DIY: 3 natural egg dye recipes

It’s fun, easy and earth friendly to dye eggs with simple kitchen ingredients! Skip the artificial food coloring and packaging and try this traditional natural method that creates beautiful results. If your eggs crack during the process and dye gets on them, no worries, the ingredients are all natural. The leftover dye stuff and the leftover dye can go right into your compost pile.

My Lithuanian Grandmother always dyed eggs with onion skins at Easter time. The art of dying eggs naturally goes back to medieval times! I’ve enjoyed carrying on the tradition for many years. Here are my 3 easiest and most successful natural egg dye recipes, plus a few tips. The key is to prep ahead of time. Have fun!

Ingredients & Supplies

  • Eggs, organic free range (white work best)
  • 4 Cups Yellow Onion Skins (skins of about 12 onions)
  • 4 Cups Purple Cabbage, about ½ a cabbage
  • 3 Tablespoons Turmeric
  • White Vinegar

Small bowls, 3 pots for dye, large pot for eggs, large metal spoon or tongs, plenty of cloth rags, strainer, cheese cloth or dish towel you don’t mind turning yellow to strain the turmeric with, metal drying rack

Fun optional supplies: thick rubber bands, wax crayons, string, stickers, cooking oil

Prep

A few days ahead, collect your onion skins. I’ve found that if you ask someone in the produce department of your grocery store, they will either have some in the back or collect them for you. Alternately, start collecting your own weeks in advance or ask friends to save them for you.

Earlier in the day, or a couple of hours before you want to color your eggs, hard boil your eggs and make the dye. I’ve found that it’s easiest to prep the dye in advance so it will have time to cool before you dye the eggs, especially if you are doing this with children. It helps to have the eggs cool as well.

Hard boil eggs

Put eggs in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring them to a gentle boil and boil for 1 minute. Turn off the heat, cover, and let stand for 6 minutes. (longer at higher altitudes) Put them into cold water to stop the cooking.

red cabbage cooking in pot to make natural egg dye
Red cabbage

Create the dye

Place 4 C Onion Skins, 1 quart of water and 2 TBS white vinegar in a pot.

Place 4 C chopped Red Cabbage, 1 Quart of water and 2 TBS white vinegar in a second pot.

Place 3 TBS Turmeric, 1 Quart of water and 2 TBS white vinegar in a third pot.

If more water is necessary to cover ingredients, proportionally increase the amount of vinegar. Bring each pot to a boil, then lower heat. Simmer for 30 minutes. Strain dye into separate bowls. Let cool. Toss the strained-out parts into your compost.

yellow onion skins cooking in pot for natural egg dye
Yellow Onion Skins
Natural dye ready for the eggs

Dye the Eggs!

Using a large metal spoon, immerse the hard-boiled eggs into your bowls of dye. Let them sit for about 30 minutes. (up to overnight) The longer the eggs sit in the dye the deeper the color. Turn them for more even coloring. When the eggs are the desired shade, remove them from dye bath with a spoon or tongs, gently pat dry with soft cloth, and let eggs dry on a wire rack.

Try putting wide rubber bands on the eggs, tying string, decorating with wax crayons, or adding stickers or masking tape before immersing them in the dye for different effects. You can also try rubbing a little oil on the eggs when they are done. Don’t be afraid to experiment! That’s half the fun.

Dye Colors

Rich reddish browns and oranges – Yellow Onion Skins

Blues – Red Cabbage

Golden Yellows – Turmeric

Green – dye egg in Turmeric and then Red Cabbage

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