Monday, March 8, 2010

How to Make Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs – I'm Not the Eggman, but I Play One on the Internet

First of all, in case you're wondering, I'm a Rolling Stones guy, not a Beatles guy (one of my favorite, "there are two kinds of people in the world" questions). This quick video tutorial shows my method for making perfect hard boiled eggs.

I shouldn't really say "my" method since I'm sure I learned it from some chef decades ago, probably in a hotel somewhere, but regardless, it has served me well, and works every time.

Easter is rapidly approaching, and if you're going to be boiling eggs to decorate, why not make them so the insides are just as beautiful? Even if you don't plan on expressing your creativity with dyed eggshells, summer will be here before you know it, and everyone knows the secret to a great potato salad is perfectly cooked eggs.

Some of you may wonder about peeling the eggs, which I didn't bother to film. I simply peel under gently running water. If you have a great trick for peeling eggs please feel free to share with the rest of us. Enjoy!





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UPDATE: Thanks to a tip from a commenter, I present this video from Tim Ferriss on how to peel an egg without peeling it, using baking soda. Please, someone try this and report back!

42 comments:

EcoEcho said...

Good info - thanks.

I recently bought a little gadget that pierces one end of the egg with a tiny hole. This has worked every time - to my amazement - and not one egg shell has cracked during the cooking since I began doing this. It also seems to make the peeling process so much easier!

Anonymous said...

Theres another method by spinning an egg on its bottom. It should spin for about 5 seconds without falling. The reason is because the yolk is centered and set, if it wasn't cooked it would wobble around and fall.

Anonymous said...

Hi chef John. Is it even possible to screw up a hard boiled egg? I mean hard boiled eggs have to be the easiest thing to cook!

Chef John said...

Yes, but most just boil the whole way, and this is a gentler method I think, and give me great results.

Chris K. said...

I love pickled eggs, have peeled thousands of them. In doing so I adopted this technique:

1. Gently tap the wide end, continuing in a line along the length of the egg to the narrow end.

2. Gently roll the egg between your palm and a towel placed on your counter top, back and forth, until the whole shell is finely cracked but still stuck to the egg. Don't press too hard or you'll split the egg.

3. Peel - and rinse if needed. With a little practice you should be able to remove the entire shell in one or two pieces, without needing water.

Chez Us said...

I love that you did a video for boiling eggs. I have to show my sister - she can't boil water! On a side note, did you see the eggs series we did last year - http://www.chezus.com/2009/05/27/the-incredible-edible-hard-boiled-egg-how-to-hard-boil-an-egg/ .... the best egg salad!

chris said...

The method I use is to put the eggs in the pan using the same amount of water that you do, bring the pot to a boil and leave it boiling for eight minutes. Then drain and cool as you do. No discolored yolks this way, either.

Susanna said...

Wah, watching this clip makes me realize that I haven't even been able to boil an egg! WT?!
Green-tinged yolks has always been my specialty.

danijel said...

There's a million recipes online for perfect boiled eggs, but I like this guy's methodical approach best:

http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/10/the-food-lab-science-of-how-to-cook-perfect-boiled-eggs.html

Conclusion is that the duration for boiling eggs depends on a lot of variables so its almost impossible to give an exact recipe that works perfectly for everyone. Then again, cooking is more of an art form than an exact science...

Anonymous said...

Hey chef John, take a look at this video. The guy says to boil with some baking soda then you can peel the egg without actually peeling the shell! I gotta try this one:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PN2gYHJNT3Y

PukaDog said...

Love it! As someone who new to this game and has not yet mastered perfect hard boiled eggs, thank you for posting. Chef John's tips and various methods for doing things are probably my favorite postings on Food Wishes.

Anonymous said...

I hard boil eggs pretty much exactly as you do. Many people say to leave them sit for 10 minutes in the hot water. I always go 15 to 20 minutes at my home which is almost at 3000 feet elevation. I would have thought SF would be fewer minutes because it is at sea level but it looks like I was so wrong.
Anyway, I have added one step that seems to help a ton with the peeling. After I drain off the hot water, I swirl the eggs around the pan, cracking the eggs thoroughly. Then cool with the cold water. Then peel.
Jackie

ghanima said...

Great video, Chef John! I can't believe I've been boiling eggs incorrectly all my life and nobody thought to tell me 'til now. Shows that I can learn a thing or two, even from someone in the Rolling Stones camp. :)

Susanna said...

I hope nobody EVER makes me egg salad using that baking soda peeling method. Egg salad with spit, ewwww!

Anonymous said...

Chef John, I LOVE your blog! I discovered it last week on youtube while investigating no-knead breads. I'm a cook/demonstrator in an up-scale grocery store and have recommended it to several customers and co-workers, and I noticed my daughter is now a follower (see thegutsygirl.com, her blog on crohn's disease and she posts recipes). I voted for your blog in the Saveur contest, and it definitely outshone the others. You write from a professional chef point of view, the videos are succinct and informational and they show me what I need to know and don't waste my time--okay, I guess that's what succinct means. I like it that you're not a standup comedian, like "Mr. Bam" on a certain food tv show.
Your introductions prior to the recipes give me insight I could use as an accomplished home cook and foodie, and that same info is helpful to novices, too. Incidentally, I made the no-knead ciabatta bread and it turned out great! Kudos, Alicia

Victor said...

so do times change for different amounts of eggs? how about a dozen.. still 17 mins?

Chef John said...

yes, same for a dozen

Jesse said...

Huge fan of soft boiled eggs. Tips for perfecting those buggers?

redforever said...

A tip to keep in mind as well, is that fresh eggs will not peel well.

