Coloring and Using Hard-Boiled Eggs

To naturally dye eggs, turn to ingredients in your kitchen—plus ways to enjoy those hard-boiled eggs for days to come
Colored eggs are always a fun part of Easter and make tasty meals.
Colored eggs are always a fun part of Easter and make tasty meals.

Konstantin Yuganov/Adobe

If you celebrate Easter, colored eggs are usually a fun part of the festivities. Whether you rely on the store-bought dye kits but don’t have one available this year or want to try something new, you can use things you may already have on hand in your kitchen to color the eggs. Turn to ingredients like turmeric for a golden yellow or beets for a dark pink color, for example. If you have food coloring on hand, I also include tips to use that for coloring eggs, as well as recipes to enjoy those hard-boiled eggs after the holiday.

Easy 12-Minute Method for Hard-Boiled Eggs

The first step, of course, is to hard-boil the eggs. I have found this method works well throughout the year anytime I make hard boiled eggs.

  1. Place eggs in a saucepan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Add cold water to cover the eggs by 1 inch. Heat over high heat just to boiling then turn off heat and cover pan.
  2. Let eggs stand in hot water for about 12 minutes for large eggs (9 minutes for medium eggs, 15 minutes for extra large eggs). Drain.
  3. Shock the eggs in ice water to cool them immediately.
pastel colored easter eggs
Colored hard-boiled eggs


Naturally Dyed Eggs

Try these tips from the American Egg Board to make colored eggs with these ingredients:

  • Pinkish red: fresh beets, cranberries, radishes, or frozen raspberries
  • Orange/yellow: yellow onion skins, ground turmeric, orange or lemon peels, carrot tops, celery seed, ground cumin
  • Pale green: spinach leaves
  • Green/gold: yellow delicious apple peels
  • Blue: canned blueberries or red cabbage leaves
  • Beige to brown: strong brewed coffee, dill seeds, or chili powder
  • Grayish/light purple: purple or red grape juice or beet juice
  1. To make naturally dyed eggs, toss your choice of a handful—or two or three—of one of the ingredients listed into a saucepan. Use your own judgment about quantity. This is an art, not a science (see notes).
  2. Add about 1 cup of water per each handful of your chosen ingredient so that the water comes at least 1 inch above your dye materials.
  3. Bring mixture to boiling, reduce the heat, and simmer from 15 minutes up to 1 hour, until the color is the shade you want. Keep in mind that the eggs will dye a lighter shade. Remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Through cheesecloth or a fine sieve, strain the dye mixture into a small bowl that’s deep enough to completely cover the eggs you want to dye.
  5. Add 2 to 3 teaspoons of white vinegar for each cup of dye liquid.
  6. With a spoon or wire egg holder, lower the eggs into the hot liquid. Let the eggs stand until they reach the desired color. With a slotted spoon or wire egg holder, remove the eggs to a rack or drainer. Allow the eggs to dry thoroughly.

• A ratio example for the dye is 1 quart water and 2 tablespoons vinegar: You might add 3 tablespoons turmeric, 4 cups chopped beets or blueberries, or 3 cups shredded purple cabbage. As stated before, feel free to play around depending on how many eggs of a particular color you want and the intensity of that color.
• Naturally dyed eggs require longer soak time in the dye solution for the color to take hold. Soaking overnight will give the most saturated color. Do so in the refrigerator if you intend to eat the eggs.
• Refrigerate hard-boiled eggs that you intend to eat within two hours, and always follow tips for egg safety.

Dyeing Eggs with Food Coloring

If you have food coloring on hand, here is a quick and easy alternative to try:

  1. Boil water in a pot on the stove.
  2. For each color, pour ½ cup boiling water into a small bowl, and add 1 teaspoon vinegar and 20 drops of desired color.
  3. Dip hard-cooked eggs about 5 minutes or longer, depending on desired color. Remove to wire rack or paper towel to cool. After color dries it will not rub off.
Hard-boiled eggs are delicious with just a sprinkle of salt and pepper

American Egg Board

Enjoy the Eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are always delicious on their own with just a sprinkling of salt and pepper, but egg salad is just as tasty a way to use them, too. I usually smash the egg(s) with a fork in a bowl, add mayonnaise, salt and pepper, and a sprinkling of onion powder. This makes a great protein-packed breakfast atop a piece of toast or as a sandwich for lunch. You can also jazz up hard-boiled egg mixture with a variety of different spices and additions to use atop celery or make deviled eggs.

Buffalo Egg Salad Celery Sticks

American Egg Board

Buffalo Egg Salad Celery Sticks

Makes 6 Servings

8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons regular or light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, divided
1 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Buffalo-Style hot sauce, such as Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce
¾ teaspoon paprika, divided
¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper
3 stalks celery, cut into 4-inch pieces

  1. In a medium or large bowl, combine eggs, mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon chives, lemon juice, hot sauce, ½ teaspoon paprika, salt, and pepper.
  2. Spoon into celery pieces and sprinkle remaining paprika and chives over top.
Easy classic deviled eggs

American Egg Board

Deviled Eggs

Makes 6 Servings

6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
1/3 cup shredded taco-seasoned cheese or cheddar cheese
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
3 tablespoons minced green onions

  1. Cut eggs lengthwise in half. Remove yolks to small bowl. Reserve
  2. Mash yolks with fork. Add cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, and green onions; mix well.
  3. Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon yolk mixture into each egg white half. Refrigerate, covered, to blend flavors.

Tip: For ease in filling the egg white halves, place egg yolk mixture in a 1-quart plastic food-storage bag. Push filling toward bottom corner of bag. Snip off about ½ inch of corner. Squeeze yolk mixture from bag into egg whites.

Hungry for More Ways to Use Hard-Boiled Eggs?

A Note on Egg Supply: There should be plenty of eggs for your Easter celebration. Learn more here.

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Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her school-age son, who used to eat beets and Indian food, will one day again think of real food as more than a means to a treat—and later share this with his younger brother.