Looking for a way to dye Easter eggs without food colouring or a kit? Look no further! There are lots of natural food dyes in your refrigerator and pantry. If you’re someone who likes a project with predictable results and simple directions, this post is not for you.
Are you someone who likes surprises and is willing to experiment? Then carry on my friend!
Recently I went a little bit crazy and was determined to find the best natural Easter egg dyes. Over 2 dozen tries later I bring to you this comprehensive, no-nonsense guide to natural Easter egg dyes. I’ll show you the best ways to get pink, orange, yellow, blue and green eggs using vegetables and spices that you likely already have on hand.
To dye your Easter eggs, you’ll need to choose your food-based dyes from the colour options below. You’ll also need a bowl & spoon for each colour of egg, water & a pot for boiling, vinegar, patience, and a sense of adventure.
Natural egg dyes take a lot longer than ones made from food colouring! The fastest dyes needed a minimum of 10 minutes, but I was usually happiest with their colour after 30 minutes. Average dyes needed 2-6 hours, and less efficient ones needed to sit overnight in the refrigerator. (Don’t worry, I’ll go through every dye in painstaking detail!)
Can you colour eggs while boiling them?
After some trial and error, I found it was the most efficient to boil the eggs and the food to make the dye in the same pot, especially if you’re making a huge batch. It gives a bit of a head start on the colour. I tried adding the vinegar in the boiling step to one batch but didn’t notice much of a difference. Yes, you’ll be boiling three to seven eggs at a time, but you’ll also be saving yourself the step of boiling the dye and then boiling the eggs.
If you’re only dying a small number of eggs, put as little water as possible into the pot so that your dye will be as strong as possible.
Some problems with Naturally dying Easter Eggs
Be very careful when you remove your eggs from the jar. Some of the dyes leave a film over the egg for their colour, and it is very easily scratched off.
You’ll also find in my notes that you need more food to make the dye than you may have bargained for. In my first round of trials, I generally used a cup of the food for ones that needed to be boiled, and 2 tbsp spice to one 1/2 cups water for the spice-based ones.
Here’s a quick video showing my results in real life:
How to Make Pink Natural Egg Dye
1. Juice from Canned Beets
We have a winner! Juice from canned beets gives a beautiful bright pink colour and is one of the quicker dyes. An egg dipped in canned beet juice and 3 tbsp vinegar needs only 10-20 minutes to reach a lovely shade of pink. You can also colour the egg by making your dye from freshly boiled beets, but this method takes a lot longer.
I did my trials with sour cherry jam that I had canned in the summer. I expected my eggs to turn pink, but they actually turned a beautiful shade of blue/purple. I think if you used maraschino cherries you would likely get pink instead. If anyone tries it, please let me know how it turns out! My cherry jam dye took 8 hours to get to the desired colour.
Another beautiful option. This produced more of a purply-pink and took 4 hours. I only used 1 cup of raspberries to make my dye. 2 cups would likely yield quicker results.
4. Red Onion Skins
I’ve seen this make a beautiful deep red on Pinterest, but I ended up with a rich brown. It was one of the quicker dyes, but I didn’t like the colour I ended up with, so I don’t recommend it. However, if brown is your thing, carry on!
Side note: I wonder if the variety of onions makes a difference? Mine may have been too purple?
OPTIONS I DID NOT TRY
Red plums. I couldn’t try these, as they’re definitely not in season around Easter time in Saskatchewan. But I think they’d be a great option, if you have access to them at this time of year!
How to Make Yellow Natural Dye
All the other yellow dyes can just pack up and go home. Turmeric is the clear winner, needing only 8 minutes to dye an egg. The colour is bright and sunny and so much prettier than anything else I tried. Use two heaping tbsps for a pot of water to boil your eggs in.
2. Orange peels
While the orange peels worked, the colour was not vibrant enough to warrant leaving the dye overnight in the fridge.
3. Celery seed
I only had celery salt, so my results may not have been as good. It produced a lovely yellow-green colour after 6 hours.
This ingredient is expensive, but it makes the most beautiful yellow-orange shade very quickly. Sometimes you can purchase saffron cheaply at places like Homegoods, Winners, Marshalls, etc.
5. Green Tea
Makes a lovely light chartreuse colour. You can see my favourite teas for dying eggs in this post.
Options I did not try
Carrot tops. Again, it’s a little harder to find carrots with their greens during this season. Cumin, because turmeric and saffron work so well.
How to Make Blue & Purple Natural Dye
1. Purple Grape Juice
You must use a brand that has only purple grape juice and no other juices. I used one that had a blend of mostly grape with some cranberry and apple. It turned out dark brown. If you do use this dye, boil your eggs directly in the juice. Don’t add water unless your juice is actually pure grape juice with no water previously added.
