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Perfect Easy-to-Peel Hard Boiled Eggs [The Trick!]

Perfect Easy-to-Peel Hard Boiled Eggs Elizabeth Rider Blog

I’ve been on a quest to find the best way to make easy-to-peel hard-boiled eggs, and after dozens of tries, I finally figured out the secret.

We’ve all been led astray. Who else has been told to put the eggs in a pot, cover by an inch of cold water, then bring to a boil? Yeah, me too. But that’s where we’ve been doing it wrong.

Easy-to-peel hard-boiled eggs are a result of a hot, boiling start

No joke. I think this “cold start” egg myth came from the fact that potatoes actually do need a cold start. When you give potatoes a cold start—meaning that you put the chopped potatoes in a pot, cover by an inch with cold water, then boil—they actually do have a better texture and cook more evenly. (Tuck that away for the next time you make mashed potatoes.) So, people have assumed the same with eggs. But it’s not true!

The second trick to making easy-to-peel hard-boiled eggs is shocking them in cold water after the 13 minutes at a simmer (see full method below). Shocking them in ice-cold water stops the cooking process, which not only yields more tender whites and a perfectly cooked yolk (no weird dark lines here), it immediately cools the eggs which makes them easier to peel. My friends over at one of my favorite blogs, Serious Eats, go into the science of it, but you can just trust me that it’s true.

Perfect Easy-to-Peel Hard Boiled Eggs Elizabeth Rider Blog

Now for cooking time.

You don’t want to boil the eggs for the full 13 minutes or they will be over-cooked. The best method is to bring the water to a full boil, carefully lower the eggs in (a fine mesh strainer or spider-skimmer work well), then let them boil for 30 seconds. Time this, then lower the burner to the lowest setting so they very gently simmer.

None of these tips really create that much more work—and trust me—it’s worth it for shells that practically fall off.

A boiling start for 30 seconds to a very gentle simmer for 13 minutes then ice bath at the end makes perfect, easy-to-peel hard-boiled eggs

But, what about making a tiny hole at the top of the egg you might ask? In my experience, making that tiny hole in the shell with a thumbtack actually does help—a little. If you don’t have a thumbtack handy, you don’t need to drive to the store to get one just to make easy-to-peel eggs. But, if you do have one, use a thumbtack to make a tiny hole at the top of the big end of the egg before boiling (gently press and it will go right through the shell). The shells will be that much easier to peel.

There are other methods out there that call for salt or vinegar in the water. I tried both multiple times and didn’t find that either made a difference. So, save your salt and vinegar for other recipes.

After boiling, let the eggs sit in the ice bath for at least 15 minutes, then peel them or refrigerate them (unpeeled) for up to seven days. To peel, gently tap the egg at the big end first, then the small end, then all around. I prefer not to roll them because it’s easy to break the white. Just gently tap all around to crack the shells everywhere and they will peel with ease.

Tips to Prevent Cracking

Post update: Since publishing this blog post last year, it’s quickly become a top Google search result. And while an overwhelming majority of you have commented that this method works perfectly, a few of you have commented below that your eggs cracked. This can be for two reasons:

Mistake #1: The pan is crowded

Be sure to not crowd the pan. Your eggs need a little room to groove. They should not touch or be on top of each other. There needs to be enough room to allow a single layer of eggs in your pan while they cook. If they crack while cooking, it may be because they were too crowded.

Mistake #2: Super fresh eggs crack more easily

And finally, don’t use super fresh eggs for your hard-boiled eggs.

This is probably the only time in the kitchen that day-of fresh isn’t best. Shells like to really stick to just-laid eggs. If you have your own chickens or buy directly from a farmer, use those eggs for a glorious scramble or poach ’em up. If you buy your eggs at the grocery store, they’re already a few weeks old so they’ll work great. In the US eggs are refrigerated because they are power-washed before packing. No need to bring them to room temp, you can use this method with eggs straight out of the refrigerator.

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Perfect Easy-to-Peel Hard Boiled Eggs Elizabeth Rider Blog

Perfect Easy-to-Peel Hard Boiled Eggs

  • Author: Elizabeth Rider
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: varies

Description

This easy to peel hard boiled egg post is a #1 Google search result for a reason–it works! Read the recipe notes below to prevent your eggs from cracking. If you love this recipe, give it a 5-star rating in the comments below to help other readers.

