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Hard boiled eggs (or as they are called in our house, HBEs) are one of my favorite foods on the planet. They are portable, delicious, and packed full of healthy fat, protein, and just the right amount of calories to keep hunger at bay. They are just perfect when sprinkled with a little bit of flaky sea salt and a crack of fresh black pepper. Drool.
Another factor that make HBEs my go-to snack: we always have fresh eggs available thanks to our flock of 10 hens. When the fridge is bare, there are always eggs to count on! I make up about a dozen hard-boiled eggs per week, stick them within easy grasp in my fridge, and snack on them all week long.
I get asked all the time how to make perfect hard boiled eggs, and after years of actually boiling them (you know, because the name literally tells you to boil them), I started experimenting with other methods and now have three fool-proof non-boiling methods that result in perfectly cooked, easy-to-peel hard-boiled eggs every single time. Boiling, of course, works. But getting the timing and temperature right is tricky—I much prefer one of the other methods below.
Before I dig into the three methods, I want to talk through some frequently asked hard boiled egg questions. You’re going to rock HBEs after this post, I promise!
There is nothing quite as satisfying as an easy-to-peel hard boiled egg, and nothing quite as frustrating as one that is hard-to-peel. All three of the methods I list below make for pretty darn easy-to-peel eggs, but if you want to 100% make sure your peel just sliiidddeeesss offf, the key is to use older and cold eggs.
The older the eggs are when they are cooked, the easier they are to peel. As the egg ages, the membrane that connects the egg to the shell actually begins to shrink, and it makes the egg easier to peel later. I try to use eggs that are at least 7-10 days old—that’s the sweet spot.
Using cold eggs also helps—the shock of going from being a cold egg into the hot cooking method seems to instantly shrink the membrane and make it easier to peel.
That being said, I’ve literally taken a warm egg out of the nesting box, popped it into my Instant Pot, and had the peel slide right off. If you can’t get ahold of older eggs, use the Instant Pot method below. Easy-to-peel eggs every time, regardless of age.
When you are ready to peel your eggs, it’s as simple as cracking the shell on a hard surface and then using the side of your thumb to pry away the shell from the egg. Sometimes I do this under running water (it seems to help separate the shell from the egg), but more often than not, it doesn’t need the extra help from the water.
Ever curious what makes the yolks in your hard boiled eggs have a green ring (or sometimes even be entirely green)? It’s overcooking! This is an easy fix. All you need to do is prepare an ice water bath by filling a bowl with ice water. Once your cooking time on your eggs is up (regardless of the method you use), immediately plunge the eggs into the ice bath to halt cooking. Let them float in their polar plunge for a good 10-15 minutes. Peel and you’ll see no green yolk!
Peeled hard-boiled eggs have a much shorter shelf life than unpeeled eggs. You can get by with 5-7 days in the fridge for eggs-in-their-shells. If you want to pre-peel them, I’d store them in an airtight container, and then make sure to use them within 3-4 days.
Don’t throw those peels in the trash! At the very least, toss them into your compost bin—they’ll add great nutrients to your compost. You can also grind them up and make your own calcium supplement, turn them into sidewalk chalk, or use them to start seeds. This is a great post with all kinds of information about how to use the shells.
Well, if you can manage not to just wolf them down as they are, there are a few awesome thinks you can do. You can make deviled eggs, of course! I have a recipe for Hummus Deviled Eggs and Bacon Sriracha Deviled Eggs. You can also mix up chopped hard boiled eggs with a little mayo and mustard and make a killer egg salad. Hard boiled eggs are also great on top of salads! They even work in Mason jar salads.
Alright, so now are you ready to actually dig into the methods I recommend? I’m putting them in my personal order of good, better, best—although you might have better luck with a different method than I do, so I highly recommend experimenting with all three to find your perfect way of making hard boiled eggs.
At the bottom of the post, you’ll find a single printable recipe with all three methods, plus a short video that walks you through how to do all methods. Alright, let’s dig in.
