How to Dye Easter Eggs Naturally

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How to Dye Easter Eggs Naturally
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I love few things more than a basket full of colorful Easter eggs. Easter is important to our family and one of our favorite times of the year, but I often find myself annoyed with the over-commercialization of what I consider a religious holiday. I also get peeved when Easter gets turned into an excuse to let kids (and ourselves) over-indulge in treats filled with sugars, food dyes, and artificial ingredients.

This year, I’m trying to make our celebration of Easter more focused on the actual reason for the holiday. (Hint: It doesn’t have anything to do with a bunny that brings eggs!)

Easter is a liturgical time of celebration, and one of the biggest feast days in the church, so I’m glad to let the kids enjoy some treats. I’m opting, though, to keep some of our favorite traditions with healthy and natural twists.

Let me explain why!

“Natural” Easter Eggs and Easter Baskets… Too Extreme?

I admit I don’t really understand the Easter tradition of a bunny (they don’t lay eggs) delivering plastic candy-filled eggs and baskets. I think giving our kids heaps of junk food at Easter (and other holidays) sets a precedent that associates celebrations with unhealthy foods. To me, there are better ways to develop good food habits for a lifetime.

This may sound extreme to some. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with an occasional indulgence in a food that is less than healthy. But I think most concerned parents would agree that kids these days are getting these indulgences a little too often. From the birthdays of every kid in their class at school to Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Easter, etc., there are more than enough opportunities for kids to get the message that fun and celebration = unhealthy tasty sweet foods.

(Perhaps that is just a pet peeve of mine, though?!)

But let me get off my soapbox… on to Easter eggs!

How to Dye Easter Eggs Without Chemicals

Eggs are one of our favorite foods, so I certainly don’t have any problems with the eggs themselves. (As you may guess, it is the plastic, candy-filled versions I take issue with.)

It turns out that the harmless-looking color tablets that you drop into vinegar water to dye Easter eggs contain harmful chemicals that could have an especially bad effect on some kids. True, we don’t eat the shells, but since eggshells are permeable and some kids are so sensitive to the effects of artificial food dyes, I thought it was worth exploring more natural options.

Option 1: Store-bought Egg Dye

To dye Easter eggs naturally the easy way, use a safe, natural food coloring and mix according to the following ratios:

Option 2: Homemade Egg Dye from Beets (and Other Fruits and Vegetables)

If you don’t have natural food coloring around (we often don’t), you can also use random fruits, veggies, and herbs to accomplish the same thing. We tried this a few years ago and will be doing it again this year.

Below are the foods that can be added to boiling water while cooking eggs to make various colors. You can also juice or boil the ingredients, cool, add vinegar, and use it as a regular egg dye:

  • Blue Coloring: Add a cup of purple cabbage or blueberries to the water when boiling the eggs.
  • Green Coloring: Add a cup of spinach or a few teaspoons of spirulina to the boiling water. You can also juice greens, mix the juice with vinegar, and use it as a cool dye once the eggs are cooked.
  • Red/Pink Coloring: Pomegranate or beet juice is added to the boiling water. You can also put a couple of tablespoons of vinegar in pomegranate or beet juice and use it on pre-cooked eggs as a cool dye.
  • Purple Coloring: Add grape juice to boiling water or soak pre-cooked eggs in grape juice/vinegar mix.
  • Yellow/Orange Coloring: Add a few teaspoons of turmeric or saffron to the boiling water, or boil these spices in water, cool, and mix with vinegar for a cool dye.

Some notes: These natural variations make pastel-colored eggs which I think are more beautiful than the neon eggs created by the artificial colors. Just a warning, though, you won’t be getting any florescent shades with these methods!

How to celebrate Easter naturally

Strategies for Easter Egg Hunts

I’ve never been a huge fan of Easter egg hunts and would forgo them completely, but the kids do really look forward to them. Unfortunately, they usually result in a large bag of candy that somehow disappears when my kids are sleeping (maybe the Easter Bunny stole it!)

In the past, we’ve also hidden hard-boiled eggs for them to find (the dogs found the ones they missed!) or just had a family day outside that involved a lot of other activities. Last year, we did a treasure hunt with clues that led to a better prize (seeds for them to plant in their own little corners of the garden). 

While I prefer the alternatives instead of an egg hunt, this year I’m letting the kids participate in the Easter egg hunt at church, eat a couple of pieces of the least offending candy, and then I’ll trash the rest after they go to bed.

Healthy Candy-free Easter Basket Ideas

I don’t have any problem with Easter being a time of joyful celebration and small gifts. As I mentioned before (probably too much!), it’s the plastic, candy-filled parts of this celebration I take issue with. That being said, I love baskets and store everything in them, so our kids get a (reusable) basket each year filled with (non-sugary) goodies.