One reader recently commented, “I deployed your method just yesterday and the results were stunning! Not only did the shells just “slide” away – the eggs were gorgeous.” 


Ingredients

  • Eggs (obviously!)
    (Super fresh eggs crack easily, so try to use “older” but not bad eggs. Read the notes below.)

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a full boil. Use an appropriate sized pot that will fit your eggs. I use a 2.5 quart pot for six eggs.
  2. If using, use a thumbtack to make a tiny hole at the top of the big end of the eggs. (See note.)
  3. Gently lower the eggs into boiling water. A fine mesh strainer or spider-skimmer work well for this.
    • (Tip from a reader comment: “I took my boiling water off the burner and let it settle a moment and then gently lowered my eggs. Worked great! I had several broken eggs on my first batch when I put the eggs in while the water was at a rolling boil. Hope this helps someone because this recipe is a game-changer!”)
  4. Boil on high for 30 seconds, then turn the burner to the lowest setting for a very gentle (not rolling) simmer. Cover the pan with a lid and wait 13 minutes. (It’s ok if the water doesn’t come back up to a rolling boil for the 30 seconds.)
  5. Put the eggs in an ice bath. You can do this by filling a separate bowl with water and ice, and transfer the eggs, or, gently pour the water out of the pan without cracking the eggs, then fill the pan with cold water and ice. The first way, with the bowl, is easiest to prevent accidentally cracking your eggs while they are hot.
  6. Leave the eggs in the ice bath for 15 minutes.
  7. Peel, or store in the refrigerator unpeeled for up to three days.
  8. To peel, gently tap the egg at the big end first, then the small end, then tap all around to gently crack the shell. Be amazed at how easy they peel.

Notes

Tips to prevent cracking:

  • Tip to prevent cracking #1: Be sure to not crowd the pan. Your eggs need a little room to groove. They should not touch or be on top of each other. There needs to be enough room to allow a single layer of eggs in your pan while they cook. If they crack while cooking, it may be because they were too crowded.
  • Tip to prevent cracking #2: Don’t use super fresh eggs for your hard-boiled eggs. This is probably the only time in the kitchen that day-of fresh isn’t best. Shells like to really stick to just-laid eggs. If you have your own chickens or buy directly from a farmer, use those eggs for a glorious scramble or poach ’em up. If you buy your eggs at the grocery store, they’re already a few weeks old so they’ll work great. In the US eggs are refrigerated because they are power-washed before packing. No need to bring them to room temp, you can use this method with eggs straight out of the refrigerator.

– Make sure you have a single layer of eggs in the pan. If you try to stack eggs or stuff more in the pan that fit, the water won’t be hot enough to cook the eggs. I use a 2.5 quart pot for six eggs, which is about 6.5 inches in diameter.

– In my experience, making that tiny hole in the shell with a thumbtack actually does help—a little. If you don’t have a thumbtack handy, you don’t need to drive to the store to get one just to make easy-to-peel eggs. But, if you do have one, use a thumbtack to make a tiny whole at the top of the big end of the egg before boiling (gently press and it will go right through the shell). The shells will be that much easier to peel.

– Unpeeled eggs can be stored in the refrigerator up to 7 days. I suggest storing them in an airtight container to prevent odor in your refrigerator.

 

Looking to use your beautifully peeled eggs? Try my Secretly Healthy Deviled Eggs

Click here to read the Secretly Healthy Deviled Eggs Recipe

Healthy Deviled Eggs Elizabeth Rider

What do you think? Have you tried this method or others? Let us know how they turn out in the comments below.

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  1. Amanda says:

    While this method works perfectly, I would like to note that I read these exact instructions on The Pioneer Woman’s website in 2015. Complete with the comment regarding the cold start method for potatoes. Only difference is she says to leave the eggs in the ice water bath for 5 minutes instead of 15. I came across your post by happenstance while looking at varying recipes for egg salad. I’m not sure who posted first as I could find no date on yours. And it does work.

    • Hi Amanda, thanks for the note. I love Ree! She is amazing. I learned this method from my mom when I was a kid and didn’t know that Ree also has it on her site. Food preparations aren’t copyrighted (But images and the words we use (the copy) are copyrighted). Methods are not so no big deal that it’s on more than one site, similar to there being hundreds—if not thousands—of blog posts about how to make sourdough bread. Again, all images and the words in which we type are copyrighted – but general methods are not. Thanks for stopping by to comment!

