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This is one of the most annoying duties in the kitchen, for me.

What are yours tips and tricks to peel hard boiled eggs easily?

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14 Answers 14

up vote 18 down vote accepted
  1. Buy almost-late eggs.

    The worst-case scenario of egg-shelling is a farm-fresh egg. That annoying film that sticks to both the shell and to the egg will detach, the older the egg gets. The bubble at the fat end, too, will get bigger as the egg ages, which also makes the bottom cap pop off more easily.

    Obviously, we don't want rotten eggs. We want the almost expired but not expired ones.

  2. Roll the egg against the countertop, cracking it along the "equator".

    This will give you lots of starting points, and it will weaken the shell in enough directions that the rest of the peeling becomes easier. Usually, the top and bottom caps come off in large and clean pieces, so don't bother cracking that part unless it sticks.

  3. Start from the fat end of the egg.

    After much experimenting, I've determined that starting from the bottom of the egg (the fat end) is the best way to do it. Give the egg one good whack on the countertop, and the bottom caves in quite easily. This gives you a really nice starting point. Now peel out from there in a spiraling pattern down the rest of the egg. The top cap still comes off quite easily in one big chunk, if the egg is old enough.

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I'm not sure I agree that we want the almost expired but not expired ones .. fresh eggs are best, imo. –  codeinthehole Jul 25 '10 at 13:42
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For everything but hard-boiled eggs, if only because they're so damned hard to peel, I agree. :) –  Andres Jaan Tack Jul 25 '10 at 23:20
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Have to agree with the "old eggs." I am lucky to know someone who keeps chickens and we sometimes get eggs the day after they are laid. Experience says that hard boiling them when they are fresh makes them impossible to peel. –  Al Crowley Jul 26 '10 at 17:11
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Though it's infuriating to try and peel the eggs I buy, it does make me feel better about them overall to know that it's because they're fresh :-) –  Pointy Jun 24 '12 at 15:34
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There's a great article by Harold McGee in this quarter's Lucky Peach magazine: the reason old eggs are easier to peel is because their pH increases as they age, you can replicate this with fresh eggs by adding baking soda to the boiling water. The article goes into much more detail but unfortunately I don't have it at hand. –  Stefano Sep 5 '12 at 15:23

Peel them under running water. This helps to separate the egg and the skin under the shell.

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Cold running water seems to be best. –  Bryant Jul 13 '10 at 17:22

After boiling the eggs -- and note that boiling them longer helps to make them easier to peel -- let them sit for a while in a pan of cold water. I add ice cubes to the water and put the pan in the refrigerator.

Once cold, crack the "bubble" at the flat end of the egg but knocking it against the counter or the edge of the sink. Tap a few more times around the rest of the egg to get a few cracks in the shell. Next, gently roll the egg between your palms, applying just enough pressure that you can hear the shell cracking. You want to be distorting the shape of the egg enough that the now-solid part in the middle flexes away from the skin and shell.

Finally, starting at the cracked "bubble", work on separating the skin beneath the shell. The idea is not to peel the shell, per se, but to peel the skin, which will also slough the shell.

The only challenge arises when the skin won't separate from the solid inner part. Once you're down to picking bits of the shell off, you've lost. It's then very difficult to maintain the integrity of the egg's surface.

I haven't found running water over the egg to be helpful. It makes the shell sticky. Better is to cook the eggs a little longer and soak them afterward, so that there's still some moisture sitting beneath the skin. If the skin remains moist (and, hence, thicker), it will separate more easily from the solid inner part of the egg.

Always boil a few more eggs than you'll need, and, if the intention was to present the eggs as, say, deviled eggs, use the rejects for egg salad.

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Why don't you people just peel an egg in five seconds? :P

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Aside from the spitting on the egg as you blow it through, which might be okay if it's just me who's eating it, I kinda like this. :) –  Andres Jaan Tack Jul 26 '10 at 9:51
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Tried this more than once and never got it to work. –  jcollum Aug 4 '10 at 20:24
    
Funny thing is - it works! –  Cornelius Aug 5 '10 at 6:10

I recently watched a friend use a spoon to peel the shell off very easily. She turned the spoon so that it cupped the egg and gently used it like a chisel, neatly scraping off the shell. The shape of the spoon is important, so try various sizes and shapes if necessary.