2. Red Cabbage Leaves
This gives the most beautiful blue colour ever and is one of the quicker dyes. Some pins on Pinterest show a gorgeous turquoise colour. Maybe a different variety of red cabbage than was available in my grocery store?
3. Blueberries & Blueberry Tea
Blueberries are incredibly expensive this time of year, so I used frozen Saskatoon berries. It worked well and gave a lovely blue/purple colour. Use two cups of berries for best results.
Blueberry tea is the best for getting the lovely navy shade, like the one in the picture below. See how I did it in this post.
You’ll love these easy Easter projects too! Edible Easter Baskets and a gorgeous Mini Egg Cake.
Lovely blue/purple colour and only 2-4 hours to dye. 1 cup of berries is sufficient.
5. Chokecherry Juice/Syrup
This was one of the faster dyes and left a really lovely blue/purple colour. I used chokecherry syrup that I had canned in the summer. I don’t think you’ll be able to find this ingredient in the grocery store, although I know there is a vendor at the Saskatoon Farmer’s Market who has chokecherry jam for sale. Don’t add water to your juice or syrup for best results.
6. Hibiscus Tea
A truly gorgeous option for blue. Get the directions here.
Options I did not try
Mulberries. We don’t have them in Saskatoon. I also think Haskaps would work beautifully if you have any stored away. Red Zinger tea. Red wine (who wants to waste wine on eggs?!).
How to Make Orange Natural Dye
1. Yellow Onion Skin
Beautiful colour and quick results. I used the skin from one onion and 1 1/2 cups of water. If you’re boiling your eggs with the onion skins, use two onions.
2. Chilli powder
This worked well. It took about 4 hours for my desired colour. My chill powder egg ended up a bit on the brown side.
Same as chilli powder. It worked well and took around 4 hours.
4. Carrot Peels
I expected this to work a lot better than it did. Don’t waste your time.
5. Tomato Sauce
This was an epic fail. Sure, there was some orange dye, but it was not consistent. I think pure tomato paste would work much better.
How to Make Green Natural Dye
Of all the colours, green natural dye is the hardest to get right. My favourite result is to mix turmeric and red cabbage leaf dyes, but using matcha tea is a close second. I don’t really like the colour that spinach results in, but if you like more earthy tones, it will probably be your favourite option.
Spinach works really well, needing only 2 hours to the desired colour. However, I was looking for a much brighter green, so I’m not a huge fan.
Kale gives off more of a yellow-green, but it takes overnight to get to my desired colour. I tried it a second time using more kale and it still took too long for my liking.
3. Matcha Tea
On the yellow side, but I really like the chartreuse colour it produces. Check out my results in this post.
4. Zucchini Skins
In my research on natural egg dyes, there seemed to be only two options: spinach or grass. There is no green grass at Easter in Saskatoon, so kale and zucchini skins were my experiments to try and get a better green. In the end, I was happiest combining my turmeric and red cabbage dyes.
Options I didn’t try
Grass, but I’ll be trying it as soon as I can!
How to Make Brown Natural Dye
Since brown eggs can be easily purchased, I’m not a huge fan of dying eggs brown. But to each their own, and if you want to try it, here’s what to use.
Just use coffee. You likely already have it on hand and it makes a lovely brown within an hour or two. If you make your coffee twice the normal strength you could make that time faster.
Side note: you can also use black tea. I wasn’t as eager to dye eggs brown because you can easily buy brown ones at the store.
Dyes that weren’t supposed to be brown but ended up brown
Grape juice (mixed juices), red onion skins, chilli powder, and paprika. Again, I think this could vary wildly depending on what variety of each product you use. If someone knows which variety works best, please leave it in the comments!
STEP-BY-STEP NATURAL DYING INSTRUCTIONS
With traditional dye, it’s easy to dye eggs one by one and be done with the whole project in under an hour. Not so with natural dyes. I suggest boiling the number of eggs you want a certain colour in the same pot as those ingredients (if you have a lot of eggs you want to dye) or using the least amount of water possible (if you only want to dye a few). Here are the step-by-step instructions for dying three blue eggs, as an example:
- Boil the three eggs in a pot with at least 2 cups of shredded cabbage and just enough water to cover the eggs.
- Once the water comes to a boil, let them cook for 12 minutes.
- Remove the eggs from the pot and place them in a bowl. Pour some of the liquid from the pot into the bowl. (Enough to cover the eggs).
- Add 2-3 tbsp of vinegar and let sit for 10-30 minutes, or until your desired colour is achieved.
- For really dark or vibrant colours, put the bowl of eggs in the fridge and check every couple of hours, or leave overnight.
As a general rule, if you’re using food as a natural dye, use two cups or more of that food. If you’re using a spice, use 2 tablespoons. If you’re using juice, use straight juice, and only add water if there is no water already added to the ingredients.
BONUS: You can make your eggs shiny by rubbing a small amount of oil over them.
Check out this page for reader results and photos! Send me your pictures to be featured here.