Connect with Us: Foodservice RDs & Health Professionals

Coloring Eggs – A Glimpse into Traditions

Coloring eggs for spring celebrations is a time-honored tradition that crosses many cultures and faiths. According to Farmers’ Almanac, the ancient Egyptians gave each other colored eggs to celebrate spring’s arrival. So did the Persians before them.

The egg is often viewed as a symbol of rebirth. According to the Feasts of Feasts website, “It was customary in ancient times to go and gather different colored eggs from the nests of a variety of birds. Some suggest that may be what gave rise to egg hunts and dyeing of eggs, for people were imitating the tinted eggs of wild birds, and mimicking the colors of spring with its array of pastel flowers and blossoms in bloom.”

Farmers’ Almanac says the Pennsylvania Dutch carried the egg-coloring tradition to America in the 1700s. Dying eggs was a cumbersome practice, though, using natural colorings from onion skins, hickory bark, beets, and other plant materials. Then a New Jersey druggist named William Townley decided to pre-package egg colorings and sell them in his shop—the beginnings of commercial egg coloring products.

Natural egg colorings

Interested in trying some traditional egg coloring techniques? Onion skins are still an option today. Red onions will produce vivid red egg coloring; yellow onions can give you lighter, golden hues. See directions at

For more egg color options, try beets or purple cabbage. Basically, you boil the vegetables in water, strain the liquid, and add vinegar. See more instructions on This author also tries unique coloring ingredients like turmeric and red zinger tea.

Reader’s Digest offers more ideas, including using coffee to make eggs brown, blueberries for a delicate lavender color, paprika for brick red, spinach for a hearty green, and other ideas.
For the adventurous, there is always the idea of blowing out a raw egg for a timeliness piece of spring art. Martha Stewart’s video shows you how. Remember if you are handling raw eggs, a pasteurized egg is the safe option.

Natural Easter Eggs

Want more inspiration? See the Safest Choice™ unique egg decorating ideas blog post.

How to hard-boil an egg

Just in case you’re feeling stuck on how to prepare your eggs for coloring, here are simple directions for hard-boiling an egg:  Place eggs in a saucepan and cover them with about an inch of water. Bring the water to a boil; then turn down to a light simmer for 12 minutes. Rinse them immediately in cold water. Gently crack the eggs, roll them between your hands, and peel off the shells, grabbing from the membrane for easier removal.

Enjoy your spring celebrations!