So if you know you are going to be using boiled eggs for something, buy your eggs about a week ahead of time.

Seth G said...

You've GOT to be kidding.

I just tried the boiling with baking soda, and it TOTALLY worked. I'm gobsmacked.

Basically the shell cracks very easily into fine shards, and the egg comes right out. Your conventional under the water technique worked phenominally easily after the soda-boil, too. The spit thing bothered me, if I'm honest, so I tried just using a thumb to push it out. If you push from the small end (didn't work from the wide end) it comes RIGHT OUT leaving a tube of egg shell.

Game-changer....thanks!

Jie said...

Hi, Chef John. i tried your method this morning, and my mom said that the eggs are better than those we previously made. we are chinese and we usually boil the eggs thoroughout the whole process, but this really workes. thank you for sharing the method. im looking foward the new cooking book.
Jie

Kevin said...

The peeling video looks good except for the spit all over the egg!

San-Man said...

OK, time to play Mr Stick-in-the-mud!!! Since these eggs never really reach the boiling point, wouldn't it still be possible for cooties like salmonella to survive? Chef, comment???

Chef John said...

on the VERY rare chance you have salmonella-laced eggs, it's killed way below boiling - like 130-140 degrees.

Anonymous said...

Hey Chef(s).
Does anyone have any tips for cooking a slightly more runnier version? My entire family likes the yolk a bit more runnier than this version.

Chef John said...

not sure, but I'm sure there are time charts online for softer boiled eggs

Sal said...

Chef,

How about an egg salad recipe done in your patented "lite/healthy" spins? Have you seen the Best Thing I Ever Ate - Chilled Perfection episode? Adam Gertler does a feature on the egg salad sandwich from Euro Pane. Looks delicious! It'll re-air tomorrow night if you want to set your DVR.

Melanie said...

I live in the "mile high" city and this method did not work for me. The eggs were undercooked and stuck to the shell. I went back to simmering them for 20 minutes then shock of cold water...works for me.

But thanks! I love your videos and visit this blog on a weekly basis.

Chef John said...

Wouldn't it be easier to just move to sea level? ;-)

Gustavo Mello said...

Well, I have to say I had never been a big fan of hard boiled eggs until I tried this technique.
First time around I screwed it up cause I turned the heat down way too soon (didn't wait for them to start dancing). I don't know if the fact that they were cold straight out of the fridge was also a problem. So I just had to fry those and they were delicious.
But on my second try I left the heat on for a little longer and I have to say, they were the most delicious hard boiled eggs I've ever had. Cooking is just amazing, you can go from something that's just OK to something heavenly depending on how you do things.
Thank you for sharing this!

dining room tables said...

Boiling an egg is a hard thing to do, as for me. I always fail on that task in the kitchen.

Anonymous said...

I add salt to the water, it makes the shells come right off without any fuss.

philogaia said...

Thanks so much to danijel for the link to the serious eats page. I tried this method (at sea level) and came up with my whites still runny. Since I had just peeled a little edge to see the problem I was able to put the eggs in fresh water and finish cooking them by my old method (albeit with some amazing white foam to skim off.)

I had no idea what might have gone wrong but the serious eats page says that the amount of water makes a huge difference in how fast the temp of the water drops with 1.5 quarts of water being optimal. I used a one quart pan filled half way since I was only boiling two eggs. That must be it. Way too little water.

I get beautiful hard-cooked (not boiled) eggs by putting them in cold water, setting the timer for 17 minutes, bringing them to just under a boil, then monitoring the water to keep them just simmering. While this works great it requires attention. I'll try this experiment again with more water.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed that the main thing that seems to make hard-boiled eggs easy to peel is not overcooking them. Ever since I adopted a similar method of heat-and-rest, I've had no peeling problems, whether the eggs were super-fresh or not, right out of the fridge or not,and even without using running water!

Anonymous said...

This did not work for me and I followed all the directions to a "T".

Anonymous said...

It didn't work for me either I got runny eggs.

Jan said...

@Chef John:
I love those eggs but my mother likes her yolk so she can dip her toas in it.
Any good tip how to make the perfect egg with firm white but creamy to runny yolk?

Anonymous said...

The Easiest way to peel a hard boiled egg is wait till your water is at a full boil. THEN gentley put the eggs in the pot. They peel like butter!!!

Rob Pitingolo said...

For as long as I can remember, I've had an impossible time peeling hard-boiled eggs, not matter how hard I tried.

Recently, by accident, I discovered something interesting. I usually use cheap supermarket eggs for hard boiling and better farmers market eggs for poaching, frying, etc.

One time I didn't have very many supermarket eggs left, so I threw some farmer's market eggs into the pot. Keep in mind, these eggs were all cooked for the exact same time in the exact same pot. When I went to peel them, the supermarket eggs were annoyingly difficult to peel, as usual, but the farmers market eggs popped right out!

Not only that, but the supermarket eggs seemed less "well done" than the farmers market eggs.

Here's my point... forget the salt water tricks, the ice shock tricks, etc. The type of egg you use seems to be the most important variable. I hope someone can shed more light on this, because I feel like I've only begun to scratch the surface of this question.

CookinDiva said...

I just tired the boiling eggs method for the first time and for the most part it works, I think I should have waited just another minute. But it works.

Capt Chris said...

Clicked both of your email links...neither are active. I have a food wish for a lol... "sexy" egg salad sandwich! A fun bread maybe?...different spices or prep?

John Conlon said...

I just tried this in Albuquerque NM. Had to leave at for 20 minutes instead of 17. Wondering if it had anything to do with our boiling point being 203 instead of 212 so my simmered water is not quite as hot?