Not Martha

Easter Surprise Eggs (the easy version)

colorful Easter eggs

Earlier I made Chocolate Easter Surprise Eggs. I really enjoyed making them but realize, of course, how complicated they were. I am clearly a crazy person. Here is something similar but much easier to make. To sum up: dyed eggshells filled with candy and/or toys and sealed at the bottom with paper.


a yellow egg with a tag that says Crack Me


cracked egg, with candies spilling out

You will need:

  • enough time to let dyed eggs dry overnight
  • one dozen eggs (or however many you’d like to make)
  • boxes of both regular and neon McCormick food coloring
  • assorted candies or toys small enough to fit into an egg
  • mini muffin papers, or paper nut party cups, or regular paper, or big roundish stickers
  • glue
  • a cookie cooling rack, or skewers stuck in some styrofoam, or six sets of takeout chopsticks stuck in a vase (for drying the dyed eggs upside down)

Handy but not necessary:

  • an egg topper or a Dremel

colorful eggs in tissue paper grass

These are a re-do of surprise eggs I made ages ago. (I think that was one of the first tutorials I put on this site.) I took inspiration from both Kinder Eggs and Cascarones, eggshells filled with confetti usually cracked over the head of a friends or family. (Note: some of the images below were reused from my earlier tutorial, so they might look familiar.)

Emptying the eggs

emptied egg shells

To prepare the eggshells I followed Martha’s Stewarts instructions for making chocolate filled real eggshells. I didn’t have a Dremel so I used an inexpensive egg topper to cut the bottoms of the eggs.

showing the teeth of the egg topper

This egg topper isn’t the best tool for the job and often leaves jagged edges. If you don’t have this you can use a pushpin to carefully crack an opening, and I’ve seen mention of using nail scissors to carefully cut a tidy hole. Really though, you don’t need to worry about beauty here as we’ll be gluing something over the edges of the opening at the end.

Sterilizing the eggs

This again is from Martha Stewart’s instructions. I carefully rinsed out each eggshell, using a finger to scrape away the last bit of the egg white that is attached inside. Submerge in a large pot (I could fit a dozen eggs in a 4-quart pot) and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Skim foam from the top as it appears, if you forget about the pot it will cook into a weird stiff foam.

To cool the shells lift them them one by one from the pot, letting the hot water run out, and submerge them into a bowl of cool water. If you just fill the pot with cold water the boiling water will linger inside the eggshell, so be careful. (Go on, ask me how I learned that.)

Set them upright on a cookie cooling rack or a kitchen towel to drain and dry a bit while you’re preparing to dye. (I found eggs taken right from water and put into dye didn’t do as well. I could be wrong.)

Dyeing the eggs

seven eggs, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and magenta

Since I find empty eggshells too delicate to decorate after sterilizing I wanted color to be the main attraction, so I spent time finding the right number of food color drops to create really vibrant color. I wasn’t necessarily going for a rainbow but that’s what I came up with.

You might also consider doing all the eggshells one color and using candies that coordinate well. (Oh man, am I really suggesting you coordinate your eggshells to your candy? I am, but it’s pleasantly striking in the chaotic world of color that is Easter decorations. I show an example below.)

one egg in dye in a Pyrex measuring cup

You’ll want to dye the eggs in a non-reactive (not metal) container. I used Pyrex measuring cups and porcelain mugs. Don’t agitate the eggs, I learned the hard way that this makes them blotchy, instead just turn them over about half way through the dyeing time.

seven colored eggs on a plate

These instructions are for the familiar McCormick food coloring you can find in any grocery store, one box of regular colors and one box of neon colors. Each below will cover one egg at a time, you can either double the ingredients or let a second egg soak just a bit longer.

For each of these I used:

  • 2 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 cup just-boiled water
  • 10 minutes of soaking, turning the egg over half way through (15 minutes where noted)


  • 10 drops neon pink
  • 1 drop neon purple
  • 2 drops red


  • 20 drops yellow
  • 5 drops red
  • soak for 15 minutes


  • 15 drops yellow
  • 2 drops neon green
  • soak for 15 minutes


  • 20 drops neon green
  • 2 drops neon blue
  • 1 drop green
  • soak for 15 minutes


  • 6 drops neon blue
  • 1 drop blue


  • 7 drops neon blue
  • 5 drops neon pink


  • 10 drops neon pink
  • 2 drops neon purple

If you’d like to make your own colors know that I found starting with neon colors and adding regular colors to tone those down worked the best in most cases for me.

lifting egg with a skewer

I used skewers to lower and lift the eggs out of the dye. I let them dry by hanging them on more skewers stuck in a styrofoam cone I had in the house. I dabbed with paper towels to catch drips.

eggs at the end of skewers stuck into styrafoam

You could also simply set them on your cookie cooling rack, or hang them off of takeout chopsticks that have been arranged in a vase, anything that will allow them to drip downwards and have lots of airflow so they can dry. Last tip? Wear your least favorite black clothes, the drops of food coloring seem to get everywhere.

