Egg

The Neat, Pain-Free Way to Peel Hard Boiled Eggs

March 27, 2018

The best kitchen tips are 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 eggs. We all learned to cook them from someone, somewhere; they're personal, universally-loved. But make no mistakes—they can be finicky, and, when hard-boiled, a real trip to peel.

Recently, one of our developers, Blake, saved us all in the kitchen with his trick for neatly peeling boiled eggs, gleaned from the kitchen of Blue Hill where he was but a young stage. We felt wiser. Enlightened. Our deviled eggs were already getting better.

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Here's the cleanest way to peel a boiled egg, no blowing required.

The Trick
Cook your eggs however you like—slightly older eggs will help your peeling efforts, but using them is not necessary—and cool them down in an ice bath or a bowl of chilly water. Fill a separate, clean bowl with room temperature water. Once the eggs are cool enough to handle, submerge them, one at a time, and use the edge of the bowl to knock them, cracking the shell.

Photo by James Ransom

Once cracked, the water helps to gently separate both the membrane and the shell from the white, making your job easier, and the world a better place.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I've always sprinkled a healthy dose of salt in the water before boiling the eggs, and then an ice bath when they're finished. Then, they peel like a dream.”
— Cathryn
Comment

Now: Continue to peel like a champ underneath the water. Make the smoothest, pearliest eggs; impress your friends. Just don't forget to pass this tip on.


Put Your Skills to Use

This post originally ran in 2014. We're resurfacing it now because this skill is timeless.

How do you peel an egg? Let us know in the comments!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Ann Andrews
    Ann Andrews
  • Cathryn
    Cathryn
  • Deanna
    Deanna
  • Lori Johnson Stach
    Lori Johnson Stach
  • MLa
    MLa
Comment
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.

162 Comments

Ann A. June 28, 2019
I hard cook eggs in cold water, brought to boil. Turn off heat and let eggs sit for 10 minutes. I prefer to lift out the eggs with a slotted spoon and air-cool. This method ensures that the foods eggs are safe to be held at room temp. Air-cooled hard cooked eggs are not "potentially hazardous foods."

Later I store the eggs in the refrigerator until ready to use.

I tap the large round bottom of the egg on a hard surface to break the shell. Because this is where the air cell is located, I roll the egg from bottom to top several times, moving air to the top of the egg. Then I slip a small spoon into the bottom of the shell and slide the spoon to the top and/or side of the egg. I repeat this several times. The egg will be perfectly peeled. Back into refrig or immediate preparation.
 
Voi S. June 28, 2019
Gee, you just wrote a manual about how to boil and peel eggs.
 
Cathryn June 1, 2019
I've always sprinkled a healthy dose of salt in the water before boiling the eggs, and then an ice bath when they're finished. Then, they peel like a dream.
 
lorraine June 12, 2019
Oh wow! I never put in cold water after they boil in the salt water. Will try this. How long do you usually boil your eggs? I do 6-8 mins
 
Deanna April 4, 2019
I use a teaspoon, it slides easily under the skin of the shell. Fool proof, always works. I showed my daughter and she was blown away.
 
Lori J. March 19, 2019
I feel my eggs under running coldish water!! Works every time! I also add salt to the boiling water, not certain how this works or not, but it doesn't seem to hurt!! ;)
 
MLa February 21, 2019
I believe I have finally cracked the How-to-get-an-easy-peel problem. One day I decided to take a leaf from the recipe for tea eggs (cook eggs 6 minutes to hard boil, remove from water, crack shell all over lightly with back of spoon, add tea, soy & star anise to water, put eggs back in and boil some more). There's never, ever a problem peeling tea eggs. So I now boil the eggs, take them out of water, crack all over lightly with back of spoon, return to water for some more boil time. Let them cool - in cold water or not. And peel. Easy.
 
Brandy T. February 2, 2019
I always put eggs on cool water, and heated them with the water. Do not do this. Don't. Let water boil, add eggs. Cook, and drain immediately under cold water. When eggs have sat in cold water enough to be cold throughout, crack and roll over counter to create as many cracks as possible, and place back in cool water bath. Do this to all eggs, and start shelling with the first one. You'll see the shells start to slide off, i had a few that i split the shell in the middle and slid the top and bottom off. Tried the eggs in cold water to boil yesterday, those shells were horrible. Cold water cool, shell splits, and continued cold water immersion is key
 
Dm November 12, 2018
If you don’t have an egg piercer, use a safety pin. Poke a hole in the round end and drop in simmering water. You will see a little albumen come out which is the path the water takes to travel along the shell. It makes it almost full proof to peel easily. Learned this years ago on one of Julia’s shows.
 
