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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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    Beside the protection, I would like to point out: I cleaned up about 10 answers all repeating the same simple advice. If you want to answer, please read first if what you are saying is not already covered.
    – rumtscho
    May 4, 2017 at 8:29

11 Answers 11

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  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. Jul 25, 2010 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. :) Jul 25, 2010 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, 2010 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, 2012 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, 2012 at 15:23
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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, 2010 at 17:22
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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 by 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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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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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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  • I like to slice the egg lengthwise (while still in the shell) and then scoop out each half with a table spoon. This takes only few seconds with some practice.
    – caconyrn
    Jan 4, 2019 at 1:45
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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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I have done thousands working as a cook

With a spoon using only the weight of the spoon slightly crack the fat end.

Put warm water in the pot stack with fat end up (it lets out air).

We always added salt but not sure that helped.

Slowly bring to simmer. Cook for like 10 minutes.

Don't drain run cold water in to cool. Then add ice.

Roll gently on a hard surface to crack the shell and then the shell just slides off. Or can roll / squeeze in your hand.

Boiled egg

Store in water in a seal container.

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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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TLDR

Steam them instead of placing them in boiling water.

How much does egg age matter?

The most common answer people give regarding the "hard to peel" problem is that the eggs aren't old enough. This is rubbish. If you live in North America and are buying your eggs from the store, it is impossible for the eggs to be fresh enough to impact the ability to peel them.

I have a small flock of chickens in my backyard. I've done multiple experiments regarding fresh eggs. I already knew from other backyard chicken owners that steaming was the way to go for fresh eggs, but how much does it matter?

When the hens first started laying, it was the middle of winter and I was only getting one egg per day. If I wanted to have 3 eggs for breakfast, I had to wait 4-5 days because the eggs didn't get laid until well after breakfast and I was only getting small and medium eggs at first so I needed an extra egg to compensate.

I would typically have 1 egg that was softer and more difficult to peel than the others. When I started putting dates on the eggs, it became clear that it was usually just the freshest egg (ie. the egg laid yesterday) that was a problem. Sometimes I had problems with the second freshest egg (ie. the egg laid 2 days ago), but never had any trouble with eggs any older than that.

What's the texture of a "too fresh" egg like?

An egg laid yesterday has a white that is exceptionally soft, making it feel like it's undercooked. What makes it hard to peel without damaging it is because it is so soft, not because the white sticks to the membrane.

This is much different from the odd store bought egg that's been sitting in my refrigerator for a month and is difficult to peel. These eggs tend to have a rubbery texture and the membrane strongly resists separating from the white. It almost comes apart in layers.

Process

  • wash eggs (stored at room temperature, unwashed eggs have a natural coating that keeps them fresh)
  • put a half inch of water in a pot
  • add a steamer basket and the eggs
  • cover and turn on the heat
  • when I hear the water starting to come to a boil, reduce heat and set a timer for 15 minutes
  • transfer eggs to a small bowl of cold water (our well has exceptionally cold water) and let them sit just until they're cool enough to handle (1-2 minutes)

How much easier are steamed eggs to peel?

I don't wait for the eggs to cool very much before I start peeling because I'm impatient. There's usually still steam coming off of them. Once I get them started, the membrane separates very easily from the white.

I don't have to peel them while they're hot, either: eggs I steamed yesterday and put in the refrigerator are about as easy to peel as freshly steamed ones. Water is completely unnecessary.

I've had to resort to store bought eggs on occasion, and steaming works even better on them than my backyard eggs.

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Old question, but I fought a lot with this recently. Here's the technique which I found works best. It's an old technique, but seems to work well even with fresh eggs.

Most weekends, I boil up a dozen eggs and put them in the butter compartment of the fridge. They make a great, lightweight, snack whenever I'm peckish - and are zero-points on weight-watchers :)

  • Place the eggs in an empty pan
  • Cover with cold water
  • Bring water to a rolling boil
  • Immediately remove the pan from the heat, and leave for 15 minutes
  • Transfer eggs to an ice bath and leave to cool completely
  • Put them in the fridge.
  • Peel under running water for best results.

It's fairly tolerant of variations such as letting them boil for a minute or two, or leaving them for a bit more than 15 minutes. So that makes it very easy to do while you are pottering around with other things in the kitchen.

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Add cold eggs to already-boiling water that has salt added.

Let boil requisite amount of time.

Once you're done boiling the eggs, immediately place them in a cold water/ice water bath. Let them cool down before peeling.

Once they're cool, peel the eggs. Or store in the fridge to be peeled later.

I've tried adding eggs to cold water and then bringing the water to the boil. No amount of cool water or cooling the eggs at the end makes them easy to peel. Steaming eggs - not much luck there, either. Pressure cooking eggs - that comes a close second.

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