ARNKA vs White naturally dyed Easter eggs

Simmering veggies/spices for natural dye

Simmering veggies/spices for natural dye

Have you ever started a project with goals of a beautiful ending? But things don’t go quite as planned?

That’s what happened to me this week. 

I’d seen all these beautiful photos of naturally dyed eggs and wanted to replicate them with our eggs. 

I gathered all the supplies: yellow onion skins, strong coffee, grape juice, turmeric, spinach, and vinegar. 

I boiled water, added spices/veggies, simmered for 30 minutes, and then waited (impatiently) for the liquid to cool to room temp. (Full disclosure: I put them in the freezer to cool faster.)

Next I strained the coloring, added vinegar, and gently added the hard-boiled eggs. 

Most directions said to leave the eggs in the dye overnight, so I put them in the fridge and tried to forget about them until morning. 

First thing this morning, I eagerly opened the jar containing the coffee and two eggs. I didn’t know if the eggs would be dark enough and therefore didn’t want to pour the dye down the drain. So I gently lifted an egg with a spoon. 

Imagine my despair when the dye color scrapped right off of the egg!

So I quickly put that egg back in and tried the next jar. The egg soaked in grape juice had bubbles all over them. 

None of the blog posts I’d seen about natural dye said that would happen! 

So I search google and found out why it happens. According to “Those bubbles coming off the surface of the egg are carbon dioxide (CO2), created when free protons in the acetic acid react with the CaCO3 on the surface of the egg shells.”

Too much vinegar caused the bubbles and the dye scrapping off of the eggs.  Homeschool science lesson, but that’s not what I was going for. 

Comparison of ARNKA and white eggs colored with natural dye

Comparison of ARNKA and white eggs colored with natural dye

Thankfully most of the other eggs looked ok. Though not as beautiful as the images I saw online. In fact, the spinach dye didn’t even change the color of my egg.

That got me thinking about my eggs already being shades of cream to medium brown. Perhaps white eggs would be better for natural dyes. (Hmmm, homeschool science after all.)

After a quick trip to the store for white eggs, making new dye with less vinegar, and a long night of waiting, we had completed our science experiment.

Not surprisingly, the shades of color were much different on the white eggs. The yellow was truer and the onion skin eggs were orange instead of rust colored. 

I was disappointed that even though we used less vinegar, the grape juice eggs were still very bubbly and splotchy. The Young Farm Girls thought they looked pretty cool though so I guess it wasn’t a total failure.

My takeaway: the natural dye looks pretty cool on both the white and brown eggs, but the colors aren’t as vibrant as traditional store-bought dye. And they certainly aren’t as reliable. Most likely because of all the variables involved when making your own recipes. I mean, “enough water to cover 6 onion skins” could equal different amounts each time you make it!

I won’t say I won’t make my own natural dye in the future because it was kinda fun to experiment, but I do think our ARNKA eggs look Easter-ish just the way they are!

ARNKA “Easter” eggs

ARNKA “Easter” eggs

I’ve included a few of the natural dye recipes below in case you get a hankering to try it out yourself. Just go light on the vinegar. :)

And if you want colored eggs without the work, just grab a dozen or two of our eggs!

Natural Dye Recipes

Boiled recipe

  1. Bring the veggies/spices and water to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer, covered for 15-30 minutes.

  2. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

  3. Pour dye through mesh strainer or cheesecloth into bowls/jars.

  4. Add vinegar.

  5. Add hard-boiled eggs to the dye and place in fridge until desired color is reached.


  • 6 yellow onion skins

  • enough water to cover skins by 1”

  • 1-2 tablespoons vinegar


  • 2 cups water

  • 2 tablespoons turmeric

  • 2 tablespoons vinegar


  • 2 cups spinach

  • 1 cup water

  • 2 tablespoons vinegar

Sky Blue (I didn’t try this one, but the online photos looked really cool!)

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded red cabbage

  • 2 cups water

  • 2 tablespoons vinegar

No boil recipe

  1. Pour liquid into bowl/jar.

  2. Add vinegar. Add hard boiled eggs.

  3. Refrigerate until desired color is reached.


  • 2 cups grape juice

  • 1 tablespoon vinegar


  • 2 cups strong brewed coffee

  • 2 tablespoons vinegar

Have you ever colored eggs with natural dye? How did it work for you? If you decide to try any of these recipes, send me photos and let me know how it goes!