3 Lickity-Split Ways to Make Egg Dye—With or Without the Box

And chances are, you already have the materials on hand.

February  2, 2022
Photo by Getty Images / GMVozd

In my family, Easter isn’t a particularly sentimental holiday (as we’re not religious), but one tradition we can all get behind? Gathering around the table to dye eggs together. Some years back, my mom coined this activity the “eggs-travaganza,” and the Saturday before Easter Sunday is always spent competing with each other to create the most beautiful or most original dyed egg.

In years past, I’ve drawn tiny, intricate details on eggs, dip-dyed them in various hues, and even once painted four eggs with the likenesses of our favorite Star Wars characters. These eggs were pretty much totally decorative, though, as I’d often use acrylic paints and markers to get the desired effect.

Since eggs are porous, it’s generally best to err on the side of food-safe dyes if your family is planning on making a big ol’ batch of egg salad post-dyeing. Below, find some of our favorite ways to make Easter egg dye—you might even have everything you need on hand already.

Boxed Egg Dyes

Boxed egg dyes (you know, the ones that line all the grocery store shelves each spring) are usually pretty straightforward. I always dyed eggs with my grandma as a kid, and I’d love each year when she broke out a big bag full of egg-dipping spoons, holders to rest the dyed ones as they dried, and new boxes of dye kits.

The boxes of dye usually include color tablets, which are mixed with boiling water and white vinegar to create super bright dyes. Refer to the back of the box for instructions, of course, but the general instructions are to mix boiled water, a teaspoon or so of vinegar in cups of bowls, and then drop the tablets in. This method does result in a super-satisfying fizz effect as the tablet breaks down into liquid dye. Just be sure to stir each well so the powder tablet incorporates fully. For more pastel colors, you can dilute this mixture with more water.

Food Coloring

This one is about as easy as it gets (okay, maybe besides the box dye), and if you have food coloring kicking around your pantry already, you’re basically all set.

What You’ll Need:

  • Boiling water
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Liquid food coloring

What You’ll Do:

  1. Boil enough water to separate it into several different egg baths, each of them requiring about a ½ cup of water.
  2. In small cups or bowls, stir together a ½ cup of boiling water, a teaspoon of vinegar, and about 20 drops of food coloring, depending on how saturated you want your eggs to be.

Natural Egg Dyes

Given that Easter eggs are usually hard boiled for eating, it’s no surprise that lots of people are turning toward natural dyes for tinting their eggs. Luckily, you can make egg dye from a whole host of kitchen scraps and items you already have. I’ve had great success dyeing eggs with reduced blueberries, turmeric, and paprika for a range of both muted and vibrant colors, including blue, purple, orange, yellow, and green. The fun part about making homemade dyes is that you can concentrate them as much as you want, and mix them together to experiment with different color combinations.

Here’s the basic gist of dying with kitchen staples (which you can read about in-depth here, or watch a tutorial here):

What You’ll Need:

  • Kettle or pot for boiling water
  • Powdered freeze-dried fruit or spice (like turmeric or paprika)
  • Fresh produce like blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries
  • Cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer
  • White vinegar (optional)

What You’ll Do:

  1. To turn freeze-dried fruit into powder, place in a food processor on high for 2 minutes.
  2. For fresh ingredients, reduce them in a pot on the stove with water (in a 1:1 ratio) until the mixture reduces by at least half.
  3. Cut out a square of cheesecloth 2 inches wider than the circumference of the small dye bowl and place on top of the bowl, or use a fine mesh strainer.
  4. For powder, add two to three tablespoons of powder into the center of the cheesecloth and slowly pour hot water over the powder until it’s completely saturated but not oversaturated (the less water, the stronger the pigment of the dye).
  5. For fresh produce, add two or three tablespoons of the liquid reduction to the cheesecloth or strainer, and pour hot water over in the same way.
  6. Let the mixture sit in the cheesecloth over the bowl for a few minutes, then discard the cloth. Add a teaspoon of white vinegar per ½ cup of dye to create a vibrant color, or leave this out if you want more pastel eggs.

Something to note: Natural pigments will change as they oxidize with the air, so don’t be surprised if your blueberry dye turns from a vibrant blue on the egg to a pale purple as it sits out. This happened to me but I rather liked the variation, and leaned into the differences.

Would you try any of these methods for dying eggs this Easter? Tell us in the comments below!

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When I'm not writing & editing for Home52, I'm likely to be found DIY-ing a new piece of furniture (or restoring an old one), hanging things on the wall in my apartment, or watching hours of vintage RHONY.