Thursday, April 2, 2009

Natural Dye for Eggs

One of our favorite Easter traditions is dying eggs. The last few years we have skipped the purchased dye kits, and experimented with making our own dye from items already in our kitchen, like beets, carrots, and onions. 

Natural dyes create softer, more muted tones for your Easter eggs. There are many natural items that you can use to create your own egg dye. Look around the kitchen for items that have strong colors. They will probably make a good dye. 

Here are some ideas to get you started: 
Blue: red cabbage leaves, blueberries
Purple: grape juice, violets
Brown: coffee, tea
Green: spinach
Orange: carrots, paprika, chili powder
Red: cranberries, yellow onion skins, cherries, raspberries, beets
Yellow: turmeric, lemon rinds, cumin, saffron

To make the dye take a good amount of the material you are using, add a couple of teaspoons of vinegar and cover with water. Bring to a boil. The more material you start with and the longer you boil it, the stronger the color. Just remember you want the dye to be several shades darker than the egg color you are hoping for. 

Eggs can be colored by boiling the eggs and dyes separately. This is how I usually dye the eggs.  Strain the dye. Then add the boiled eggs to the hot liquid and allow to soak until the desired color. If you want deeper colors, plan for an over night soak. Put the eggs in the refrigerator if you plan to soak for more than a few hours. This will keep them safe for eating later. If you do not want to eat the dyed eggs, it is not necessary to refrigerate. 

Another option is to make and strain the dye, and then to cook the eggs by boiling them in the dye. Or you can make the eggs and the dye at the same time by boiling the eggs and the dying material together.  For either of these options, the color can be made deeper by keeping the eggs in the dye longer if the color is not quite right by the end of the egg cooking time. Again, you will want to refrigerate if a longer soak is desired. 

The eggs in the photo above were made by boiling the eggs and dye separately. They were soaked overnight in the refrigerator. What made those beautiful colors? The eggs on the top left were dyed in the coffee left over from my morning pot. The three on the right in the top row were dyed in a very weak carrot dye made from the peels and ends of carrots I used for dinner. The three orange/red ones in the middle row were dyed in dye made from the skins of yellow onions (also scraps from our dinner.) The pink eggs soaked in pickled beet juice.  And the beautiful blue and brown speckled eggs on the bottom were created using a secret only known to my hens. Those truly are naturally dyed eggs. 

Creating your own dyes for Easter eggs can be fun and educational. Experiment with different items you have on hand to create a wide range of beautiful colors. You may find some surprises when items you expected to be one color actually create a dye of another color. Enjoy the process. 


  1. Thank you for this. My mother used to dye her eggs with onion skins and I always loved them!

  2. Wow, those came out really nice. I've linked. :)

  3. Thank you for sharing this! My daughter and I are into organic and natural ways of living. We will be trying these natural egg dyes for Easter. May God Bless you!

  4. I dyed eggs using paprick and turmeric. I added the spices to the egg water and hard boiled and dyed the eggs at the same time. What a time saver!


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