Perfectly Peelable Hard-Boiled Eggs


I’m on a hard-boiled egg kick. One of my favorite snacks is an hb-egg with a dollop of homemade mayo and a light sprinkling of truffle salt. Divine. I’ve also been perfecting my recipe for fuschia-colored pickled eggs. I keep telling Dave I’m becoming a homesteader now that we live in Vermont. He just rolls his eyes.

But here’s the thing about hb-eggs. They can be a royal pain in the a-s-s to peel. Yes, you can make it easier by storing them in the fridge for a week or so before boiling, but what if you want an hb-egg RIGHT NOW?!

Before I get into what I think is a fool-proof technique, you should know that I’ve tried just about every trick. I placed the eggs in cold water and brought them to a boil like Cook’s Illustrated told me to do. I’ve used older eggs. I’ve pricked the shells and added baking soda to the cooking water. I’ve even baked them. But still: the shell stuck to the white and by the time I was done peeling, they looked like they’d gone a few rounds with a rooster beak. Definitely not smooth and pretty.

Then Dave sent me this link from Serious Eats. My life changed. Now I’ve got perfectly-cooked, perfectly peelable hb-eggs every time. If you follow this technique, you will, too!


Perfectly Peelable Hard-Boiled Eggs

  • organic, pastured, humanely-raised eggs

  • water


Place a pot of water on high and bring to a rolling boil. The pot should be big enough to comfortably hold the eggs and enough water to cover them by about an inch or two.


Use a large ladle or spoon to lower the eggs into the boiling water, one at a time. Place them gently in the pot so they don’t crack. (If they do crack, no biggie. But let’s not crack our eggs too soon.)


Reduce the heat on the pan to simmer and cook for 11 minutes for hard-boiled, 9 minutes if you want the yolks to still be a little gelatinous. Seriously. Set a timer.


While the eggs are simmering, prepare an ice bath. You need to shock those eggs! Fill a large bowl with plenty of ice and cold water. Wait for the timer to go off. (You did set the timer, right?)


When the eggs are finished, remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon and lower them into the ice bath. Let them chill out for at least 15 minutes, but you can forget about them for a while, if you want — or put them in the fridge over night.


When you’re ready to peel the eggs, crack the shells all over — you want lots of little cracks! Then use your fingernails to start peeling. It helps if you peel them under running water. The water slips under the shell and helps with the removal process, but you can do without the running water if you prefer. That’s it! They should be smooth, glossy, and ready to be devoured.

Storing Hard-Boiled Eggs

It’s best to keep eggs unpeeled until you’re ready to eat them or use  them in a recipe. Unpeeled hard-boiled eggs can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week. If you get silly and accidentally peel all your hard-boiled eggs before you’re ready to eat them, don’t panic! They can be stored in the fridge in an open bowl of cold water for about a week (change the water daily) or in a sealed container without water for a week. But they hold up to the rigors of the fridge best when left in their shells.

Heading to a picnic or potluck? The safest way to share unpeeled hard-boiled eggs is to serve them in a bowl of ice or keep them in a cooler. If you’ve turned them into deviled eggs, you’ll definitely want to keep them cool during serving.

Hard-Boiled Egg Recipes

Here’s a quick “no recipe” recipe for egg salad for one person: 3-4 diced hard-boiled eggs, a pinch of dry mustard, a generous spoonful of dried chives, the minced green top from a scallion, plenty of salt and pepper, a tablespoon of homemade mayo, and—totally optional secret ingredient—a few drops (really; just a few drops) of Red Boat Fish Sauce. Mix. Sprinkle with paprika. Eat.

While I’m putting the finished touches on my Paleo Pink Pickled Egg recipe, here are a few more hb-egg recipes to try:

(I should also mention, that if you type the word “peel” as many times as I did in this post, it starts to look really weird.)

Print this recipe
Scotch Eggs, a.k.a., Protein Pellets

I'm super into British mystery books – Dick Francis, Elizabeth George, but not Agatha C... sorry! – and TV shows like Midsomer Murders and the...

