The Prettiest Pickled Egg Recipe You Ever Did See, Thanks to Veggies

The sharp, punchy pow your egg salad has been missing

March 21, 2022
Photo by James Ransom

You know how people say salt your pasta water so it tastes like the sea? And if you don't, no matter how much you salt your pasta sauce, you're sort of already screwed? Pickling eggs has a similar effect. You can add all the vinegar you want to your egg salad, but using pickled eggs will always be brighter, punchier, and all around better..

But while eggshells adore natural dyes, egg whites are a bit more... how do we put this nicely... choosy. I tried pickling eggs with parsley, spinach, matcha, carrots, even Korean gochugaru—but all yielded a yellowish-grayish-brown shade of, well, eggshell. That certainly wasn’t the cheerful spring look that I was going for.

That was before I hit on turmeric, beet juice, and red cabbage—all ingredients that leave pickled eggs with a vibrant color naturally—and they’re delicious to boot. That means you can showcase these eggs—which are zingy from their vinegar water bath (think your favorite quick-pickled carrot, only instead of a carrot, you’ve got an egg)—on the dining table instead of hiding them in your backyard. Because they’re pickled and contain natural food dye, they’re less likely to go completely rotten (even when refrigerated) than traditional Easter eggs. And guess what, you don’t need to follow a pickled egg recipe in order to win Easter (or food coloring, for that matter). Follow our step-by-step formula to make pickled eggs for the holiday and beyond.

How to Naturally dye pickled eggs

1. Boil the eggs.

Each batch of the master brine below will yield enough liquid to cover for four pickled eggs, but feel free to halve or double (or triple!), depending on how many bunnies are attending your Easter.

To start, fill a pot with cold water and set over high heat. Season with a pinch of salt, plus a splash of white vinegar (apple cider will work, too)—this makes the eggs easier to peel. Bring to a boil, then gingerly add the eggs with a spoon. Boil for 8 minutes. This creates an almost-gooey, half-baked yolk, which will begin to cure in the vinegar water solution. For a harder yolk, boil 1 to 2 minutes longer. (Of course, if you have another preferred method of hard-cooking eggs, you can go with that, especially if you eventually want to turn pickled eggs into pickled deviled eggs.)

Rinse under cool water and peel while warm. Or if you’d like the marbled effect, do not peel the eggs: Roll them on the surface so that the shell shatters but does not come away from the egg itself. Either way, you can proceed immediately to the brine or store in the fridge for a few days. A quick note: If you're using pre-boiled, dyed and shelled Easter eggs for your pickling project, just make sure you've used a food dye (food coloring works, or any of the all-natural kinds here) or non-toxic dye (like any of the ones here!) to do the job.

2. Make your mother brine—aka the pickling liquid!

Combine all the following ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a low simmer to dissolve the sugar and salt.

  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar (or swap out 1/2 cup for a flavorful addition like apple cider, rice, red, or white wine vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

3. pick your color & flavorings. Add them to the pot!

You’re wondering if the color leads to flavor. The answer: Some more than others. In the case of the pink dye, the eggs will take on a distinctly beet-y taste. And while the purple eggs have notes of caraway, they’re not particularly cabbage-y. The yellow and orange dyes are the most subtle of the bunch—the flavor is not far off from that of still-white pickled eggs. If you’re new to the process and flavor of pickled eggs, the turmeric-ginger-mustard blend is the best one to start off with (more on that later).

When it comes to adding more flavor to your brine, pretty much all vinegar-pickle principles apply here: Whole spices are ideal, and for a brine this size, I’d recommend sticking with an amount between a teaspoon to a tablespoon, depending on how strong you’d like it. Try black or pink peppercorns, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or red pepper flakes. You can also experiment with herbs and alliums: Dill would work beautifully here, tarragon would be nice in the more subtle orange brine, and a few slices of garlic clove wouldn't be out of place in any of the mixtures.

Add the ingredients for one color (these quantities correspond to one batch of the brine) and stir until saturated. Turn off the heat.



  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard


Mix together the pink and yellow recipes and you yield the best of both worlds—a bright tangerine. Leave the beet in the brine for at least an hour, then check the color. The longer it sticks around, the rosier the brine will become. Bring the mixture back to a simmer before you pour it over the eggs.

  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 chunks of roasted beet the size of wine corks


Red cabbage is the chameleon of the vegetable world. Boil it in water and you get a deep purple liquid. But play with the pH level (how basic or acidic the solution is) and you can go from blue to green to pink. Because pickle brine is vinegar-based, you need some baking soda to balance the solution from magenta to lavender. It will fizz and fuss, but that’s just right.