Also it helps to peel the shell when the eggs are still warm after boiling.

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Once the eggs have been boiled, I fill the pan with cold water and let the eggs cool.

I find it's best to try to peel beneath the layer of skin that's present between the shell and the egg white. Once a split has been made (with a gentle thwack against a hard surface), and the initial piece is separated, the rest usually comes away quite easily.

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Apart from Sam's answer, the only important aspect of peeling a hard boiled egg is moisture. When the skin under the shell is dry, it sticks to the egg-white.

The best result (100% success) is to crack the shell and place the egg in cold water (I've never tried warm water, but wouldn't be surprised if that works fine as well). After a short while (one minute), start peeling. Whenever the skin is still dry, just dip it in the water.

This method is 'better' than Sam's because you use less water :-)

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After boiling the egg, put the hot egg under (running) cold water. If you do it properly, it will suffice to make one crack in it and you will be able to peel the whole thing in several big chunks.

I think it works that way because the warm egg will have expanded by the heat and will contract by cooling it down again. Because the egg and the peel react differently, the film between the egg and the peel will let loose.

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Put under cold water straight away.

The best thing you can do is peel them in a pan of cold water, this works really well and all the little bits all drop off really easily!

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Do NOT use farm fresh eggs if you're intending to boil them and peel the shells off. This is a disaster. Eggs are good about 42 days from the time they're layed. Do yourself a big favor and use the eggs that are a little older.

After boiling, I rinse them in cold water (often adding ice cubes) and put them in the refrigerator until they're cool to the touch. You can even let them sit a day in the refrigerator...won't hurt them a bit. I rarely have any problem getting the shell off the hard-boiled egg. If I do, I will peel them "under water" - not necessarily running water, but I'll fill a pot with cool water and just immerse the egg in the water while I'm peeling it.

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Boil them according to your custom, then let them sit in that hot water for a few hours. If you happen to forget about them all the better. Then when you remember, or lunch time has arrived, drain and peel. They should peel lickity-split. I eat a couple of eggs a day and boil a week's worth all at once. After I reclaim and refrigerate them, they peel quite easily. Figured out that beastly problem all by my lonesome, Grandma!

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You can use an "eggies" - egg-shaped plastic vessels you crack the egg into, close up, and boil.

I found these in our area 99¢ stores. They consisted of 4 major pieces. After OILING each part of each eggie (this is absolutely critical), assemble the eggie completely except for the top section (like a lid with a handle). This opening is just the right size within which you pour your cracked open egg. This can happen with the smallest amount of wasted white. Seal this translucent little contraption well (pressure DOES build up in them), but do not over-tighten the little lid. Boil as usual, making sure they float a little. Take them out and let them cool (so you can handle them). When you open them, voila, the boiled egg just falls out.

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Boil them, then immerse them in cold water for a minute. They will still be hot, but will have shrunk from the shell slightly. Now, peel them under running cool water. Crack the fat end, and when you peel away the first few chunks, make sure to tear the 'skin' under it. (Since you are cracking it at the air pocket, this is usually not too hard.) Make sure the water flows down into that area, and it separates the egg from the skin that holds it to the shell. With practice, it's pretty reliable, but the timing is important.

I've had mixed results with cracking the rest of the shell slightly, but when it works, you get almost the entire shell off in one piece.

Credit to where I learned it from: Cooking America which includes details on time to cook, age of eggs, etc.

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After boiling them and cooling them a bit in some ice water to stop the cooking, I like to put them back in the (now empty and dry pan) and roll them around, letting them bang into the sides of the pan and each other. After a few seconds of this the egg shells will be cracked all over into little bits. Now peel them under running water. While you're peeling them, let the water run between the egg white and the membrane that's attached to the shell. The water will go underneath the membrane and push it away from the egg, so once you get it going the whole thing should slide off in a few big sheets.

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