Easy Natural Dye Easter Eggs: Use Cabbage for Blue

April 14, 2014

Dye Eggs with Red Cabbage for a Ombre Look. Easy and totally natural.   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

I love the look of eggs dyed with plants and flowers, but every time I’ve planned on attempting it in years past, I get intimidated sourcing dye ingredients and stop myself up. So instead of gathering a dozen different materials and spending too many hours experimenting, I decided that this year, I would focus on one easy to find plant and see what it could do.

The plant? Common red cabbage. Available in every produce department of every grocery store in the country. Yes, it looks purple or sometimes red, but did you know it makes a great blue dye? It’s one of those things that’s hard to believe until you try it yourself.

Dye Eggs with Red Cabbage for Gorgeous, Natural Look   |   Design Mom

I love how they turned out so much I even want to keep the broken shells.

Dye Eggs with Red Cabbage for Gorgeous, Natural Look   |   Design Mom

I felt so much happy anticipation checking and rechecking them to see how the colors were changing. I could hardly wait to see the final results.

Dye Eggs with Red Cabbage for Gorgeous, Natural Look   |   Design Mom

Get the details below!

Dye Eggs with Red Cabbage for Gorgeous, Natural Look   |   Design Mom

Supplies for One Batch of Blue Dye:

- 1 head of red cabbage, chopped
- 4-5 cups of water, dependent on the size of the cabbage head
- 1 to 1 1/4 Tbsp white vinegar
- baking soda, optional
- eggs to dye
- big pot, colander, cups for dye, towels

Dye Eggs with Red Cabbage for Gorgeous, Natural Look   |   Design Mom

Toss the chopped cabbage into a large pot with the water. Bring the water to a boil and then simmer for 20-30 minutes. When it is complete, add in the white vinegar.

White vinegar is an acid which helps with the dye process. In my observations, the white vinegar also act as a color lightener. When I added it to my first batch of cabbage dye, I was nervous because I noticed the tone lighten to a more purply hue. In my research for this project, I found that baking soda acts in the opposite way. I added a pinch of it to the dye and the tone quickly turned more blue. I am not a chemist and, for the most part, I chalk the whole process of dyeing up to magic.

Dye Eggs with Red Cabbage for Gorgeous, Natural Look   |   Design Mom

So how do you get the different tones with just cabbage? Easy peasy. Simply vary the length of time the eggs spend in the dye bath. The deeper the tone, the longer the time. In fact, the deepest tones sat overnight! It was an easy process. I submerged the eggs and would just keep checking on them until I liked the tone.

All of tones pictured were achieved with cabbage — with one exception. The navy tone was achieved using a blueberry dye. Blueberries, crazy enough, make a reddish dye. I used a little of that with my blue dye to get the navy.

The blueberry dye mix I used was 2 cups water to 2 cups blueberries. I boiled them together for about 30 minutes and then I added 1/2 Tbsp of white vinegar.

Dye Eggs with Red Cabbage for Gorgeous, Natural Look   |   Design Mom

And that’s it! If you’ve every wanted to experiment with natural dye, I highly recommend red cabbage as the perfect starting point — that one ingredient can create a full ombré look!

Tell me, Dear Readers, have you ever tried dyeing your eggs with plants or vegetables? Do you have a favorite technique? I’m especially interested in easy-to-find ingredients that I can pick up at 11:00 PM when I’m at the grocery store buying last minute lunchbox ingredients any way. : )

Also, I’d love to hear if you’re trying any special techniques to dye your eggs this year?

P.S. — More natural dye! Use onions for orange, turmeric for yellow, and beets for red, and here’s how to make green.

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 sarah sample April 14, 2014 at 9:44 pm

This is brilliant. I could paint a whole house to match those cabbage eggs. I grew up in Santa Barbara and during Fiesta! they would take dyed eggs, blow out the yolk, fill with confetti, and cover the hole on top with tissue paper. I want to make cabbage Fiesta! eggs. Great idea, beautiful photos.


2 Design Mom April 14, 2014 at 10:13 pm

I’ve seen those confetti eggs and they make me grin every time! I hope you make some.


3 Nancy April 14, 2014 at 9:59 pm

Did you dye boiled eggs or hollowed out eggs? These are lovely! I had some fun with cabbage hues as part of a high school science project. Silly and colorful and so not award-winning science.


4 Design Mom April 14, 2014 at 10:13 pm

I used boiled eggs, but I’m thinking hollowed out ones would work just fine.


5 jbhat April 18, 2014 at 4:08 pm

But don’t be like me and try it with brown eggs. : ( It didn’t take, so duh on me. I’m eager to try again with white shelled eggs.



