DIY Food

How to Peel Hard Boiled Eggs Perfectly, Every Single Time

No cracks, no dents—deviled eggs never looked better.

January 19, 2022
Photo by Mark Weinberg

The best kitchen tips are usually passed along from friends, or parents, or—if you work in an office with an always-bustling test kitchen—from colleagues.

And such is the case with perfectly cooked hard-boiled eggs. We all learned to cook them from someone, somewhere; they're personal, they're nostalgic, and also pretty genius. But make no mistakes—they can be finicky, and, when hard-boiled, a real pain to peel.

Enter one of our own, Blake, with his trick for the perfect way to peel perfect hard boiled egg, gleaned from the kitchen of Blue Hill where he used to work. We tried his method immediately, and tested it a whole bunch of times, and we've never looked back. What followed was a whole new world—and some massively upgraded deviled eggs, egg salad, and protein-packed snacks.

So, here, without delay, is the absolute cleanest, most pain-free way to peel a hard boiled egg, no blowing or wooden cane required.

How to peel hard boiled eggs

Peeling the perfect hard boiled egg starts with cooking eggs, of course. Cook your eggs however you like—in a pot of boiling water with a splash of vinegar, a squeeze of lemon juice, a teaspoon of baking soda, or a pinch of salt. All of these additions help make it easier to peel boiled eggs. Slightly older eggs will make it easier to peel, but using them is not necessary. After all, we have to work with what we have. Another pro tip? Start with water that’s already boiling. I know it seems treacherous, but it will make it much easier to peel hard-boiled eggs. “I have noticed the egg white sticks to the shell when I start from cold [water]," says Jason Hua, executive chef at The Dutch. J. Kenji López-Alt explains this phenomenon on Serious Eats: "Slow-cooked egg whites bond more strongly with the membrane on the inside of an eggshell."

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Once the eggs are fully cooked (set a time for 10 to 12 minutes), the next step is to cool the eggs down in an ice bath or a bowl of very chilly water, where they should stay for a full five minutes or so. Set a timer. Do not disturb. I know you’re hungry and anxious, but the eggs will be better off if you just leave them alone.

Once they are cool enough to handle, fill another clean bowl with room temperature water, and submerge the eggs, one at a time. Using the edge of the bowl to knock them, you can now start cracking the shell. Do this gently, so as to not break the freshly boiled egg entirely in half.

Once cracked, the water helps to gently separate both the membrane—that attaches itself with a vice-like grip to the egg—and the shell from the egg white, making it so much easier to peel.

From here, discard the eggshells or, better yet, compost them—they’ll turn into fantastic fertilizer. Then slice the boiled eggs and add a sprinkle of flaky salt for a sneaky snack, dice them for potato salad, or slice them for a Niçoise salad.

Presto! The world's shiniest, smoothest, pearliest eggs to impress your friends with. Just don't forget to pass on the tip to the next generation.

This post originally ran in 2014. We've refreshed it now because this skill will never go out of style.

Have another way to perfectly peel an egg? Let us in on your secret in the comments below!
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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Cookie
  • Helen Gilbert
    Helen Gilbert
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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.


Cookie April 5, 2023
This method would never work with very soft-boiled eggs (approx 7 minutes), such as those for your popular Momofuku soy sauce eggs, which I make constantly ( Smacking them first in the middle is fatal. If you try cracking a jammy egg in the middle, it will break in half. For soft boiled, after cooling in ice water, they need to be gently tapped on each end (where an air bubble leaves space), and then rolled lightly on the counter to crinkle the ENTIRE surface of the egg. Start peeling at the pointed end, and the entire shell comes off together with the membrane. Peeling under water helps.
Helen G. April 3, 2023
Food 52 should carry this product, Negg, a 4" x 3" plastic cylinder with a tight lid you put a boiled egg in, add ¼ cup water, and shake a few times. The shell slides right off. It put boiled eggs back in my life after years of frustration with peeling.
Sadie April 3, 2023
Eliminate this time-consuming, multi-step process and steam eggs for 15 minutes instead of boiling them. Crack all over and peel under cold running water. Works every time!
Anne K. April 3, 2023
This method seems to take quite a few time-consuming steps for an easy to peel egg. I simply steam the eggs--12-14 minutes for hard cooked, 8-9 minutes for a softer yolk. Only on rare occasions does the shell stick to the white. Try it.
Susan S. April 3, 2023
Alas the peeled egg trick did not work at all for me-indeed it took away more of the egg than usual.
Donny April 2, 2023
Now need a recipe for foolproof soft-boiled for Scotch eggs. Anyone..? Anyone..? Bueller..? (Thanks!😘)
Lisa S. April 2, 2023
Yes! Steam the eggs for 6 minutes, then into the ice water. Mold the pork mixture around them, bread, then deep fry for 6 minutes. I have a great recipe for Maple Bacon Scotch Eggs in my cookbook. The Fresh Eggs Daily Cookbook.
Gray F. April 2, 2023
I don't have an answer for you, but recognize the Scotch egg problem of trying to fry the sausage without overcooking the egg.

