I have read way too many articles and watched way too many videos on the subject of hard boiled eggs. In the end it seems that there are a number of factors–real or imagined–that contribute to how easy it is to remove the shell, how to keep the shell from cracking, the firmness of the yolk, etc. As my main uses thus far for hard boiled eggs are either to eat whole or sliced, and deviled eggs (see Deviled Eggs), this technique addresses just those cases.
For my uses, I want an egg that is easy to peel without pulling off chunks of egg white in the process. When making deviled eggs, I want a yolk that is dry enough that it easily pops out in one piece without leaving much residue behind, and easily crumbles into small pieces so that when mixed with the other ingredients produces a smoother filling with less work. When making an egg for eating whole or sliced, I like the yolk to be “stickier”. The final concern is that I just wanted to obtain some eggs and use them without worrying about the “freshness” of the egg.
Before writing this I bought a dozen eggs without consulting their “sell by” date, and cooked them one at a time over the course of two days. This was not a comprehensive test of all the factors that various people said were important, (and other said were not), but just me buying some eggs and limiting the factors to:
- Adding vinegar to the cooking water
- Time spent in the cooking (hot) water
- Time spent in the cold water
A while after doing those experiments, I found that J. Kenji López-Alt (see the references below) had already done much more comprehensive testing of different techniques and variables. His final conclusion worked better than what came out of my experiments, so is now how I approach hard boiled eggs.
- Total: 20 minutes (six eggs for eating whole or slicing)
- Total: 23 minutes (six eggs for deviled eggs)
- Uncooked eggs
- (Optional) Ice
- Fill the bottom of a pot or high-rimmed pan large enough to place all the eggs to cook in a single layer with about 1 1/2 inch of water. The water does not need to cover the eggs.
- Bring the water to a boil then gently lower the eggs into the water. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover, adjusting the heat as needed to keep a slow boil.
- Cook the eggs to your desired doneness. I tend to cook for 9 minutes if I am eating the eggs plain, or 12 minutes for deviled eggs.
- (Optional) If using the eggs immediately, fill a large bowl with ice and cold water leaving enough space to also hold the number of eggs being cooked without overflowing. Once the eggs have completed cooking, transfer them to the ice bath and let rest for 5 minutes.
- To peel the eggs, crack them on the larger bottom and the smaller top, then place the egg horizontally on a couter and push down on it with the palm of your hand and roll it pressing down with enough force to crack the shell, but not squish the egg. Then you should be able to fairly easily pull off the shell. I usually start at the bottom of the egg.
I have read and watched (too) many articles and videos regarding hard boiled eggs over a long period of time, and do not recollect all the sources. However, the following is the one that finally provided the best results: