This Genius Egg Salad is a Love Letter to Eggs

February 28, 2018

The genius of this egg salad is manyfold—it’s there in every component, from the few core essentials of eggs, mayo, and salt, to the sort-of optional garlicky bagna cauda toasts.

“It’s a very straightforward egg salad,” chef Nancy Silverton writes in her most recent cookbook Mozza at Home. “What makes it special is that every element of the salad is done correctly.”

While “correctly” is in the eye of the beholder, especially with something as personal as this, I do believe that if you love egg salads, this one will be an especially revelatory experience for you. And if you aren’t so sure about them, this is the one that will convince you. (I didn’t know I was an egg salad person until I met this one. You could be next!)

The care Silverton takes with each element turns egg salad into a fancy, full-blown meal—for parties of all sorts, or just a very good lunch. It's not the quick and easy path, but it's far better for it (plus most of it can be made ahead). Let’s break down how she'll help you perfect every last bit, shall we?

The Eggs

Boil the eggs just enough to be firm but yielding, with a still-glowing yellow middle. To be confident you’re not overcooking them, she has you crack open a sacrificial tester egg to be sure they qualify as done. Cook times can vary from pot to pot, especially when you want to take the lower-intensity path of letting the eggs cook through in just-boiled water, instead of keeping them at a constant 212° F hard-boil. With a tester egg, no guessing! (Plus you get to eat it.)

And with your cooked-just-so eggs, instead of finely chopping or mashing them, she has you tear them into chunks with your hands, giving a sort of undulating texture to the salad. Then you'll vigorously stir in the mayo and salt, so the yolks blend in to thicken the mayo further, into a soft, gloriously puddingy mass. All loose egg bits are snugly held and accounted for.

The Mayo

While there's a place for Hellmann’s or Duke’s (or whatever brand you identify with), commercial mayos each bring their own strong flavor profile. What you’re really looking for here is a rich, buttery cushion for the eggs, punched up just enough with garlic, salt, and a little spark of acid.

So, in Silvertonian style, make your own well-balanced garlic mayonnaise, a.k.a. aioli. But by using a mini-food processor, the whole thing whirs together quickly and you can skip the furious whisking that typically accompanies DIY mayonnaise.

The Salt

As Silverton writes, “Probably the real secret to my egg salad: I add enough salt”—enough to strengthen the subtle flavors that usually get overwhelmed by pushy ingredients like pickles and mustard. (For the same reason, this is the perfect place to use super-fresh farm eggs and really taste them. Blue shells are optional.)

The Toasts

You could eat this on any sort of serving device you feel strongly about—crunchy rye crackers, a bed of greens, “a slightly burnt bialy,” as Food52 community member Aliwaks recommends. But Silverton’s bagna cauda toasts, bathed in warm garlic-anchovy butter, are in every way the right contrast to the egg salad spooned on top: the warm to its cool, the crisp to its soft, the prickly intensity to its complete, elemental comfort.

Photos by Rocky Luten

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Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]. Thank you to California-style egg salad fan Ali Slagle for finding—and styling—this one!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Cookie
  • JohnSkye
  • Jaye Bee
    Jaye Bee
  • I use a Replicator!
    I use a Replicator!
  • Victoria Carr
    Victoria Carr
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Cookie May 1, 2018
Okay, I’m definitely making this recipe for my food club. But can you tell me where to get that egg holder cutting board in the picture?
Kristen M. May 1, 2018
Sure can! The maker also has a few other sizes:

Hope your food club likes the recipe!
Cookie May 1, 2018
Oh yay. That’s it. I couldn’t find anything on the Food52 search engine, then I emailed and they linked me to a smaller version.
Cookie May 1, 2018
I will report back after making the dish. Thanks.
Cookie May 1, 2018
I wonder if it would also make a good deviled egg tray.
JohnSkye March 1, 2018
This recipe, even assuming it produces "good" egg salad, is WAY too fussy and time consuming. Homemade mayo!? Really?? For egg salad!?! So, you'd make this egg salad exactly ONE time just to say you did ... I guess. It's egg salad for heaven's sake! 'Fraid I've got to agree with Jaye Bee about the garlic, and Replicator about "making a deadline" and Sprat about the salt. As long as not cooked to death, "done-ness" of the eggs is not that critical and yolks ALWAYS melt in to whatever mayo you use. Can only assume Silverton's never made egg salad before???
Jaye B. March 1, 2018
:D :D
Jaye B. February 28, 2018
I love eggs and have enjoyed them many different ways and egg salad is a favorite. I recently had egg salad with a garlic undertone and couldn't finish it. IMHO, eggs & garlic go together like a fish and a bicycle.
I U. February 28, 2018
Sorry, this IS NOT egg salad. It's a lame attempt at making a deadline.
Victoria C. February 28, 2018
I have a little trick I use for egg salad and tuna salad sandwiches, which I most often make for someone to take when he goes skiing. He keeps half sandwiches wrapped in tin foil in the pocket of ski jacket so he can stop and eat them whenever he wants. When I make the salad, I add some softened butter in with the mayo, then I refrigerate the sandwiches for a little while before he leaves. The butter solidifies the filling a little, and it doesn't fall out of the sandwiches, and since he's out in the cold weather, the sandwiches don't heat up. (Plus the addition of butter is delicious.)
AntoniaJames February 28, 2018
Victoria, that is such a good idea (also helpful for those of us who take lunch on long day hikes!). And yes, the addition of the butter must make the sandwiches taste so good, too. Definitely going to try this! ;o)
Cookie May 1, 2018
sprat February 28, 2018
R U out of your mind with ALL the salt, not even a salt knucklehead would use so much, get a life, learn how to live and cook, please
I U. February 28, 2018
I second that.
ctgal February 28, 2018
No! I think she's right. I love salt, there are a lot of eggs and mayo, which all definitely need salt. And, sorry, I don't have high pressure but grew up with a mother who did and salted nothing! I sat at the table with the salt shaker next to me. Salt brings out flavor in almost everything.
Mary C. February 28, 2018
It does seem like a lot of salt, but I don't see how that justifies rude remarks.
Kristen M. March 1, 2018
ctgal and Mary, I'm afraid the amount of salt was actually off (see my comment to Linda below for details), but I've retested and corrected it. I'm sorry for the mistake.
I U. March 1, 2018
I see sprat and myself don't matter since you specifically replied to ctgal and Mary only. thx
ctgal March 1, 2018
Thank you! I love salt and would never have questioned it with all those eggs!
Cookie May 1, 2018
I know. This is the first time I’ve been on Food52’s comment section. The comments are kinda’ shocking. We’re on a food site for crying out loud. It’s not politics.
Cookie May 1, 2018
Try not being a jerk.
I U. May 1, 2018
Cookie - and yet you're on here calling people jerks. Hypocrite much?
Linda D. February 28, 2018
OK, thanks for confirming!! I'll give it a whirl : )
Kristen M. February 28, 2018
Linda, I hope you haven't made it yet. I just retested it and you were right—the salt was definitely off. (Somehow, in the three times we tested this, between my kitchen and our test kitchen, we must have all read it as 2 teaspoons in the moment, so I didn't catch it.) I've updated the recipe—thank you and I'm sorry for the snafu!
Kristen M. March 1, 2018
Hi again Linda—if you did make it with the full amount of salt, I have a way to salvage it: It felt very weird, but by rinsing the egg salad and draining it very well (i.e. shaking the dickens out of it) in a colander, then stirring in the rest of the garlic mayo, I was able to save mine.
Linda D. March 1, 2018
Hi Kristen, no worries, I haven't made it yet. I would have salted to tastes as well since I'm sensitive to it. Glad you got it sorted out!
Cookie May 1, 2018
What happens to the egg yolks when you rinse them?
Linda D. February 28, 2018
Sounds great, except is 2 tablespoons of kosher salt correct for the salad?? Wondering if it should be 2 tsp.
Kristen M. February 28, 2018
It actually is correct, and in testing it a few times with Diamond Crystal kosher salt (less salty than Morton's), it has been really delicious—but of course you can add it to taste, if you prefer less salt.
AntoniaJames February 28, 2018
Silverton is the quintessential kitchen genius. Full stop. ;o)
ctgal February 28, 2018
I thoroughly agree!