How to make simple edible prehistoric dinosaur eggs using natural dyes
These simple edible prehistoric dinosaur eggs are perfect for Easter, dinosaur parties and casual brunches. Make natural egg dyes from things you have in your cupboard to turn the “cooking” into a science lesson for your little dinosaur fan.
What colour were dinosaur eggs?
A simple enough question. It seemed easy to answer but did not yield the answer I expected. It did send us down a rabbit hole of discovery and egg-sperimentation. And resulted in these fun edible prehistoric dinosaur eggs coloured with natural egg dyes.
Rexy’s recipe rundown
TITLE: Edible prehistoric dinosaur eggs
FOOD: Boiled eggs, coloured using all-natural egg dyes
DINOSAUR: All of them. They all lay eggs (well, the females did)
BEST FOR: Easter, dinosaur birthday parties, Sunday brunch, school lunches
EASE: 5 out of 5 – making the dyes can just get a little messy. Have soap and dark hand towels on hand.
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Everything your little dinosaur fan is likely to want to know about inosaur eggs
Did dinosaurs lay eggs?
Yes. As far as we know, all dinosaur young hatch from eggs, although fossilised eggs with dinosaur embryos inside are rare finds.
Eggshells from hatched eggs fossilise well. Unhatched eggs (and young dinosaurs) were a welcome feast for small carnivores. Fossilised eggs are rare. Fossilised eggs with an embryo inside are even rarer. In most cases, if the eggs did manage to survive, bacteria would break down the embryo inside before it could fossilise.
Dinosaurs can be quite huge. Did dinosaurs lay big eggs?
Some may have, but the bigger the egg, the thicker the shell needs to be to support the embryo and maintain its shape (when dropped from a height of about 2 m ). But the shell must not be so thick that the baby dinosaur can’t hatch.
Because few dinosaur embryos have been found, it’s often difficult to tell what type of dinosaur laid any eggs we find.
The largest eggs so far found were made by large sauropods. These were shaped like a football and were about 30 cm wide (1 foot) and 25 cm wide (10 inches). In comparison, Mussaurus lay tiny eggs, only 2.5 cm (1 inch) long.
What shape were dinosaur eggs?
They came in different shapes. Some were spherical, while others were elongated (about 3 times as long as they were wide) and various shapes in between. Some elongated eggs are symmetrical while others were rounded at one end and more pointed at the other, like a bird egg today.
For the record, Maiasaura laid eggs like grapefruit.
How many eggs did dinosaurs lay?
From the eggs we have discovered, sauropods lay around 5 eggs in a row, as if the mother laid the eggs while walking.
We know much more about Maiasaura eggs, due to a discovery of 40 nests, with eggs at Egg Mountain. Maiasaura laid around 15 to 25 grapefruit and sometimes 30 to 40 eggs in nests that had been scooped out of the ground.
How many eggs did T-Rex lay? We don’t know because we’ve never found T-Rex eggs. Tyrannosaurus’ relatives laid around 20 elongated eggs.
What colour were dinosaur eggs?
I wrongly assumed we did not know what colour 66 million-year-old dinosaur eggs were. For camouflage, I assumed they would most likely be a shade of brown.
In 2018, scientists used microspectroscopy on egg fragments to detect two pigments, blue-green biliverdin and red-brown protoporphyrin, which also colour modern bird eggshells.
Deinonychus eggs were blue-green in colour. Troodons had blue-green, beige or white eggshells. Heyuannia, an oviraptor that lived in what is now China, were deep blue-green. And most of the dinosaur eggs had speckling patterns on them!
No pigment was detected in the fossilised eggshells of any of the sauropods that were tested. Maiasaura eggs also did not contain any pigment.
Can we make edible prehistoric dinosaur eggs?
Once we’d found out so much information about eggs, our LDA wanted to make some. As it is so close to Easter, I was happy to oblige.
Option 1: An egg mould
We own an egg mould that turns boiled eggs into dinosaur heads. We were very sceptical, but it works quite well. You can definitely tell it’s a dinosaur.
