also draw designs on the shells using a white crayon or blocking sections with tape. Use a small glass to dye sections of the shells in different colors, overlapping to mix colors.

Note: Do not serve these eggs for breakfast; they’re purely decorative.

This story first appeared in our April 2021 issue.

About Michael Vyskocil

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