Making perfect hard-boiled eggs is surprisingly challenging, and one of the biggest challenges is peeling them.
If you want them to peel easily, you should use old eggs. The closer they are to their expiration date, the easier it will be to peel them.
I really like eggs. They are so delicious and satiating! I like them for breakfast, but I also enjoy them for lunch or for a meatless dinner. I enjoy them poached, fried, or scrambled... and I also love soft-boiled eggs. Truly, I don't think I ever tried an egg recipe that I didn't like.
So as you can imagine, I make hard-boiled eggs often because they make a very convenient snack. The problem? Peeling them is one of those theoretically easy tasks that can easily go wrong. And when it does, you're left with ugly, deformed eggs, big chunks of the whites coming off as you try to peel them. Unless you follow my recipe, of course! 🙂
You'll only need three ingredients to make this recipe: large eggs, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. As mentioned above, when picking your eggs, make sure they're not too fresh.
Once you learn how to do it, making perfect, easy-peel eggs is actually easy. The detailed steps for making this recipe are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of the steps:
- Your first step is to remove the eggs from the fridge.
- Next, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Carefully lower the eggs into the water.
- Bring the water back to a boil. Allow the eggs to cook for 1 minute, then turn the heat off, remove the pot from the heat, cover the pot, and set your timer for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Carefully drain the hot water from the pot, and immediately fill it with running cold water. Allow the cold water to run over the eggs for 2 minutes.
- Gently crack the eggs and peel them under cold running water.
It took me a while to learn how to cook perfect eggs that are easy to peel. Now that I've finally mastered the technique, I have three tips for you:
1. Use old eggs. Not so old that they're past their "use by" date. But the closer they are to that date, the easier it will be to peel them. So I make sure to use the freshest eggs when frying and poaching, saving the older ones for boiling.
2. Boil your water first, then lower the eggs into the water. This helps loosen up the thin membrane that tends to stick to the eggs, making them impossible to peel. Yes, a couple of eggs might crack if you place them into hot water. But this method is so effective, that I think it's worth it. I just use the cracked eggs to make egg salad.
3. Cool the eggs immediately after they are done cooking. Do this by pouring out the hot water and filling the pot with running cold water.
Frequently asked questions
Eggs have an outer shell and an inner thin membrane. When the thin membrane sticks to the egg, that's when it becomes difficult to peel.
So our goal is to find a cooking method where the thin membrane would adhere to the outer shell instead of to the egg. This way, when we peel the shell, the membrane would easily peel off too.
I've tried adding vinegar to the cooking water. I also tried adding salt. None of these methods made any difference. Vinegar does help poached eggs keep their shape. But I don't think it's effective at making hard-boiled eggs easier to peel.
Using the method outlined below, you should keep them in the hot water for 12 minutes. So after adding the eggs to the boiling water, bring the water back to a boil, allow the eggs to boil for 1 minute, then turn the heat off, remove the pot from the heat, cover the pot, and set your timer for 12 minutes.
If you set your time for 10 minutes, the yolks will be slightly soft in the center. 11 minutes should yield fully cooked yolks, and 12 minutes should result in well cooked, dry yolks - those are best for deviled eggs.
Hard-boiled eggs are, obviously, excellent just as they are for a snack, and that's how I usually enjoy them. But here are a few more ideas:
- Make them into a creamy egg salad.
- Use them to make egg-stuffed meatloaf or Scotch eggs.
- Slice them and use them in a cobb salad.
- Fry them in butter. Yes, it's delicious!
- Make deviled eggs. This is probably my favorite recipe to make with them.
- Have them for breakfast on thick, buttered slices of almond flour bread.
- Use them to make chopped liver.
According to the USDA, hard-boiled eggs, whether peeled or unpeeled, can be kept in the fridge for up to one week. I don't recommend freezing them. Their texture won't survive freezing and defrosting.
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Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs
- 12 large eggs not fresh
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Remove the eggs from the fridge.
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Using a slotted spoon, carefully lower the eggs one by one into the boiling water.
- Bring the water back to a boil and allow the eggs to boil for 1 minute.
- Turn the heat off, remove the pot from the heat, cover the pot, and set your timer for 10 to 12 minutes. 10 minutes for yolks that are still slightly soft in the center, 11 minutes for fully cooked yolks, and 12 minutes for well-cooked, dry yolks (best for deviled eggs).
- Drain the hot water from the pot, and fill it with running cold water. Allow the cold water to run over the eggs for 2 minutes.
- Gently crack the eggs and peel them under cold running water. Season, if you wish, with salt and pepper.*