This post may contain affiliate links, including those from Amazon.com. These links keep this site running, so thank you for your support!

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs | NourishingJoy.com

Want to know more about natural food dyes?
Check out our post on Homemade Food Coloring.

Yup – it’s officially spring. My mother found the first buttercups of the year, my daughter is picking cherry blossoms to take to school, and the weather vacillates between heavy rain and bright sunshine. Sure signs of spring, indeed.

This also means Easter is just around the corner. And although Easter eggs have nothing to do with celebrating Christ’s death and resurrection, we enjoy the tradition of coloring eggs on Easter weekend.

Of course, being the slightly crunchy, granola, natural-minded parents that we are, we want to minimize our children’s exposure to overly-processed, chemical-laden dyes, so we make our own using spices and vegetables we readily have on hand. (Not to mention the store-bought dyes are incredibly expensive! Using homemade dyes is a much more frugal option.)

It’s taken us a few years to figure out the dyes we like the best, as it’s been hit and miss (some dyes were waaaaaaay too pale, some wiped off, and some just insisted on being… sludgy brown…), but here are the versions we like best.

{And while you’re getting all your supplies ready, grab a cup of tea and take a moment to read this highly enjoyable article from Edible Vancouver magazine about the adventures of using natural dyes.}

 

Natural Easter Egg Dyes

There are two types of natural ingredients to make dyes: those that are sufficient as dyes on their own (e.g. espresso, beet juice, or wine) and those that need to steep in water in order to create the dye (e.g. spices, onion skins, and cabbage leaves). I’ve marked the ingredients that need to be steeped first with an asterisk (*).

To make the steeped dyes, combine the water and colorant and bring to a boil. Boil gently for approximately 15 minutes, then cool the liquid to room temperature.

As for how much of each ingredient to use, count on 4 tablespoons of spice or 4 cups of coarsely chopped vegetables per quart of water.

For example:

  • if you want to use chili powder as your colorant and you want to make 2 cups of dye, you would use 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of chili powder;
  • if you want to use beets as your colorant and you want to make 1 quart of dye, you would use boil 4 cups of water with 4 cups of cubed beets.

And remember to compost all your ingredients when you’re done. :-)

COLOR INGREDIENTS (listed in order of intensity of hue)
Purple
Red Onion Skins*
Hibiscus Tea, heavily steeped
Red Wine
Blue Mashed Blueberries – enough to completely cover the eggs in juice
Red Cabbage Leaves*
Purple Grape Juice
Green Blueberry Juice + Ground Turmeric
Yellow Fresh Turmeric*
Ground Turmeric*
Ground Cumin*
Green Tea, very heavily steeped
Brown Very Strong Coffee (Espresso shots work best)
Instant Coffee, made very dark
Black Tea, heavily steeped
Dill Seeds*
Orange Chili Powder*
Paprika*
Fresh Pressed Carrot Juice
Yellow Onion Skins*
Pink Fresh Pressed Beet Juice
Beets*
Liquid from a jar of pickled beets
Pure Cranberry Juice (NOT cranberry cocktail)
Red Lots of Red Onions Skins*
Canned Cherries with Juice
Pure Pomegranate Juice

 

Natural Food Dye Chart from NourishingJoy.com

 

How to Use Natural Dyes for Food and Play Dough

These dyes can be used for food and homemade play dough, too, and you’re only limited by flavors.

For example, beet juice works beautifully to color buttercream a gorgeous pink and turmeric creates a perfect yellow mustard while also enhancing the flavor of the mustard. However, you don’t necessarily want chili powder flavored buttercream or oniony play dough.

Therefore, choose colorants whose flavors that can easily “hide” behind the “real” flavor of your food. (Since you’re using them in very small concentrations, generally the flavor isn’t hugely present, anyway.) Use a few drops of fresh parsley juice for a lovely green in your buttercream or matcha powder in the white cupcake base, then use a flavor that fits the occasion.

For example, with our Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Pretty Pink Frosting, we’ve used both raspberry and rhubarb juice as a flavor and the beet juice colorant happily fades into the background. For play dough, it just becomes a matter of preference. If you’re using it for fresh homemade pasta, use complimentary flavors, such as spinach juice, beet juice, tomato sauce, or chili powder (sparingly if you don’t like heat!).

For using the colors in baking, such as in a rainbow cake, one of the moms over at Itsy Bitsy Foodies has experimented with various options brilliantly (and photographed her results), so definitely check out their naturally colored Rainbow Cake.

 

Tips for Getting the Best Colors

Use a scant 1 tablespoon of white vinegar per 2 cups of liquid to help the color adhere to the eggshell.

Wipe eggshells completely dry before decorating.

Use rubber bands and crayons to decorate the eggs before dipping to create fun effects.

Let the eggs steep in the dye for at least 10 minutes to deepen the color. Keep in mind that even the most “intense” dyes that come from natural sources will still produce a mostly-pastel shade on your egg.

 

Resurrection Eggs

If you’d like a more meaningful way to celebrate Holy Week and Easter, make Resurrection Eggs, which use 12 symbols to help children better understand all the events leading up to Christ’s death and the power of his resurrection. It’s a Lenten version of the Jesse Tree and  a wonderful, intentional tool as we teach our children.

Print Friendly

Comments

  1. says

    Hi! I love the list you’ve put together for natural egg dying. I was wondering if this list works as well for food. My daughter wants rainbow cupcakes for her birthday and I was thinking of using natural food dyes to do it. Just curious if you’ve used any of the above in baking. Do they alter the taste? I wouldn’t want to serve Red Wine, onion skins and turmeric flavored cupcakes to 5 year olds, lol! Thanks for your help. Audra

    • Kresha says

      Yes, these work for food as well, but you’re exactly right – an onion cake isn’t exactly desirable. :)

      Some of the flavorings (like beet juice or carrot juice) are used in pretty small amounts, so I don’t think it would matter much, but definitely check out the Itsy Bitsy Foodies link – that mom did some great experimentation to figure out what would work well in a rainbow cake.

      I hope that helps. Happy birthday to your daughter! :)

  2. Amy says

    Yay for you! I’m so happy to have this resource. I’ve seen other formulas that were so complicated and expensive, I would’ve been better off buying the natural dyes. I can’t thank you enough. Pinning!

  3. Michelle says

    Last year I remember dying eggs red using brown onion skins like you mention here, but it was just that individual post. Now I can’t find that post! I wanted to contact you directly, but didn’t see any way to do so, so I am leaving the comment here. I remember there was more specific information about how to do it, and some interesting information about the Greek Orthodox tradition of dying eggs red, and now I can’t find that information anywhere (here or elsewhere on the internet). Can you please direct me to where I might find that? Thank you!

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>