Hard-boiled eggs? How about *hardly* boiled eggs? Now that’s more accurate. (And that’s also the secret to perfectly cooking them.)
I make hard-boiled eggs the way my mother does. And she uses the same basic method that Julia Child didâ€”minus the egg pricker.
Every time I do this, the eggs are marvelous. The whites are tenderâ€”never rubbery. The yolks are creamyâ€”not chalkyâ€”and aren’t robed in that icky green color (which comes from cooking the eggs at too high a temperature).
Wait, back up…egg pricker? What?
Yep, I said egg pricker.
An egg pricker is a little gadget that pricks a very tiny hole in an egg’s shell. The hole isn’t big enough to let the raw egg leak out, but it does allow air to escape to help keep the egg from cracking while it cooks.
They generally look something like this:
The egg rests on the base, and when you push down, the egg is pierced by a tiny pin that’s concealed in the base.
I’ve never used one, and usually don’t have a problem with cracked eggs. (Ironically, I had one for this article, which you’ll see in a bit). If you have one, use it. If you don’t, you’ll likely be fine without.
What’s the difference between brown eggs and white eggs?
Not much, as it turns out. At least in terms of flavor and nutritional value. Brown eggs simply come from a different breed of chicken.
What’s the best kind of egg for hard boiling?
You probably won’t hear this that often, but super-fresh eggs aren’t necessarily the best candidates for hard boiling. Eggs that are a wee bit older (but certainly not expired) can be betterâ€”or at least easier to peel.
Why is that?
As an egg gets a little older, the inner membraneâ€”which can make an egg so pesky to peel neatlyâ€”pulls away a bit from the shell. This tiny bit of room makes them easier to peel.
How do I know if my eggs are fresh?
Generally, eggs will keep in their shells for up to 1 month.
Like I said, the older the eggs are, the more the membrane separates from the shell. And the more air is actually inside the egg.
Now, this isn’t fail proof, but to test an egg for freshness, see if it floats.
Put an egg in a glass of cold water. A super-fresh egg will lay on the bottom of the glass on its side. An egg that’s a little older will stand on end.
If it floats or hangs suspended in the water (i.e. the air pocket inside it is large), it’s likely very old and you should probably toss it.
What size pot should I use to hard boil eggs?
Good question. The size of your pot will vary based on how many eggs you’re cooking.
You want the eggs to be able to lay in a single layer without being so crowded that they need to touch. (This will give them room to move around a bit as they cook.)
The pot should be deep enough that you can cover your eggs by an inch or two of water.
The basic technique for perfectly cooked hard-boiled eggs
+Put the eggs in a large pot and cover with cold water.
+Bring the water up to a boil.
+When the water comes to a boil, take it immediately off the stove and cover the pot.
+Let the eggs sit in the hot water, covered, for 15 minutes.
+Stop the cooking by soaking the eggs in cold water.
Perfectly Cooked Hard-Boiled Eggs
How to hard boil eggs
Grab your eggs.
Brown or white. It’s up to you.
Set the eggs carefully in a pot.
Fill the pot with cold water so that the eggs are covered by an inch or two.
Set the pot on the stove over high heat.
Bring the water to a boil.
As it gets close to boiling, keep a good eye on it.
When large bubbles start to break the surface of the water, turn the heat off and remove the pot from the burner.
Immediately cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid.
Set a timer for 15 minutes.
Right before your 15 minutes are up, fill a large bowl with more cold water. Toss in some ice if you have it handy.
When your 15 minutes are up, uncover your pot. Fish your eggs out with a skimmer or slotted spoon a few at a time.
Transfer them to the bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.
If you don’t have a lot of ice, you can periodically run more cold water into the bowl until the eggs are cold.
Leave the eggs in the cold water for about 15 minutes or so, until they’re cold to the touch. When you cup one in your hand, it shouldn’t give off any residual heat.
When the eggs are cold, dry them off and transfer them to a bowl or back into their carton. Stick them in the fridge ’til you’re ready to use them.
Help! One of my eggs cracked while it was cooking! What should I do?
Don’t freak out. It can happen. And it’s just fine.
In fact, one of my eggs from this batch cracked. I *think* it cracked slightly when I put it down in the potâ€”not from the heat. (I did hear a tiny crunch when the eggs hit the metal.)
If one of your eggs cracks during cooking, keep an eye on it. There’s a good chance it will be just fine.
Here’s what happened to mine.
The white started to ooze out a tiny bit into the water.
As the water heated up, the white started to cook.
After a while, the egg white cooked enough and it stopped oozing. I left it in the pot with the other eggs.
When they were ready for their cold water bath, I fished it out, and it looked like this:
When I peeled it, it was misshapen, but otherwise just fine, on the inside. I trimmed off the bit on the outside of the shell, as it was a bit watery.
All this said, cooking a cracked egg like this won’t always work. It really depends on how badly it’s cracked.
If you have an egg that’s obviously exploded in the water, fish it out and toss it. Sometimes, you just can’t save them.
How do I peel a hard-boiled egg?
Some folks like to tap them with the back of a knife. I roll mine under my palm on the counter until it cracks just a little, then pick off the shell and membrane bit by bit.
Some people also like to peel them under cold, running water, to wash away any little bits of shell. It’s up to you.
How do I store hard-boiled eggs?
Store them in the fridge. Keep them covered, as they can let off an unpleasant sulfur-y smell that will permeate other stuff in your fridge.
How long will hard-boiled eggs keep?
Unpeeled eggs will keep for about 5 days in the fridge.
I like my hard-boiled eggs sliced with a little bit of kosher salt. How about you?