Baking eggs in the oven is a great way to do a lot of eggs without much effort at all. The instructions are as simple as this:
Done like dinner. Since it’s so simple, you’d think this would be my favorite method, wouldn’t you? Well, it has a couple of hang-ups. First of all, oven temperatures can vary greatly—I know my oven runs a touch hot—so 325° might be perfect for me, but you might need 350° or even 375°. It takes some trial and error to get it right.
Secondly, ovens rarely heat evenly, which means that unless you are on top of making sure to turn your pan every few minutes, some of your eggs might cook at different times—meaning some might be overcooked (blech, green yolks), while others might still be soft-boiled. I’ve never been able to get a fully perfect batch in the oven.
My next method is steaming your eggs—and this is the method I always recommend for folks who don’t have access to an Instant Pot. Steaming is a close cousin to boiling the eggs, but something about steaming makes the peels so much easier to take off—and it’s much easier to control the temperature. For this method you:
My only hangup with this method is that I’m terrible about remembering to polar plunge the eggs right at the 10 minute mark—I always forget to set a timer. It’s pretty easy to overcook them if you’re forgetful like me!
My favorite method is, far-and-away, in the Instant Pot (this is the model I have—and love). It’s sorcery manages to create perfect, easy-to-peel eggs no matter how old they are or what temperature they are. And it makes them fast. Way faster than any of the other methods. Making hard boiled eggs in the Instant Pot is as fool-proof as it gets. Here’s how:
Every Sunday, my Instant Pot makes a batch of hard boiled eggs, a roasted chicken, a batch of applesauce, and a batch of 24-hour yogurt (which ferments overnight until the next day). The Instant Pot has made my weekly meal prep so much faster and easier!
Alright, I hope this has helped you find your perfect hard boiled egg method (and answered any burning questions you had). Enjoy your eggs!
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I always mess up hard boiled eggs. They ALWAYS end up too mushy. This is so helpful, thanks so much. I’ll have to try it out!
Mushy!? I’ve never heard of mushy! Is that from cooking too long, maybe?
Do you place the HBE back in the carton with the shell still on until ready to eat? Or go ahead and peel and place back in carton? I would think leave shell on so you’re not cross contaminating? Thoughts?
I leave the shells on until I’m ready to eat. :)
I add a tablespoon of baking soda while they’re boiling. Helps with the peeling.
Ooh! That’s an awesome trick. Must try!
I do pretty much the same thing, but I had a tbsp. of vinegar to the water while it’s boiling, because it helps with peeling (much like the person above suggested that baking soda helps!). Gotta love HBEs!
Fascinating! I’m gonna have to try that one, too. :)
Love me some hard boiled eggs too! Great post.
Now that you have the house and the great outdoor space have you guys given any thought to raising chickens? Over at The Broken Plow you can post about building their enclosure, etc. and her at BTHR you can post all kinds of yummy egg recipes that you make with the fresh eggs from you chickens.
Yes, we have thought about it! :) Maybe in the future.
I can NEVER remember how to hard boil eggs. Do I boil the water first then add the eggs or add the eggs thn boil? How long do I boil for? Do they rest?
Thankfully Alton Brown taught me you can cook them in the oven too! You put the eggs in the oven, turn it on to 325 and leave them in there for 30 minutes (including the prehat time). Then you rinse and store.
I’ve seen that on Pinterest! I thought that was pretty smart, too (especially using a muffin tin). But I’ve never tried it.
I use a steamer. In T bay the water was pretty hard and it made peeling eggs difficult. Put about an inch of water in a pot, plop in the steamer and add the eggs and heat ’em. Once steam starts coming up, put on the lid and time for 16 minutes. After that, put into an ice bath for a few minutes and voila! (Cook a bit longer for bigger eggs. i use 16 for plain old large)
You will not get any grey in the yolk…they are lovely!
