The 6 Secrets of Cooking Easy-Peel Hard Boiled Eggs

Updated on June 12, 2018
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Science graduate and business advisor, health educator and author, Beth writes articles on a wide variety of subjects.

Themed boiled eggs for Valentine's Day. (Instruction video at the end of this article.)
Themed boiled eggs for Valentine's Day. (Instruction video at the end of this article.) | Source

How to Make Easy-Peel Hard Boiled Eggs

  1. Don’t boil eggs straight from the fridge.
  2. Don't plunge the raw eggs into boiling water.
  3. Use eggs and water at ambient temperature.
  4. Use an egg timer.
  5. Remove the boiled eggs promptly from saucepan.
  6. Take off shell while egg is still hot.

Hard Boiled Eggs are Tasty and Convenient

Eggs are the ultimate convenience food. They come ready wrapped in a biodegradable, recyclable shell. They also taste good and are easy to cook. They are a cheap source of protein, calcium as well as vitamins A and D. Hard-boiled eggs are a great eaten cold in summer salads. They can are used to make egg mayonnaise which is a simple sandwich filling ideal for busy working parents and their hungry school-kids.

However, hard boiled eggs can be difficult to peel without damaging the white (albumen). Bits of shell left on the egg can ruin a delicate salad or smooth sandwich filling. Here are some golden rules to ensure the shell of your hard-boiled egg peels off easily.

Every egg is easy-peel if handled correctly.
Every egg is easy-peel if handled correctly. | Source

1. Don’t Boil Eggs Straight from the Fridge

Providing you keep eggs cool, there is no need to keep them refrigerated. It is better to buy fewer eggs more regularly, then to buy in bulk and try to extend their shelf life by storing them at very cold temperatures. Many people automatically store eggs in the fridge-tidy or place the complete egg carton onto a fridge shelf. Storing them in this manner means that the eggs become icy cold all the way through.

If eggs are taken from the fridge and placed in boiling water immediately, the center of the egg is too cold to cook properly. Instead of getting a good hard-boiled egg (with both white and yolk of even firmness) you will end up with a soft runny center. Ideally you should store your eggs in a cool larder. Unfortunately most modern kitchens are too small to have this facility. So you will need to plan ahead to make the best boiled eggs.

The evening before you intend to boil some eggs, take them out of the fridge and leave them in a bowl on your worktop so they have a chance to reach ambient room temperature.

Hard boiled egg salad makes a quick healthy snack.
Hard boiled egg salad makes a quick healthy snack. | Source

2. Don't Plunge the Raw Eggs into Boiling Water

For the eggs to cook properly and evenly, the temperature of both eggs and water should be similar.

Don't pre-boil the water before adding it to the egg saucepan.

Don't use iced water.

If you add either boiling water or iced water to the eggs, their shells will crack and the contents will seep into the boiling water. You will end up with a fairy veil of white threads over your half-empty boiled eggs.

Place the (ambient temperature) eggs in a saucepan and cover them with water from the cold faucet which should be cool but not freezing.

3. Use Eggs and Water at Ambient Temperature

Prep time 1 min

Cook time 10 min

Allow 2 eggs per person

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4.Use an Egg Timer

It is all too easy to put the eggs on the hob to boil …. And then forget about them. You may have assumed that overcooking eggs doesn't matter. But it does! Overcooked boiled eggs taste hard and rubbery.

Hard boiled eggs take just ten minutes to cook (that’s when you use eggs and water at room temperature.) One way to be sure you don't overcook the eggs is to use an egg timer.

Eggs and smoked salmon go well together.
Eggs and smoked salmon go well together. | Source

5. Remove the Eggs Promptly From Saucepan

If you leave the eggs in the saucepan after the ten minutes is up, they will continue to cook. In order to prevent this, you need to act promptly. Fill a second saucepan half full of cold water. Take the eggs out of the boiling water and plunge them into the pan or bowl of cold water. This has the effect of making the white and yolk of the boiled egg contract slightly. The shell itself remains unchanged. It is only the inside of the egg that contracts.

6. Take Off Shell While Egg is Still Hot

To remove the shell from the freshly boiled eggs, roll them gently on a wooden board. Because the insides have contracted slightly, the shell separates very easily. This is the key secret to making an easy peeling hard-boiled egg. If you leave the eggs to cool down before removing their shell, the white and yolk bounce back. By leaving the eggs to cool, the minuscule gap that was created by the internal contraction is lost. The shell and the white of the egg will become more difficult to separate.

The video below shows an alternative way to rolling the eggs on a board to remove the shells. The chef just shakes her lidded saucepan roughly to release the eggs from their shells. Simple but effective!

How to Peel Eggs Easier, No Shell Sticking

Heart Shaped Boiled Eggs for Your Valentine

Once you've mastered the technique of peeling hard boiled eggs you can go further and make unusual shapes from them. An easy one to start with is to make a heart-shaped boiled egg for your Valentine. The video below shows how a boiled egg can be shaped by using a chopstick, elastic band and some thin cardboard.

How Long Does It Take to Hard Boil an Egg?

The perfectly timed hard boiled egg is a matter of personal taste. If you follow the instructions given above and start with both eggs and water at room temperature, the whole process from raw egg to firm yolk takes 10 minutes.

If you have very large eggs, or are using icy cold water, then it will take a little longer. Or you may prefer a slightly soft or more runny yolk. If so, you need to remove the eggs slightly earlier from the boiling water. The picture below illustrates the difference a minute added to or subtracted from the cooking time makes to the result.

Boiling time from left to right: 4 minutes, 7 minutes, 9 minutes.
Boiling time from left to right: 4 minutes, 7 minutes, 9 minutes. | Source

How Many Eggs a Day is it Safe to Eat?

The NHS (National Health Service in the UK) says there is no recommended limit on how many eggs a day people should eat. Eggs can be part of a healthy balanced diet, but you should avoid adding salt or fat to them during cooking or at the table.

Try these healthier ways of eating eggs:

  • Hard-boiled or poached, with no added salt
  • Scrambled, without butter – which is high in saturated fat
  • Use a lighter spray fat in the fry-pan; frying eggs increases their fat content by around 50%.

What is the Shelf Life of Hard Boiled Eggs?

The shelf life of hard boiled (cooked) eggs is much less than raw uncooked eggs. Raw and cooked eggs are both perishable items. When stored at a cool temperature, raw eggs remain good for about four weeks. After being hard boiled they should be eaten within a week.

Buy your eggs as fresh as you can. Choose a store that has a regular turnover of fresh deliveries. Only make them hard boiled if you know the eggs are going to be eaten within a few days.

Free range chickens live better lives than caged birds and their eggs taste better too.
Free range chickens live better lives than caged birds and their eggs taste better too. | Source


Submit a Comment

  • profile image


    3 years ago

    Thanks for this useful information! I've been having a hard time boiling and peeling eggs. Thanks for The tips! Voted up useful!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    3 years ago from Olympia, WA

    With six chickens and more on the way, this is the kind of article I really need. Thanks for the tip.


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