DIY Projects

Can You Really Dye Easter Eggs with Food? Why, Yes You Can!

I’ve been needing some simple crafts to get my creativity back on track. Somehow, the idea of dragging my desk down 3 flights of stairs so I can sand and re-paint it hasn’t been high on my to do list.  But dyeing eggs with stuff I can get at the grocery store? That’s a lot more palatable. Not to mention I wanted to find out just how well natural, homemade egg dyes would work.

I set out to create eggs in the three primary colors — red, yellow and blue — thinking I’d be able to mix those colors to get a bunch of other colors. I also wanted to try dyeing the eggs with onion skins for a tie-dyed sort of look. I set out to Walmart to purchase my supplies.

What you’ll need:

  • Beets (red dye)
  • Turmeric (yellow dye)
  • Red cabbage (blue dye, believe it or not)
  • Onions (or at least their skins)
  • Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Cheesecloth or similar fabric
  • Thin twine or yarn

Looks like a lot of red stuff, right? Well, if you notice the photo above, red is about the only color I didn’t achieve. I’ll start with the methods that worked well.


This is the only dye method for which you want to start with raw, unboiled eggs. The skin of one onion will cover about 1-2 eggs. Place the egg on top of a piece of cheesecloth or cotton. Begin covering a raw egg with onion skins.

Once covered, wrap the cloth around the egg and secure it with twine. Try to make this pretty snug, but remember that these eggs are uncooked, so they’ll break if handled too roughly.

Boil the cloth-covered eggs for about 30 minutes, then allow them to cool.

Unwrap the cloth and admire the beautiful patterns on your eggs. I expected the red onion skins to produce red staining, but I was just as happy with the moddled, yellowish look I actually wound up with.


We cook with curry a lot, so I know how quickly turmeric will stain anything in its path. This was a great chance to use those quick-staining properties as an advantage. Put about a quart of water in a small saucepan. Add 4-6 tablespoons of turmeric, a tablespoon of salt and a tablespoon of vinegar. Boil until the turmeric dissolves. I found it was almost impossible to get it to dissolve completely, but do your best.

Let the mixture cool a bit, and start dipping your hard-boiled eggs. Don’t be alarmed if you find there are bits of turmeric on your eggs. Just let them soak in the turmeric for about an hour, mixing occasionally to minimize the spotting. I wound up with a beautiful, rich golden color.

This was, by far, the fastest color to take.


I was in a bit of disbelief the red cabbage could result in blue eggs, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this was true.  Cut up half a head of red cabbage, and put it in a pot with enough water to cover it. You can use a whole head of cabbage if you need a lot of blue eggs, but I only wanted a few. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring it all to a boil, then cover the pot and it let it simmer for about 30 minutes.

Strain the cabbage and set the liquid aside for dyeing. Let it cool. Submerge your eggs in the dye, and get ready for a long wait.

The blue eggs were beautiful and my uncontested favorite, but I had to let them soak overnight to achieve that color. Still, it was totally worth the wait to pull blue eggs out of the purplish liquid that came from the cabbage. I felt like a magician 🙂

And now for what didn’t work for me…

RED (gray?)

I was totally expecting the beets to be the easiest, since beet juice is a notorious stainer. In fact, I got so cocky that I decided to buy canned beets instead of fresh beets, thinking I’d save myself some time. Apparently, this was a bad idea. I warmed 2 cans of beets with a tablespoon each of salt and vinegar.

Then I strained the liquid and submerged my hardboiled eggs. I knew something was wrong when the color seemed to be rolling off the eggs instead of adhering to it. But I figured if I left them overnight, I’d get a deep stained color.

I didn’t.

The eggs came out of the liquid in a disappointing shade of light lavender. Even worse, when I set them on a rack to dry, all the color drained off, so I wound up with an even more disappointing gray, as shown above.

Next time, I’ll stick to fresh beets.

Overall, I loved the experience of creating my own egg dyes. While my daughter wasn’t very hands-on in this project, I could easily imagine her helping a lot more. She did think the resulting, colored eggs were awesome, though 🙂

Have any of you ever tried dyeing Easter eggs naturally? I’d love to hear if you had more success than I did!

I did have more success with my other project, though. I made a super simple, DIY Easter dress for my daughter! And get this. It’s reversible! Here’s a sneak peek:

Want to see more? Head over to Green & Gorgeous for the details!

Disclosure: I am a member of the Walmart Moms program. I was provided with compensation for my time and effort in sharing an eco-friendly Easter project with you. Participation is voluntary and as usual, all opinions are my own.

About Author

I am a graphic designer by trade who has a strong passion for interior design and doing what we can to protect the environment. This blog and my other site, Green & Gorgeous, are my ways of giving back to the Earth.

1 Comment

  • Kanelstrand
    April 16, 2012 at 10:33 am

    I used fresh beet this year and couldn’t get red at all! What is more, I boiled the eggs together with the beet and while all other colors turned out great – yellow, orange, blue, the case with the beet was quite different. I left the eggs soak for 2 hours more in beet and added the tumeric mixture – the result was a nice deep but brown color 🙂 I guess we should just find another source of red.


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