Here are some ideas we’ve tried over the years that have been a hit!

Grow Your Own Grass

Using wheat, alfalfa, or clover seeds, grow grass in a small dish that will fit in the bottom of your basket. Use this instead of the plastic Easter grass that you find under the couch in September. Kids love the novelty of growing grass indoors, and as a bonus, grass is supposed to be great at cleaning indoor air. You can even plant it outside with the kids after Easter. If you aren’t up for growing your own grass, shred paper in a shredder and use it instead. Recyclable when done!

Instead of a Basket, Give Your Child a Flower Pot

In the pot, put a small pair of gloves, a pack of heirloom seeds, and a small shovel, and let your child grow their own container garden. There are even pre-made totes for this. Herbs are one easy option, and kids can use them in the kitchen! This is guaranteed to provide fun longer than plastic toys and pixie sticks.

Check Out Thrift Stores

We are on a budget, and doing Easter baskets for each kid sure adds up! Check out local thrift stores for some fun gifts for Easter baskets. For instance, one year each of our kids got a movie, a book, and some shoes, and I spent less than $10 total.

Adopt a Family Pet

If you are brave, consider a small pet. This reinforces the “new life” focus of Easter and will be a lot more exciting than candy and toys. Just be humane! Only adopt a pet if you plan to keep it and care for it, as many baby chickens, ducks, and rabbits are abandoned after Easter.

Give Healthy Foods Instead of Junk

If your kids are looking forward to edible treats, substitute some treats with ones that are healthy and fun. Consider beef jerky, fruit, nuts, or homemade energy bars. Really brave? Make some homemade “peeps” with my probiotic marshmallow recipe.

Check out this post for some other Easter basket ideas! Happy Easter!

What are your favorite ways to dye your Easter eggs? When it comes to candy, do you stick with healthy versions of the usual treats or just let the kids enjoy the unhealthy versions for a day? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks below!

How to dye Easter eggs naturally
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


44 responses to “How to Dye Easter Eggs Naturally”

  1. Tammy Avatar

    Happy Ostara to you and many blessings for spring! I wish more ppl would realize that all holidays have been stolen from the pagans.

  2. Tammy Avatar

    Yay!! Thank you for shedding some light on the wonderful holiday of Ostara! I find it sad that next to no one knows about the true origins of Easter. Many blessings to you and your family ??

  3. sandy Avatar

    My brother in Texas was enjoying his kids splash in puddles and playing in the yard. there must have been some kind of fertilizer in the soil and he had to bring his son to the hospital with rashes inflammation and swelling. he is okay now, but his daughter also developed the same thing. i am going to tell them about you,as I think they could use your valuable advise. why I am not a mother myself , i think your lifestlye of good family values love and concern are commendable.I try to tell mothers that have children with health problems about your site for support Thank-you for sharing all of your knowledge maybe if i see a dad struggling I will tell him it is okay to click on to your well!

  4. Tanya R. Avatar
    Tanya R.

    (Perhaps that is just a pet peeve of mine though?!) – No, Katie – not just your pet peeve at all! I’m THAT mom who has already informed the school and the day care that my son is not to have candy while he’s there. At all. I don’t care whose birthday it is. I don’t mind brownies, or cookies, those at least have flour, eggs, cocoa and other ingredients going on aside from just straight sugar, But the lollipops, and jolly ranchers, smarties, pez, I could go on – there’s no redeeming quality in those kinds of candy. It’s so unnecessary to constantly be allowing kids to consume all that sugar, and they’re not going to come to that realization on their own because they’re kids, and it’s our job as their moms to start them off right and seriously limit their intake.

    I agree with you 100%! I’m actually glad it’s not just me because it really feels like it sometimes.

  5. Dani Avatar

    Easter was originally a pagan holiday that the Christians stole.
    For Ostara, celebrating the fertility goddess, bunnies and eggs/chickens were symbols/symbolic

    I typically love reading your blogs. But felt like this one was way to smug for my taste. I couldn’t even finish reading it. Do some research before you write a peice and offend others. (I’m not Christian and I celebrate Ostara). Learn where your traditions came from. Most came from pagan roots

  6. lala Avatar

    Why do you always recommend people adopt animals for Easter? do you not know how many thousands of chicks, and bunnies end up dumped at shelters, and who are then killed after Easter? You post this every year. Instead, maybe recommend that people donate money (or volunteer time) to animal rescues/shelters who are dealing with an influx of rescued baby animals in the spring?

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      I’m not recommending people “dump” animals after Easter. I said:

      Only adopt a pet if you plan to keep it and care for it as many baby chickens, ducks, and rabbits are abandoned after Easter.

