Dyeing Eggs Naturally

dyeing eggs - natural colors

Our own natural colors for dyeing eggs

Every spring, our kids ask if they can dye some hard boiled eggs for the holidays. We celebrate Passover instead of Easter – but we don’t see this activity as a religious one – merely a seasonal (edible!) activity that we can do together.  For the past two years, instead of purchasing kits full of artificial chemicals, we opted to go the natural route. By using natural ingredients that we already had on hand, we could keep a handle on our budget and the eggs would remain edible, even if the color snuck onto the eggs through the cracks. As an added bonus, our kids could interact with a few ingredients that they usually don’t enjoy. Since it can take between fifteen and twenty exposures to foods before they can be accepted, playing with our food was an excellent way for the kids to get used to it.

Don’t miss the links at the bottom of this post for am eggsellent excellent tip on easy to peel hard-cooked eggs! It may seem simple, but it’s an art.  Seriously.

Naturally Dyed Eggs
By What’s Cooking with Kids

1 dozen hard cooked white eggs (note – we had to buy eggs for the first time in ages, since our chickens lay brown, blue and green eggs!)
White vinegar
Colorful ingredients (described below)
Stickers and rubber bands to make patterns on the egg

Hard cook 1 dozen eggs and allow them to cool in the refrigerator (See cooking tip in links below).
Decide how many colors you want to make and take out the appropriate number of pots.
To each pot, add: 1 quart of water and 2 tablespoons white vinegar
Add the following ingredients to each pot:

  • Red: 2 cups Cranberry juice and 8 cups red onion peels (Your grocer will gladly give you their discarded peels.)
  • Red-Orange: 3-4 tablespoons chili powder
  • Mahogany: 10-12 cups brown onion skins (Your grocer will gladly give you their discarded peels.)
  • Yellow: 3-4 tablespoons tumeric
  • Blue: ½—¾ head chopped red cabbage
  1. Bring each of the pots to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow them to simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare your eggs by wrapping them in rubber bands or putting on stickers (which will leave behind white stripes or patterns).
  3. Pour the dyes through a strainer and return them to the pot or a clean bowl.
  4. Gently lower some of the cooked eggs into each of the hot dyes.
  5. The color will deepen the longer they stay in the dye, but an hour should do the trick. If you wish to keep them submerged for longer, you should pour the dyes into containers that fit into your refrigerator, and let the eggs soak in there.
  6. When you are satisfied with the color saturation on the eggs, remove them from the liquid and dry them.
  7. Take off the rubber bands and stickers and enjoy!

Eggs: Resources and Recipes

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26 Responses to Dyeing Eggs Naturally

  1. saac's mama says:

    Eggsellent! (Sorry. Someone had to say it; now it’s out of the way.)

    I’ve been meaning to figure out this kind of dye forever. We did the onion skins when I lived in Switzerland, but I didn’t know about the rest. A variation would be to use egg white as glue for flowers, grasses, etc on the eggshells before boiling. They leave a ‘shadow’ just like the rubber bands do.

    I love that these instructions are so simple and straight-forward. Being able to share them with my son makes it easier for him to be involved. Long, terribly detailed instruction is often just too much.

  2. jwlucas says:

    I’ve been hunting for an egg kichel recipe like the ones Manischewitz used to make when I was a kid — big, light and coated with a crackled sugar glaze. Got one?

  3. Michelle K says:

    Thanks for this! Just curious – have you tried using beets to dye eggs?

    • Michelle Stern says:

      No, but I would assume they would be awesome – they dye everything (hands, clothes, pee!) Great question!

    • Irvin says:

      The onion skins are a great idea! I hadn’t thought about them.

      Beets and hibiscus are both great for red as well. So are the tough stems from red chard. Old coffee grounds make a great brown dye. Frozen blackberries make a great dark purple color and carrot juice (you have to cook it down) works for orange.

      • Michelle Stern says:

        My daughter and I just saw loose hibiscus flowers at our local Mexican Market – a fun use for them!

  4. naomi says:

    What great post! I love this idea. I don’t much care for the all the chemical dyes and as a result I don’t enjoy dyeing eggs, but this post-well, I’m doing this my son. Thanks!

  5. What a fun idea! Now I want to dye some eggs for Easter 🙂

  6. Girl…your vast knowledge astounds me. Love this post.

  7. Tracy says:

    Love this idea! Sounds SO much better than the chemical colorings!

  8. Christy says:

    This is a wonderful post. Thank you
    I have been wondering about natural dyes for a while now. I’m wondering if I could use these for homemade playdough and if they will dye little hands? My daughter (2) doesn’t mind beige dough, but I imagine colored dough would be better.

  9. nicole says:

    Thank you for this Easter egg dying tutorial, I’ll definitely have to try it this year with my family.

  10. This is a wonderful post and I am going to bookmark it. Happy Easter!

  11. TidyMom says:

    Thanks for a wonderful post Michelle

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  13. Judith says:

    This is a bit more work intensive, but the results are worth it. Use yellow and/or red onion skins. To dye one dozen eggs, but 12 squares of cheese cloth about 4″ square. They simply need to be large enough to wrap around the egg and can be a few layers thick.

    place bits and pieces of dry onion skin on a square of cheese cloth, place a RAW egg on the skins, and more skins on top of the egg. Draw the cheese cloth up into a bundle around the egg and secure with a small rubber band (the band for your kids braces, or the little rubber bands found in hair accessories work great).

    When each egg is bundled with it’s onion skins, hard boil them the way you normally would. When eggs are cool enough to handle unwrap the bundles and you will have beautifully marbled eggs. They are so pretty you won’t want to eat them.

    Trust me. Once you try this, you will always include at least a few of these beauties in your Easter basket.

  14. what a wonderful post! very educational… I grew up in Italy: in Europe food dies are outlawd!!! as they should be here in the US too.

  15. Shan says:

    Another way to put patterns on the egg is to glue parsley, basil or other edible leaves to the shell with egg white, then dye them.

  16. Chelsea says:

    We made them! Thank you so much for this great recipe for naturally dyed eggs. I mixed the yellow and blue and it made a pretty sea-green. Also, for some reason the red didn’t work. It just peeled off. Not sure if I did it correctly. But the others were so beautiful, I didn’t care much. And my husband brought up the good point that the colors that did turn out were more “Easter Colors” anyway! 🙂
    Thanks again. This was awesome and will be a tradition in our house every year!
    If you email me, I’ll happily send you the pictures of the final product!

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