Learning how to naturally dye Easter Eggs is as simple as opening your refrigerator! So skip the food coloring and the hard little dye pills, and use these all-natural, non-toxic dyes made from food instead.
Since Mr. Paas invented Easter egg dye tablets in the 1890s, generations of parents have appreciated their convenience and brilliant colors. Of course, back then people used lead in cosmetics, brushed their teeth with toothpaste containing radium, and sent young children to work in factories and mines.
We’ve learned a lot since then, including the potential dangers of artificial food dyes, many of which have been banned in Europe due to concerns about their ties to chromosomal damage and cancer, along with hyperactivity in children.
For those who prefer to err on the side of caution when it comes to feeding their kids, knowing how to naturally dye Easter eggs takes the worry out of a glorious, joyous day. Bonus: it’s very easy, too!
How To Naturally Dye Easter Eggs
You will need:
Egg cartons (or an overturned cardboard box with X’s cut into its bottom) for drying
Ingredients for your preferred shades (below)
Glass jars or ceramic bowls to soak the eggs overnight
1. Boil the eggs as you would ordinarily, transferring them to an ice bath when done. Or follow my recipe to make hard “boiled” eggs in your oven, a method that helps you make several dozen at once.
2. Dry the eggs well.
3. Pick one or more colors from the chart below and mix the ingredients in separate jars or bowls. Add the eggs, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
4. Once you’re satisfied with the color, use tongs or a slotted spoon to lift the eggs out of the dye. Place the eggs where they can air dry. (I use baking racks set over wax paper for this.) You can now reuse the dye to make more eggs, or discard it.
Natural Easter Egg Dye Ingredients
Keep in mind that using natural dyes for Easter eggs takes longer than using the artificial dye tablets. Also, the longer you leave the eggs in the dye the deeper and more brilliant their color will be. To get jewel-toned eggs I make the dyes and immerse the eggs two days in advance.
Lavender: 2 cups purple grape juice and 1 tsp. vinegar.
Violet: Boil the skins from 4 purple onions in 2 cups water. Strain and let fully cool before adding eggs.
Medium blue: Cut 1/2 red cabbage into chunks. Boil in 2 cups water and stir in 2 tsp. vinegar. Let cool and strain liquid before adding eggs.
Light blue: Mix a 10-oz. box of frozen blueberries with 2 cups warm water. Let berries steep in water for 1 hour then strain and add eggs.
Light green: Boil a 10-oz box of frozen spinach in 2 cups water for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tsp. vinegar. Let cool to room temperature, strain and add eggs.
Yellow-green: Boil the peels from 6-8 green apples in 2 cups water for 15 minutes. Let cool, stir in 2 tsp. white vinegar, and strain.
Brown: Steep 1/2 cup of coffee grounds in 2 cups cold water for 1 hour. Strain.
Orange: Chop 6 carrots into coins and boil in 2 cups water for 10 minutes. Stir in 1 tsp. vinegar. Strain.
Light orange-red: Stir 4 tbsp. paprika into 2 cups boiling water. Stir in 2 tsp. vinegar. Let cool to room temperature then strain and add adding eggs.
Pink: Use the juice from 2 cans of beets, or boil 2 thinly sliced beets in 2 cup water for 10 minutes. Strain and allow it to reach room temperature before adding eggs.
Pinkish-red: Combine 2 cups cranberry or cherry juice and 1 tsp. vinegar. Add eggs.
Golden Yellow: Steep 3 teaspoons of turmeric and 1 teaspoon of dry ground mustard in 2 cups of hot water. Allow this to reach room temperature then strain. Add eggs.
Tips and Advice
• For lighter colors, remove the eggs from the dye after 6 hours.
• You can get some interesting patterns by not straining ingredients before adding the eggs.
• Another easy way to add designs is by using a warmed Crayon to draw patterns on the eggs before dying. Once they’re dyed and dry, use the edge of a spoon or credit card to scrape away the Crayon.
• To add a beautiful shine to the eggs after dying, dip a soft cloth into a small amount of cooking oil and lightly buff the eggs.
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Note: This post originally appeared April 6, 2012. It has been revised and updated for republication.