  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons baking soda (or lower to 2 1/4 teaspoons for a more purply hue)

4. Dye.

Place the eggs in a glass jar with a tight-fitting, good-sealing lid (those asparagus-sized mason jars work well). Pour the hot brine and its colorful add-ins on top. Secure the lid, then turn the jar upside down a couple of times to make sure the heat of the brine has touched all parts of the jar (and that every egg is fully submerged).

5. Choose your shade.

The eggs’ saturation—and sourness—depends entirely on how long they bathe. You can remove them as early as an hour or leave them there for weeks. To create an ombré effect, with a gradient of shades, pull the eggs progressively.

If you’re eating the pickled eggs that day, you can keep them on the counter. But any longer than that, transfer them to the fridge (you'll want to let the jar plus its contents come to room temperature before placing it in the fridge—hot items in a cold fridge are a food-safety no-no, as they can bring down the temperature of the other things in there). Since the flavor and color will get more intense with time, I like to remove them from the brine within a week (but they will stay good for much longer than that if you keep them submerged). This is really just a matter of personal preference.

6. Eat!

If you’ve used ground spices in the brine, consider giving your eggs a quick rinse before digging in. The last thing you want is to take a bite and be confronted with a whole caraway seed or anise pod. Then, eat them as is or use them where you’d normally use hard- or soft-boiled eggs for a bright and punchy flavor base:

  • Pink Deviled Eggs: Slice the eggs in half. Separate the yolks into a bowl and mix with mayonnaise, Dijon, paprika, and cayenne. Spoon or pipe back into the white nooks. Finely dice the beets and sprinkle on top. Garnish with flaky salt and a dill sprig.
  • Yellow Curried Egg Salad: Dice or grate the eggs. Add mayonnaise, curry powder, and some chopped celery and scallion. Season with salt to taste. Serve with grainy toast, crackers, or cucumber slices.
  • Orange Gribiche Carrots: Finely dice the eggs and mix with olive oil, Dijon, white wine vinegar, capers, sliced cornichons, and chopped parsley. Blanch and shock carrots (preferably small, newly harvested ones!) in salty water. Serve hot or cold with gribiche on top. (Gribiche is also excellent on top of asparagus or pasta.)
  • Purple Breakfast Reuben: Melt lots of Swiss cheese on two pieces of rye bread. Sandwich together with thickly sliced eggs, the pickled cabbage, and Thousand Island dressing. Or make a sheet pan Reuben with them

How to Use Pickled Eggs

Think beyond Easter egg hunts and consider all of the different ways to use pickled eggs. From egg salads to deviled eggs, these punchy bites are endlessly adaptable for post-holiday snacks and lunches.

1. The Scuttlebut

Pickled eggs make an epic sandwich filling—and especially so in this recipe, where other sour, snappy stuff-ins abound. If it's too much "wham pow!", feel free to swap out one of the pickled vegetables with fresh, shaved one (or, keep 'em all in, and use those eggs you brined for just an hour).

2. White Bean and Tuna Salad with Hard Boiled Eggs and Dukkah

Canned tuna and white beans get instantly zhuzhed up with a handful of torn fresh parsley and a sprinkling of dukkah, a Middle Eastern nut-and-spice blend. A jammy boiled egg or two—or, better yet, a couple sliced pickled eggs (the cabbage and caraway–scented kind work wonderfully here)—completes the picture, as does a big hunk of crusty bread.

3. Virginia Willis' Deviled Eggs

Did you know you can devil pickled eggs? Indeed you can, and they're all the better for it. Here, in Virginia Willis' game-changing recipe (which instructs us to use regular boiled eggs, which you can switch out for pickled), yolks are scooped out and mixed with the usual suspects—plus a bonus ingredient to make them creamier and dreamier, with a little bit less of a vinegary bite (in a good way!). Can you guess what it is?

4. Bagna Cauda Toasts with Radicchio, Egg, and Avocado

Eggs, meet bread (again). Here, crispy oil-brushed toasts are piled high with crunchy, slightly bitter radicchio, tender boiled eggs (but feel free to use pickled here, for a bit more of a bite), and chunks of creamy avocado to temper it all. A warm, anchovy-laden dressing brings it all together.

5. Curried Egg Salad + Pickled Red Onion Smørrebrød

We’ve been here before…at least, kind of. We’ve established that using pickled eggs for egg salad works every time, but this one specifically calls for pre-hard boiled eggs (perfect excuse to use up leftovers!). The eggs are tossed with Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, curry powder, ground cumin, and cilantro. Plus, you get even more tangy pickled flavor from the red onions. Just be sure that anyone you’re serving these to really loves pickled things because they. are. strong.