  2. Tom g. says:

    This is the one. Finally a truly ez peel recipe that works. Thank you.

  3. Howard Aikala says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is the only recipe for easy peeling eggs I have found. Perfect peeling eggs every time. My mother made perfect peeling eggs but when I tried it her way, it never worked for me. I love boiled eggs but hate when I end up with what I call a slaughters egg. With this recipe, the shells just fell off the egg, I didn’t even prick the egg with a pin. Thank you very much.

  4. Debbie says:

    This is the best recipe The eggs turned out perfect they didn’t crack if you use the slotted spoon and gently put them in I didn’t cover them when they simmered but put them when I put them in the ice cold water I made sure to use the strainer to gently put them in they turned out so good.. I’m turning 67 and I am a baker and never sure how the eggs are going to turn out now I don’t have to worry

  5. Lydia says:

    Ok, I had to turn on my common sense and then this worked great. I took my boiling water off the burner and let it settle a moment and then gently lowered my eggs. Worked great!
    I had several broken eggs on my first batch when I put the eggs in while he water was at a rolling boil. Hope this helps someone because this recipe is a game changer!!!!

  6. Jesse Smith says:

    Ok, I boiled the water, slowly and gently added the eggs one at a time with a slotted plastic spoon, and as soon as the eggs touched the boiling hot water they cracked open. What am I doing wrong here. My eggs are 1 day from expiration so they are definitely old.

  7. Lex Smith says:

    I have never had eggs that peel so easily! I will never cook them any other way!

  8. Melissa Garcia says:

    This is the BEST “recipe” for perfectly easy to peel eggs. I was getting so frustrated boiling eggs and when peeling them the half of the whites would come off with the shells.
    However, this has changed my life…well my egg boiling life! 🙂 My daughter will only eat boiled eggs so this was definitely a lifesaver, thank you!!

  9. Sherri says:

    I was really hoping this method would work because peeling eggs is no fun! I followed the instructions to a T and to my dismay they peeled in 1 billion little pieces and the yolk in the egg was yellow and rubbery I ended up throwing the eggs away what a shame this didn’t work.

  10. Sean says:

    You are Brilliant Elizabeth Rider! I love hard boiled eggs, but I could never find a good method for an easy peel, so I just pretty much stopped… I deployed ur method just yesterday and the results were stunning! Not only did the shells just “slide” away – the eggs were gorgeous… If they do t end up on the cover of Bon Appetite; I’ll cancel my subscription… Thank you

  11. Jill says:

    I boiled 10 eggs using Elizabeth’s method. I planned to peel 2, and put the rest in the fridge until I was ready to use them. They were so easy to peel that I peeled all 10, in about the same amount of time it’s taken me to peel only 2 in the past. And the eggs came out looking smooth and perfect. This worked perfect!

  12. Thanks for the tips for the hard boiled eggs. I cooked my first batch using a different recipe and the peeling was a disaster. Cooked another dozen using your “tricks” including the pin hole in the end and peeling was a breeze. My wife will be happy when she prepares deviled eggs for our super bowl dinner tomorrow

  13. Ana Vuksanaj says:

    Elizabeth,
    Your recipe is perfect! I used a pin to prick the eggs, and I wondered if eggs would crack when placed in boiling water and they did not. After 15 minute ice bath they peeled so easily.

    Thank you so much for this post!!!

    Ana

  14. In one place above it says you can keep an unpeeled hard boiled egg in the refrigerator for three days and in another place unpeeled in the refrigerator for seven days.

  15. Gary Merrill says:

    Followed yourcdurections to a tee! Easy peel and a more creamy yoke, but not undercooked!
    Easiest peel I have ever had!! Didnt lose my temper this time!!🤣😂

  16. Vicki says:

    All 6 eggs cracked even though they were gently lowered into the hot water. 😩. This might work if the eggs were brought to room temp before placing into the water. Shame on me….everyone knows cold to extreme hot will make glass break…..no difference in a thin egg shell!

  17. Kathy Crowe says:

    Worked perfectly!!! Have been trying to do this for decades. Thank you SO much! How did you figure it out??

  18. Sarah says:

    I tried multiple “tricks” to cook hard boiled eggs in the past, but I ran into problems with peeling the shell. I followed the directions that Elizabeth provided on this page, and I was amazed at how quickly I was able to peel the shells without damaging the smoothness of the egg once peeled.

  19. Jan says:

    Did not work and it was impossible to peel my eggs. They were week old eggs and I followed your instructions perfectly. I gave up and threw the eggs away. I am going back to salt and vinegar which works better than this terrible method.

  20. Betty Joy Bethune says:

    PERFECT!!! Thanks!!!

  21. Sterling says:

    Tried it exactly as instructed… it didn’t work. I don’t know if it was the non-stick pan I was using, which is all I have. Or if it’s the fact that the lowest setting on my stove is literally low or .5 when it goes all the way up to a 9.5.
    Either way my eggs turned out like one minute boiled eggs. ☹️

  22. AnnEbElLe CrOthers says:

    Sorry, but I wasted a dozen eggs on your method!! They were not done and runny and couldn’t even use them. I just go back to my boil with vintager and then out under cold water. Turned out much better then this did!!

  23. Liz Gorson says:

    I tried the cracking egg at one end and then the other end and the shells practically fell right off it’s the first time in my life I have ever had an egg pell like that and I’ve tried everything thank you so much!

  24. Glen says:

    I followed this recipe to the letter and wasted 18 eggs. They all turned out half cookedand the shells stuck worse than I’ve ever had. Would not recommend this technique.

  25. Dave says:

    Wow. Tried this and all of the eggs came out less than soft boiled. I’m an experienced cook, have made hundreds of deviled eggs, but I just ruined 18 eggs.

  26. Gina says:

    After years of trying numerous tricks to peel my eggs, I have finally found the only one that works like a charm every time!!!!

  27. Nancy bragg says:

    I just did hard boiled eggs according to your instructions and was so exited that they peeled just as easily as you said.. I have always had trouble peeling newer eggs. This is amazing and I thank you so much for your. Have a blessed thanksgiving. You just made my day.

  28. Carrera says:

    To the people saying their eggs are cracking as soon as you put into the boiling water. Eggs should always sit on the counter and let come to room temp before cooking. Even if you don’t leave them out that long, as least put them out for a few minutes so they can slightly warm up. I usually set out the ones I’m going to cook before I do anything else…preheating oven or getting other ingredients. Usually by the time I’m ready to cook them, the egg shells have quite a bit of condensation on the outside so I know they have warmed up from the fridge. The extreme temperature difference is what makes them crack.
    Good luck.

  29. Kathy Grimes says:

    THANK YOU Elizabeth!!! For years I’ve been struggling with peeling hard boiled eggs. I followed your instructions exactly, and it was like magic !!! I cooked 8 eggs and as I was peeling them, I kept waiting for the shells to stick and the eggs to destruct, but it never happened. Thank you again!

  30. Geo Andre says:

    Why does my eggs crack as soon as I place them in the boiling water

  31. RF Mezzy says:

    Good news and bad news. The good news is that the eggs peeled like a dream. The bad news is that they were not hardboiled after 13 minutes. I had to keep them in the heat for at least another 5 minutes. Maybe my simmer was too weak? But it was a real treat to have smooth eggs after peeling! Beautiful!

  32. For 60+ years (ok for 40+ years as an adult), I have been battling peeling hard boiled eggs, only to be disappointed with ugly, torn eggs. The method is so simple, and my eggs come out perfect every time. THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!

  33. Bob says:

    Haven’t tried it, but just a quick question. Is that boil 30 seconds after the pot come back up to a full rolling boil, or start timing the 30 seconds the instant the last egg is in?

  34. Mike Hoepfinger says:

    I love hard boiled eggs!! Sliced on salads and sandwich’s, mashed-up to make egg salad and eaten whole w/ salt as a snack. But, I have never had any kind of consistent luck in getting them properly cooked or in peeling them.
    UNTIL NOW!!! I followed your instructions precisely (very easy due to my German heritage)
    and they turned out PERFECTLY!!! Many thanks

  35. Gerald Knoll says:

    This method does a very poor job. The eggs Crack as a result of being lowered into boiling water. The water had egg white streams floating in it and some of the eggs were cracked open to the point of being unuesable.

  36. Leslie says:

    I am impressed! Worked great w/Trader Joe’s eggs. One cracked and some white came out but I just scraped it off after the ice bath and it was still perfectly usable. Thank you!

  37. Christine Good says:

    Just as a side note…when I put the eggs into the ice bath I like to crack the eggshells after a couple of minutes. It seems to allow water in between membrane and egg as they cool adding to the ease of peeling.