Filling the eggs

colored eggs with various candies

If your eggs are for kids I suggest buying slightly larger candies that will be easy to separate from the shards of eggshell, maybe sticking to wrapped candies. It can be frustrating to pick shards out of everything. (Though, egghshells are edible, as my father always liked to remind me.)

If you’re making these for adults (may I suggest those who are cubicle bound?) there are a number of surprisingly delicious and itty bitty candies I found while making the previous version, these are my favorites:

  • Valrhona Perles Craquant (bb-sized dark chocolate around crunchy centers, found near the fancy cheeses at Whole Foods, you should use these on everything)
  • dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds from Trader Joe’s
  • chocolate and candy coated sunflower seeds
  • those tiny peanut butter cups also from Trader Joe’s
  • Robin’s egg blue candy coated caramels from The Confectionery in Seattle (I found similar versions at Peet’s coffee thanks to a tip from somebody on Twitter).

One candy I wish I’d found are the tiny wrapped hard candies called Glitterati, made by Chipurnoi. They are available in bulk online, but I’ve seen them in smaller bags at Trader Joe’s around Christmastime.

blue, gold and dark chocolate candies

The easiest way to make it a bit more elegant is to stick to three colors. My favorite was to dye the eggshells to match (well, almost match) some Robin’s egg blue caramels. Then I only used gold and dark chocolate candies inside. Keeping it to these three colors made for a nice presentation. You could do the same with silver. And metallic Jordan almonds may be cliche at weddings but I still find them pretty/shiny and very worthy of using here.

You could also fit small toys or gifts inside. For my previous eggs I made miniature crepe paper flower corsages and found small pipe cleaner chicks. I was also thinking about folding small fortune tellers to slip inside.

Sealing the eggs

gluing a baking cup to the bottom of the egg

I found the easiest thing to do was to use a mini baking cup, cut it down to about half the height, and glue it on. If you don’t want to trouble with cutting down the baking cup you can just use it as is. If I’d had the time I would have sought out baking cups that are more colorful.

You can also trim and use nut (or souffle) cups, or just some paper.

gluing a baking cup to the bottom of the egg

In Paris I saw these, which appear to be simply covered with a sticker:

eggs on a counter, the bottoms covered with large, shamrock shaped stickers

I like to include a “Crack Me” message. You could write on the egg using a colored marker, or put a sticker on it. I printed out this little message to include with the eggs and simply tucked it in the glued down cover:

close up of the Crack Me tag

And now one can open the egg by either cracking it, or just tearing off the paper base. Cracking it is way more fun.

colored eggs in a bakery box

See also

Chocolate Easter Surprise Eggs, I put layers of chocolate on the inside to be like a Kinder Surprise egg and also included small toys. They, uh, take a bit longer to make.

chocolate beneath a real eggshell

· comments [138] · 04-1-2010 · categories:craft · holidays ·

138 responses so far ↓

  • 1 crack! a filled Easter egg // Jul 12, 2011 at 9:29 am

    […] we say OH MY! and HOW CLEVER! I love this idea and the photograpy from Not Martha. You must hop over and see many many more pictures including step-by-step instructions and […]

  • 2 Stef // Mar 17, 2012 at 10:16 am

    thanks for sharing my children will love them!

  • 3 vanessa // Mar 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    your ideas sound amazing. i LOVE it. and i will share it with my best friend, since we always celebrate Easter together. thanks for the tips. they will come in handy!

  • 4 Jamie B // Mar 23, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    These are amazing!

  • 5 Brittney // Mar 31, 2012 at 8:02 am

    have any suggestions on what to make with all the eggs??

  • 6 Paula // Apr 2, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Is this ok to do with just regular hard boiled eggs for the holiday? I am assuming it would be but I just want to make sure.

  • 7 megan // Apr 2, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Paula – I’m afraid you’re going to have to explain what you are asking about, I’m unsure what you want to know – ?

  • 8 Christina // Apr 3, 2012 at 6:59 am

    Could you share your robins egg blue recipe? I love the other colors, but I can’t seem to figure that one out. Thank you!!

  • 9 megan // Apr 3, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Christina – It’s actually the Blue listed in the colors above — 6 drops of neon blue and 1 drop of blue to a cup of water and a splash of vinegar.

  • 10 Shannon // Apr 4, 2012 at 6:30 am

    Wonderful post! I just posted on Boston Baby Mama about 2 of your tutorials I did with my (dinosaur obsessed) daughter:

  • 11 Karen T // Apr 6, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    These are great! I couldn’t find any mini baking cups, so I used circles of green fabric with grass prints. It worked great – provided support, and no one will be peeling them off!

