Kitchen Hacks

This Viral Hack May Change the Way You Peel Hard-Boiled Eggs

We've never seen this trick before. Have you?

by:
January 10, 2020
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine.

After sifting, peeling a stubborn boiled egg is easily my least favorite kitchen task. You know the scene: Rather than gently sliding off the shell, each poke of your finger punctures the egg and takes half of the flesh with it. This matters less when you're just feeding yourself in the morning. But when you're making deviled eggs, egg curry, or garnishing a dish with hard-boiled eggs for guests, it can be a bruise to the ego to have to serve food that looks like it's been sent through a lawnmower.

There are, of course, a thousand tricks out there to perform the task without pulling your hair out or ending up with cratered egg whites, and I'm sure you don't need me to tell you these. You probably have your own way of doing it. For example, the Food52 Editorial Team swears by the method of peeling them in a bowl of cold water.

"My mom would use the sides of the bowl to crack each egg in several places (really all around the shell)," our co-founder Merrill Stubbs tells me, "and then let them sit in the cold water for a few minutes before peeling."

Even I once told you to boil your eggs in water with a splash of vinegar and baking soda—the former as insurance against egg drop soup (as it helps any potential egg-white escapees to seize in the water), and the latter to increase the alkalinity of the eggs (as it's said that older eggs have more alkalinity, and older eggs peel more easily than newer eggs).

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Top Comment:
“All you need to do is poke a small hole in one end of the raw egg and hard boil. The water gets between the membrane and the shell and they fall off.”
— Bob H.
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But this morning, Managing Editor Brinda Ayer sent me this video of a hack I'd never seen before.

The Hack

  1. Hard-boil an egg.
  2. Add it to a sturdy glass and fill glass with cold water.
  3. Cover glass with hand and shake vigorously.
  4. The cracked egg should release easily from its shell like when a snake sheds its skin. 🐍

The responses to this tweet are worth a gander, as they provide more science, context, and humor:

  • "it really bothers me that he didn't turn off the faucet"
  • "Wasted water. If you can’t peel a properly boiled egg without this, there’s no hope for you."
  • "While I’m impressed by the trick, remember to turn off the tap the next time you do this. Kills me to watch such wastage of water."
  • "How many litres [sic] of water do you need to peel a hard boiled egg?"
  • "I doubt it would work with super fresh eggs. I'll give it a try but I won't leave the water running, though."
  • "Forgetting to mention that you need to do this while the egg is still hot. The water needs to be cold as well—you’re essentially 'shocking' the egg out of its shell."

While most were just angry that the egg-peeler in the video didn't turn off the faucet, the last two comments were helpful as I experimented with the hack in the test kitchen today. 1) I decided to use super-fresh eggs that our food stylist Anna Billingskog bought (because that's what she always buys for photo shoots), and 2) I made sure to test with hot, just-boiled eggs.

Mimicking the video, I added my boiled egg to a glass, filled it with cold tap water (and turned off the faucet), covered the cup with my hand, and SHOOK SHOOK SHOOK—ensuring that the egg hit the sides of the glass thoroughly. I lifted my hand to reveal not just a cracked egg, but an already half-peeled one, as well (!). All I had to do was slip off the second half of the shell in one fell swoop.

Verdict: The hack works, and it's pretty cool.

Now, will I do this every time I boil an egg? Probably not. Maybe when I'm craving a single hard-boiled egg. But this trick wouldn't work with, say, a soft 6-minute egg, which is my favorite way to eat eggs. And if I'm boiling a dozen eggs to devil, then it's more likely I'd just crack the bottoms of each and let them sit in a bowl of cold water as Merrill's mother does.

What do you think of this hack? Have you seen it before? Let us know in the comments below.
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Eric Kim is a senior editor at Food52, where his solo dining column, Table for One, runs Friday mornings. Formerly the managing editor at Food Network and a PhD candidate in literature at Columbia University, he writes about food, travel, and culture and lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho.

45 Comments

Susan L. January 24, 2020
Instant Pot! Cook your eggs under pressure and the shell will slide right off (after its little water bath). I can peel soft-to-hard boiled eggs, one-handed, in no time.
 
/anne... January 24, 2020
1. Thanks, I will definitely try that!
2. Yes, that's how you spell 'litres'. If you are in doubt, check the Macquarie Dictionary.
 
rosecedar January 23, 2020
I am another convert to the steaming method. I do not cool the cooked egs in cold water (I read this actually makes them harder to peel). Those I will not use right away I cool at room them and store unpeeled in the fridge. To peel, I tap on the counter at the broad end first, then all around, the I roll the egg on the countertop a bit. I start to peel at the broad end, making sure that the membrane is broken there so that it will come away with the peel. If I encounter any difficulty, I run the egg under the tap, as the running water helps separate the peel. This has been working for me perfectly for months, using high quality eggs from local small farms that I purchase at my local coop or farmers market. I'm not sure if these would be the "super fresh" eggs that some folks say are more challenging.
 