It would be fun to make these for a birthday party, but if you only have one mould, it will take forever. Each egg has to be boiled, then sit in the saucepan, then dunked in cold water, then peeled and put in the mould for 15 minutes.
Option 2: Century eggs
Century eggs, AKA thousand-year-old eggs, millennium eggs and black eggs are a Chinese dish that preserves duck, chicken or quail eggs in clay, ash, salt, quicklime and rice hulls.
The yolk turns dark green to grey while the egg white turns into a brown, translucent jelly.
Century eggs did not appeal to our LDA, nor did we have the ingredients or time to make them.
Option 3: Chinese tea egg-inspired edible prehistoric dinosaur eggs
While searching for inspiration we came across Chinese tea eggs, which our LDA declared “looked quite old.”
A quick search revealed Chinese tea eggs coloured with egg dye to make beautiful marbled dinosaur eggs. Our LDA immediately wanted to make some.
I wanted to see if we could make these edible prehistoric dinosaur eggs using natural egg dyes.
Note: There is absolutely nothing wrong with using traditional egg dyes! It will take much longer to use the homemade dyes because of the additional step needed to make the dye. Sometimes we just don’t have the time to do it!
Truth be told, if I was not writing a blog post on how to make these using natural egg dyes, I probably would have taken the easy route and used normal dye, too. The bought dyes result in much more vibrant and fun marbling, too.
How to make edible prehistoric dinosaur eggs using natural egg dyes
The first step to making edible prehistoric dinosaur eggs is deciding which natural egg dyes to use.
There are lots to choose from and some you probably already have in your cupboards, fridge or garden. We’d already tested some dyes and were eager to try some new colours.
Natural egg dyes
- Beetroot: Should turn eggs a lovely pink. Ours always ends up a mushroom colour. Our LDA has not given up hope of a nice pink
- Red onion skins: A dark reddy brown
- Yellow onion skins: Orange.
- Turmeric: Yellow. It does not matter whether you use fresh or powdered turmeric
- Spinach or parsley: Pale green
- Red cabbage: This turns eggs a lovely blue colour. We’ve used it numerous times and it has never failed us.
- Hibiscus tea: (Like Red Zinger) This supposedly results in a lovely purple. I would like to try using hibiscus tea as a natural egg dye one day.
- Blueberries: Dark blue (though you do need a lot of blueberries)
- Tea: brown, like the Chinese tea eggs, ditto coffee
You can also get some lovely colours by mixing dyes, like turmeric then red cabbage for a nice green, or mix onion skins.
This time we chose red cabbage and beetroot again and decided to try turmeric and red onion skins as well.
We used pre-cooked beetroot (not pickled), which probably accounted for the brownish-pink of our eggs. Fresh beetroot just was not available. The inside was pale pink, much to our LDA’s delight.
In contrast, we used fresh turmeric because we found some at our local supermarket and our LDA wanted to try it. The smell while cooking was interesting. Curiously, while the egg was a vibrant yellow, the marbling was disappointing and barely existent.
If you prefer to use powdered turmeric, take 2 tablespoons of turmeric in 1 cup of boiling water and add a tablespoon of vinegar. Mix and set aside.
The cabbage produced some beautiful blue marbling. However, much of the marbling peeled off with the eggshell (our egg had a large air bubble just below the surface).
The best results came from our red onion skins. The eggs were a rich reddy-brown and the marbling was beautiful (None of the marbling photographs well).
And no. It does not matter what natural egg dye you use, it does not affect the taste of the egg.
Handy tip: Natural egg dyes stain!
Though these natural egg dyes are safe, they WILL stain clothing and skin.
We recommend wearing old clothes and clean-up quickly to prevent stains. Use tongs or a spoon to remove the eggs from the dyes. Don’t forget to use dark hand towels too: our LDA was washing her hands after touching the turmeric and left lovely yellow patches on our white towels to match our eggs.
What you’ll need to make these edible prehistoric dinosaur eggs
These edible prehistoric dinosaur eggs are very simple to make and you need so few things to make them. You probably have most of these things in your cupboard, depending on the dye you wish to use.
