Let's get messy and dye eggs. But forget the coloring that comes packaged. You can use many kinds of food to dye Easter eggs, from onion skins or beets to red cabbage leaves, black tea and red wine.

I also love to use spices -- turmeric, curry and cumin, in particular -- and frozen or canned fruit (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries) for intense colors.

Keep in mind that natural dyes take longer to work and their color may be lighter than the instant colors that come in a box.

There are two methods of dyeing eggs. When you use packaged colors, hard-cooked eggs are dipped into the prepared dye.

But when you dye eggs with foods (whether scraps or liquid), you will need to cook the eggs in the dye as it brews. The exception is when using canned fruit, then start with a cooked egg and drop it in the mixture. Also, if using beverages to dye your eggs, no need to water down the liquid.

For a sheen on the eggs, rub them with vegetable oil.

Natural dyes for eggs

You will need a significant amount of food scraps to create many of the dyes. For spices, use 2 tablespoons or more per 4 to 6 cups of water. For solid food, use 4 cups or more of chopped up ingredients (beets, red cabbage, onion skins and the like).

Pink/red: fresh beets, pickled beet juice, cranberries, frozen raspberries, red wine, red onion skins

Tan: yellow onion skins, green tea

Deep yellow: ground turmeric, curry powder, ground cumin

Orange: paprika, chili powder

Purple: hibiscus tea, cranberry juice

Blue: canned blueberries, red cabbage leaves, red grape juice

Grey: blackberries,

Brown: coffee, black tea


Makes 4 to 6 cups.

Note: For a deeper hue, add more of the coloring agent and keep the eggs in the dye longer, even overnight in the refrigerator.

• 2 to 3 tbsp. spice or 4 c. or more chopped fruit or vegetable

• 4 to 6 c. water

• 2 tbsp. white vinegar (per 4 to 6 c. water)


Combine spice or food with water and vinegar. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Eggs can be colored (and cooked) in the dye while it is being prepared (make sure the water covers them entirely), or soak hard-cooked eggs in the dye after it is made.