DIY Food

How to Make Deviled Eggs Without a Recipe

April 14, 2014

Here at Food52, we love recipes -- but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.

Today: Food52's Associate Editor, Kenzi Wilbur, shows us how to make deviled eggs without a recipe, for all your Easter, Derby Day, and spring brunch needs. 

How to Make Deviled Eggs Without a Recipe from Food52

Most of the time, we’d rather let good food be good on its own. We simply blanch and season spring's first asparagus; the only thing we give a good steak is a good sear; and we know that a tomato in the height of August needs nothing but a sprinkle of salt. To imperialize great food -- to overtake it with sauce, to meddle -- is only to cover it up. 

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But there’s an exception to this rule, and it’s the hard-cooked egg, which begs for a little help. It begs for deviling. 

And so we devil: We remove the yolks, in hopes of making them better than the chicken could have ever dreamed, and we plunk them back from whence they came, new and improved and delicious next to a cold cocktail. 

How to Make Deviled Eggs Without a Recipe 

1. First, hard-cook your eggs and peel them. (If it’s possible, use week-old eggs for ease of peeling.) I like to bring eggs and water to a boil, then cover the pot and let them sit, off the heat, for 12 minutes. This is how I peel. 

How to Make Deviled Eggs Without a Recipe from Food52

2. Slice your eggs from pole to pole, wiping your knife in between each, lest any stray yolk get in the way of your next clean cut. 

How to Make Deviled Eggs Without a Recipe from Food52

3. Tip the yolks out of their egg white cradles and into a bowl, then add your mix-ins. For 6 eggs, I like to use a scant 1/4 cup of best-quality mayonnaise, a teaspoon-sized spoonful of Dijon mustard, a sprinkle of salt, and a three-finger pinch of chives. 

But you’re free to experiment: Use less mayonnaise, more, or half Greek yogurt; all manner of herbs (tarragon is nice, as is dill); or paprika or cayenne if you like (I rarely like). Deviled eggs are an exercise in playing, in adding a little of this and a little of that. They defy measuring cups and spoons. 

Mash all of this with a fork to combine. If you like a smoother filling, push the yolks through a fine-mesh strainer before you mash, or use a food processor. Taste. If the mixture needs a kick, give it a squeeze of lemon. 

How to Make Deviled Eggs Without a Recipe from Food52

4. Now put back the yolks: Using a spoon and your finger or a piping bag, fill the sliced whites with your yolk mixture. If you don’t have a piping bag but would like the same effect, just fill a zip-top bag and snip off a corner like so

How to Make Deviled Eggs Without a Recipe from Food52

5. Garnish with more of the herbs you used and flaky salt. Eat one -- to test -- before you serve. Eat another if you’re not sure. Bring to the party or the pool or the potluck.

How to Make Deviled Eggs Without a Recipe from Food52

Photos by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Pam Shropshire
    Pam Shropshire
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Kenzi Wilbur

Written by: Kenzi Wilbur

I have a thing for most foods topped with a fried egg, a strange disdain for overly soupy tomato sauce, and I can never make it home without ripping off the end of a newly-bought baguette. I like spoons very much.


Pam S. January 18, 2018
I always add some minced dill pickle and a bit of the pickle juice, and both Colman's dry and prepared mustard because I prefer them on the tangy/zippy side. When I made deviled eggs at Christmas, I didn't have enough mayo, so I used enough sour cream to make up the difference and hoped no one would notice. They turned out delish - a bit lighter and less oily.
Mary C. May 22, 2017
For fresh eggs, steam them. They peel like a dream.
Mary C. May 22, 2017
My neighbor gives me fresh eggs, and I have had great success with steaming them - bring 1/2 in water to boil in saucepan, steam 6 eggs 15 min (12 eggs 17 min). Chill immediately. They peel like a DREAM. The yolk is not as centered unless you stand them up (fresh eggs issue) but I don't care about that so much.
Terry April 14, 2017
Can these be made a day ahead and wrapped?
Anjeli April 14, 2017
Can you boil the eggs a day or two in advance to have them ready to go?
kate October 25, 2015
additional alternate add ins: curry powder, pickle relish, anchovy paste, capers, scallions (green onions to some). Eggs are easy to peel if they are run under cold water immediately after removal from cooking water. Support technique of turning off flame after water with eggs comes to boil and letting eggs sit in hot water for 8-15 minutes. (avoids *tough* yolks) which can come with letting eggs *boil* for longer time.
Roberta B. April 20, 2015
My gramma always served her "Christian Eggs" (she hated the name Deviled Eggs) with a generous sprinkle of paprika. They looked great and tasted even better!

I think a dash of onion or garlic powder would go good in these too.
William M. May 18, 2014
i like to put some zip in my eggs, instead of prepared mustard i use colmans dry mustard. and of course a dash of vinegar and worchester sausce. Always a hit with my guests.
Dave S. April 22, 2014
A touch of vinegar wouldn't hurt either.
Rajesh S. April 17, 2014
thanks for sharing
Susan April 16, 2014
It never occurred to me that people used actual recipes for deviled eggs. Kinda like meatloaf. You just make it.
Pegeen April 14, 2014
Have also used HalfPint's recipe on this site for Lemony Sardine Pate to fill hard-boiled egg halves. (And saved the hard-cooked yolks for another use.)
btglenn April 14, 2017
What a good idea - especially for some of us who avoid eating the yolks because of high cholesterol.
Pegeen April 14, 2014
My favorite combo, thanks! I sometimes add a little flaked smoked trout. Or use smoked trout paté instead of the egg filling, and chop the egg yolks to add as a garnish to a bagel spread (bagels, cream cheeses, chopped red onion, capers, chopped hard-boiled egg yolk).
Pegeen April 14, 2014
And lox, of course, for the bagel spread!