How To Peel Hard Boiled Eggs

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For the first time in several years, someone told me a trick for peeling hard-boiled eggs that I hadn’t heard before. So of course I had to try it.

Directions

I’ve heard all of them: add vinegar to the water … add salt to the water … boil covered / uncovered … peel under (running) water … cool before peeling … peel while hot … cool first, but plunge them into hot water before peeling … only boil old (2 weeks or more) eggs.

Most of these tips are things you do to the egg while cooking, or after, except the last one. And that’s the one that seems to work. As eggs sit in your fridge, they start to dry out. That means some of the liquid volume inside the shell is replaced by air. So when they’re cooked, the shell doesn’t fit so tight, and you can slip it right off.

This new tip I just got is different from all the others, in that you do it before cooking. Poke a hole in the big end of the egg. I suspect this works by allowing air into the egg as it cools, letting the cooked egg shrink away from the shell.

The only thing I had with a sharp enough point, and a handle that I could really get a grip on, was this corn sticker.

Hold the egg in the palm of your hand, and the sticker in the other.

Poke it in just enough to crack the shell, but trying not to pierce the membrane inside.

You can see that the piece of shell I poked out is still there in the edge of the hole.

Arrange in a single layer, cover with water, bring to a boil. It’s a little hard to see, but trust me that there is a stream of bubbles coming out of the egg in the center of this picture.

Once the water comes to a boil, cover and remove from heat. Allow to sit for 20 minutes.

Once the eggs cooled, you can see that the bit of shell in the hole has been sucked into the egg.

And they all peeled completely clean with almost no effort.

How about that. It actually worked.

Comments

  1. Laine and Alex says:

    When I was a kid we actually had a kitchen tool made specifically for this task. You placed the egg in the stand and gently pushed down. A small needle would rise up and puncture the bottom of the egg perfectly.
    _Laine

  2. Hmmm… sounds like an accident waiting to happen, but then again, I'm not real good with sharp pointy objects! Best way I know to deshell eggs? Once they have finished boiling, immediately drain off the hot water (it's better not to burn yourself by sloshing hot water on any part of your anatomy) and start shaking the pot vigorously so the eggs hit against each other and the sides of the pot. I use back and forth and sideways motions. Doesn't take all that long before the shells develop lots of cracks. Then I run cold water over the eggs, let them sit for about 2 minutes, and then peel off the shells while the eggs are still a bit warm. Hope this helps!

  3. ~ Stitchin Sweet Sue ~ says:

    Like your blog very much. I also had one of those kitchen tools, danged if I can find it, haven't seen it in years… Wish I could find another just like it:)

  4. First of all, those eggs look wonderful. Ummmmm….salt and pepper, or deviled, or egg salad, or cut up over a salad. Lots of things could be done with those!

    I got an egg-cooker from my sister many, many years ago. I use it all the time to boil my eggs. NOW, I know what that little pointy thing is for! I've never tried it, but I will now.

    My cooker is a Sunbeam, but I don't know if you can still get them. They would be a great gift for a new bride too.

  5. We use the same technique that NYBaker mentioned in the comment above. Since we are the "official" deviled egg makers for family gatherings (LOL) the hot cracked egg/cold water soak method works the most efficiently.

    I am intrigued by your tip and am willing to try it. I don't know if we can make such a neat, tiny hole in the egg though…

  6. troy and christina says:

    Great technique I will have to try. I grew up on an egg farm so it was hard to get "old" eggs. I can remember Mom putting them aside for a while when she had to bring a bunch of deviled eggs to a picnic or dinner.

  7. StefRobrts says:

    I have been poking a hole in the bottom, and steaming them. Sometimes they all peel perfectly easy, sometimes they do not. We have chickens so the eggs I cook are usually pretty fresh, so peeling them has been an issue.

  8. Okay, I used the little pin and poked my eggs. I thought I'd break the egg, but I didn't. It worked like a charm. Of course, my husband knew what it was for! (He never cooks, but knows what every thing is for!)

    It worked great!

  9. Egg cookers are a godsend… there is never a grey ring around the yolk. Brand really doesn't matter… we have three different ones in my family and they all work comparibly. Included with the egg cooker is a measuring cup marked for "soft, medium or hard" boiled eggs. Usually on the underside of this cup is a point. It is just right to puncture the end, but not break the egg. The egg is placed pointed/top end down, water is added, covered and started. In 10 minutes you have perfect eggs.