      If you’re not a fan of adopting a pet then don’t do it. No one has to follow any of these suggestions, I’m only recommending things that my family has done in the past and that *might* be useful for other families as well.

  7. Andrea Avatar

    I love this so much and agree with all you said, candy is scary to mr and I just don’t want it to be an option!

    I’m a big ratio person though, so as far as the natural dyes go, any specifics? How much boiling water to how much fruit/other for the boil method and how much cold juice to vinegar, etc.

    Thank you!

  8. Jelena Avatar

    Where I live, eggs are traditionally dyed by cooking with onion skins. They get a nice warm brown shade and a special flavour. My cousins , my brother and I had an egg hunt at my grandma’s beautiful flower garden. It was always an egg and a book or a piece of clothing for the spring.

  9. Sofia Avatar

    This post has great ideas for dying eggs and Easter basket ideas, but I must say that I have to disagree with the animal one. I know that you have mentioned to “be humane and only adopt a pet if you plan to keep it and take care of it” But there is an incredible amount of animals brought to shelters shortly after Easter. And with kids, it’s very likely they will be excited with it for the first few weeks, and then pretty soon you’re going to have to take care of it; or give it to a shelter. It’s sad. And if you’re going to get a pet, you need to do a lot of research, you can’t just get a pet, unsure of exactly how to take care of them. Plus, with all the excitement for other things on Easter, the pet will probably be forgotten quite quickly, As Easter for a lot of people is a busy day. And if you really wanted a pet, wouldn’t you rather make that a separate special occasion? Why have to merge it with Easter and crowd it with all this other stuff? Oh, it’s because you need an alternative to candy, or you want to “teach them about life” The average bunny lives for around 7-12 years; so unless you get an older bunny, that bunny is probably gonna be there for a while. How about instead you plan a separate trip to a shelter, and volunteer there? If they seem very interested and dedicated about getting a pet, you can even consider it. I highly suggest that you don’t get a pet for Easter. If you have been thinking about it for months, then it might be okay. But with all the Easter celebration your pet will probably just be forgotten. Or after a few weeks the excitement will wear off. With kids, you could mention it to them, then wait a couple weeks/months and see if they are still really interested. Now all kids are different, and some may be more interested than others, but I have seen so many pets on Petfinder and animal forums talking about these piggies that they had to give to a shelter because their kids weren’t interested in them anymore. I love your blog and really appreciate you writing this post, but I wanted to mention this because it’s not really a “brave” thing to do, but more risky and careless if not done right.

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      Part of childhood is learning responsibility and how to care for things, pets included. The age of the child and their maturity level should dictate what type of pet (if any) is appropriate for the child and when they should be able to take on the responsibility of caring for it. Since Easter is the celebration of Christ rising from the dead, it is celebrated in the Spring, because of the symbolism of growth and new life, which is why it’s a great time for a child to get a pet. It’s a teaching lesson. Thanks for weighing in!

  10. Carrie Avatar

    I am cutting out the entire coloring this year… we raise a few hens who lay colored eggs. We get brown, pink, and blue in a variety of shades. Colored eggs, no dye, no chemicals, problem solved!

  11. Norma McBride Avatar
    Norma McBride

    So enjoyed reading this post as we close out Easter this year. While my kids are now grown and haven’t really been big into Easter baskets, this year our 3 yr old grand daughter Willa’s with us, so we wanted to make it special for her. My husband did the basket and picked up some great gifts: books and bath stuff, while I did the Easter eggs. I decided to try some home dying with eggs that I done with wool (I enjoy using a drop spindle), so we had bright blue (cabbage), sunny yellow (turmeric) and walnut brown (raspberry and hibiscus). While it was a bit more work than I normally do it was an enjoyable activity and I loved how the colors turned out.

  12. Roxanne Avatar

    Since ancient times rabbits have been associated with spring. It is believed that Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring, Eostre had a hare as her companion. The hare symbolizes fertility and rebirth. Later Christians changed the symbol of the hare to the Easter bunny.

    Also the animals are a good idea when it is a family discussion, last year my husband and I got 2 chicks for our children as we had been preparing for it for a while. I think most people on here who have said it’s a bad idea think of the silly superficial people rather than the majority of responsible people. Animals can also teach responsibly and care to children too.

    I totally agree that the focus of Easter needs to go back into the death and resurrection of Jesus and away from the commercial push for chocolates.

    My children will be getting a small toy a homemade chocolate and book as my extended family still love to buy them chocolate…

    We love to have a special Easter breakfast too with hot chocolate
    (As we are in Australia it is starting to get cooler)

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