Picture of Easter Eggs Dyed With Onion Skins
Boiling eggs that have been wrapped snugly in onion skins, produces beautifully patterned Easter eggs.

I never really cared for the usual colourful Easter eggs most people make. They're too gaudy for my taste. I don't like the mess involved with making them and I don't like using all that food colouring. So, for the past ten years or so, I've been colouring my Easter eggs the way my grandparents used to; using onion skins.

Step 1: Materials Needed

Picture of Materials Needed
Here is what you need to make these kind of Easter eggs:

- eggs
- onion skins (pieces as large as possible)
- 20 cm (8 inch) squares of cloth
- rubber bands
- a pot of boiling water
- some vegetable oil

I start saving onion skins for a month or two before Easter... I guess that's pretty much all of Lent. If you don't have enough onion skins saved up by Easter, ask your local grocery store if you may get some loose onion skins from them.
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mpanetti1 year ago
Hello.can I use red onions as well? Does anyone have pictures of what they look like?
linrodann2 years ago
Ooh, that's really pretty!
shortone5 years ago
nice 'ible! I actually just posted on my blog about these, using a different method. I was wondering if it would be ok with you if I added a link to this instructable so people could see another variation?
here's the post:
(it's strange...my eggs came out very dark red. I think I just cooked them longer with the onion skins or something. :)
wrique (author)  shortone5 years ago
You bet Betsy!  Thanks for linking to this!
shortone wrique5 years ago
you're welcome :)
pdub77 shortone4 years ago
I like your technique, shortone, for a different take on this. I also like the marbling you get from wrique's. Combined like Voltron (or Wonder Twins, if that's how you roll. . .) you could have a wicked cool Easter basket!
it is so amazing stuff.. My wife done like that .. http://dyingeastereggs.com
this is very inventive and intersting, you're right it does look far more classy than the crayon colors that most of us associate with easter.  thanks for posting, i'm excited to give this one a shot
hibou5 years ago
 these are beautiful.  thanks for sharing :)
sjrushworth5 years ago
My mother taught me how to do this (exactly the same method) when I was a little boy in the 1950s! We have done th eggs this way every year since and taught our kids.  No onion flavour issues. 
chrysa5 years ago
when my family dyes with skins, we don't bother with the cloth bundles.  We just toss everything in the pot and cook them till they are the right colour. Granted, the 'toss and boil' method doesn't leave the cool patterns as pictured above.

mpbubb7 years ago
... or a little vinegar will keep the whites from running out.
fpeelo mpbubb6 years ago
Not sure that vinegar is a good idea here. It does help to contain the white, but I think it also interferes with the onion colouring.
Actually I believe the vinegar would work as a mordant, and help the color of the egg be more colorfast.
That's right, the vinegar will help keep the eggs more colorful, even after repeated washings! Sorry, couldn't help myself.  It is true though that vinegar should help the dye from smudging in the wet grass or coming off on the little one's clothing... Probably not as much of a problem with onion skins as it would be with beet or red cabbage dye. 
we tried the onion, Brilliant! The Bermuda onion wasn't as good and was the beet green was a bust. Also, we used coffee filters instead of the cloth and that worked great.
beva6 years ago
I wrap up flowers against the surface of the egg, and they leave a pattern you can get green eggs using red cabbage as a dye
thepelton beva5 years ago
Someone a couple of years ago gave me a dozen eggs that were green without having been dyed.  The chickens laid them like that.
I remember my mother making pickled eggs with beet juice. The whole egg--inside and out--turned a bright pinkish red. I loved those as a kid! There is a recipe here if you're interested:  allrecipes.com/Recipe/Pickled-Red-Beet-Eggs/Detail.aspx 

Beet Juice was also reccommended for nontoxic coloring of homemade wooden toys in a woodworking magazine I was reading.
thepelton5 years ago
Yellow onions are OK, I suppose, but I was wondering how well those purple onions would work?
Karletto5555 years ago
Great instructable. That's how we do it ->
We wrap the egg into a pantyhose and put a leaf of parsley in direct contact with egg shell. The leaf will make bright decoration on the shell and of course it can be also from other vegatable. You should try it because looks very cool.


zascecs5 years ago
In my family, we always made these for easter. Pretty cool. 
Joey7026 years ago
That's actually kind of depressing that the eggs don't retain an onion-y taste... it would be perfect for making omelets! Haha, but I very much want to try this! It looks very classy.
hard to make an omelet with a  Hard boiled egg.
 ... D'OH.

markocosic8 years ago
Wooo - somebody else who does this! :-) Those look gorgeous!

Red onion skins tend to work nicer with the tan eggs. (US eggs are white, British eggs are light brown - don't know why!)

(pic) http://www.cosic.org.uk/misc/PICT0404.JPG

Using tights (stockings, pantyhose?) instead of cloth and the rubber band gets you a more even clamping/pressing against the egg for the leaves - useful if you want to try delicate ones.

