Tips for Better Hard-Boiled Eggs

Eggs-compressedNot All They’re “Cracked Up” to Be

Easter is this weekend and chances are probably pretty good that you’re boiling and dying eggs this week.  Perhaps you’re saying “been there, done that” and are are already anticipating deviled eggs, egg salad, and lots of other uses for hard-boiled eggs.

Hard-boiled eggs are about as straight-forward as cooking gets, right?  Boil the egg until it’s done…end of story.  Well, not quite.  Seems like it should be that way but if you don’t cook it right you’ll end up with that funky gray-green coloration that surrounds the cooked yolk.  And then there are those impossible-to-remove shells, what’s up with that?  Seems like they should just peel right off and sometimes they do…but yet there are other times when it seems like they are permanently attached to the cooked egg and no attempt seems to result in anything more than a tiny little speck of shell being removed from here and there.

Do you find it “Un-A-Peeling”?

Many people are under the impression that the peeling problem has to do with how quickly or slowly the eggs were cooled after cooking. It actually has nothing to do with the cooking process. It is mostly due to the age of the egg itself. Fresher eggs have a lower albumen (egg white) pH which causes the whites to more strongly bond with the shell membrane. Additionally, eggs have what is known as an “air sack” in the wide bottom portion of the shell. As an egg ages it loses moisture through the shell and the air sack grows bigger. Older eggs are easier to peel because their air sack is larger and thus the membrane that is just inside the shell is easier to remove. Fresher eggs have a much smaller air sack and thus the shell and membrane are more tightly bonded with the cooked egg white.

It’s too late to do much about it for this weekend, but when you know you’re going to be boiling eggs it’s best to buy them at least a week in advance and just due to the extra age they should peel easier.

Gray-Green Funk

How do you keep those egg yolks from developing that funky gray-green layer on the outside? Avoid overcooking! The gray-green layer on a hard-boiled egg yolk is due to sulfur compounds from the egg white reacting with iron from the yolk.

Cooking Hard-Boiled Eggs:

  • Using the tip of a paring knife, lightly tap a small hole (as for blowing out eggs) into each end of the egg. This will allow the egg to absorb more flavor from salted water during cooking
  • Place the eggs in a large pot and cover with heavily salted water. Approximately 1 tablespoon per quart of water. It should taste like briny sea-water. Bring the eggs to a rapid rolling boil and immediately turn them off. Leave them sitting submerged in the hot water off of direct heat and set a timer for 13 minutes for large eggs.
  • When the time is up, pour off the hot water and run cold water over the eggs (or fill with ice water) until the eggs are cool to the touch. Cooling eggs quickly will help to keep them from toughening up and minimize the potential for the green layer developing around the yolks.

7 Comments on “Tips for Better Hard-Boiled Eggs”

  1. Thanks for these tips! It’s timely for me, not because of Easter, but because I mistakenly bought a dozen eggs, then realized I already have a dozen in the fridge! What a great excuse to make hard-boiled eggs. I will try this tonight!

    1. Hi Marsha!
      Glad the timing was right! Give the technique a try…I think you’ll find it’s super easy and produces great results.
      Hope you’ve been doing well!


  2. Hi I have already boiled and peeled my eggs for deviled eggs. My problemis I have church in the am and i still have to do my turkey and ham plus the sweet potatoes in the am so I am trying to do as much prep work as possible. would it be okay to halve my eggs and store the yolks so i can make the eggs in the am?

    1. Sure…but to make it even easier why don’t you just prepare the filling and fill the eggs tonight? They’ll be completely fine as long as you keep them refrigerated.

  3. Pingback: Crab Stuffed Eggs

  4. If I don’t care for salted eggs, can I skip the steps of salting the water and poking holes in the eggs? I like to salt my eggs when eating them.

    1. Hi Marsha! Good to hear from you…
      Yes, you can skip poking the hole and salting the water but eggs will have better flavor if you don’t skip it. I still slat them when eating and don’t find it to be too salty by doing both.

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