Elaine H. November 9, 2018
Old eggs are always easy to peel, but fresh eggs are impossible! I struggled with this until I found out that if you lower your eggs into boiling water, they shell comes off easily.
 
Denise T. September 13, 2018
Haha! I've been doing it this way for years! It's so simple and easy!
 
Don T. January 16, 2018
Easier way is to just boil them, shut off the heat and let it cool in it’s own. Then crack the shells by gently bouncing them on the counter a few time. Then peel them. I just did. 5 seconds per egg.
 
Shae T. December 12, 2017
There are no hard and fast rules for preparing eggs and tell that it is ready. Only you have to follow the ideal procedure of cooking to get the desired result.

Gently place a layer of eggs in the saucepan
Keep enough space between them
Pour water into the saucepan up to an inch above egg
Put some salt to avoid cracking of shells
Heat it up for about 12 – 15 minutes
Turn off the burner
If you want more check the below link:
https://foodgear.org/hard-boiled-eggs-done/
 
GayleK70 August 10, 2017
I use my rice steamer and then the jar with water and lid method after cooling the eggs in ice water. 99.9% effective
 
Karen July 9, 2017
I've found the easiest way to get eggs to peel easily, regardless of how fresh they are is to steam them. I put them in my electric veggie steamer for 15 mins if the steamer is already hot, 25 mins if using a cold steamer. When they're done, I throw them into a pan of ice water until they've cooled enough to handle them, and peel with no problem. A pan with a steamer insert works just as well. If you do it this way, put in 1 inch of water and your steamer insert. Cover and bring to a boil, then add the eggs. Cover and cook for 12 mins. Works like a charm.
 
Beth June 29, 2017
How about if you want to keep the cooked eggs for several days before peeling them? They're harder to peel then, is there any special way to do it?
 
John P. August 24, 2018
Throw into a pot of very hot water. Let sit for a minute & peel. It all has to do with the contraction of the membrane, but I haven't figured it all out yet.
 
Lori J. March 19, 2019
Crack the shells on the inside edge of the sink, put egg under cold running water, and peel with ease!! Works every time!! Good luck!
 
Kathy W. June 28, 2017
I haven't read all the comments, so I don't know if this was mentioned, but I pressure cook my eggs. I have never had a problem peeling pressure-cooked eggs, no matter how fresh.
 
KC July 2, 2017
How long?
 
Kathy W. July 5, 2017
Place eggs in steamer basket and add at least a cup of water to the pressure cooker. Close up and set to High pressure. 4 minutes at High, then give it 5 minutes after that before releasing the pressure, then plunge into ice water for about 15 minutes.
 
Cynthia T. June 26, 2017
i love this it made no pain!, be careful if u dont find this recipe!.
 
Beth June 21, 2017
That's pretty much the way I do it, except I hold it under running water as I peel it. Dunk it in icewater first, though.
 
Jukes June 21, 2017
Smack, roll and slide. I learned this method from Mark Summers' show Unwrapped on food network from a lady working at a potato salad factory. She was doing about one every three seconds and was flying through hundreds of flats of boiled eggs. Take the egg, hold in palm, smack it gently but firmly against the vertical side of the sink, then press and roll it all the way around to the first side you smacked. Stick it in a bowl of water and slide the whole shell off. It is the fastest and most efficient way I've ever shelled boiled eggs.
 
J R. June 15, 2017
I use an egg piercer on the fat end of the egg. I believe it helps to separate the membrane from egg, making the shell come off in larger pieces.
 
Marie C. June 25, 2017
J Ryan: Where can I get an egg piercer????
 
J R. June 29, 2017
At least 6 major outlets. There is also a piercer/slicer combo.
 
J R. June 29, 2017
Just google it
 
John M. June 30, 2017
You can use a push pin, if you are careful.
 
Sonja H. June 5, 2017
After cooling, in the same pan add about 1-2 inches of water and the lid. Shake vigorously for one minute. Voila! Eggs practically peel themselves.