Beckyjbressler January 23, 2020
My friend has been the go to deviled egg queen for years & she swears by shaking the eggs (1 at a time) in a covered canning jar. No water necessary.
 
martha F. January 23, 2020
Kanji Lopez Alt’s steamed eggs are always perfect and the easiest to peel. 1 or a dozen. Google it
 
Dorinda C. January 23, 2020
When I boil the eggs I drain the water and then add a little to the pot with the top on and shake hard. Peels come off easy. Been doing this for years
 
ChefGirl January 23, 2020
The link to the video doesn't work.
 
Donna D. January 23, 2020
I find steaming the eggs rather than boiling them then cooling them in cold water and peeling under running water to work best for me.
 
CB January 17, 2020
We teach this technique to students in our Food Science class at the University of Arizona. It works extremely well. What do I do if I am hard boiling eggs for later use and don't want to peel them immediately after cooking?
 
Parvin January 16, 2020
There are about 20 videos on YouTube showing this method starting back at least 4 years.
 
Anne Y. January 17, 2020
Apologies for my ignorance. I don't think of YouTube or google searches as a first resort. Try to minimize my on-line presence.
 
zapatera January 16, 2020
Steaming eggs seems to solve the sticky shell problem. It’s especially handy if you’re cooking a lot of eggs at one time. But if I just want an egg or two, I’ll steam a half-dozen at once, and have a hoard for my next egg salad, or whatever. I simply use my bamboo steamer, and never pierced the shells. I think NY Times Cooking has the full instructions for hard or softer cooked eggs.
 
Anne Y. January 17, 2020
Thanks for the lead. Will check NYT next time I am at the library.
 
Barbara C. January 16, 2020
I bought an egg steamer and it tells you how much water for hard or soft boiled eggs. Yes, you need to pierce the large end of the egg. A stylus comes with the unit. Couldn’t be easier. And the eggs are perfect 👌
 
Anne Y. January 17, 2020
I have an "egg pricker" my mother gave me decades ago and use it several times a week. Interesting that the amount of water would be the governing variable rather than time. Curious about how an egg steamer is different from just putting the eggs into a regular steamer basket. BUT I will look on line to find out.
 
Anne Y. January 16, 2020
Several people mentioned steaming eggs, which is new to me. How long and timed from when? when water boils? Do you need to prick the end with the air sack to prevent leakage?
 
catalinalacruz January 16, 2020
This is how I do it, using a collapsible steamer basket. I steam the eggs for 10 minutes.
https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1020468-perfect-boiled-eggs
 
catalinalacruz January 16, 2020
And I don't prick the end of the egg. Peels beautifully every time.
 
Charles January 16, 2020
First, if you add vinegar and baking soda to the water I think all you are doing is making salt. (Acid and a base mixed make a salt if I remember chemistry class. It was over 40 years ago, so I might be mistaken). The vinegar will stop the leak. Second, who cares if you wasted a quart of tap water? All the water whiners I hope you take Navy showers.
 
Sharon R. January 16, 2020
Basically the hack does what I've always done: pop the
eggs into a dish of ice-cold water and then hit it against the side of the sink to get as many cracks in it as you can (which BTW is the same method I use for 6-minute eggs).
 
Barbara C. January 16, 2020
I struggled to have perfect peeled hard boiled eggs until I started steaming my eggs. They peel beautifully EVERY time.
 
Shari January 16, 2020
Canadians DO spell it "litre" not liter.
Just FYI. :)
 
fsutish January 12, 2020
I’ve been something very similar to this for years, I use a 8oz canning jar put a small amount of water in the jar add my boiled egg place the lid on and shake the egg in the jar and the shell will just come right off.
 
patricia G. January 18, 2020
Agree. Screw-top jar partially filled with icy water works quite well for me. Besides it's fun.
 
mamatimms January 12, 2020
I do this in the pan I boil them in. Cool quickly with ice and cold water. Then leave an inch or so in pot cover and shake for a few, shells are off, or come off easily.
 
Pat January 15, 2020
Me too. leave in pan & fill with cold water & shake with lid on.
 
catalinalacruz January 12, 2020
Just steam eggs in a vegetable steamer. Minimum of water and easy peeling. Kenji López-Alt tells how to do it.
https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1020468-perfect-boiled-eggs