What's your favorite way to use a pickled egg? Tell us in the comments below.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Ashley Bair
    Ashley Bair
  • Bob Fowler
    Bob Fowler
  • Lynda Lee Koenig
    Lynda Lee Koenig
  • Paul Esterline
    Paul Esterline
  • Sarah Williams 1
    Sarah Williams 1
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Ashley B. October 21, 2020
You should note that adding baking soda to the brine will raise the pH, and so those aren't technically "pickled" eggs as bad bacteria can grow in a less acidic environment. Those ones should be eaten much sooner than normal pickled eggs, probably within a week.
Bob F. November 15, 2019
Colored pickled eggs are fun, but how do I pickle them and have them remain pure white? Using pickling spice turns them kinda gray (some have suggested because of the cloves in the spice)
Brinda A. February 18, 2020
Hi Bob! I'd guess if you used a neutral-colored aromatic, like white onion or garlic, to pickle the eggs, you won't get discoloration. Hope this helps!
Lynda L. March 18, 2019
I must have gotten way more juice out of my red cabbage because i needed 2 tbsp of baking soda to turn the solution blue! I did get some lovely lavender purple eggs the first try. I was wondering if it would make green if i mixed some blue cabbage dye with yellow tumeric dye, so i'll be trying that out once my blue eggs are done :-D
Paul E. January 23, 2019
I LOVE pickled eggs! I have been doing the beet eggs for years! I have never seen the blue or orange ones WOW! I love to add onions&garlic(they are both very yummy plan or on or in something) another thing I do is some kind of hot sauce. I have done Sriracha, chili paste, red pepper flakes, and Tabasco sauce. All add far less heat then you might think. So if your a chili head like me add more then you think you need!7
Paul E. January 24, 2019
Try it!!
Sarah W. January 14, 2018
How would the infused balsamics work in the vinegar bath? We have a store the sells both infused white and traditional balsamics, and might have some that enhances the flavors used for the dye.
Emily G. May 4, 2017
Can I brine them in a Rubbermaid container? Does it have to be glass?
Emma L. May 7, 2017
I've personally only used glass, but a plastic container should be fine! Just be mindful about how hot the brine is when you transfer the liquid there.
Paul E. January 23, 2019
I have use plastic, no problem, it can stain the plastic. I like the glass better because they look so nice in the jar. In fact I bought 1/2 gal Mason jars just to do my eggs in. (I have chickens, and I LOVE pickled eggs!)
Jennifer P. April 17, 2017
I made these a day before Easter, then made colored deviled "easter eggs" to bring to my in-laws house. They were a hit! especially because I shredded carrots and purple cabbage as "grass" to lay the eggs on. I found, to avoid super pickling, as I just really wanted the color, that I added more sugar to remove the vinegary flavor. The tumeric flavors the eggs, and is not tasty, so added less of that, a bit more prepared yellow mustard. Blue was hard to get, but the lavender color from the cabbage was wonderful! Thanks for this recipe! I had so much fun with it!
Emma L. April 17, 2017
Love that "grass" idea! Thanks for sharing!
aargersi April 14, 2017
This. Is. So. Fun. (Ps you weren't kidding about the fizz and fuss :-)
Em C. April 9, 2017
There's no way the yolks are "curing" as described. The whites for sure. However, if the color isn't making it to the yolks than nothing else in the brining solution is.
Paul E. January 23, 2019
If you leave the eggs in long enough it will even color the yokes. I make the best pickled eggs all the time! Tea will give the egg a nice color too. In China they call them marble eggs, they crack the shell and let them soak in a strong tea with some spices. I would have to look up the recipe, but they are called "marble eggs"
Paul E. January 23, 2019
Oops "best" should say "beet" I do think my eggs are the best however. Just sayn'
Virginia M. March 7, 2020
Paul E.
Here's the Marbled Tea Egg recipe, from a Taiwanese epicure I met:

Tea bath:
10 bags black tea, black peppercorns, black sesame seeds, bay leaves, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, black soy sauce, regular soy sauce, salt to taste.
At least 18 eggs, hardboiled, cooled, then gently crack shells to create marbling.
Add crackled eggs to brine: leave in large lidded pot for 8 hrs on lowest heat. The longer the better, and overnight best.
Last hr, add 1 bottle Coca Cola, let this finish pickling process.
You may add more sugar and salt to brine, to adjust to a nice tangy flavor.
Refrigerate in sealed jars, and the brine can be used as a cooking sauce too. The aroma is REMARKABLE!
Ilene April 6, 2017
For blue eggs; I used about half the brining/pickling mix for 4 eggs. I then added some blue food coloring (the neon blue shade), about 4-5 drops. I submerged the eggs fully and refrigerated them covered. I made 2 eggs marbled and the other 2 all blue. I believe they will be a hit!
Steve H. April 5, 2017
Just shared this on the Facebook page of, hopefully it will be tried by a few more people.
Frederique M. April 5, 2017
ooooooh! I make lactofermented beets and red cabbage saurkraut and I ALWAYS keep the sour probiotic liquid they were in in the back of my fridge to make vinegrettes with.. would that work? I have a bright fushia liquid in my fridge now that was made from lactofermented chiogia beets with mustard seeds, peppercorn and fennel seeds... definately could be a winner!
Emma L. April 7, 2017
Yum! That sounds like my kind of vinaigrette :-) I definitely think that could work! Maybe heat the liquid first, though, to help introduce its bright color to the eggs.
Frederique M. April 7, 2017
HMMM... would like lukewarm or warmish work? I'd hate to kill the probiotics in the liquid! They would be a happy and healthy gut occurrence in these pretty eggs !
Emma L. April 7, 2017
It should! I tested the recipes with very hot liquid, but I imagine there's a sweet spot between lively probiotics and effective dye. Let me know if you try!
Frederique M. May 5, 2017
I come back with results! I ended up using the cold lactofermented liquid without heating it at all, and left them submerged (I had to use skewers to keep them from floating up) for a good week (I think it was 7-8 days).
The results were a greyish lavender, which was strange as the liquid was fushia to begin with. Cut up on a salad they were really pretty and the flavour was AMAZING! Really smooth, tangy, earthy from the beets and the yolks almost seemed to be deviled they were so creamy! I have never had pickled eggs before, so I was scared, but they were amazing!
Wish I could send photos! :)
Frederique M. May 5, 2017
OH! and they spent the 7-8days back in the fridge of course!
Emma L. May 7, 2017
Yay! So glad to hear that!!
Paul E. January 23, 2019
I make the beet eggs all the time and dont usually pour it over hot. The color gets in no problem. Keep them on the fridge!!
Allison W. April 5, 2017
I love this and I'm going to try it, but I'm compelled to observe I've found absolutely no method better for hard-cooked eggs than steaming them. I put them straight from the steamer to an ice water bath, and the eggs are *much* easier to peel. The only other technique I've found useful is to age the eggs a few days before hard-cooking.
Emma L. April 7, 2017
I've never tried steaming myself... but I am excited to!
Paul E. January 23, 2019
Steaming works great!! 13 min for hard boiled, from a min or 2 for softer yoke. They dont crack, the youk doesn't turn green and yes they are much easier to peel! Also use older eggs. I raise chickens and don't even try to boil one fresh off the nest, but ones that fresh are perfect for poached eggs!
Jackson F. April 4, 2017
My grandmother makes pickled beets and eggs every Easter. This made me crave hers so badly!
M April 4, 2017
Can't wait to try this. This looks like a really great way to enjoy the Easter colours beyond the egg display and pile of shell crumbs.

But let's be honest -- it's a recipe! There are exact measurements, cooking times, etc, even if it's not separate from the body of the article.
Jennifer April 3, 2017
Love this--so old school! My parents refused to eat beets--but made, and loved,eggs pickled in beet cooking liquid. All these tricks, from turmeric to red cabbage, are ones I grew up with in the 60s & 70s! Love it!
Rachelwrites April 3, 2017
Perfect for a spring brunch!
Ilene April 5, 2017
How do you get the blue eggs?? I want them for Passover!
Debi April 5, 2017
Red cabbage is the chameleon of the vegetable world. Boil it in water and you get a deep purple liquid. But play with the pH level (how basic or acidic the solution is) and you can go from blue to green to pink. Because pickle brine is vinegar-based, you need some baking soda to balance the solution from magenta to lavender. It will fizz and fuss, but that’s just right.

2 cups shredded red cabbage
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
2 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
delana April 5, 2017
Yeah, how about the blue eggs? They are the prettiest and the ONLY reason I clicked on this bait.
Sarah J. April 7, 2017
Sorry for the confusion! The header for "purple" actually instructs how to make blue eggs—those are the instructions we followed to get the pretty blue eggs in the picture.