Looking for an alternative way to dye Easter eggs without using artificial colorings? Look no further than some common ingredients you likely already have in your pantry and produce drawer for beautifully colored eggs! There are two methods that are typically used when dyeing eggs – cold dipping and hot boiling. Cold dipping produces subtler, more translucent shades which is ideal if you’re using multiple colors on the same egg. Hot boiling produces a much more intense shade, but these eggs should be used for decoration only and not for eating. Our preference is to cold dip eggs so that we can transform them into delicious deviled eggs and enjoy hard-boiled egg snacks throughout the week.
To start, wash your white, uncooked eggs in mild, soapy water to remove any dirt or oil that might adversely affect the dye. But before we get to talking about natural sources of dye, let’s talk about perfectly boiling an egg.
Nearly every basic cookbook offers conflicting techniques on how it should be done – start the egg in cold water, or gently lower it into boiling water; add vinegar to the water to lower its pH, or add baking soda to the water to raise it; cover the pot, don’t cover the pot; use old eggs, or use new eggs, and on and on – but very few offer evidence as to why any one of these techniques should work any better than your average old wives’ tale. Apparently, boiling eggs is not an eggs-act science.
Our preferred method is just five easy steps…
- Make sure that the eggs are room temperature. Speed this process up by placing the eggs in hot tap water.
- Place eggs in a saucepan that can hold them in a single layer. Add enough water to cover by 1-inch.
- Bring water to a boil, remove pan from heat and cover. Let sit 10 minutes. Drain.
- Place eggs in a bowl of ice water and cool completely.
- Crack the shells by rolling the egg on the counter and peel under cold water.
There you have it! An egg that has a yolk that is set, but not tinged with green (indicating your eggs are over cooked). These will make the perfect deviled eggs, egg salad or eggs for decorating! This step can also be done the day before you’re ready to dye your eggs. Just keep them refrigerated until you’re ready to use them.
Now, let’s talk dye. Like we said, you’d be surprised at how many common produce and pantry ingredients that can be used to transform white eggs into beautiful Easter eggs. Peeling an onion for dinner? Save the skin! Have some lemon or orange peels? You can use those, too! Select your dying agent and place in a small pot, using the amounts listed below. Add one quart of water and two tablespoons of white vinegar to your pot. If that amount of water doesn’t cover your ingredients, double your water and vinegar. Bring your pot to a boil and lower heat. Simmer for 30 minutes, strain the dye into a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Two tablespoons ground (or 1-2 knobs of fresh!) turmeric – This creates a pale yellow color that can intensify the longer you let your egg sit. Try letting your eggs soak for 30 minutes and then check the color to see if you prefer a darker shade.
- Three whole yellow onion skins – We were skeptical of these paper thin skins, but pleasantly surprised at how vivid the color of our eggs were after soaking in the onion solution for 30 minutes.
- Three large, chopped beets – Similar to how easily beets dye your hands when you prepare them, they’ll also dye your eggs a pretty, light pink color.
- Half head of red cabbage – While you might assume the purple colored vegetable might leave you with lavender colored eggs, eggs soaked in a red cabbage solution will come out light blue. Try letting them soak overnight in the fridge for a deeper blue color.
You can also dip your eggs into multiple colors to create even more shades. For lavender, soak eggs in room temperature beet solution for 30 minutes and then follow with room temperature cabbage solution for five seconds. Looking for a green color? Soak eggs in room temperature turmeric solution for 30 minutes and follow with room temperature cabbage solution for five seconds. The important thing to remember is that all of the above solutions are fairly forgiving. You can achieve lighter and darker colors just by adjusting the amount of time your eggs sit. Also remember to watch how long your eggs sit at room temperature. They should be out for no longer than two hours before they need to return to the fridge in order to stay safe to eat.
Ready to enjoy your eggs? Try these delicious Deviled Eggs! Just peel, cut eggs in half lengthwise, remove egg yolks and mash with your favorite aioli, salt and pepper. Try a classic aioli like Roasted Garlic or heat things up with Habanero Mango. We love them all in this recipe. Spoon or pipe the egg yolk filling into each white and garnish with crumbled bacon, cilantro leaf, parsley leaf, paprika or dill.
Deviled eggs not your favorite? When we have leftover hard-boiled eggs, we love the excuse to enjoy a classic Cobb Salad.
What is your favorite way to use up your Easter eggs? Let us know in the comments below!