This makes them a great recipe to make with your little dinosaur fan and an easy one for you to make for them for some Easter or lunchtime fun.
- Boiled eggs. It does not matter if they are white or brown or even blue-green like dinosaurs because you will remove the shell anyway.
- Your chosen ingredient(s) to make your dye
- White vinegar
- A saucepan
- A sieve or slotted spoon
- A spoon or tongs to take the eggs out of the dye
- A glass jar to place the eggs and dye in while dying (optional)
- Paper towel or newspaper.
Can you make these marbled dinosaur eggs in advance?
Yes, but not too far in advance.
The eggs will need to sit in the dye for at least 8 hours or overnight for optimal results. You should therefore make the eggs the day before.
Boiled eggs will stay fresh for around one week in the fridge in an airtight container. Cracking the eggshell to get the marbled effect will reduce their shelf life to four or five days, again in an airtight container.
Save (a little) time: Cook your eggs a week in advance and store them in your fridge then crack and dye the eggs the evening before your event.
What to do with the leftover eggshells
Don’t just throw them out! Store the eggshells in a glass jar filled with water. Use the water to water houseplants like African violets – the calcium will infuse into the water giving your healthy, happy houseplants.
Alternatively, spread crushed eggshells around any plants that the snails, bugs and. or slugs like. They don’t like the feeling of crawling and slithering over sharp edges of the eggshells and will leave your plants alone.
I have also heard that powdered eggshell is good to give your dog if they have the runs. I’m not sure whether the dye from red cabbage or onion skins would be counterproductive…
A science experiment in a recipe
There are two good reasons to make some of these eggs, whether for Easter, a dinosaur birthday party, school lunch boxes or a relaxed Sunday brunch:
- These edible prehistoric dinosaur eggs are incredibly simple to make and require almost no active participation to make them. Really, you just have to leave them to do their thing and change colour.
- Making these marbled dinosaur eggs using natural egg dyes is a great way to teach your little dinosaur fan about vegetable dyes and colourants and how they work. And what you need to make eggs the same colour as real dinosaur eggs.
Will there be dinosaur eggs at your Easter table?
Edible prehistoric dinosaur eggs
Hard-boiled eggs with unique marbling using natural dyes.
- 6-8 eggs
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar per colour
- pinch of salt per colour
- For blue: 400g red cabbage (approx)
- For pink: 3 beetroot
- For yellow: 200g turmeric root (approx)
- For red-brown: 1/2 cup red onion skins (skin from 6-8 onions)
For the natural dye
- If you are using blue dye: Cut your cabbage into strips, about 1cm wide and place the cabbage in a small saucepan. For pink dye, peel your beetroot, cut it into 1cm cubes and place it in a small saucepan. For yellow dye, slice your turmeric root into pieces 3-5 cm wide and place in a small saucepan. For red-brown dye, remove the dry onion skins from the onions and place them in a small saucepan.
- Cover your cabbage/beetroot/turmeric/onion skins with water and add 2-3cm more to the saucepan. Bring bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Slowly simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes to form a rich dye.
- Allow to cool, then use a slotted spoon to remove the remains of the cabbage/beetroot/turmeric/onion skins from the dye. Alternatively, pour the dye mix through a sieve into a glass bowl or jar. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar and a good pinch of salt and stir.
To dye the eggs
- Hardboil your eggs using your preferred method.
- Allow your eggs to cool then gently crack the eggshells all over, the more the better. It does not matter if little bits of shell fall off, but don't remove large pieces of shell.
- Place the cracked eggs in the dye so that they are covered and let sit for about 8 hours or overnight.
- Peel the eggshells off to reveal a beautiful marbled design underneath.
If you are using store-bought dye(s), follow the instructions on the box to prepare the dye.
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Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 179Total Fat 6gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 186mgSodium 124mgCarbohydrates 24gFiber 8gSugar 5gProtein 10g
Nutrition information is a guide only as it will depend on the specific products and brands you choose to use for this recipe.
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Easter is just around the corner. Be sure to check out these other fun dinosaur Easter ideas.