Happy almost Easter, Kitchn readers! Looking for a beautiful, natural way to dye your eggs this year? Forget the technicolor dyes and look to your pantry, because onion skins are all you need to produce lovely, variegated-toned eggs.
In Easter Land, things can get a little out of hand when it comes to the arts-and-crafts aspect of the holiday. Whenever I get overwhelmed with the prospect of entertaining and decorating all at once, I try to remember that nobody will care if it looks like Pinterest exploded in my home overnight. Sometimes, the simplest projects are plenty good enough.
This dyeing project is an easy one — simmering, dunking, and soaking don't take a whole lot of attention or skill. The results are awfully pretty, even more so when you use a combination of brown and white eggs. They're great for a natural, simple holiday table — especially when strewn in a bowl with a little Easter grass.
In order to amass a dozen onions' worth of peels, you have two options: Buy all of those onions, peel them, then save the onions for another use, or call up your nearest grocery store's produce manager and ask them to save some for you. When I stopped in at my favorite market, the proprietor's eyes lit up, as he's had patrons ask him about this exact thing many times before. He was happy to gift me a bag of onion skins, free of charge.
A Note on Coloring You Want
The photos in this post reflect two different dye sessions. We've tested this method several times and have found that the number of dips in the dye is even more important than the duration of time spent in the dye. Put the eggs through a few cycles of dipping, drying, and dipping again and you'll get a deeper color.
How To Dye Easter Eggs with Onion Skins
Makes one dozen eggs
What You Need
- Onion skins from about 12 onions (mostly red, although some yellow is fine)
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar
- Olive oil or other edible oil
- 12 large hard-boiled eggs (white, brown, or a mix)
- 3-quart saucepan
- 2-quart measuring cup or mixing bowl
- Wooden spoon
- Slotted spoon
- Paper towel
- Boil onion skins: In a medium (3-quart) stainless steel saucepan, combine the onion skins, water, and vinegar. Use a spoon to stir all the onion skins into the water. Bring up to a boil.
- Simmer: Turn heat down to low and simmer, covered, for at least 30 minutes.
- Strain: Strain the mixture into a non-reactive measuring cup or bowl, and allow to cool. It doesn't have to be cold, just below 160ºF or so, so you don't keep cooking the eggs.
- Add the eggs: Use a slotted spoon to gently lower the eggs into the dye. Nudge them into place so the liquid is covering all of the eggs, topping off with a little bit of water if necessary.
- Soak the eggs: Let the eggs soak in the dye for at least 30 minutes, or up to one hour. The longer they soak, the darker they will be.
- Remove and dry: Remove the eggs from the dye with the slotted spoon and allow to cool on a wire rack.
- Polish with olive oil: When the eggs are dry and cool enough to handle, use a few drops of olive oil and a paper towel to polish them up. Keep the eggs refrigerated until ready to eat, up to one week.
- Yellow onion skins will dye the eggs a light tan, while red onion skins will yield a richer brown color. A mix of onions, as well as a selection of white and brown eggs will give you a pretty, varied palette of shades.
- For a more intricate, involved project, use parsley leaves and stockings to make Huevos Haminados, or go full-on Martha and tie the eggs into cheesecloth and onion skin bundles for a pretty pattern.