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(Image: Rebecca Mongrain / Seattle Refined)

Naturally dye your own Easter eggs for vibrant results

As a kid, I loved dyeing Easter eggs with my Mom. She'd get those little tablets that came in the box with the cartoon chicken on them and drop them into tea cups with vinegar and water. They'd fizz up; dyeing the eggs and my fingers in a multitude of colors.

As I got older, I kept up the tradition, often dyeing eggs with friends and now with my family. It was one of those friends that introduced me to Natural Easter Egg dyeing. While it does take more patience and time, I really love the muted colors you get from dyeing eggs with ingredients commonly found in your kitchen.

Decorated eggs have been around long before Easter. In medieval times, people dyed eggs to celebrate the coming of Spring and throughout the world, the egg is a symbol of new life, fertility and rebirth. Cultures around the world decorate their eggs in various ways with many using common food items to create fantastic egg colors.

You'll be surprised at how many items in your kitchen can be used as a natural dye. Foods such as coffee, beets, blueberries, onion skins, red cabbage and spices can be used to transform the ordinary egg into a colorful Easter masterpiece. Natural dyes can have some unexpected results so have fun experimenting with them.

Dye Recipes

All recipes include 1 quart of water and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, plus the dyeing agent of your choice (dyeing agents listed below). Combine all ingredients into a heavy bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for approximately 30 minutes before straining the mixture into a bowl and cooling to room-temperature.

Dyeing Agents

  • Red-cabbage dye: 4 cups chopped red cabbage

  • Turmeric dye: 3 tablespoons ground turmeric

  • Chili Powder dye: 2 Tablespoons chili powder

  • Beet dye: 4 cups chopped beets

  • Coffee dye: 1 quart strong black coffee (instead of water)

  • Wine dye: 2 cups red wine (instead of water)

Color Guide

The following are suggestions for your natural dye egg colors. Colors can end up lighter or deeper depending on the length of time you soak them. Deeper colors come from overnight soaking while lighter, more pastel shades show up when eggs are soaked for shorter time frames. Mixing the dyes and soak times can create great color combinations.

  • Light Green: Soak eggs in room-temperature turmeric solution for 30 minutes. Then soak in room-temperature red-cabbage solution for 15 seconds.

  • Dark Blue: Soak eggs overnight in room-temperature red-cabbage solution.

  • Light Purple: Soak eggs in room-temperature beet solution for 30 minutes. Then soak in room-temperature red-cabbage solution for 30 seconds.

  • Pink: Soak eggs in room-temperature beet solution for 30 minutes.

  • Orange: Soak eggs in room-temperature chili powder solution for 30 minutes.

  • Bright Gold: Soak eggs in room-temperature turmeric solution for 30 minutes

  • Brown: Boil eggs in black coffee for 30 minutes

  • Deep Purple: Soak eggs in wine solution overnight