As a game to play over easter, rather than cracking them on your forehead, one person holds their egg still and ther other person smashes their egg into it. Winner stays on, loser eats their egg, repeat until only one egg is left standing. Hint - there's an optimum end of the egg to use and that depends on which way up it was when boiled, and there's a trick to pre-squeezing the egg (reduces tension on the inside of the shell on impact) and releasing it as the two eggs strike (reduces tension on the outside as the egg relaxes). Mainly the older you are the better at it you tend to be, but you can pretend that there's a skill to it! ;-)
lipo markocosic7 years ago
Here in the U.S. they bleach the eggs. But you can buy the brown eggs as well, they are just not as common.
thepelton lipo6 years ago
Once, someone even gave me a dozen green eggs. Just the shells, and no ham.
Aricauna chickens are known as the easter egg chicken because they lay colored eggs. I had 2 of them growing up and one layed blue eggs and the other layed green eggs. No dye needed! :)
I bet they were popular at Easter time.
haleyc lipo6 years ago
White chickens lay white eggs, brown or other colored chickens lay brown eggs is what I have been taught. "In general, chicken breeds with white ear lobes lay white eggs, whereas chickens with red ear lobes lay brown eggs." From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egg_(food)
Jeepingurl lipo7 years ago
On what authority to you make this claim? I grew up on a farm, with chickens, some of the eggs were brown, some were white, no bleach involved. Also, eggshells are pourous, which would imply that the bleach would leach into the eggs. Hmmm.
lipo Jeepingurl7 years ago
That is what I have always been told, but I will admit that I have not done research on this subject. It does stand to reason that at some point they go through some sort of process, because if you will notice the eggs that you buy in the store are all white. And I believe that the last package of brown eggs I had said that they were unbleached. So that is why I said that.
wrique (author)  Jeepingurl7 years ago
I've gotta agree with Jeepingurl on this one. I haven't found any information any where that eggs are ever bleached - either with chemicals or UV.
jeff markocosic8 years ago
Eggs sold retail in the US come in white, brown and 'red'. Here in New England, brown eggs are the norm (cue old ad jingle "Brown eggs are local eggs, and local eggs are fresh!"). In parts of the South, the brown eggs are quite dark and are often called "red".
TVarmy jeff8 years ago
I hate to tell you this, but most supermarket brown eggs are laid in the same factory farms as the white eggs, so they taste pretty much the same (Pigment is not linked to flavor). What you should do for good local eggs is look in the organic section and see what free range local eggs you can find. I don't even mess with the supermarket for eggs anymore. Nowadays, I go to my local Agway, where a farmers' co-op drop off their eggs for a very low price (no middlemen to raise the prices). Of course, if the brown shell is just for egg coloring and you don't get out to your farmers' market/etc, go ahead and buy supermarket brown.
jeff TVarmy8 years ago
I didn't mean to imply there was a real difference - as I said its an old (c. 1960-80s) jingle. I just quoted it to show that brown eggs have been the norm around here for a long time. While i do think that free-range/cruelty-free/organic eggs are defintiely tastier/healthier (they're what I buy), that doesn't mean they're local - here in Boston metro, the two big organic brands - eggland and land-o-lakes - are carried pretty much everywhere - even the little bodegga a couple blocks away. But those companies ship their eggs from out of state. Ironically, the truly local (~10 miles from the city center) eggs carried by some of the stores around here aren't certified organic, even though I've been to the Milton farm and their chickens are free-range and fed on IPM grain. I've been buying organic at the stores for years now, but am about to switch over to a milk-and-eggs delivery service. Here in Boston, it's actually cheaper than buying regular retail, fresher, and if I want, I can get raw milk (which is more expensive, but is what I grew up on, and is far tastier and arguably healthier). ********************** Btw, I'm about to try for purple eggs using beets and red cabbage. Thanks for that link, fauxreal!
smokehill jeff7 years ago
For really purple eggs, make pickled eggs the old fashioned way: Hardboil, peel off the shells, and then submerge eggsin a pickle jar in which you SAVED the pickle brine after the pickles were gone.. Dump in a half can, at least, of pickled beets. Exact proportions of the mix are completely unimportant ... just wing it. Leave for a day or two, or more, until the color looks good to you. I usually can't wait more than 24 hrs before I start gobbling eggs, though a few more days will get some seriously dark purple eggs. These actually taste good, unlike those nasty, rubbery old things they sell as pickled eggs in the store. Those are completely inedible. I once tried wrapping a strip of paper, with some decorative cut-outs, around an egg, then taping the ends. It was semi-successful in making a decorative ring around the middle, but not as crisp as I'd have liked.
Looking back on this, maybe I could have been more clear: I'm obviously talking about making peeled, hard-boiled eggs purple (and tasty), but I suspect if you just stick an egg, with its shell, in the mix it'll turn fairly purple, also, if you're looking for something decorative for a basket or Easter egg hunt. Probably the color and flavor won't come thru the shell very well. But before you eat 'em, I'd stick them back in the purple fluid for a day or so to get that extra flavor.
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