Read More
Paleo Pink Pickled Eggs & Beets

I've been joking that I'm becoming a homesteader since we moved to Vermont. That is an (unintentional) insult to homesteaders everywhere. Preserving things during the...

Read More


  • Cathy M says:

    I saw this article a while back, and have been having great luck with my hard boiled eggs ever since. One other little trick I use to make it easier to get the eggs in and out of the boiling water is to use the steamer basket from my pressure cooker. I put the eggs in that and lower them into the pot of boiling water. Then, when the timer goes off, I grab the handle of the steamer basket, pull it out of the water and dunk it immediately into the ice bath. There’s an extra item to wash, but it’s super fast and easy for getting the eggs in and out of the cooking water.

  • jayne says:

    Good Lord. I hope this works. I will try this method tonight! I’m tired of trashing the eggs!

  • JessieRae says:

    This is such a struggle with fresh eggs. Gonna try it soon and hope it works. 😉 I love deviled eggs with your homemade mayo. And can’t wait for my quarterly package.

  • Adrienne says:

    I’m going to try this for when I don’t know ahead of time that I’ll be boiling eggs- but if you do know ahead of time, just leave them on the counter overnight. It’s the much faster equivalent of aging them in the fridge for a week, and no, they absolutely will not go bad in 8 to 12 hours.

  • Chrissa says:

    I prefer the ALton Brown method of making my eggs in the oven then I use the ice bath and they peel fine every time.

  • JenniferO says:

    I saw this recently, tried it and it worked! Hubby joked that it took us 40 years to learn how to boil an egg (we are around the 40 year age). I had been trying all sorts of ridiculous ways to boil eggs without struggling with the peeling and this is THE perfect method. No pricking holes in the eggs or adding baking soda or letting your eggs get old first. Love it!

  • David says:

    Hi Melissa – Thanks for your great website (and Instagram!) One idea I highly recommend for hard boiled eggs (or soft boiled, which I prefer): Don’t peel them. Get a sharp serrated knife and cut the egg in half. Just cut slowly at first to get a start thru the shell — then quickly power thru once you have a start. Use a spoon to get between the egg and shell and scoop out the egg halves. You can quickly develop a talent for this and mow down eggs quickly without any peeling frustration or ice bath programs. 🙂

  • Abby says:

    I’ve been using your method from Well Fed (I think it’s on the pages for Scotch Eggs) and it has changed my life! Before that, my hb-eggs totally had asteroid craters on them from botched peeling!!!

  • Courtney says:

    This is the method that I’ve used and it works PERFECTLY every time. It’s completely foolproof.

  • Evan says:

    Okay, so all of the above is perfect. BUT you’re missing the key step: USE A SPOON. I know someone else mentioned cutting it in half and then using the spoon, but that’s not necessary. This is a video you need to see!
    Seriously, I’ve tried everything everyone else has suggested but this is really the only thing that works.

  • ZeeS says:

    When I first heard about this method I tried it and was floored at how it really does work. It completely changed my outlook on hard boiled eggs. They are so convenient now that I have started working again.

  • Sam Tackeff says:

    Huh. I’ve always just eaten the shells. ;p

  • We found the Serious Eats article this year too, and our lives our forever changed. If they give Nobel prizes for food, J. Kenji deserves one! Thanks for spreading the Good Egg Word, Melissa!

  • Simcha13 says:

    Wow, how timely. My husband and I have been doing Whole30 and your Well Fed cookbooks have been invaluable. But peeling HB eggs has certainly been a struggle. I am definitely trying this over the weekend. Thank you!

  • Janknitz says:

    I use my electric pressure cooker, but otherwise it’s identical to this method. As soon as the timer beeps (6 minutes at pressure) I release the steam and put the eggs in an ice bath. Perfectly cooked and easy to peel.

    I think this is a little easier than boiling because:
    1. My electric pressure cooker is too big to put away, so it’s already on the counter.
    2. This method requires only one cup of water (there IS a drought on in California–lol!)
    3. I don’t have to watch for the water to boil, and slowly and carefully load the eggs in. I just put water and eggs in the pot (I use a steamer rack to keep the eggs above the water) put the lid on, press the button, done!

