Feel good Easter eggs: Make your own natural egg dye

natural egg dye Easter Eggs with one pysanky egg

How many times have you peeled an Easter egg to find it all mottled bright pink and green inside?  Kinda nasty. Dying Easter eggs is a lot of fun but eggs filled with chemical dyes—not so much. Natural egg dye stays where it’s supposed to stay.

The grocery store dye that’s supposed to stay on the outside doesn’t. Some people have serious food dye allergies or sensitivities. It’s not fun to think about eating that stuff or feeding it to kids.

If you don’t normally eat dye, why would you do it at Easter?

Natural egg dye is a safe and simple alternative. After all, what did people use before the world was full of synthetics?

Dyed eggs have been part of spring religious traditions for eons. Red dyed eggs have been important for thousands of years, purple eggs denote royalty, and gold symbolizes wealth. Ukrainian and other Slavic people make intricate folk designs with wax batik or etching as part of an annual spiritual and cultural ritual.

It seems only fitting to use natural dyes for a spring-time ritual that celebrates renewed life.

There are natural dye kits on the market. I tried one but it was disappointing. All the eggs turned gray. Maybe there was a slight tint of pink-gray or blue-gray but it wasn’t anything to get excited about.

Luckily, making your own natural DIY dye from everyday ingredients is easy and gives a clear, bright, vibrant color. Making the dye ends up being part of the fun. It feels good to use natural materials to get such a beautiful result.

Use a bit of strongly colored vegetables or fruits or a little strongly-colored spice. Beets, onion skins, purple cabbage, turmeric, blueberries, matcha tea, and coffee all work well. You can use the whole vegetable or you can use scrap peels and trimmings to limit food waste. You’ll actually want to eat these eggs too.

To eat the eggs, hard boil them ahead of time. Remember that if you are at altitude like me you’ll need to boil them longer than at sea level.

Natural Egg Dye Color Guide: What dye makes what color?

Sometimes the results are surprising. Try different combinations of dyes, egg colors and times to get your own creative results.


Egg colorDye MaterialOriginal egg colorTime in dye bath
Pale pastel pink
Red beetsWhite5 minutes
Medium hot pinkRed beetsWhite30 minutes
Deep maroonRed beetsWhiteHours
Bright deep purpleRed beetsGreen30 minutes
SalmonRed beetsBrown30 minutes
Pale sky bluePurple cabbageWhite5 minutes
Purplish bluePurple cabbageWhiteHours
Blue grayPurple cabbageGreen30 minutes
Pastel yellowTurmericWhite5 minutes
Orange yellow TurmericWhite30 minutes
Blue greenTurmeric then cabbageWhiteCabbage 20 minutes
Turmeric 20 minutes
Pastel orangeYellow onion skinWhite5 minutes
Deep orangeYellow onion skinWhite30 minutes
Chartreuse yellow greenMatcha teaWhite30 minutes
Light tan brownCoffeeWhite30 minutes
Dark purplish blueBlueberriesWhite30 minutes

Show it to me! Natural egg dye results

Wondering how the natural dyes actually look? Here are each of the eggs described in the natural dye color guide.

Beet natural pink and red dyed eggs
Beet dye results: (from top left) 5 minutes, 30 minutes, brown egg, overnight, green egg
Turmeric, onion skin and matcha natural dyed eggs
From top: coffee, matcha, onion skin 5 minutes, onion skin 30 minutes, turmeric
blue and green dyed eggs: red cabbage, blueberries, turmeric
From top: turmeric and red cabbage, blueberry, red cabbage, coffee and cabbage, green egg with cabbage
Natural egg dye for Easter
Print

Natural Easter Egg Dye Recipe

Make your own easy natural egg dye with vegetables, fruit and spices you have around the house. Ditch the chemical dye for Easter eggs you can feel good about.
Keyword Easter recipe, Easy DIY, How-to, Natural egg dye, Spring recipe
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 1 cup each dye
Cost $6

Equipment

  • Small saucepans at least 3 cups capacity
  • Food processor or knife and cutting board
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Bowls
  • Large spoon
  • Small mason jars or teacups to hold the dye
  • Drying rack (optional)
  • Materials to decorate eggs such as rubber bands, stickers, crayons (optional)
  • Cheesecloth for straining (optional)
  • Large whisk (optional)
  • One-hole egg blower (optional)
  • Kitska, beeswax and candle for pysanky (advanced optional)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup red cabbage
  • 1 cup red beet
  • 1 cup yellow onion skins
  • 1 cup blueberries fresh or frozen
  • 3 tablespoons turmeric powdered spice
  • 2 tablespoons matcha tea powder
  • 1 cup black coffee 2x or 3x strength, instant or brewed
  • 6 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 dozen eggs white, brown or green