6 this girl loves to talk April 24, 2014 at 3:50 am

use onion skins and brown eggs (the main type available in Australia, not many white eggs here in the stores) You can place a leaf or herbs on the egg, wrap in stocking and tie and boil in the onion skin water. The eggs turn a deep red/ brown and you shine them up with olive oil.


7 this girl loves to talk April 24, 2014 at 3:51 am

ha. I didn’t even see the comment below. whoops.

8 Annie April 14, 2014 at 10:33 pm

All those shades of blue are gorgeous!

Years ago a friend showed me how to dye eggs with onions which she learned while in Russia. We placed parsley leaves on the eggs then wrapped a piece of cut nylon around it and tied it in place so it would resist the dye in a parsley leaf pattern. Then the eggs were placed in a slow cooker full of onions and water. They eggs turned out this beautiful brick red-brown color.


9 Lexie April 15, 2014 at 9:32 am

Completely right! I grew up making eggs this way. After the dying process, the eggs are rubbed with olive oil and shined with a cloth (2 or 3 times per egg) and they achieve a marvelous shine! Onion dyed eggs are truly my favorite.


10 Design Mom April 15, 2014 at 10:21 am

Sounds gorgeous! And thanks for the cut nylon tip. I was trying to imagine how to keep the leaves attached during the boiling.


11 Katie April 14, 2014 at 11:11 pm

So beautiful! I’ve been interested in making natural dyes since I stopped buying artificially-colored food. I’ve heard that you can also use turmeric to get an orange-ish color. Just curious, though – did the cabbage change the taste of the eggs at all?


12 Design Mom April 15, 2014 at 10:27 am

I didn’t notice a change in taste — though I can’t pretend I have the most sensitive taste buds. : )


13 June March 15, 2015 at 9:07 am

Boiled onion skins make a lovely bright orange dye – you can dye raw sheep’s wool with this too.


14 Anna April 15, 2014 at 2:07 am

Spinach! Wrap your raw eggs in spinach leaves and simply boil them for 7 mins. Beautiful light-green mottled results. AndI have to say your cabbage sky-blue is wonderfull!


15 Design Mom April 15, 2014 at 10:24 am

Sounds awesome! Do you use a cut nylon to keep the leaves in place?


16 Marija Taraba April 15, 2014 at 2:54 am

The traditional natural dye here in Serbia are onion skins! The give shades of orange,brown and red depending on how long you keep the eggs in them. You cook the eggs in the water filed with onion skins( from 4-5 onions on 5 eggs) and then you leave them for various amount of time depending on the shade you want.


17 Design Mom April 15, 2014 at 10:26 am

I think onion skins needs to be the next natural dye I try.


18 Beth April 15, 2014 at 9:26 am

How cool! Not natural but we love to use kool aid to dye our eggs- fun colors!


19 Design Mom April 15, 2014 at 10:22 am

I’ve heard of Kool-Aid dyes, but I’ve never tried it. Sounds like something my kids would love! Most years, we typically use the food dye drops.


20 elizaH April 15, 2014 at 9:28 am

I’ve never done it, but I imagine beets would make some pretty colours. I hate hard boiled eggs so i usually quickly dye my raw eggs in cold water (with food dye), then put them back in the fridge and I have coloured eggs for baking and breakfast through the holiday week. I googled beet-dyed eggs and came up with a lot of devilled eggs that had been dyed in beet dye AFTER the shell was off – so you get a bright pink devilled egg! Pretty (and probably tastes just fine…if you like boiled/devilled eggs!)


21 Design Mom April 15, 2014 at 10:22 am

Dyeing after boiling? I’ve never heard of it, but bright pink deviled eggs sound fabulous! I’ll go do a search. Thanks for the heads up!


22 Rilla April 17, 2014 at 8:36 pm

My family makes pickled beets and eggs every yr for Easter! It’s an Eastern European thing. We use the beet cooking liquid to make a quick pickle brine and then mix the sliced beets, some white onion and a bunch of shelled hard boiled eggs in a container and topwith the pickling liquid. Then they sit in the fridge for a few days. They end up beautiful and are truly delicious! I am definitely going to try your cabbage eggs though! I have a bit of a blue obsession this year.


23 Chelle April 15, 2014 at 11:31 am

I dye my eggs raw, too! I love baking and cooking with brightly colored eggs.


24 Molly April 15, 2014 at 2:09 pm

I dye eggs using onion skins as well, but in a different way than described above. My grandmother and I used to do this together – we’d pick peach leaves off the tree in her back yard (I would bet that other types of leaves would work, but these were what we always used), place those around the eggs, then layer onion skins on top of that. My grandmother would then sew fabric around each egg to hold the leaves and skins in place. When I was about 9 years old, I asked why we didn’t we just use a stapler!? ha, that made things go much more quickly. Then we dropped each one in boiling water (can’t remember how long). When you unwrap, you can see the green leaves, and the surrounding egg is a beautiful brown/peach color.


