Making your own natural Easter egg dyes is fun and easy. Plus, you gain peace of mind, knowing the dyes contain safe ingredients. Along the way, learn about natural pH indicators in your kitchen and how to control color using acidic ingredients, like vinegar or lemon juice.
Natural Easter Egg Dye Recipes
Easter egg dye kits you buy at the store typically contain small tablets that you dissolve in water and vinegar. So, you might be surprised by the amount of natural ingredient you need to achieve a comparable color. For one cup of liquid dye, you need:
- 1 cup chopped or shredded fresh ingredients (like beets or red cabbage)
- 1 tea bag (like hibiscus or black tea)
- 2-3 tablespoons of dry ingredients (like coffee or spices)
For most colors, you also need 1 tablespoon of white vinegar (or lemon juice) per cup of dye. You need around 4 cups of dye to dye one dozen eggs. Of course, you can make up batches of multiple colors.
- Start with clean hard-boiled eggs. You can start with any egg shell color, but realize this affects the dyed color.
- Mix the dye ingredient and water. Heat to boiling and simmer, covered for 15 to 30 minutes or until the dye is deeply colored.
- Let the dye cool to room temperature.
- Strain the dye through a food strainer, paper towel, or coffee filter. Omit straining if you want speckled eggs.
- Add vinegar to the dye (1 tablespoon per cup of liquid).
- Submerge the eggs in the dye.
- Place the container of dye and eggs in the refrigerator and chill the eggs until you achieve the desired color. Soaking overnight gives maximum color. If want a more vibrant color, transfer the eggs to a fresh batch of dye and soak them.
- Remove the eggs from the liquid, dry them, and massage a bit of vegetable oil into the shell. This polishes the eggs and seals the color.
- Refrigerate the dyed Easter eggs until it’s time to hide or eat them.
You can also start with raw eggs and boil them with the dye ingredients.
Natural Easter Egg Dye Colors
Here is a list of ingredients and the colors they produce. Remember, per cup of dye, use 1 cup of fresh, canned, or frozen produce, 2-3 tablespoons of dry ingredients, or a tea bag. Mix 1 tablespoon of vinegar per cup of liquid, except as noted.
|Purple or lavender||Red Zinger tea|
Purple grape juice (short soak)
|Violet blue||Hibiscus tea|
Red onion skins
Butterfly pea flowers or tea
Purple grape juice
Canned blueberries (no vinegar)
Red onion skins plus extra vinegar
Dye with turmeric, then dye with red cabbage
|Yellow-Green||Yellow apple peels|
Orange or lemon peels
Black walnut shells
|Orange||Yellow onion skins|
Cranberries or juice
Red grape juice
Pickled beet juice
|Red||Canned cherries with juice|
Double amount red onion skins
Note most of these materials are pH indicators. What this means is the color depends on how acidic or alkaline the liquid is. Adding vinegar or lemon juice makes the dye acidic and also helps the dye penetrate the calcium carbonate (CaCO3) egg shell. You’ll often get a completely different color if you omit the vinegar. This table illustrates the range of colors available for each ingredient.
Also, keep in mind vinegar actually dissolves a bit of egg shell. This is no big deal with an overnight soak, but don’t soak the eggs in dye for a week (unless it’s for a science project).