Optional ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil for shine

Instructions

Red cabbage dye

  • Chop the cabbage leaves
  • Measure one cup cabbage and one cup water into the saucepan
  • Simmer for 20 minutes
  • Strain through the fine mesh strainer and let cool
  • For clearer color, strain through the optional cheese cloth
  • Add one tablespoon white vinegar
  • Pour into a small mason jar

Red beet dye

  • Chop the beet peels and trimmings
  • Measure one cup beets and one cup water into the saucepan
  • Simmer for 20 minutes
  • Strain through the fine mesh strainer and let cool
  • For clearer color, strain through the optional cheesecloth
  • Add one tablespoon white vinegar
  • Pour into a small mason jar

Yellow onion skin dye

  • Roughly chop or tear the onion skins
  • Measure one cup onion skins and one cup water into a saucepan
  • Simmer for 20 minutes
  • Strain through a fine mesh strainer and let cool
  • For clearer color, strain through the optional cheesecloth
  • Add one tablespoon white vinegar
  • Pour into a small mason jar

Blueberry dye

  • Measure one cup blueberries and one cup water into a saucepan
  • Simmer for 20 minutes
  • Strain through a fine mesh strainer and let cool
  • For clearer color, strain through the optional cheesecloth
  • Add one tablespoon white vinegar
  • Pour into a small mason jar

Turmeric spice dye

  • Measure three tablespoons ground turmeric and one cup water into a saucepan
  • Stir well to break up lumps
  • Simmer for 20 minutes
  • Strain through a fine mesh strainer and let cool
  • For clearer color, strain through the optional cheesecloth
  • Add one tablespoon vinegar
  • Pour into a small mason jar

Matcha tea dye

  • Measure two tablespoons matcha tea powder and one cup hot water into a bowl
  • Stir until the match is distributed and free of lumps
  • Strain through the fine mesh strainer
  • For clearer color, strain through the cheesecloth
  • Add one tablespoon vinegar
  • Pour into a small mason jar

Coffee dye

  • Brew or mix a strong cup of coffee and let cool
  • Add one tablespoon white vinegar
  • Pour into a small mason jar

Decorate and dye the eggs

  • Use rubber bands, stickers, and white wax crayons to make areas that remain dye free
  • Use colored crayons to draw designs
  • Gently use the large spoon to place an egg in the dye
  • Use the color guide table for dye times for different color intensities
  • Remove the egg. Pat but do not rub dry to reduce mottling.
  • Let dry completely on a drying rack or holder. The color must dry completely to withstand handling.
    Dry the egg completely on a drying rack or egg holder
  • For more intense color, dip and dye multiple times, or try different color combinations.
  • Optional: To reduce mottling from sediment, use the large whisk to elevate the egg in the dye. Open the wire loops to place an egg inside the whisk, then put the whisk/egg assembly in the dye. Make sure it won't tip over.
  • Optional: Wipe the dry eggs with a thin coat of vegetable or olive oil to bring out the color and shine.

Pysanky eggs natural dye experiment

I like to make pysanky eggs in the spring, so I used a kistka and beeswax to quickly make the decorated deer egg.  I learned that the turmeric yellow comes off with the wax but onion skin orange and beet red stay beautifully.

If you’re interested in pysanky, this video from Bilash Science has a really nice beginners tutorial, including the significance of pysanky in Ukrainian culture.

Tips for fantastic results

Use a large egg whisk to suspend the egg above sediment in the dyes
Artemis the kitty about to get in trouble.
  • To avoid food waste, use beet peels and trimmings and reserve the beets for eating.
  • You may use the tough outer leaves or blemished portions of the red cabbage to avoid food waste. Reserve the rest of the cabbage for food.
  • People who tried canned beets instead of fresh report disappointing results.
  • Turmeric tea mix also works.
  • Experiment with any strongly colored food, drink or spice, or try different color combinations. If you get a good green, let me know please!
  • Use the large whisk to keep the egg above the sediment that causes mottling. Open the wire loops to gently put the egg inside, then put the whole assembly in the mason jar. Be sure it won’t tip over.
  • If you will keep the shells for decoration, use a one-hold blower to blow the raw egg out after dying. Blown out shells are harder to dye because they float.
  • For decorations and pysanky, you can follow tradition and let the egg dry out inside instead of blowing it out. That’s easier but the egg might actually explode as the drying egg produces gases inside the shell. Eggs from backyard chickens often have thicker shells.
  • Compost the vegetable material after making the dye.

Move over Red #40—You can’t beat these natural eggs

There’s something really satisfying about making your own natural egg dye and knowing that the eggs are beautiful and safe. It just feels better to get beet juice on your hands instead of synthetic chemicals.

Now that I know how easy it is to make your own natural egg dye, I’ll never go back to synthetic coloring tablets again.

Enjoy the creativity of this process, and enjoy knowing that you and your family are using and eating only safe and natural materials. The whole dye making process is part of the fun.

Have you tried making natural egg dye? Do you have a tip or a natural dye idea that isn’t included here? Let me know and I’ll link to it or include it in an update.

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