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Perfect Easy-to-Peel Hard Boiled Eggs (The Trick!)

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.

First, 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 BlogNow 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.

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.

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.

Perfect Easy-to-Peel Hard Boiled Eggs
 
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Author:
Yield: varies
Ingredients
  • Eggs (obviously!)
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.
  4. Boil 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.
  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
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.

 

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. Tom

    March 24th, 2019 at 9:38 pm

    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..

  2. Jasmine

    April 16th, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    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.

  3. Kris

    April 20th, 2019 at 2:44 pm

    Works perfectly! It’s awesome to finally get it right.

  4. Kris Luckett

    April 20th, 2019 at 2:44 pm

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

  5. Jean Andersen

    April 25th, 2019 at 3:34 pm

    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.

  6. Joshua howard

    July 23rd, 2019 at 5:08 pm

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

  7. Heather

    August 19th, 2019 at 2:24 pm

    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. 😔

  8. Cheryl Gallant

    August 21st, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    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.

  9. Richard

    August 21st, 2019 at 4:13 pm

    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.

  10. Dwayne

    August 25th, 2019 at 2:17 pm

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

  11. CAROLYN Stevens

    August 27th, 2019 at 2:15 pm

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

  12. Ann Scott

    August 28th, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    Thank you for this post! My eggs peeled perfectly!

  13. Jeffrey mcnabb

    August 31st, 2019 at 1:33 am

    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

  14. Jeanne Bontomase

    August 31st, 2019 at 2:44 pm

    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!!

  15. Velma

    September 4th, 2019 at 5:10 am

    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?

  16. Elizabeth Rider

    September 6th, 2019 at 1:08 am

    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

  17. Shdb

    September 9th, 2019 at 1:44 pm

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

  18. EB

    September 13th, 2019 at 7:53 pm

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

  19. Barbara

    September 14th, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    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.

  20. Ciara

    September 19th, 2019 at 2:29 am

    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!!!

  21. Joe

    September 25th, 2019 at 12:09 am

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

  22. Elizabeth Rider

    September 25th, 2019 at 4:40 am

    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!

  23. KAREN

    October 5th, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    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.

  24. Michelle

    October 7th, 2019 at 6:45 pm

    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.)

  25. Christine Good

    October 8th, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    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.

  26. Leslie

    October 10th, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    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!

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