Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Idea Friday - The Hard Boiled Egg Debate

So, last year we posted about how adding a bit of baking soda to your hard boiled eggs allows them to peel more easily. The response received after that post was bigger than we imagined it would be. Apparently the way you boil (or don't boil) your eggs is highly personal and widely debated. So this year we thought we would take the time to test out various methods of hard boiling eggs and see which resulted in the easiest to peel category. We posted on our Facebook page for ideas and suggestions. Armed with 2 dozen eggs bought last Wednesday (same lot, same date, same time, variations would be at a minimum) we got to testing yesterday.

I will say right off the bat that I'm not a fan of eggs and hardboiled are probably my least favorite way to eat them. Sorry. I was unable to be the taste tester, so I had my kids and husband judge for me.

Method One - Traditional Method

Place eggs in a pan in a single layer, add enough water to cover. Turn to medium-high heat and allow to come to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat off and cover. Allow to sit covered for 12-17 minutes.* Place eggs in a cold water bath. 

REVIEW - First off, the timing on this method depends entirely on how you store your eggs. Most reviews say 12 minutes, but having used this method myself I always find them slightly undercooked. At least in my house, my kids like the yolks to be firm, no gooey bits, but not dry. Due to how you store your eggs--some countries it's more common to store eggs out, but here in the US we tend to keep our eggs in the refrigerator--it can affect the way the eggs cook. Room temperature eggs take less time than cold eggs do, so they require a few extra minutes cooking time depending on your tastes. Personally, I find 15 minutes to be the perfect time.  

So how well did they peel? Perfectly. I give it a 5 star rating. 

Method Two - Oven Baked Method

Pre-heat oven to 325° F. Place eggs in a muffin tin. Bake 20 minutes. Place eggs in cold water bath.

REVIEW - I have heard by die hard fans (as well as my all time favorite scientist/cook, Alton Brown) that it is THE WAY to make hard boiled eggs (though they aren't boiled, so .. hard baked?). Easy enough to test out. The results though left me less than impressed. I will say that my oven, due to a couple infamous oven fires, isn't the best working oven out there. That very well may have altered the results. However, they were far harder to peel, and they were over cooked. Most had a couple hard brown spots on them, and there were several that had weird brown spots on the shell where the egg inside tried to push it's way out of the shell. All ovens vary, and I've heard using a silicone tray works to prevent the burned spots, but I didn't have one to test out. 

All in all, I give it a 3 star rating. I think if you know your oven and time it better, this may work, it just wasn't as foolproof as I was hoping it would be.

Method Three - Baking Soda Method

Same as Method One, ddd in a couple tablespoons of baking soda prior to boiling. Place eggs in a cold water bath. 

REVIEW - Honestly it worked just as well as the traditional method. Since I was using week old eggs for this test, it didn't make much of a difference. Having used it on fresher eggs in the past though, it does work. 

I give it a 4 star rating on fresh eggs since it's not perfect, but it works better than just a plain boiling method on fresh eggs. 

So there you have it. There were other methods I've came across just tonight that I was unable to test out in time, pricking the bottom of eggs with a pin, baking in the oven in a muffin tin with water in the cups to prevent drying out/burned spots, boiling with a bit of vinegar instead of baking soda, boiling room temperature eggs, etc., etc.

Really though, the truth is the reason eggs stick to their shells is because of a thin membrane under the shell. So I don't doubt some of this methods will work; the pin prick, the baking soda, and the vinegar all act as ways of separating the membrane from the shell. It's one of the reasons you are suppose to put the eggs into an ice bath right after cooking, in hopes the thermal shock will aid in it as well. It's also why older eggs peel better, as they age the membrane separates from the shell.

And as always, you can find us on facebook and twitter. Please let us know what your favorite method is and let us know if we forgot to test out a certain way.


  1. Anonymous18/4/14

    It's got to be all in how you cook them. My oven has never had that issue (aside from the easily removed light brown spot). I just peeled one of my oven "boiled" eggs, and it easily slid off.

    Of course, oven temperatures vary, so it's always best to have at least ONE oven thermometer, if not two (temps can vary on each side!). Mine is 25 degrees off.

  2. It also has to do with how long you've had your eggs. Older eggs have a membrane that doesn't cling to the shell as hard, so they're easier to peel.

  3. Anonymous14/7/14

    It's all in how you cool the eggs after cooking. Use the traditional boiling method, remove from the stove, drain the hot water, and run cold water over eggs while still in pot. Take each egg and crack the wide end against the inside of the pot. This allows the cold water to seep in between the membrane and egg as the egg cools and shrinks. I like to throw in a couple cups of ice cubes an let the eggs sit in this ice water bath until completely chilled. Easy peasy pealing after this!

  4. Hi there, cool blog. I make stuffed eggs all the time which entails the peeling of lots of eggs, so I have tried loads of tricks to easily peel eggs. After many years I finally found the answer. After the egg has been boiled, crack the shell slightly before cooling it in the cold water. After a few minutes of sitting in water, the shell slides right off. Works perfectly 99% of the time. the last obstinate egg? Nothing will work on it!

  5. oh, how funny - the above commenter suggests the same solution.

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