  38. Michelle says:

    This method of boiling eggs worked perfectly!
    Eggs turned out soft and beautiful, with no gray ring around the yolk. I might actually enjoy eating boiled eggs again!
    Thank you for the tips, (including poking the end of the eggs with a tack, which I had never tried before.)

  39. KAREN says:

    5 out of 12 eggs cracked as soon as they hit the water. But I only had 1 day old eggs and they peeled easily.

  40. Joe says:

    All the eggs cracked and leaked as soon as they hit the water. What a mess

    • Hi Joe, this is interesting. We have so many comments here on how well this works, so sorry to hear that! It’s important to use a slotted spoon or mesh basket to very gently lower the eggs into the water. Also, be sure not to crowd the pan—the eggs should have a little room (for example, 4 eggs in an 8-inch diameter pot). Hope that helps!

  41. Ciara says:

    I admit. I was very skeptical because I’ve tried other methods that didn’t work (adding Vinegar to the water). I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try your method. It worked perfectly the first time and I thought maybe it was a lucky try. I tried it again and now this will be my only method for boiling eggs. I’m still wondering how I never saw your method before!! Thank you!!!

  42. Barbara says:

    I’ve always done this exact method myself, but my housekeeper insists on doing it her way and the shell sticks to the egg and breaks up into a mosaic so then she insists the eggs are old. LOL Now I can print out your instructions so I can be a happy camper.

  43. EB says:

    Worked great…wow I’m thrilled….Thanks a million!!

  44. Shdb says:

    The eggs all cracked when placed ever so gently into the boiling water. Ugly eggs, sloppy peel. Doesn’t work.

  45. Velma says:

    Looking for the answer to this boiling question. Do I wait until the water starts boiling again to start my 30 second count or do I start when I lower eggs in even though the water has temporarily cease to boil?

    • Hi Velma! Start your 30 seconds from when you lower the eggs into the water. If you’re off by a few seconds it doesn’t matter, but you don’t need to wait for the water to come back up to a boil. Thanks! ~E

  46. Oh my goodness, I used eggs that are farm fresh, probably only 2 weeks old. Followed this method, poked the big end of each egg as directed. Eggs peeled perfectly and easily! Yes, it works!!

  47. Jeffrey mcnabb says:

    Nice egg tip. When I lower 12 eggs into boiling water, even if the eggs are near room temp, the water stops boiling for 60 to 90 secs. Are we to wait for the water to start boiling and then count 30 secs? Thank you

  48. Ann Scott says:

    Thank you for this post! My eggs peeled perfectly!

  49. CAROLYN Stevens says:

    I’m so happy. It worked perfectly. So easy too. Thank you so much!!!!

  50. Dwayne says:

    I’ve tried several ez peel egg recipes. Yours is the brst

  51. Richard says:

    I can’t believe it! This totally worked. I’m looking at 6 beautifully peeled hard boiled eggs. Thanks for the tip. I’ve tried others but this is the first to work for me.

  52. Cheryl Gallant says:

    Tried this on a couple of eggs – test run for doing 4-5 dozen eggs for an event. Worked WONDERFULLY! Only question – ‘boil for 30 seconds.’ When the eggs are immersed, the water stops boiling, when do you start the 30-second clock – when it returns to boiling or simply after the egg are immersed? Thank you.

  53. Heather says:

    What am I doing wrong? I followed these directions exactly, even poking the hole with the thumbtack, and the eggs were impossible to peel. I actually gave up and tossed them. 😔

  54. Thank you for this great idea! I’ve tried to do it and it really works!

  55. Jean Andersen says:

    Have you used an electric stovetop to employ this method? I always worry about the boiling water taking too long to reverse to a simmer, thereby overcooking the eggs in the process.

  56. Kris Luckett says:

    WORKS PERFECTLY!! I followed these instructions precisely and they peeled absolutely perfectly! Thanks so much!

  57. Jasmine says:

    The reason you start eggs in cold water is that they often crack if you put the cold eggs into hot water, same as if you pour hot water into a cold glass. I’ve never heard anything about starting cold making eggs cook better or taste better, it’s just to keep them intact.

  58. Tom says:

    This recipe and Google Maps — reasons alone for the internet. I can’t believe I’ve spent my entire adult life trying to peel hard-boiled eggs so unsuccessfully. This worked perfectly! Thank you, now and for the rest of my years..

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