My thought was to crack the egg into a suitable container and then freeze it. Then mold the sausage around it and sous vide it at whatever temp gives you the egg doneness you desire, which should be fine for the sausage, too. Then a quick deep fry in pretty hot oil to put a crust on it.

Michelle P. April 2, 2023
I used to work on a farm that sold eggs from pastured chickens. Part of my job was to wash and package the eggs. We got to take home the eggs that were too big to fit in the carton. So I have hard boiled many eggs the same day they were laid. The very best way is to steam them. I used a metal colander over a stock pot, covered. Ten minutes for room temperature eggs, thirteen for refrigerated ones. I never had a problem peeling them after steaming them.
Lisa S. April 2, 2023
I agree. Steaming is the only method that works 100% of the time for me with our fresh eggs. I have a feeling that people who use these other methods are also using old eggs - which of course peel easier.
Jenny A. April 2, 2023
Learn something new everyday! That is interesting about the size of eggs. How often were they too big?
sara D. April 3, 2023
Yes! I steam my eggs in the metal colander over about 1-2 inches of boiling water, with the lid on the pot. 13-14 minutes. Then I ladle them into iced water (with ice cubes) for 5 minutes. Pour out the water. Here's the important thing: I take each egg and tap it on the counter on the pointiest end and once on the side. I pinch the pointy end and the shell practically peels itself!
les C. April 3, 2023
Yup.This technique works well for me as well,the eggs must be put in an ice bath immediately after steaming for at least 15 minutes.Your just going to have 1 or 2 that refuse to cooperate when peeling, patience is our friend.
Cynthia C. April 2, 2023
Instant pot to the rescue. Put eggs into a slotted basket or anything that gets him up off the bottom of the pot insert. Put in one cup of water. Close lid. Put on high-pressure for six minutes. When it dings let it do a slow release for six more minutes. Do instant release and get the eggs out, putting them into a cold water bath immediately. The shells will slip right off the eggs. Every time.
Pudding April 2, 2023
So many different ways to achieve the perfect peelable hard boiled egg! Mine might be the easiest of all (from the NYT years ago, and from an egg dealer at the farmer's market). Use a slotted spoon to gently put eggs into water only about an inch deep (which creates steam), when its already bubbling, turn heat down a bit, cover, and boil. On my stove it takes about 7 minutes at a gentle boil for 8 eggs. Remove the eggs with the slotted spoon, and put aside in a bowl on the counter until the eggs are cooled to room temperature, which might take at least an hour. They peel beautifully once they've cooled totally, and can now be put in the fridge. No need for ice water baths or peeling under running water!
Jenny A. April 2, 2023
Seems there are a lot of ways that method could go wrong: "turn heat down a bit, cover and boil" and "gentle boil" is nondescript. It's not foolproof like just steaming. But interesting approach! I'm guessing the eggs are still cooking while they are cooling. The ice water bath is to stop the hot eggs from cooking and also helps with peeling somehow (forgot the reasoning).
Barbara B. April 2, 2023
I learned two easy tricks for hard boiled eggs years ago: first, starting the eggs in cold water, boil for five-six minutes then turn off the heat and let sit in the pot as long as you like. Go vacuum or read your mail. When they’ve cooled a bit, peel them UNDER RUNNING WATER. This method never fails and is quick and easy.
Gray F. April 2, 2023
All the myriad tips and tricks I've read over the last 65 years for producing easily peeled hard boiled eggs have proven to be nothing but a bunch of desperate malarkey and pretty much didn't work, in practice..