    So if you have an electric pressure cooker, give it a try (makes AWESOME bone broth in less than an hour, too!)

  • Tom R. says:

    I’ve seen the serious eats post before and tried this weekend before actually reading your post. Jill (fiance) questioned the 11 minute simmering as perhaps not being long enough. I rolled with it. The next morning when I went to peel eggs, very soft-boiled. They were edible, but not h-b and nothing any of us wanted to eat. I re-lit the pot and plopped them back in for awhile and crossed my fingers.

    No one else with experience this problem?

    • Michelle says:

      The only time this method has not worked for me where the eggs came out as you described, was when I tried doing 6 eggs at once and not my normal 2. So maybe the water temp came down too quick or the water temp wasn’t hot enough to begin with. Otherwise, I’ve had nothing but success with this method!

  • Charlie says:

    My very British grandmother made the best egg salad ever!! Once you eat this, you will never go back. Hard-boiled eggs, mashed finely, salt, white pepper, mayo and one can chopped black olives. Soooo rich and sooo yummy!!

  • Jinny says:

    Are the hard-boiled eggs supposed to be squishy when you peel them?? If so, mine are perfect! ;-). I didn’t eat one yet but I can’t wit either way!

  • Mark says:

    Thanks for the tip, I’ve tried many methods, so hoping this one does the trick. One question…

    Can the eggs be straight from the fridge, or do they need to be brought to room temperature?

  • Kevin Snow says:

    After the water boils when putting the egg in the pot should the pot be covered?

  • Kim B. says:


    No, for real.

  • Jen says:

    This rocked! I did crack some eggs by not putting them in the water slowly enough, but the shells come off like a charm! Thank you!!!!

  • Patty says:

    I live at 5000 ft. Should I increase the time I am boiling the eggs due to the altitude? I would hate to boil an egg for 9 minutes for soft boil and find it is still raw. I know I can experiment but I hate wasting good pastured eggs.

    • I have zero experience cooking at altitude. I just did a quick search to see if I could find some science to help you. It looks like you should probably add 1-2 minutes to the time to make sure they’re not raw. And I’d recommend you try ONE and see what happens. If you crack it open and it’s not cooked enough, you can fry it and eat it, so it’s not wasted — and then you can simmer longer next time.

  • Missy says:

    How many eggs is too many per day?

  • Jo Ellen says:

    Hi Melissa. Love your site for helpful hints! My hb egg process is a little different and 95% of the time, the eggs peel easily. Here goes:

    – cold eggs from the fridge go into sauce pan – usually fit 6-8 eggs. Fill pan almost to the top with water, cover and bring to boil on high heat. Once boiling, turn off burner and leave pan on the burner, keep covered and set timer for 10 minutes.
    – After 10 minutes, I drain most of the water and fill pan with cold water and maybe a few ice cubes. I wait until the eggs are cool enough to handle, but not cold, Ice cubes help it cool faster.

    – I crack one egg’s shell all over and put it back in the pan of water. I crack another egg’s shell all over and put it back.* I go back to egg #1 and peel it. Keep dipping egg back in the water to keep wet. Next, I crack another egg’s shell all over and put back. I go back to egg #2 and peel. And so on,,,

    *Cracking and letting it sit in water, allows the water to help separate the shell from the egg.

    Eggs peel easy and no green rings around the yolk!

  • Margaret Philpott says:

    After my eggs are cooked I crack them in the sink and then plunge into a jug of cold water and run cold water into the jug for a couple of minutes. Leave eggs in there to get cold. Have never had a problem with the peeling or with a blue ring around the yolk. Love those eggs!

  • lisa s says:

    Hi Melissa,

    How many eggs did you boil at once?

    • You can do as many as you want, as long as they fit in a single layer with a little room around them in the pan. I usually make a dozen but that’s because Dave and I eat a lot. They last for about a week in the fridge, so plan accordingly.

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