Egg

How to Make Pickled Eggs in Every Natural Color & Flavor Under the Sun

April  3, 2017

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 and punchier.

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 was before I hit on turmeric, beet, 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 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.

Like painted eggs, but better (because you can eat them). Photo by James Ransom

Here’s how to naturally dye pickled eggs without a recipe:

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.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“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!”
— Jennifer P.
Comment

To start, fill a pot with 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. When the water starts to boil, 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 vinegary brine. 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.)

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.

2. Make your mother brine. 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
A magical experiment! Photo by James Ransom

3. Now pick your color and your 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 not far off from that of still-white pickled eggs.

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: Dill would work beautifully here, and tarragon would be nice in the more subtle orange brine.

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

Pink

Yellow

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

Orange

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

Blue/Purple

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 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. 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).

You will also need to take a moment to marvel at what you've created. Photo by James Ransom

6. Eat! If you’ve used ground spices in the brine, consider giving your eggs a quick rinse before digging in. 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.

More ways to use those eggs:

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

31 Comments

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?
 
Author Comment
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.
 
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!
 
Author Comment
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.
 
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 Eggpub.com, 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!
 
Author Comment
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 !
 
Author Comment
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). <br />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! <br />Wish I could send photos! :)
 
Frederique M. May 5, 2017
OH! and they spent the 7-8days back in the fridge of course!<br />
 
Author Comment
Emma L. May 7, 2017
Yay! So glad to hear that!!
 
2tattered April 5, 2017
I'm confused. Step 5: 'You can remove them as early as an hour, or leave them there for weeks.'<br />But then a bit later: "...transfer them to the fridge (and remove them from the brine within the week).'<br />How long can the eggs be kept in the brine in the fridge?<br />Thanks!
 
2tattered April 5, 2017
Also, how many eggs per batch of brine?
 
Sarah J. April 7, 2017
4 eggs per batch of brine! As for your other questions, I'm checking in with the writer and we'll get back to you ASAP. Sorry for the delay!
 
Author Comment
Emma L. April 7, 2017
Hey, thanks for the catch and apologies for the confusion! The eggs will keep in the brine in the fridge for a few weeks, or even longer, but the flavor and color will become more intense. I like to eat them within a week or so!
 
Tracey P. April 7, 2017
Thank you both.
 
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.
 
Author Comment
Emma L. April 7, 2017
I've never tried steaming myself... but I am excited to!
 
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.<br /><br />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!<br />
 
Debi April 5, 2017
PURPLE<br />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.<br /><br />2 cups shredded red cabbage<br />1 tablespoon caraway seeds<br />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.