Onion Peel Egg Dye


There’s actually a use for onion peel. Wrap it around an egg, wrap egg and peel in aluminium foil, and boil the egg the usual way. Red onion peel dyes the shell yellow, while yellow onion peel dyes it deeper tones of brown and orange.


  1. #1 Robert
    March 22, 2008

    Doh. Why didn’t I think of alu-foil? I’ve been trying to tie the bastard onion skins to the eggs with rubber bands.

    Now I feel stupid.

  2. #2 Martin R
    March 22, 2008

    A pleasure to pass on my received knowledge. (-;

  3. #3 Thinker
    March 22, 2008

    A slight enhancement: after unwrapping the boiled eggs, rub them with a little cooking oil on a piece of paper. They will look as if they were made from marble!

  4. #4 Martin R
    March 22, 2008

    My dad’s wife reminded me of a further enhancement: put some dry rice between the eggshell and the onion peel prior to boiling for a petal-like effect.

  5. #5 Martin Langeland
    March 22, 2008

    Also soak them in water you cooked fresh beets in.
    There is also the Chinese tea egg. Crack the shell all over, but don’t peel. Soak the egg in strong tea. Then peel for a marble veined effect.
    For those puzzled by the trick of boiling eggs, heres a fool proof method.

  6. #6 Martin R
    March 22, 2008

    Your version of the tea egg sounds much prettier than what the Chinese actually do. They boil the eggs for ages in a mixture of water, tea leaves, soy sauce, salt and star anise until they are coloured solid brown. Very savoury, a common street snack.

  7. #7 eleanora
    March 22, 2008

    I haven’t done eggs like that since I was a kid. Thanks for reminding me, my kids will love it.
    We used to tie the eggs in old (clean) pantyhose. If you tie a leaf in with it you get the image on the egg. Obviously do NOT use leaves that are poisonous. Some leaves, such as basil or spinach, will dye the egg, so you can end up with a green leaf on a brown background. A beet leaf may give you a red image.

  8. #8 eleanora
    March 22, 2008

    Oh, and you don’t have to tie the onion skins to the egg. Just put lots in the pot – the more skins the deeper the colour. If you boil them, strain them out, then put the eggs in, you get even colouring. If you put the eggs in with the skins, you end up with dark streaks where the egg rests against the onion.

    Other things you can use for a dyebath are:
    basil leaves – greeny brown
    berries – reds to browns
    chamomile or calendula flowers – yellows
    tumeric, saffron – yellows
    walnut shells – browns to black

    You can also use food dyes. There are a lot of shops in Melbourne with Greek brands of dye that are specifically for dying easter eggs pink, blue, purple, green, etc.

  9. #9 Martin R
    March 23, 2008

    The good thing about tying the peel to the eggs is that their texture becomes printed onto the eggshells.

    My ex wife showed me some fine eggs yesterday that she had dyed with crocus petals.

  10. #10 Christina
    March 23, 2008

    Red cabbage gives red dye, and if you add vinegar to it it turns this gorgeous blue. I just dyed a bunch of linen like that, so atm I look as if I died – my fingertips and nails are a striking asphyxia blue…

  11. #11 Martin Langeland
    March 23, 2008

    Re Tea Eggs: As with most Chinese cooking it depends where and when you encounter a dish which is the way to make it. My source (The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook by Gloria Bley Miller) lists a more complicated version of what I wrote above, but using just egg and tea. In her variations she suggests adding dried tangerine peel, or star anise (whole or ground) or Soy Sauce and a cinnamon stick. This variation is one reason why Chinese cooking is an endless fascination.

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