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The Secret to Cooking Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs

Hard boiled eggs

I love hard-cooked eggs, but too often this seemingly-simple recipe has led to frustration — undercooked yolks, or worse, yolks tinged in green from over-cooking.

And the peeling! Peeling hard-boiled eggs has nearly driven me to madness, especially when I wanted perfect specimens for a nice plate of deviled eggs.

Fortunately, there is a simple secret to making perfect hard cooked eggs. Forget pricking the ends, using old eggs, or risking cracked shells by dropping eggs in boiling water. Instead, cook them in hot steam for a perfect result.

You’ll need a large saucepan that can accommodate the steamer basket or insert. Arrange your large eggs in a steamer basket.

hard boiled eggs

Add about an inch of water to the pot and bring to a full rolling boil over high heat. Add the egg-filled steamer basket (use an oven mitt if necessary to protect your hand) and cover. Set your timer, and steam the eggs for exactly 13 minutes.

steam hard cooked eggs

While the eggs are cooking, fill a bowl with ice and water.

Ice and water

When the 13 minutes are up, use tongs to immediately transfer the hot eggs to the ice water, and let them rest in the water for at least 10 minutes.

Chill hard boiled eggs

Tap the eggs all over with a soup spoon to crack the shells, and roll them gently on your counter.

Crack hard cooked egg

Then peel them under a gentle stream of lukewarm running water, which will help loosen the membrane between the shell and egg.

Perfect hard boiled egg


Hard-cooked eggs

When you cut them, you’ll be rewarded with perfect yellow yolks. The peeled eggs will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Need an easy, super tasty deviled egg recipe? Check out these Bacon Deviled Eggs from BENSA Bacon Lovers Society:

Deviled Eggs topped with bacon

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is the author of 17 books, including Small Bites and 101 Things To Do With Bacon. She shares ideas to simplify cooking, gardening, time and money. She is also the owner of Cross Media, Inc. and founder of the BENSA Bacon Lovers Society.

8 thoughts on “The Secret to Cooking Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs”

  1. Thanks for the great idea. I think I remember that you live in Colorado at high altitude, but I wanted to check before trying this recipe. When I cook hard-boiled eggs, I use the High-Altitude cookbook, but the shells stick. I want to try your recipe, but I am not sure it is adjusted for a longer cooking time to compensate for our altitude. Thought I’d check.

    • Great question, Cathleen! I live in mile-high Denver, but no matter where you are this recipe doesn’t need to be adjusted for high altitude, and here’s why: It may take you a little longer to bring the water to a boil, but you don’t start timing the 13-minute cooking time until you add the eggs. Be sure to peel the eggs under a gentle stream of running water. The water gets between the membrane and the egg and helps make the peeling easier. Hope it works for you, and happy Easter! xo

  2. 13 minutes… wow. I generally cook mine at least 30 – of course, I turn the heat off as soon as the water starts to boil. I wonder how long it takes to cook an egg at sea level – probably less time.

    I’ve found that the key to getting them to peel easily is NOT to use fresh eggs. The ones you get on sale because they’re near their expiration date make the best hard boiled eggs IMHO.

  3. You might want to try chopped, stuffed green olives in your deviled eggs. The olives add a little salt and the pimentos a little color.

    • Ronald, your variation sounds yummy – must try! I love stuffed green olives. My friend Debbie makes deviled eggs with finely chopped dill pickles and a sprinkle of fresh dill. Thanks for sharing your suggestion.


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