Enthusiasm for eggs that can turn fun colors without the use of synthetic dyes or chemicals seems to be growing in popularity. Whether you’re dyeing eggs as part of an Easter tradition or you’re just looking for a unique DIY project to usher in spring, here are our tips for making naturally dyed eggs from items in your spice cabinet.
Out with the old, in with the new.
This is a great project for cleaning out your spice cabinet and making room for the fresh, flavorful spices you want to cook with. For egg dying, older spices that have lost some of their flavor will still work just fine.
What you see is not always what you get.
The color of the spice is not usually what the dyed egg will end up looking like. The spices we explored yielded egg colors that were either more muted or simply different altogether than expected. Rust-yellow turmeric turned an egg bright yellow. Bright red paprika yielded a terra cotta speckled egg. More surprising, ruby red hibiscus yielded a slate grey-green egg. And those bright green dried herbs? They do not yield a green egg but a light tan color instead—think mint tea.
Don’t expect a rainbow with spices alone.
Since we’re a spice company, we focused only on spices for our natural egg dye exploration. Most of the spices we used yielded natural looking tans, oranges, yellows, and greys. In fact, they were so natural looking they resembled fossilized rocks or dinosaur eggs. But spices are only one of the natural ingredients that can be used for egg dying. For more vibrant reds, blues, purples, and greens, you can use food scraps like beets, red onion skins, red cabbage, and blueberries. Other natural dyes you might have in your pantry include ground coffee, chamomile flowers, tea leaves, and matcha green tea powder.
No, your dyed eggs will not taste like the spice.
The spice does not penetrate the shell, so the flavor of the spice will not infuse into the cooked egg underneath.
Plan on an overnight project.
Naturally dyed eggs do not take on color “in minutes” like the packages of synthetic egg dyes boast. Spice-dyed eggs will take on some color in a matter of hours, but we found an overnight soaking (in the fridge) yielded the best color.
If you Google “naturally dyed eggs” you’ll find lots of how-to instructions with varying techniques and dying ingredients. Following is the method we used successfully in our test kitchen, with a list of the spices we found to yield the most color.
What you’ll need:
- 1 dozen hard-boiled eggs – We used large white eggs
- Water – 8 cups
- Saucepans – 4 small ones for simmering 4 different spice dyes
- A selection of spices. Following are the spices we tested and the egg colors they produced. Pick 4 different spices to create a variety of colors among your 1 dozen eggs.
– Ground Turmeric: bright yellow
– Paprika: pale orange mottled with brighter terra cotta
– Ground Cinnamon: flesh colored tan
– Hibiscus Flower: slate grey-green
– Crushed Urfa Chiles: latte
– Sumac: river rock grey
– Ground Annatto Seeds: pale yellow with speckles of red
- Glass containers – 4 (1-pint) jars to hold 3 eggs each in dye liquid
- Fine mesh sieve – To strain spice dye liquid
- White vinegar – 4 Tbsp. to add to spice dye liquid
- Baking sheet lined with a cooling rack – For drying dyed eggs
- Make 1 dozen large hard-boiled eggs and let them cool.
- Mix 2 cups of water with 2 Tbsp. spice of choice in each of 4 saucepans. Bring each to a boil then simmer for 10 min. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
- Strain each of the cooled spice dyes into a 1-pint jar. Only fill the jar about half to three-quarters full to leave room for the eggs. Stir 1 Tbsp. vinegar into each jar.
- Use a spoon to gently lower 3 hard-boiled eggs into each jar. Top with more spice dye liquid if necessary to cover eggs. Or tip some liquid out if you need more room to fit the 3 eggs.
- Seal the jars and refrigerate eggs in dye liquid for a few hours or overnight until desired color is reached. We found an overnight soak to yield the best color. Every several hours or so, give the solution a gentle stir with a chopstick or spoon handle to stir up the dye, making sure not to crack the eggs.
- Remove eggs from dye liquid and set on a baking sheet lined with a cooling rack to dry.
- Use the original egg carton to store the dried dyed eggs in the refrigerator until ready to use.
HINT: For sparkly eggs use Cream of Tartar