Fascinating! I’ll have to try it!
My method is YOUR method because I got it from you :-)! You gave a short answer on how to make them in your comments section once and I went straight to boiling them. I was so beyond excited that I was able to make the “perfect” hard boiled eggs that I even wrote a post about it, lol!! I called it Hard Boiling 101….and certainly did not include pictures as pretty as yours!!
I wish I liked hard boiled eggs – they’re such a good and easy source of protein! Do you just eat them plain? Any ideas for how to spice them up (literally) to make them more palatable?
I wish I liked hard boiled eggs – they’re such a good and easy source of protein, but they just taste bland to me and I think they have a weird texture! Do you just eat them plain? Any ideas for how to spice them up (literally) to make them more palatable?
I just eat them plain and LOVE them, but I know lots of people sprinkle on salt and pepper.
Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel Seasoning is FAB on HBE’s. Basically any specialty seasoning blend. You can also dip them in fresh herbs of your choosing. I also sometimes like to eat them alongside pickles.
I love my HBE with this special mustard I buy it is a spicey French;s mustard but has a sweet taste to it
Just peel the egg and open the squeeze top lid on the mustard and squeeze some on and bite,,,then after that bite squeeze on more on your second bite..really good…also has anyone ever tried smashed salted avacodo on your eggs? Pretty tasty!!!
I make them the same way and they turn out great — except when I forget I’m cooking them and the water boils so long it evaporates (oops!) or I leave them sitting for too long and they turn grey/green. So unappetizing.
Question: how long do your hardboiled eggs last in the fridge? I can’t seem to find a good answer in google land.
I actually have no idea because we plow through them SUPER fast. :)
I am in loooove with eggs lately. And that’s exactly how I make mine too! Although, I didn’t know about the age thing. Thanks for the suggestion!
I put in pan with cold water and boil for 13 minutes. Once finished boiling, I put two ice cube trays full of ice in the bowl with cold water and let the eggs cool off in the ice water until finished, they are easy to peel once that happens.
For the people who find them too plain, I like salt & pepper, but a thin layer of pesto lightly spread on top of each half is a pretty awesome snack… ;)
I used to work at a deli so a small batch of eggs was 5 dozen at a time. Usually used for egg salad, deviled eggs or a few for the chicken salad. Timing was a little different since it was on a much larger scale but the only thing that made peeling that many at once easier. Salt. Toooons of salt. Pop it in at the same time you stick the eggs in and it works awesome. Also how you crack the shells makes a difference, whack em on both ends first then just gently crack alllll the way around and it usually just slides off.
I use a similar method to boil my eggs! I always have such a hard time peeling them cleanly though!
I love how simple your hard boiled egg method is! I like to take a white crayon and draw pictures on my eggs and then when they are in boiling water, I put in 2 drops of blue food coloring. Each egg comes out decorated. It also makes it easy to figure out which eggs are the HB eggs
Cheers, Calamity Kate
How long are the HBEs good for when cooked? just 1 week?
How to tell a hard boiled egg from a fresh one.
Spin the egg.
A hard boiled egg will stand on the edge & spin.
A fresh egg will just slosh around on the table.
It will not stand up.
Those all sound amazing for Hard Boiled Eggs. Can you share your applesauce and chicken recipe for the Instant Pot?
I’m planning on it in the future, but for now, here are two good how-tos on both:
If boiling the eggs on the stove, I add a teaspoon (or so) baking soda to the water–I was skeptical when I heard to do this–but, so far, it’s worked like a charm every time as far as easy peeling.
Holy cow wow…..I will forever use the instapot for hard boiling eggs now…..it worked like magic, I only had to stay on task for 5 minutes(yes, I have forgotten I was hard boiling eggs on the stove and gone to bed….oh what a nasty smell in the middle of the night to wake up to!), the peels slid off effortlessly and I swear the eggs were creamier…thanks a billion for the great tips! You changed my world with this one!
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