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My hope is to inspire you to be fearless in the kitchen, to try new things, to take the time to make things the homemade way and most importantly, to have fun doing it!

Natural Easter Egg Dyes

When I was growing up, my favorite thing about Easter (other than the Cadbury eggs) was dying Easter eggs with my family.  Every year, like so many other families, we used those fizzy tablets to make intensely bright eggs.  Last year I dyed some eggs for Andrew but he wasn’t super into it.  This year though, as soon as I mentioned it, he was all ears.  And then I started thinking about what exactly might be in those fizzy tablets and whether I might be able to just find a way to dye eggs with things we already had around the house.  It just so happened that I had unintentionally received some beets in our produce bin that week and since I haven’t yet come around to beets, I thought they might be good for dying eggs.  A bit of internet research showed me that yes, I could use the beets for dying eggs and in fact, I already had nearly everything to make a variety of colors.  I wasn’t very optimistic that it would work out but I thought it would at the very least be a fun experiment for us.

As it turned out, most of our experiments were successful.  The colors aren’t quite as vivid or intense as those from the fizzy tablets, but I am more than okay with that.  It was a lot of fun and a good learning opportunity for Andrew to discuss what we thought might happen with each of the different fruits and veggies we used.

The spinach was a last minute whim for me because I had a sneaking suspicion that the red onion peels would not actually yield a green color, and that turned out to be correct.  As you can see above, the green from the spinach was very pale but I think if I had simmered it for a while it would have been better.  I think broccoli also probably would have worked after simmering.  I’ve listed the versions of dye recipes that we used below, along with notes of what I might change next time.  Don’t limit yourself to these options though.  Explore your fridge and pantry for other potential sources of natural food coloring.  Here’s another resource I ran across after we had already finished our eggs.  I’d love to hear what other coloring options have worked for you!

Natural Easter Egg Dyes
Method

Blue gray:
Combine 1 cup frozen blueberries with 1 cup water.  Let come to room temperature.  Remove berries.  Stir in 1 tablespoon vinegar.

Blue:
Combine about 2 cups of red cabbage cut into chunks with 2 cups boiling water.  Stir in 1 tablespoon vinegar.  Let cool to room temperature.  Remove cabbage.

Light green-yellow:
Combine 3 cups baby spinach leaves with 2 cups water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let cook for 5-10 minutes.  Strain out the spinach.  Stir in 1 tablespoon vinegar. 

Yellow:
Combine 4 ounces of peeled, chopped carrot tops with 1½ cups water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let cook for 15 minutes.  Remove the carrots. Add 2 teaspoons white vinegar.  Let cool to room temperature.

Pink:
Cut 1 small beet into chunks and add to 3 cups boiling water. Stir in 1½ tablespoon vinegar and let cool to room temperature; remove beets.

Lavender:
Combine 1 cup grape juice and 1 tablespoon vinegar.

Source

  • Paula

    one of the simplest purple dyes in the world are dark blue iris left in boiling hot water until right color – put in white-shelled eggs till color you want and voilà!

  • http://tideandthyme.com/ Laura

    Beautiful! I’ve used paprika to achieve a bold pink before, and turmeric for a yellow. Hope you guys have a Happy Easter!

  • Maya

    You coud also juse ognionpeel. When you put different herbs on your egg (stick it with egwhite and put an old pantyhose around it and fix it with yarn. You will have lovely eggs. Sorry, my english is not really good.
    Maya

  • annieseats

    I actually did use onion peel, but it just made brown eggs and I can buy those at the store :)

  • Pdohaney

    I would be tempted to try water used for cooking peeled beets. Reduce the liquid and increase the concentration.

  • pat1645

    I think the color of your eggs is so much prettier than the boldly colored usual ones. What a nice time you had teaching about natural colors with Andrew.

  • http://www.themollybuckley.com/ molly stillman

    what a cool idea! never knew you could do that!

  • http://movitabeaucoup.com/ movita beaucoup

    These are perfectly lovely! Sigh… dreaming of the weekend to come!

  • jabmorris

    Does the flavor of the item you use for the dye leave a taste on the egg inside?

  • Gen

    I’ve heard of using tumeric for yellow. And I love wrapping eggs in onion skins and securing with rubber bands. Boil them in water with vinegar and salt. After you unwrap them, they end up looking like the planet Jupiter. Beautiful! These were from a Martha magazine article over ten years ago.

  • Lyndsay

    Do you think I could make these a day in advance so they would be ready to go when we all get home from work/daycare? Thanks so much!!

  • Amanda

    We always just used one or two drops of food coloring and vinegar. Leave the egg in as long as you want to achieve the deep color. We would draw all over the egg with crayons while Mom made the dye, and then we’d drop em in. =) Not quite as homemade, but no fizzy tablets and no $ spent!

  • Beth

    Annie,
    Can you use food coloring like wiltons to dye eggs?

  • jenni

    This isn’t “natural” but I like to use Kool-aid to dye eggs.

  • http://paperwhitesblog.blogspot.com/ Alison

    Thank you! The answer to my easter egg dye questions. One more: the dyes hold up for a few days, yes? As in: if I get the dyes made and then don’t get to coloring for a few days, will they color just as well?

  • Kirsten Thiel

    I just made beets last week that were of the yellow variety hoping they’d be less likely to dye my toddler’s clothes. Turns out that they crank out just as much yellow pigment as traditional purple beets do. My point? I bet the golden beets would work great for a yellow color.

  • annieseats

    Good to know!

  • annieseats

    I don’t know the answer to that, you’d have to experiment. For some reason my instincts say that wouldn’t work, but I’m not sure.

  • annieseats

    I don’t know, I haven’t tried it.

  • annieseats

    I’m not sure, I haven’t tried making them in advance. You’d have to experiment. Good luck!

  • annieseats

    No, as long as the shell is intact.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cyndi.kerbergowan Cyndi Kerber Gowan

    So much fun! I am wondering if you or your readers have any thoughts on how to adapt natural dyes to use on brown eggs (we have 3 backyard chickens who lay brown eggs – I mentioned to them that it would be easier to dye white ones, but they are refusing to lay white ones…not even for Easter :)). I may just have to experiment!

  • annieseats

    I actually did a bit of research on that but unfortunately it doesn’t seem like they dye well, both because of the already brown shell and the fact that they are less permeable to the dyes. We bought white just for this project.

  • http://twitter.com/alisonlewis Alison Lewis

    so pretty and great idea

  • http://susiehomemakermd.com/ Susie Homemaker, MD

    I don’t have little ones in my house and therefore no need to dye eggs, but I do have a sweet little duck in my backyard who lays the prettiest pale green eggs like she thinks every day is Easter :)

  • Omeghan

    when I was tying flies, I used onion skins, t o create a wonderful yellow pigment.
    collect skins and bring to a boil then simmer ….. test on stale bread til hue is achieved.

    Use a wax to block out areas and use two colours to make a dual coloured egg.
    There is a wax resist that peels off ( availablr @ Art Supply stores)

  • Maria

    Annie, I just recently ate beets for the first time, and I’m 46 years old! I tried it in a smoothie mixed with fruit and it was outrageously yummy. It’s posted on my block under Beet Berry Smoothie, and I obtained the recipe from the NYTimes. I thought since you ventured into green smoothies awhile back that you might like beets in smoothies, too.

  • Maria

    Hi Annie, this takes me back to my Greek Cypriot Easters – we always dyed our own eggs! You can wrap leaves and things on before dying to get patterns. For brighter colours you could try some of the more trad things, so for deep traditional red use onion skins.

  • kate

    To clarify the onion peel tactic – if instead of soaking the peels in a water vinegar solution I have instead wrapped uncooked eggs in the peels, bound them with either rubber bands around cheesecloth/pantyhose and then boiled them that way. the result is a lovely pearlized brown that is much more interesting than a regular brown egg. after cooking you can rub the eggs with a light coat of veg oil which gives the egg a nice sheen for presentation.

  • http://jensfavoritecookies.com/ Jen @ Jen’s Favorite Cookies

    What a great post! I actually prefer the lighter colors to the bright ones in the packages. I don’t love dying eggs… I’m actually thinking of doing something else this year, something that does not involve dye at all.

  • annieseats

    I’ve had beets before, far too often, when I was a kid. Overexposure sort of scarred me. I’m thinking about trying them again eventually, but it might still be a while :)

  • annieseats

    Aww, so cute!

  • http://beachbakeaholic.blogspot.com/ Bakeaholic

    These look like the pretty eggs my sister-in-law’s chickens hatch. Very natural looking.

  • Heather

    Hi Annie, this comment is unrelated to the eggs but I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your blog and its features. I plan my meals out by the month and your recipes always make several appearances.

  • http://paperwhitesblog.blogspot.com/ Alison

    Thanks for responding! If I make and then wait, I’ll report back.

  • Christina

    These are cute! I found a site with various “color” recipes. Question: did you do anything with the fruit/veg you used to make the colors?

  • Katealoni

    On a European site talking about natural dies they stated you can “bleach” out brown eggs using vinegar. This is what they said to do:

    Hard boiled eggs (preferably white eggs because they take on the dyes better than brown eggs). If you have only brown eggs you can bleach yourself. Cook the eggs in water to which you’ve added 2-3 tablespoons of white vinegar. Once cooked, remoe from heat and allow to stnad for 15 more minutes. Wash the eggs under running water, gently brushing them with a sponge to remove any remaining color.

    I don’t know if it’ll actually work but you could try it on a few to see.

  • annieseats

    No, I discarded them.

  • annieseats

    Heather, I am very glad to hear that. Thanks so much for reading!

  • emmycooks

    Great tips! I bought dried powdered beets (crazy!) when I saw them at my spice store. I’m going to try that for pink eggs and your purple cabbage suggestion for blue!

  • Sandy

    Last year we used strips of colored tissue paper and they were gorgeous. Some of the papers were multi-colored or patterned and we also combined different shades on one egg. Little paint brushes, warm water, and a little creativity go a long way with this process. With certain patterns like the leopard print we just left the paper on while with most we removed the tissue once it dried. Think I’ll try that again. Thanks for reminding me and thanks for your wonderful shares.

  • Jtatiana21

    I remember my mother dyed eggs, when I was kid in onion skins. They turned red. She would boiled eggs in water with onion skins, I think she used just regular yellow onion, not even red one. I will have to ask her about it, it’s been a long time.

  • http://atthepatisserie.wordpress.com/ Ann P.

    This is so resourceful, and the eggs turned out beautifully! I love the light wash of color. it’s very subtle and pretty :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/meredith.anand Meredith Garey Anand

    They look beautiful on brown eggs!