  • 12 Alicia // Apr 7, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Love the shade of purple. Purple never comes out well. Always splotchy blue and red. Keeping my fingers crossed that ours turn out well. Thanks for the color recipes.

  • 13 gina love // Apr 7, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    thank you so much for the color combos. i did them with my children tonight and they are very vibrant and pretty!

  • 14 Dianne // Apr 8, 2012 at 9:23 am

    I love your site and this post is wonderful! I’m in awe over the original chocolate version but these were amazing enough. I did a batch, then another (the Dremel is great, but watch out for spraying egg white). Thanks for tons of helpful directions and color recipes.
    I did a few brown eggs filled with tiny Goldfish crackers, nuts and pretzel bits for my dad who lost his taste for sweets during chemo.

  • 15 Ruby // Apr 8, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    I filled some with sour patch kids and some with chocolates! I also added my own funny quotes- on a note- and placed them inside the eggs. My whole family enjoyed these. Will be doing these next year! THANK YOU !

  • 16 Mini Piccolini // Apr 9, 2012 at 3:23 am

    These are so fabulous! Definitely on my list of activities to get into next year when my little one is a little bigger!

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  • 19 Easter treats for you and your little ones // Dec 3, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    […] another very cool tutorial for dyed eggs from Not Martha – this time they’ve actually put sweets inside, so when […]

  • 20 siobhan // Feb 8, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    I love this idea, and i’m getting married next year so will make a slightly altered version of the confetti eggs too (our wedding is doctor who themed so i will decorate the eggs to look like daleks)

  • 21 Vanessa // Mar 1, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    We make cascarones every Easter. Have got to try these colors! You can also just cut tissue paper in circles for the toppers, that’s what we use. also, to crack the egg, just tap the end you want to crack to a hard surface. :)

  • 22 fairyguts // Mar 29, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Did anyone else’s Magenta and Red come out almost the same? I added 13 more drops of red, but it’s still not quite red enough. Trying a new batch today and will use less neon pink. Every other color turned out gorgeous!! I can’t imagine how much time it took to come up with just the right combos. Thanks!!

  • 23 Kelvin Wedding // Jun 10, 2013 at 4:19 am

    Love the colors. Its so happy!

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  • 26 Happy Easter… // Jan 7, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    […] was her favorite.  We used these directions for dying vibrant eggs.  It definitely […]

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    […] the web the week. We hope you will too.Did you see our Editor Liz on The CBS Early Show? Fun Easter egg dyeing instructions on Not Martha (via DesignMom, shown)  A series of “lost” Dr Seuss stories will be […]

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  • 30 Nadia // Mar 30, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Hi, your eggs are spectacular! I make cascarones in mass every Easter. The easiest way I have found to dry them after dyeing is to put them hole side down into the styrofoam egg cartons that I bought them in (leaving the carton flap open). I leave these outside to dry (if it’s sunny), or I put them next to a fan in the kitchen. The outside of the eggs dry perfectly and are not in danger of touching each other, because each egg is in it’s own nest. After the outside of the eggs have dried, I transfer the eggs, hole side up to the open flap side of the carton. The eggs are leaning up against each other and stay in the upright position. This step dries the inside of the egg. Or if you have extra clean and dry styro egg cartons, you can just transfer them to the nest part of the dry cartons.

  • 31 Top 10 Things to do with Egg Shells this Easter // Apr 3, 2014 at 4:11 am

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  • 32 10 Creative Easter Eggs // Apr 5, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    […] Eggs filled with chocolate and candy surprises?! Can you say yum? Now, that will be a kids’ favorite for sure. Maybe it’s not the easiest project, but you’ll have fun making it and ever more so once you see the look on your kids’ faces once they crack them open. […]

  • 33 Bridget // Apr 10, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Lovely! Can’t wait to make these as surprises for my kids and maybe, if they’re lucky, the ladies at work as well!

  • 34 Danielle // Apr 14, 2014 at 4:03 pm

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  • 35 Four *NEW* ways to decorate Easter Eggs! // Apr 16, 2014 at 5:26 pm

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  • 37 Chris Morris // Mar 25, 2016 at 2:51 am

    You are correct about letting the eggshells dry first. Once the natural protective coating from the hen is washed away the shells are permeable and do retain water. So they will not absorb the dyed vinegar water as thoroughly when wet. (It’s like burning wet wood…)

  • 38 Beth // Apr 14, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    These are so great. I recently remembered the confetti eggs that my mom used to make for the spring festival at our school. They’d be hollowed out, filled with confetti and then a bright tissue paper glued to the hole. Kids could buy them for some small amount and then chase other kids around and crack them over their heads. It was sheer delight – that somehow probably played better 35 years ago than it would now, but I totally want to make them from my son! But these candy eggs are now on the list, too. Perhaps they’d be clever party favors for his birthday!

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