Easter Eggs get a Natural Makeover with Plant-Based Dyes

At home with Rosanna Pusateri. 

Around our house, Easter celebrations focus on two things: food and kids. Come to think of it, pretty much everything around here is focused on food and kids! And, we really wouldn’t want it any other way!

Along with the wonderful, centuries-old traditions, Easter also heralds in spring—a time of new life and rebirth in all that surrounds us. It’s a time to celebrate with our families and our friends.

Symbols of new life, eggs have been a part of Easter festivities since medieval times, and Easter egg decorating has been part of our family’s Easter festivities for as long as I can remember. Another of our traditions is our Nonna Dina’s Easter Bread, Pane di Pasqua. With the skill that only a great-grandmother possesses, Nonna forms her special loaves into the shape of little men and she bakes a hardboiled egg in each loaf. The kids love them! They adorn our table along with our other Easter favourites—stracciatella soup, lamb, and lots of wonderful side dishes, many of which are featured in this issue of Palate.

For our Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs we’re using all-natural food dyes to create a rainbow palate for the kids to use to colour our eggs this year: turmeric for orange, beets or red, red cabbage for blue and onion skin for rust. You can even pick up some edible gold paint and you’re your eggs to new heights.

Eggs are hardboiled and soaked or dipped in the various food dyes depending on the strength of saturation you are looking for. Dyes can even be combined to create varying shades. Each one will look a little different, which is what I love so much about them.

While you will want to don aprons and gloves for the kids, and use a plastic sheet to cover your work area—you don’t have to worry about any harsh or toxic chemicals with this egg decorating craft.

I love getting the kids more involved with food. This activity is a perfect way to learn about all the colours nature’s brings and quite literally get their hands dirty.

Happy Easter everyone! Buona Pasqua!


2 dozen white eggs, hard boiled
6 yellow onions, skins only
head of red cabbage, chopped
4 red beets, diced
6 tbsp tbsp ground turmeric
12 cups water
1 white vinegar
Edible gold paint, optional



1. Place onion skins, red cabbage, turmeric and beets into 4 different pots, with 3 cups of water each.

2. Bring each pot to a boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes.

3. Strain each mixture, once cooled and pour back into pots.

4. Mix 4 tbsp of white vinegar into each pot.

5. Place cooled hard boiled eggs into each mixture, making sure they’re completely submerged. Spoon out eggs once the desired colour is achieved.

6. Once completely dried, you can leave them as they are or spray them with edible gold paint for a pretty speckled effect.