Before clothing companies, back when people still had to make and sew their own clothing, people used natural dyes to color fabric. A similar process can be used to dye Easter eggs! If you didn’t make it to the store to grab your normal egg-dyeing kit, this is a great alternative. Use up some of your kitchen scraps to make beautiful natural colors to brighten up your holiday!


What you’ll need:

  • White vinegar
  • Dye materials (see list below), select some or all to dye with
  • Water
  • Saucepan
  • Strainer
  • Paper towels
  • Cups or bowls
  • Hard-boiled eggs or hollow eggs to dye


Dye Materials:

  • Shredded purple cabbage: 1 cup
  • Red or yellow onion skins: 1 cup
  • Shredded beets: 1 cup
  • Ground turmeric: 2-3 tablespoons
  • Brewed strong coffee: 2 cups
  • Ground chili powder: 2-3 tablespoons
  • Spinach: 2 cups


Step One:

Bring 1-2 cups of water to a boil in your saucepan.

Bring 2 cups water to a boil.

Step Two:

            Pick your dye material and add to boiling water. The higher the ratio of dye material to water, the stronger the color will be. *Note: coffee does not need to be added to water. Skip to step 5 if dyeing with coffee.

Add dye agent. Pictured: ground turmeric.

Step Three:

Reduce heat and simmer dye materials in water for about 30 minutes. For stronger colors, simmer longer.

Simmer dye.

Step Four:

            Place mesh strainer over bowl. Pour contents of saucepan through strainer, unless using ground spice. Cool to room temperature.

Step Five:

Stir 2 tablespoons white vinegar into strained liquid.

Add 2 tablespoons vinegar to dye mixture.

Step Six:

            Soak eggs in dye mixture until desired color is obtained. For rich colors, place bowl (or jar) with dye material and eggs in the refrigerator and leave 8 hours or overnight.

Soak eggs. I rotated these every hour.

Step Seven:

            Remove eggs and dry with paper towel. To give eggs a shiny finish, rub lightly with vegetable oil.

Finished eggs dyed with ground turmeric.

~Kami Ahrens, Assistant Curator