Frustrated by hard boiled eggs that are hard to peel then look like a train wreck? Here is how to make perfect hard boiled eggs every time. Cooking hard boiled eggs with this method results in easy peel hard boiled eggs, smooth, with no ugly green ring around the yolk (which means they are over-cooked). It uses white vinegar and salt in the water. For white vinegar, be sure to buy organic distilled vinegar and not standard white vinegar which is often made with GMO corn.
How to Make Perfect Hard boiled Eggs
If I have hard boiled one egg in my life, I must have boiled a thousand. Seriously. Between family holidays, dinner parties, snacks, salads and catering gigs, I have done lots and lots of hard boiled eggs. Just about everyone loves them. Use them in salads for protein, pop out the yolk and make deviled eggs or egg salad, use them for a quick healthy snack when you need a boost. And hard boiled eggs (as in deviled eggs) are a staple for summer and holiday entertaining.
Hard Boiled Eggs: The Old Way
I used to hard boil eggs the way my mom taught me. Place eggs in the bottom of a pan large enough to fit on one layer. Cover with cold water. Bring just to a boil. Turn off heat, cover the pan, remove from the heat and allow them to stand for 12-13 minutes. Drain, add ice and water to the pan, chill and peel. The problem is when you do it this way you never know whether the eggs will peel easily or not. Most of the time they do not, particularly when you really want pretty smooth eggs. Even if you use week old eggs.
The Best Way to Hard Boil Eggs
First, choose a pan large enough for eggs to lay flat in a single layer. Next, fill the pan about half way, with enough water to cover the raw eggs by a few inches. Add the vinegar and salt. Bring the water just to a boil then turn it down part way. With a kitchen skimmer, lower the raw eggs gently into the barely boiling water.
How long to cook hard boiled eggs? Set a timer for 15 minutes. You want the water to be simmering (small bubbles), not boiling (big fast bubbles). Boiling hard could break the raw eggs. You may have to adjust the heat depending on your stove.
Get Your Ice Bath Ready
While the eggs are cooking fill a medium bowl with ice and water. When the timer goes off, use the skimmer to lift the eggs into the ice bath to cool. Chill until very cold, about 15 minutes. Remove eggs from the ice bath and dry on a clean kitchen towel. Refrigerate until needed. Cooked eggs will last about 7 days in an air tight container in the refrigerator.
The Real Test
The real test came when I needed to boil 6 dozen eggs for an emergency catered event. With a busy day (not to mention I was in another city when I got the call!), I did not start cooking until 11:00 PM. I used this method and within the hour had 6 dozen lovely smooth eggs chilling in the refrigerator. Hallelujah! I am not sure why this works; I just know it works for me (and it's kitchen chemistry). Try it and let me know how it works for you.
What to Do With Hard Boiled Eggs
They are versatile. Use them for:
- Classic, creamy Deviled Eggs
- Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs
- Egg Salad
- Salad Nicoise
- Snacks, just peel and eat. Easily transportable too.
- Add wedges to a green salad for extra protein
- Make a Shrimp Louis salad
- Pop out the yolks and fill the centers with Creamy Guacamole Dip
- Egg salad lettuce wraps
How to Make Perfect Hard boiled Eggs
- 12 L or XL raw eggs
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Using a large enough pan that your eggs will sit flat in one layer. Fill pot with enough cold water to cover eggs by a few inches. Bring the water to almost a full boil.Turn the heat down to a simmer and carefully lower eggs into the water. Using a tool called a mesh skimmer makes it easy. See note below.
- When eggs are in the pan, add vinegar and salt. Set cooking time for 15 minutes. While eggs are cooking, prepare an ice bath. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. When eggs are done cooking, plunge cooked eggs into the ice bath. Chill until cold, 7-8 minutes. Peel right away or refrigerate them for a day or two until ready to use.
- To peel, tap egg on side of sink or counter top, roll in your hands to loosen the shell and peel. The shell should come right off. Peeling them under cold running water is another good trick.
The salt & vinegar are not necessary. It is the ice bath that does the trick!
The vinegar and salt really do help. That has been my experience, and I have done tons of eggs in my life and tried several different methods. The ice definitely is necessary but the salt and vinegar make a difference. If I did not think it truly helped I would not have bothered to write about it. When I used the old method, I always used an ice bath but did to get consistent, easy peeling eggs like this method. And I know the trick about "using older eggs". Since I have been doing it this way, no problem, even with fresh eggs. I am going to keep doing it. Do what is best for you, that's the best thing about cooking and sharing ideas. I would love to know the chemistry behind why this works, but for now, I don't care - it just works, better than just ice water.