naturally dyed easter eggs

How to Naturally Dye Easter Eggs

With Easter comes Easter eggs - bright and colorful gems tucked away in the garden for children to find. Hand-dying eggs is a great way to teach your children about the color wheel and give them a dip into the world of science. You're probably familiar with eggs dyed with colorants from a box, but did you know that you can naturally dye Easter eggs with fruit and vegetables from your kitchen? You may not have children - or they may be grown - but that is no excuse not to have fun and enjoy this project! Make a mess, play artist, and relax while doing something constructive. This might just become your family's new Easter tradition.

Have fun and experiment!

Easter eggs are traditionally colored with dyes from a box kit - and while they might be pretty, there's something magical about creating your dye from scratch. Children will especially love to see how you can take scraps from the kitchen and turn it into something beautiful - to them, it is magic! When you create these dyes, you'll need to set aside several hours from start to finish, but it is worth the effort.

Naturally dyed easter eggs in shades of yellow, blue, teal, and orange
Dyes made from cabbage, blueberries, onion skins, berries, and turmeric yield beautiful eggs in shades of blue, purple, orange, and yellow.

Since the dyes we created are plant-based, the colors will vary from batch to batch and egg to egg. Let your eggs soak for a few hours; you'll achieve richer colors. A shorter soak in the dye will mean a lighter, more mottled color. This variation makes the eggs all the more beautiful. You'll need to gather your ingredients for this project, and we encourage as much creativity as you can muster. Also, just like in art class in elementary school, if you mix ingredients, you'll be mixing colors to get different results. For example, mix purples, blues, and yellows If you want grey. When you naturally dye Easter eggs, you'll never get the same result twice - each egg will be unique and beautiful!

Easter egg designs close-up

How To Make Natural Easter Eggs

First, you'll need to do some food shopping in the produce aisle, pick up some of these ingredients:

  • Purple cabbage
  • Red beets
  • Turmeric
  • Red Zinger Tea, or any fruit teas that offset color
  • Red and yellow/brown onion peels
  • Strong Coffee (instead of water)
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries

First: Egg Preparation

Hard boil both white and brown eggs and allow them to cool.

raspberries cooking

Second: Prepare the natural dye.

In a large saucepan, bring to a boil four cups of water, four cups of plant material, and two tablespoons of vinegar. For measurements as a rule of thumb, you will need one cup of ingredients, one cup of water to 1/2 tablespoon of vinegar. Allow simmering for about 30 minutes or longer for a more rich color. When the dye is a few shades darker than desired, remove from heat and allow to cool.

dye for easter eggs
Dyes are made with onion skins, red beets, purple cabbage, and blueberries from front to back.

Third: Strain

One cup of dye per 3-4 eggs. For stabilizing dye, you have two options: either add baking soda or vinegar to the plant liquid. Using a sieve, strain and remove all food/plant matter from the liquid. Vinegar lightens the color. Baking soda darkens the color.

finished raspberry dye

Fourth: Dye Eggs

Pour the dyes into clean jars and place your eggs inside each desired dye. We used large Mason jars and fit several eggs into each jar. The eggs should soak anywhere from thirty minutes to one hour for lighter colors. The longer the eggs sit, the deeper the color. For vibrant colors, place the jars into your refrigerator, and allow them to sit overnight. When enough time has passed, remove the eggs from the jars, discard the liquid, and allow the eggs to dry on a wire cookie rack or in their carton.

rubber banded egge dipping in dye
The skins from yellow onions provide a dye that ranges from light yellow to deep salmon, depending on how long the eggs are left to soak.

Fifth: Experiment

It's fun to experiment with colors! Dribble colors onto your eggs with a dropper for a tie-dyed effect, or spatter with dye from a paintbrush. A double-dip from yellow into blue will make shades of teal and green or dipping from yellow to red for salmon and coral tones.

You can naturally dye Easter eggs with many plant-based ingredients! You can use anything in your pantry that creates color. Take a look at your tea collection to add exciting color to the eggs. You may have to soak, dry, and soak again in other colors to achieve your desired effect.

Try decorating the eggs with beeswax in a polka dot pattern or stripe or whatever you fancy to add patterns to your eggs. Try wrapping pieces of twine or rubber bands around them before soaking. Finish your eggs by polishing them with a little bit of vegetable oil on a soft cloth - this gives them a beautiful luster and intensifies the colors.

Adding to carton to dry

Beautiful, unique eggs for Easter

Dyeing eggs with plants allows for much more creativity and freedom than a standard egg dyeing kit. However, these colors are much more variable, so no two eggs will look the same! The colors will adhere differently depending on the surface texture and cracks in the eggshells. Some eggs may have dark blotches; others may have light streaks and natural patterns. When you're dyeing Easter eggs naturally, the unknown is the fun part!

We used rubber bands, string, and beeswax on our eggs to create patterns and negative space. You can also spray your eggs with isopropyl alcohol (for a mottled effect) or finish with metallic pigments and foils for some sparkle. You might find that the eggs change colors as they dry down - this is entirely normal. It was very egg-citing (see what we did there?) to watch the color changes as time progressed.

Colors from natural dyes are (typically) as follows:

Blues and Purples

  • red cabbage
  • red onion skins
  • blueberries/blackberries

Yellows and Oranges

  • yellow onion skins
  • turmeric

Greens and Grays

  • double-dipping from yellow to blue
  • blackberries

Pinks and Reds

  • red onion skins
  • beets
  • raspberries

Please Note: These eggs aren't for eating!

Since these eggs soak for a considerable amount of time, we don't recommend using them to eat - not only could food safety be an issue, but they may taste unpleasant due to soaking in a robust and concentrated liquid.