Recipe: Naturally dyed Easter eggs

by | Apr 13, 2017

Decorating and hunting for eggs has long been a part of Easter traditions. Many families, like mine, mostly would pick up plastic eggs at the store and fill with candy, stickers or quarters. This year, I tried the old-fashioned approach with boiled eggs and natural dyes. This is the first time any of our Tar Heel Kitchen crew had tried naturally dyed eggs – and we had mixed results.

Pros included it was fun, and kids would get really engaged in the process. It’s like a cool science project. These eggs may be kid-friendly for those with allergies to artificial food dyes. The finished product would make a great table display and then can be used for hiding and hunting. Cons were some of the dyes are a little smelly, and the colors are a lot more vibrant if left sitting in the dye over night, which might be challenging for kids (and adults) who like quicker results.

This time of year eggs are usually on sale at the grocery store and typically, eggs bought in North Carolina are produced here, too. The egg industry ranks seventh in North Carolina commodity receipts. We produce 7.5 million eggs each day, or roughly enough to feed every resident of our state. For more egg facts and recipes, visit the N.C. Egg Association website.

Before you start dyeing your eggs, you’ll have to boil them. Check out this link for easy directions on making perfect hard-boiled egg. I would recommend boiling a few extra to account for eggs that may crack while boiling. These eggs be for a snack or breakfast.

Naturally dyed Easter Eggs:

Group 1:

  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 quart of water

Group 2 (choose 1 based on color preference):

  • Pink: 4 cups beets, rough chopped
  • Yellow: 4 tablespoons ground turmeric
  • Green: 6 cups spinach, 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • Blue: 4 cups purple cabbage leaves, rough chopped
  • Red: use the skin from 3-4 onions

Combine ingredients in group 1 with one item from group 2 in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Strain and set liquid aside. Once the liquid has cooled, dip the hard boiled eggs in the solution.

For brown eggs brew extra strong coffee, let cool and then soak eggs in the cooled liquid.

Naturally-dyed Easter eggs

These eggs are colored using natural dyes made from coffee, red cabbage, beets, spinach, yellow onion skins and turmeric. The eggs on the left in each pair were soaked overnight while the eggs on the right were in the dyes for three hours.


We were most pleased with the yellow, red and blue eggs. Pink and green did not turn out like we hoped, and if we tried those again we might try boiling the eggs in the strained mixture. Of course, we are excited thinking about other possibilities of produce to try, such as blueberries and strawberries. For more information on naturally dyed eggs, check out the N.C. Egg Association.

Check out the graphic below for a photo essay of the eggs during the dyeing process.

Naturally-dyed blue Easter egg time sequence

This time sequence shows the color depth progression of this naturally-dyed blue Easter egg. The natural dye for blue eggs was made using red cabbage.