Perfect hard boiled eggs don’t have to be difficult to make! Here are the tricks of the trade to making perfect hard boiled eggs, every time!
Few things have eluded me in the kitchen as long as perfecting the hard boiled egg. Sure, I can boil an egg every day and twice on Sundays, but consistently achieving the right texture isn’t as easy as one would think. To get that firm–yet not rubbery–egg white to encapsulate a creamy–yet not grainy–egg yolk has proven to be difficult. Being able to cleanly peel off the shell without ripping apart the insides seemed near impossible.
Believe me when I tell you that I’ve tried all sorts of methods in my quest for a good hard cooked egg:
- I’ve tried starting the eggs in cold water and bringing them to a boil for xx amount of time. Which works but I just about always overcooked the eggs with this method.
- I tried dropping room temperature eggs into a pot of boiling water. Two words: Abject. Disaster.
- I put eggs in a steamer basket and steamed them as I would vegetables. For which each egg ended up being cooked to a different degree.
- I even tried popping whole eggs into muffin tins and baking them in the oven. Resulting in overcooked bottoms, semi-gelatinous tops, and a shell that was irrevocably fused with its contents.
Hard boiling eggs was difficult until I did a
crap ton little research on the wondrous inner make-up of the common chicken egg. As with most things food related, once I understood the science behind the ingredient in question, discovering how to get my desired results was relatively easy.
Armed with a few dozen eggs, a big ol’ pot, and some understanding, I set to work to crack the code of the perfect hard boiled egg.
My go-to method results in (almost always) no eggs cracking during the cooking process, a perfectly smooth and buttery texture inside, with a shell that slips off like shoes on a hot summer day.
Yes, I really am about to demonstrate how to make hard boiled eggs.
Since I live in a largely agricultural area, I’m able to source my eggs from friends with chickens. My eggs are never more than a day or two removed from the hen who laid them. While fresh eggs do make the most amazing omelette muffins, they don’t peel well when hard boiled. The inner shell membranes just won’t let go! When I want to boil farm fresh eggs, I set a few aside in the refrigerator and let them age for a week or two. Commercially farmed eggs purchased at a local supermarket are usually a couple of weeks old by the time they hit the shelves, so they should be good to go by the time you bring them home.
Inspect each and every egg that you want to boil. Check for obvious cracks in the shells. Any eggs with stress or impact cracks should be thrown away or tossed in the compost bin. If you go the compost route, I suggest burying the egg in compost so as not to attract unwanted vermin to the new feast in the garden bin.
Speckled eggs are fine to use. The specks are just uneven pigmentation stemming from when the egg was formed. I darkened this photo to show another type of speckling that I see from time to time. These tiny spots on the shell aren’t a pigmentation difference, but rather are caused by varying degrees of thickness, According to my chicken farming friends, this means that the hen that laid this egg is either very young or it may have a vitamin deficiency. Either way, it is safe to eat so long as the egg has been properly handled and stored.
That said, I have my theories on using eggs with disparities in shell thickness when making hard cooked eggs. We’ll chat more about that in a few minutes.
Gently rest the chosen eggs in the bottom of a large sauce pot. Fill the pot with cold tap water until the eggs are covered by one inch of water.
Set the pot over medium heat and bring the water to a slow boil.
Don’t walk away from the pot because once that water starts to boil, you’ll want to immediately put a lid on the pot and turn off the heat. Set a timer for 12 minutes. The residual heat in the water will be enough to gently cook the eggs all the way through.
The key to perfect hard boiled eggs is slow and steady heat.
Cook eggs too hot or too fast and you’ll wind up with a cooked protein that, while edible, will have the texture of a super-ball and be just about as tasty.
While the timer is minding the eggs, fill a large bowl with cold water and a good layer of ice cubes.
Once the timer goes off, carefully transfer the eggs to the bowl. Immediately shocking the warm eggs in the ice bath causes the inner shell membranes to pull away from the cooked egg white, thus making them easier to peel.
Allow the eggs to swim around in the ice water for ten minutes, at which point they should be placed on a clean towel to dry.
Remember that egg shell theory that I mentioned a few minutes ago? Well, I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that this cracked egg is the one that had the varying thickness in its shell. No matter! This little guy just moved to the front of the line to be eaten.
To avoid any confusion with my family, my mama taught me to mark all hard boiled eggs with a big “H” before popping them into the egg tray in the refrigerator. That way I won’t try to scramble or bake with an egg that’s already cooked.
Hard boiled eggs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
My mama also taught me how to peel hard boiled eggs.
It’s as simple as Tap, Tap, Roll, and Peel. Tap each of the polar ends of the egg to break the shell into the air pockets underneath, then roll the egg under your palm to crack the rest of the exterior. Lift a few shards of shell until finding one that has a good hold on the inner membrane, and then use that piece to peel off large sheets of shell.
Once peeled, run the hard boiled eggs under cold water to remove any persistent shell fragments before eating.
My favorite vehicle for eating hard boiled eggs is atop a simple spinach salad, speckled with crispy bacon bits and a smattering of dried cherries.
What’s your favorite way to eat hard boiled eggs?