Sunday, February 8, 2009

How To Dye Red Eggs with Onion Skins for Greek Easter

I found this posting on another blog called "Cretan Diet & Recipes," which doesn't appear to be active as this posting was from March 2008 and it's the last posting (you can go to the blog to see the rest of their content by clicking on the link of this posting). I thought it was really cool, so wanted to share the info.

Red eggs (in Greek: kokkina avga, κόκκινα αυγά, pronounced KOH-kee-nah ahv-GHAH) are perhaps the brightest symbol of Greek Easter, representing the blood of Christ and rebirth. We also dye eggs other colors, but rarely will a Greek Easter be celebrated without lots of red eggs. Commercial dyes are available, but this old-fashioned natural method creates red eggs with a deep rich color. Tt may sound counterintuitive, but the skins of yellow onions work wonderfully! The following is for one dozen red eggs.

Time Required: 50 minutes + 2 hours cooling

What You Need:
  • Fresh uncooked eggs at room temperature
  • Skins from yellow (Spanish) onions
  • White vinegar
  • Saucepan
  • Strainer
  • Bowl
  • Slotted spoon
  • Paper towels
  • Cooling racks
  • Olive (or other edible) oil for polishing
Here's How:
  1. Start with 12 medium-to-small eggs.
  2. Carefully remove any material clinging to the surface of the eggs.
  3. Make the dye with the onion skins: In a stainless saucepan, place skins of 15 yellow (Spanish) onions and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar in 4 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
  4. Strain dye into a glass bowl, and let cool to room temperature. (Don't be fooled by the orange color.)
  5. In a stainless saucepan (around 8 1/4 inches in diameter), add the cooled strained dye and eggs at room temperature (up to 1 dozen). The eggs should be in one layer and covered by the dye.
  6. Bring to a boil over medium heat. When boiling, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer.
  7. Dyeing time will be affected by the color of the eggs. Start checking for color at 12-15 minutes. Do not simmer longer than 20 minutes (see step 9 if they aren't red enough).
  8. When eggs are the right color, proceed to step 10.
  9. If eggs are not a red enough color after 20 minutes, leave in the pot and remove from heat. When the pot as cooled enough, place in refrigerator and let sit until desired color is reached.
  10. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and cool on racks.
  11. When they can be handled, coat lightly with olive (or other edible) oil and polish with paper toweling.
  12. Refrigerate until time to use.
  • Save onion skins in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Do not use any porous (wood, ceramic, plastic, etc.) materials as they can be colored by the dye.
  • If stainless cookware and utensils get colored by the dye, wash with regular detergent and a small amount of chlorine. Rinse very well.


  1. Thanks for picking up on the post (which is from my site and somehow, without credit, got pulled into the Cretan blog site). This really works well and for anyone who wants to use it, start saving the onion skins!

  2. i used nancy's advice, and yes, it really works!