The trick is not to boil your hard boiled eggs! Instead, steam them. I learned this from the Sunbeam E-1 automatic egg cooker that I have been making eggs in since I first learned how to do it in the mid-50's. I don't suppose I've had a dozen sticky shelled eggs in that time.

Egg cookers are still made and pretty much all work the same way (and there is a plethora of used ones on e-bay). Oxo (and others) also make a silicone egg rack that fits in the bottom of a sauce pan, if you don't have an egg cooker or want to cook a dozen eggs at a time for spud salad.

If you are making them in a pan, put the rack in the pan; add maybe 3/8" of water in the bottom; pierce the tops of the eggs to prevent them blowing up (egg piercers are also available fairly cheaply); put the eggsin the rack (pierced side up!); steam them for whatever time you like and turn off the heat. I usually just let the eggs cool in the pan. Doesn't seem to make any difference whether you start with cold or room temp eggs.

Lynnie April 2, 2023
Yup! Same here. Learned this from a work colleague. Important to start them cold from fridge over hot steam. And when done, that plunge in ice water bath finishes the process so they peel clean and easily, even several days later
Dianne N. April 3, 2023
I have my grandmother's (born 1898) Sunbeam egg cooker. My mother had the same one. I didn't know that you could boil eggs to make hard cooked eggs until I became an adult because this was the only way my mom made them. It's just the best!!
Pamela April 2, 2023
Amen. I don’t look at or buy as much as I used to because it is sooooo annoying and totally distracting
Lisa S. April 2, 2023
About ten years ago, I started steaming my eggs instead of boiling them. 7 or 8 minutes for soft-cooked in a colander or vegetable steamer set over a pot of simmering water, 12 minutes for hard-cooked. About 20 minutes for duck eggs. Then right into a bowl of ice water. Even eggs laid that morning will peel like a charm. You don't want to use old eggs because you get that dip in one end (that's the air sac that expands as the egg ages). And by steaming them, they don't knock around and potentially crack like they can in boiling water. Also, as someone else mentioned, the steam heat is a consistent heat. And you never that that weird gray ring around the yolk when you steam them.
Author of The Fresh Eggs Daily Cookbook (HarperCollins, 2022).
Jenny A. April 2, 2023
The gray ring is from overcooking.
Lisa S. April 2, 2023
Or cooking too fast. The steaming prevents it.
Jenny A. April 2, 2023
Steaming for 12 minutes, then ice water is best because the steam stays hot while boiling water can cool down when eggs are added; steaming is consistent heat. Unbelievable that Cook’s Illustrated still has some recipes advising to start with cold water; I couldn’t figure out why my eggs peeled poorly.
Lisa S. April 2, 2023
I absolutely agree.
DEEFOLGER2 March 1, 2023
Wow! This was wonderful! Wish I had read it before I wasted 2 dozen eggs!
Lisle December 9, 2022
I'll join the fray. I simply cook eggs in my dash egg cooker, it takes about 12-14 min. when done, leave on counter until room temp, write date on the shell using food safe marker, toss in the fridge, and they're ready to eat whenever. Never a stuck shell. No ice bath boiling water. Clean up is a snap.
scoutings August 25, 2022
What about the recipe for the eggs at the top of the article, e.g. in the picture by MARK WEINBERG?
mjs April 5, 2023
Looks like a hard cooked egg, sliced,
topped with a dollop of mayo- flavored anyway you might like and
topped with a sage leaf gently fried in butter.
Looks yummy.
Beth April 20, 2022
This isn't about peeling eggs, but about an amazing trick my daughter did with coloring Easter eggs. She hardboiled them, peeled and cut them in half, popped out the yolk. Then mixed up some water and food coloring, several blue, pink and green, and dropped in the whites. After a few minutes, they were dyed several different beautiful shades. Then she made deviled eggs -- what a gorgeous presentation!
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