Photo: Jennifer Causey

Our recipe for perfect hard-cooked eggs and our formula for dyeing them make the whole thing easy—just pick a palette ranging from light pastels to richly saturated colors.

Cheryl Slocum
January 18, 2017

The custom of dyeing eggs goes back to ancient times and cuts across many cultures as a symbol of Earth’s renewal after winter. Back then, onion skins, red cabbage, beets, seeds, flowers, herbs, and spices were used to tint and imprint designs on eggshells. Those simple, natural materials continue to be one of the most beautiful ways to decorate spring’s most iconic food. Set an egg at each place at the brunch table, or pile them in a basket for a conversation-starting centerpiece—they’ll make a delightful impression.

How to Naturally Dye Easter Eggs

For hard-cooked eggs:
Add water to a large saucepan to a depth of 1 inch; set a large vegetable steamer in pan. Add 8 to 12 eggs to steamer. Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat. Steam eggs, covered, 16 minutes. Remove from heat. Place eggs in a large ice water–filled bowl for 3 minutes or until cooled.

To imprint an herb leaf silhouette onto the egg:
Place a leaf directly on the shell (you can use a little egg white to adhere into place). Wrap egg tightly in a single layer of hosiery (knee-highs work great) or cheesecloth, gather the ends, and secure tightly with a rubber band. Dye as directed. Blot as much dye as possible from the cloth before unwrapping the eggs.

The Dye Formulas

For Blue Dye:
Roughly chop 1/2 head red cabbage. Combine cabbage with 4 cups cold water in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Strain liquid into a bowl; discard solids. Cool dye to room temperature. For each 1 cup of dye, add 1 tablespoon distilled vinegar and 1 tablespoon Fruit Fresh Produce Protector. Add eggs (make sure the dye fully covers the eggs), and refrigerate. Turn eggs occasionally to dye evenly. Let eggs stand 1 hour or up to overnight depending on desired hue. Blot eggs dry with paper towel.

For Red Dye:
Roughly chop 3 washed medium beets. Combine beets and 4 cups cold water in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Strain liquid into a bowl; reserve beets for another use. Cool dye to room temperature. For each 1 cup of dye, add 1 tablespoon distilled vinegar and 1 tablespoon Fruit Fresh Produce Protector. Add eggs (make sure the dye fully covers the eggs), and refrigerate. Turn eggs occasionally to dye evenly. Let eggs stand 1 hour or up to overnight depending on desired hue. Blot eggs dry with paper towel.

For Orange Dye:
Combine the skins of 5 to 6 medium onions and 4 cups cold water in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Strain liquid into a bowl; discard skins. Cool dye to room temperature. For each 1 cup of dye, add 1 tablespoon distilled vinegar. Add eggs (make sure the dye fully covers the eggs), and refrigerate. Turn eggs occasionally to dye evenly. Let eggs stand 20 minutes or up to overnight depending on desired hue. Blot eggs dry with paper towel.

For Yellow Dye:
Combine 1/4 cup turmeric and 4 cups cold water in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Cool dye to room temperature. For each 1 cup of dye, add 1 tablespoon distilled vinegar. Add eggs (make sure the dye fully covers the eggs), and refrigerate. Turn eggs occasionally to dye evenly. Let eggs stand 30 minutes or up to overnight depending on desired hue. Blot eggs dry with paper towel.