Decorating eggs is a popular Easter tradition. Knowing which color of egg to choose before you get started will help guarantee a beautiful design.
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colorful hard-cooked easter eggs
Credit: Trevor Tondro

For many families, decorating eggs is a beloved Easter tradition, whether they're keeping it simple with kid-friendly rainbow and pastel solids or getting creative with polka dots, hand-drawn designs, or silk-dye techniques. And while white eggs may be the most common choice, choosing brown eggs results in a very different finished product—and a contemporary update for your Easter table. "Using white eggs will yield brighter, more vibrant colors, while brown eggs tend to produce deeper shades," says Jennifer Ivory of PAAS, an egg-dye tablet company started by William Townley in Newark, New Jersey, in 1881. Her answers to these four key questions can help you decide which egg canvas is best for you.

What makes an egg shell brown or white?

Brown and white eggs have the same nutritional content, according to the USDA, and the color instead is a result of the breed of hen laying the egg: white eggs come from breeds including Leghorn and White Rock, while brown eggs are laid by breeds including Rhode Island Red and Plymouth Rock.

How do white eggs react to dye?

The Easter pastels that signify spring—lavender, pale green, blush pink, robin's egg blue, delicate yellow—are what you'll end up with when you dye white eggs. "White eggs are recommended if you are looking for that traditionally colored egg," says Ivory. "White is a blank slate, versus the already-colored brown egg." Using white eggs gives you more control over the final color, since you're starting fresh; Ivory recommends dipping the eggs for 15 to 30 seconds to achieve pastel shades. "Starting with a brown egg is essentially starting with a pre-dyed egg, as brown is a color," says Ivory. "Just like art—it's preferable to start your painting with a white canvas."

How do brown eggs react to dye?

Both traditional dye tablets and natural dye alternatives will work on brown eggs—the shells will take the color, says Ivory—but you can expect deeper, more saturated jewel tones when you start with a darker canvas. Of course, there's no wrong color for an Easter egg: the tan undertones that provide you with sage, berry, rust, teal, and ruby-colored iterations look just as festive at your holiday brunch. "We have not seen any technique to get brown eggs to match the same vibrancy of white eggs," says Ivory. "But you can still achieve beautiful colors using brown eggs—the longer the egg is left in the dye, the deeper the color will be."

Is the dyeing process the same?

Whether you opt for brown or white eggs, you'll get the best results if you dye your hardboiled eggs when they're at room temperature. "Cold eggs will begin to condensate as they cool down, which would cause color to bleed off," says Ivory. "It's also important to ensure you have good quality eggs with smooth, non-scratched surfaces." (Once you've dyed the eggs, keep them in the refrigerator, and, to minimize your risk of food-born illness, don't eat eggs that sit more than two hours at room temperature.) And while you're dyeing, keep the end goal in mind: "The important part of egg dyeing is to enjoy time with loved ones and make fun memories," says Ivory. "The finished product is just an added bonus!"

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