You already know at least five different ways to cook an egg, so today we thought we’d focus on perfecting just one: hard-boiling.
Hard-boiled eggs come in handy all the time: They show up in tons of recipes (Roasted Broccoli and Fingerling Potatoes with Gribiche Sauce, anyone?), provide a healthy protein boost, and take mere minutes to make. The problem is, when trying to peel a hard-boiled egg, all too often you end up with chunks missing from the egg white, piles of shell shards on the counter, and a lot of general frustration.
To solve this problem once and for all, we asked the Plated Culinary Team what tricks you need to know at every stage of the process. Just put these three secrets into practice and start peeling like a pro.
1. Before You Do Anything, Bring the Water to a Boil
This might be a little controversial, since many people start by placing their eggs in cold water before boiling, but try giving them a hot start: Using a large spoon, carefully place the eggs directly from the fridge into already-boiling water, bring the water to a low simmer, and cook for 11 minutes. This should ensure that the shells come off more cleanly than if the eggs started out in cold or lukewarm water.
2. Use Older Eggs
Some eggs are easier to peel than others, and the last few in the carton are the best candidates for hard-boiling. That’s because the inside of the egg begins to shrink away from the shell as it ages, creating an air pocket, which is where you’ll start peeling. This doesn’t mean they’re no longer good to eat—refrigerated eggs should stay safe well past their printed expiration date.
3. Find the Air Pocket
Crack the broader side of the egg—the “bottom” of the egg (shown below)—with a spoon.
Start peeling away at that end and you’ll find the air pocket, your point of entry for the perfect peel. From there, use the side of your thumb to peel the rest of the shell away, bit by bit, from the cooked egg white. This typically takes our chefs about 30 seconds, but be sure to take your time to end up with a cleanly peeled egg.
Once you’ve mastered this technique, nothing can stop you from adding perfectly peeled eggs to your next Cobb salad, homemade pizza, or bowl of Ramen—and we’d love to see it. Share pictures of your protein-packed dishes on Instagram with the hashtag #platedpics!