What's the best way to peel a hard-boiled egg?

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a thread on this. I thought about doing a poll, but the options are too diverse.

How often do you peel hard-boiled eggs?

Do you crack the whole egg, or just one spot to get started?

If you crack just one spot, is it on the side, the small end, or the large end?

Does it matter if the egg is still warm (not hot) from the boiling water, room temperature, or refrigerated?

Finally, why do you think so? Did someone teach you? Trial and error? Are you a professional cook/chef?

Firstly, make sure the egg is not too fresh. Having kept chickens and deciding to boil up some eggs laid that day found it is IMPOSSIBLE to peel a fresh egg without taking big chunks of the white out with the shell. I think after 5 days or so the albumen contracts or something making it easier to peel.

Any other egg, crack one side, doesn’t matter if still warm or if it’s been refrigerated, then peel from there.

Taught myself (trial and error). Not a professional chef. Boil eggs whenever my fabulous and famous potato salad is requested.

In my experience, there’s usually a small gap below the shell on the large end. So I start to peel there, because you’re not peeling directly against the egg white.

I saw a lady on TV who job was peeling HB eggs explain. She rolled the short, round axis on a hard surface to crack it around and then easily pulled the two halves off. I don’t recall exactly how many she could do a minute but would imagine it’d be around 15 or 20.

I start with eggs that are at least a week past their sell-by date.

I tap them against the inside of the sink then roll them all around so the shell is all-around crackled.

I start peeling by lifting off a section. I try to make sure I get under the inner membrane. If I can do that the crackly shell peels off in a few sections. If necessary I run it under cold water, squeezing the egg gently to let water in between the membrane and the white. This makes it separate easily.

When I have to hard boil and peel fresher eggs there is a lot of cursing.

I crack the shell in several places, then peel up a section. If I get the membrane to tear, I can then usually peel it all in one shot; if not, I try again at a new point. I suppose my mother taught me to do that, but that’s lost in the mists of time. I learned not to use fresh eggs on my own, about the same time I discovered fresh eggs.

I’m not a chef and I’m a very reluctant cook.

The fresh eggs don’t work because the membrane has not dehydrated yet. If you start to peel and the membrane is pulling all the white off the egg, just warm some water and dissolve a handful of salt in it. Leave the eggs in that water for about ten minutes, then rinse well and peel. It will slide off like butter, and the eggs will feel silky underneath. Rinse well, and if you usually salt the egg or the recipe, taste carefully, you probably won’t need to.

I usually start the crack at the large end. I always boil them point side down to increase the air bubble there.

Putting baking soda in the water helps.

I usually get to peel the hard boiled eggs around here because I am the one person who can do it without cussing the whole time.
First thing is to get comfortable.
I do little cracks all around and slide my finger around until a piece lifts up easily. Then I try to get under the membrane and the shell will slide off.
If I can’t get under the membrane, I take my time and pick the pieces of shell off slowly. Eventually I will get under the membrane and slide the shell off.

Immediately once boiled, I drain the hot water out of the pot and run cold water over the hot eggs. Drain and repeat until the eggs are cool. I tap the side of the egg on the edge of the sink and make sure I’ve pulled the membrane away with the first peel (I guess my eggs aren’t very fresh). I never have chunks of albumen come off in the peeling process.

We must be watching the same shows because I came to post eggsactly* this. I’ve actually tried this method and it works really well.
*Sorry, couldn’t resist.

I was just looking on YouTube to find a video of that approach and can’t find it. But there are multiple videos of another approach; peel just the ends and then blow the egg out of the shell.

I have an easy-peel system I’ve been using recently. It’s cobbled together from, of all people, Julia Child and Runnyrunny 999 of Youtube “fame”.

  1. Do not use fresh eggs. (As mentioned above.)
  2. boil enough water to cover the eggs in a saucepan.
  3. Put eggs, cold from the fridge, just like that, no pinhole no nothing, into the boiling water using a slotted spoon. Start timing.

6 min = soft-boiled or “half-cooked”
7 min = soft-boiled, but you could cut it in half. Only the inside of the yolk is a little runny.
12 min = hard-cooked, white tender, inside of yolk might have a tiny soft bit.
13 min = cooked through.

[NOTE: I live near sea level. Those times will increase if you live at elevation.]

  1. Have a bowl of ice water handy. Remove eggs to ice water. Let sit until cool, timing not critical. Maybe a minute or two.

  2. (Here’s the Julia Child part.) Put the now-cooled eggs BACK INTO THE BOILING WATER for about 20 seconds, then remove and put back in the ice water. This is meant to expand the shell away from the egg.

OK, done. Now put the eggs in a bowl in the fridge and use them all week. To effortlessly peel, crack however you damned well please and allow the shell to fall off in your hands in two seconds. I usually tap at the small end and peel the top third for soft-boiled eggs, or tap all around the middle and pull both shell halves off for hard-boiled.

Seriously, it sounds like trouble but it’s not. I love eggs. This is the easiest peeling and best timing I’ve ever tried.

I have to disagree with most of the posters so far, especially Theobroma. (Just too complicated.)

First, to make perfect hardboiled eggs - not overcooked, no green on the yolks, no need to be fussy about timing or egg temperature - put the eggs in a pan and cover them with cold tap water. Bring to a solid boil. Turn off the heat and set the pan aside. After about fifteen minutes, drain the hot water and run the pan full of cold water again to cool the eggs. These will be the best HBE’s you’ve ever made.

To peel (my usual next step is to mash them for egg salad sandwiches), leave them in the cooling water. Pick up an egg and crack it on the side either against a flat surface or with the bowl of a tablespoon. Use the tip of the spoon to peel, dipping the egg in the water as needed to wash off shell chunks and “lubricate” the peeling. Repeat for all the eggs.

I know some master bakers and such can peel eggs by staring at them hard or using the various tricks above, but the variations in egg temperature, quality, age etc. makes those tricks hard to replicate in a home kitchen or without a helluva lot of practice. What’s above is the fastest, simplest way to get to a pile of HBEs without fuss or hassle I’ve found.

Place the egg on a counter and roll it, cracking the shell as you do so. The pieces will peel off.

Pretty much how I do it, except after I drain off the hot water, I shake the eggs in the pan until the shells crack, then add the cold water and some ice for them to cool in. I peel them under the water, leave the shells in the pan, then strain it through a sieve and discard.

This topic is one that is a source of irritation for me because in the episode of Good Eats where Alton gives his excellent recipe for hard-cooked eggs, he completely – and expressly* – skips over how to peel them. I suspect he’s just not very adept at it, like me.

  • He says something to the effect of, “I don’t have to show you how to do this part, do I?” :mad:

I boil my eggs in a similar way to Theobroma’s, although I don’t do the second step of back into the boiling water and back again into the ice.

When I’m ready to peel them, I crack them on the edge of the sink and hold them under running water while peeling. All the little broken shell bits are neatly washed away.

Almost the only time I eat hard boiled eggs is at work, where I buy one in the morning from the coffee shop. So I’m not cooking them (unfortunately, because sometimes they are too fresh), and I’m eating them at my desk with no water available.

However, there are a couple of techniques here that sound better than what I do, so I will be trying them. Thanks, all.

I put them lengthways, firmly on to a cutting board, cut them in half with a serrated knife and scoop out each half in one piece with a teaspoon. Takes about 10 seconds per egg.