25 LeeLee April 15, 2014 at 3:38 pm

Great post. I’ve never done this. Hope to try it this weekend.


26 Margo, Thrift at Home April 15, 2014 at 8:33 pm

oh, this is tempting! I love blue and those eggs are so pretty. I think I could pull this off yet this Easter season. . .


27 Labrando un HOGAR April 16, 2014 at 12:05 pm

I am making our eggs, thankg!


28 Bettsi April 28, 2014 at 9:47 pm

About a hundred or so years ago (feels like it, anyway!), Victoria magazine did a piece where they made “marbled” eggs for deviled eggs. The boiled eggs were crackled by rolling them on the counter top and THEN they were dyed. The peeled egg then had a lovely marbled look and the deviled eggs were so pretty!


29 gina April 29, 2014 at 6:44 am

Oh, what a joy to discover this post! We’ve been in France and away from the keyboard for a few weeks. I’m just getting a jump on things again and so happy to say hi! The last Easter post I managed before traveling was to show a few of our naturally dyed eggs and ideas, too. (We added onion skins, beets and tumeric this year, too) The colors and creativity using natural dyes have made me swoon! (The first time I ever shared a natural egg dye I went straight cabbage, too and and feel good to see you under the same spell — the color! Spectacular.) As always, it’s great to catch up!


30 Carol Langille January 30, 2015 at 5:55 am

This is a goofy question but before I try it, I need to be sure…..after you have boiled the cabbage, do you drain off the cabbage juice and then add the vinegar or do you add the vinegar to the cooked cabbage? I love these and can’t wait to try them!


31 Anca February 23, 2015 at 2:55 am

Great idea and colours with cabbage! <3 Since I remember, we dye eggs with the outer dry layer of onions (doesn't matter if it's red or white onion)
We fold the eggs in those onion layers, and place them in an old stocking, tying after every egg (https://inbucatariamea.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/img_1903.jpg) and just boyle them. Sometimes we even stick a leaf of shamrock or whatever we find in the garden and it looks nice :D (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-QPPYjW6CTRg/T4hlyBS9CoI/AAAAAAAAG2U/zrp7g8uEkDY/s1600/9_oua_rosii.jpg)


32 June March 15, 2015 at 9:13 am

Really enjoyed this page – thanks. :)


33 jean March 20, 2015 at 8:11 am

A few years ago I dyed all my eggs the natural way.I used onion skins and got the most beautiful yellow eggs! I also used raspberries, blueberries, red beets, blackberries,etc. They were really easy and turned out well, but I had no success
coming up with a nice green . I tried different vegetables and the turmeric spice, but was disappointed with the green.


34 Linda March 22, 2015 at 5:40 pm

Gorgeous–the bluebird of happiness must have laid them (or wishes she did)! And I agree, natural dyeing is magical.


35 lindsay March 27, 2015 at 7:52 pm

Hi there. I have the same question as Carol. I’m simmering my cabbage now….but once it’s done….it’s kind of unclear what the exact next steps are. Do you drain the water from the cabbage or is it important to leave it in? Do we wait for the water to cool? Thanks!


36 Alison Goodwin April 5, 2015 at 8:57 am

Hello is this a silly question, just wonder, can the cabbage dye be used successfully to colour fabric? The resultant colour is so beautiful I’d love to be able to use it for fabric crafting.


37 Essie April 6, 2015 at 11:24 am

We did it and they came out gorgeous! btw, the batch with only vinegar made the deep intense blue and the batch with vinegar and baking soda made the much paler blue… opposite of what you found in your experience, Gabriel!


38 Sophia | An Ode To... April 8, 2015 at 3:24 am

What an inspiring post and most beautiful died eggs! I was wondering if I can get such beautiful colours if my eggs are brown?


39 Julie March 13, 2016 at 9:42 am

So beautiful! I’m trying this myself this year but I have one issue that keeps messing with me! When I’ve blown out the egg, the inside membrane seems to seal the egg again, so its full of air.. making it very difficult to submerge as it will just float to the top immediately! Does anyone have a tip on how to puncture the membrane or get rid of it once and for all?


40 cp March 20, 2016 at 2:10 pm

Vinegar is entirely unnecessary with natural dyes. Its use comes from artificial egg dyes, which do need it. With natural dyes, vinegar can change the color (like with red cabbage which is a pH indicator) or sometimes it weakens the color. But it is not needed to make the color stick at all.


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