  10. Laine and Alex, Sweet Sue, and Linda, I should have figured someone would make a tool for that. I don't have room for any more single-task gadgets though.

    NYBaker, I've tried that, and the results are inconsistent. I have to admit, this was the first time I tried the hole, and for all I know this batch would have peeled cleanly anyway. I'll have to try some more.

    Topaz, go slow and turn the point slowly back and forth.

    Troy and Christina, and Stef, looks like people who have chickens already know about the fresh vs. older issue. I still think that's going to make more difference than anything else. I'm really just hoping that the hole trick will make even fresh eggs peel well.

  11. Sueann, how many does it handle? My only concern is that usually when I'm boiling eggs I like to do a whole bunch at once.

  12. I just recently read about this technique too. We have our own chickens and my husband puts some eggs away so we'll have some old ones to peel but they always end up getting used before I get them boiled. I keep use a pushpin to make the hole because it's easy to hold on to. It works great. We use tons hardboiled. Tuna salad with pasta and hardboiled eggs—great summer supper.

  13. cathurynn says:

    I've never tried this, but I have lots of success with the method I use. I hardboil the egg and cool it. After the egg is cool, crack the egg all over. Let the egg sit submerged in water for a minute or two and then peel. Works just fine and I don't have to worry about sharp things. :)

  14. Most egg cookers hold 7 eggs, one in the middle and six around. The cooking process only takes 10 minutes, maybe a minnute to process (make the hole and load on the tray). We made three dozen for Easter in about an hour's time. I usually cook them in the morning and color them later in the day when they are completely cooled. The egg cooker also makes nice poached eggs. My 94 year old mother prefers to drop the egg in a skillet with boiling water to poach them. The "wet" eggs give me the willies!!

  15. onlinepastrychef says:

    Great tip–love it!

  16. Kathy Maister says:

    Great post!
    Some kitchen shops sell an inexpensive small gadget made specifically to just poke eggs – very clever indeed!

    I wonder what happens if you dye poked eggs for Easter. Does the egg inside turn the color of the dye?
    Cheers,
    Kathy

  17. hantheman says:

    I jsut crack em all over when boiled, then make sure to get a bit of the "skin" and it comes off easy.

  18. Kevin Kossowan says:

    No way. Really? THANK YOU. I HATE it when that damn membrane thinger isn't loose and you end up taking up chunks of the egg while peeling. Makes me want to throw the darn things across the room.

  19. I just steam eggs. The shells come off beautifully with no pricking.

  20. Looks like there's still room for my 2 cents worth! I'm with NYBaker with the dumping hot water and banging them together in the pot to make lots of cracks. But then I sit them under slow running cold water and start peeling from the base (fat end) of the egg. It's very important to get the membrane started and then the cold water pushes it open. Also, the eggs that give you difficulty are usually fresh ones! I'd be interested to hear from the people with laying hens and how the prick trick works with their freshest of the fresh eggs…

  21. I also have an egg pricker and it's quite safe as the needle drops down when you rotate the stand when not in use.

  22. pixiedreams8 says:

    Great Tip! I will definitely be trying this one…I have an egg pricker tool that came on the end of a egg slicer/strawberry slicer and I always wondered what the heck you would need something like that for. Now I know ~ Huh!

  23. Pixie, what does that egg slicer look like? The only ones I've ever seen are square, so don't really have an "end" to speak of.

  24. I have tried various techniques for peeling hard boiled eggs without tearing the albumen, and the pinprick hole in the large end of the eggshell works wonderfully! I find that a corkboard push pin (whose point I sterilize with a flame) works very well and the plastic end affords safe and easy control. I experimented with the post-boil cooling and found that both immediate cold water submersion for about five minutes and leaving the eggs on a cooling rack for about an hour worked very well for their peeling, but letting them only partially cool on the rack for thirty minutes was less successful. The peeled eggs will keep in a Tupperware-type container at 40 degrees Fahrenheit for at least a week!

  25. Douglas K says:

    That is a pretty good way to do it. I tested it to see if it worked. What I have always done and never had an issue with is to boil and let rest in water. If you let them cool off leave water in the bowl in the fridge. If hot pour off some water and take them out hot. I was a new construction plumber so i can handle these eggs with no real issue but be careful and never move slow. I take the top and bottom and wack them against the side of the sink and run a little water as i first open them. I have never had a problem doing it this way. It works just as well without the water at first removal but sometimes little fragments stick and you have to run water anyways.

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