Get Smart About Boiled Eggs

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Which came first: the egg, or knowing how to cook it? Year after year, we are confronted with the simple task of preparing boiled eggs to fill baskets, salads and backyard egg hunts. It seems simple enough; if you can boil water, you should be able to boil and egg, right? Well, not necessarily- until now that is. Finally! The perfect boiled egg! Follow these simple steps, and your eggs are sure to be a success.

Test for Freshness The best eggs for boiling are at least 3 days old. Very fresh eggs are harder to peel because the membrane between the white and the shell is not mature enough. Remember, even eggs in the same carton can be laid on different days, so it’s best to test them before cooking. One easy way to know the age of your eggs is to immerse them in cool water. As eggs age, the air pocket within them grows bigger and makes the egg more buoyant—the more buoyant, the less fresh. Eggs that lay on their side at the bottom of the pan are the freshest. An egg that stands on its end is still fresh, but a bit older. Eggs that float are ready for the trash.

Prep for Cooking Placing a carton of eggs on its side for a day prior to cooking will center the yolk in the white. Also, make sure to inspect your eggs for any visible cracks. Let your eggs come to room temperature before cooking. Eggs that are room temperature are much less likely to crack in the hot water. Eggs that are room temperature also take about 1 minute less to cook than eggs straight from the refrigerator. Pot size is important. Make sure that the eggs are in one even layer on the bottom of the pot (for even cooking). Limit your cooking batches to 1 dozen.

Coddle Your Eggs To cook the perfect eggs, use a method called “coddling”. It does not toughen the whites like boiling does. Cover the eggs with cool water, with about 1 inch extra water on top (too much extra water will take too long to bring to a boil). Bring the pot of water just to a boil. Immediately remove the pot from the heat, cover tightly, and let stand for 17 - 20 minutes (depending on the size of the egg).Watch the time carefully. Overcooking eggs is what causes the dark ring to form between the yolk and the white. Remove the eggs from the boiling water and place them in an ice bath (bowl of water and ice) for about 10 minutes before peeling or storing. The ice bath prevents the eggs from continuing to cook due to the heat that carries over. It also creates a layer of steam between the shell and the egg white, which will make peeling easier.

Store Smartly If you aren’t using your eggs right away, wait to peel them. Boiled eggs can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator. You can keep them in a bowl of cold water (if you change the water daily) or in an airtight container, without water, covered with damp paper towels.

Peel Easily If you’re boiled and uncooked eggs get mixed up, here’s an easy fix! Spin the eggs on their side. Cooked eggs will spin, uncooked eggs will wobble. This way, there are no surprises when you crack your eggs. To peel, submerge the eggs in a bowl of cool water. Cracking an egg under water helps loosen the membrane from the egg white. Under a gently running faucet, peel the egg beginning with the larger end (which is usually where the air bubble will be). Make sure you get a hold of the membrane when you’re removing the shell.

Slicing When slicing boiled eggs, wiping the blade of your knife with a wet towel between each cut will prevent the yolk from crumbling.

Here are some of our favorite recipes that will help you make use of all of those leftover eggs:
Jamie’s Chicken Salad Sandwich
Shrimp Salad Sandwich
Big Lady New Millennium Sandwich
Salmon Salad
Garden Pea Salad
Ham Salad
Georgia Cracker Salad
Egg Casserole
Good Old Country Stuffing
The Best Crab Casserole
The Lady’s Warm Potato Salad
Caesar Salad with Parmesan Crisps

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Reader Comments:


I have known several people who used this method to cook hard boiled eggs and they were ALL gooey and runny in the middle. I have a brand-new stove and Farberware pots so it's not as if I have bad equipment. I will continue to boil my eggs for at least 10 minutes - I'm not a fan of egg sushi. PS: LOVE YOU PAULA! (and Michael, and Jamie & Bobby & wives & kids etc)

By Annie Gnagy on April 11, 2014


Miss paula!!! never forget your food rocks and so do you! thank you for being a southern gal to the core, and being the mom in the kitchen some of us never had! Hab:3:19 Jo T.

By Anonymous on November 11, 2013


Thank you!!! Love egg salad. Now I know how to cook eggs!!! HAPPY EASTER! To your whole family!

By David on March 29, 2013


Very helpful info!! Thank you Paula!!

By Trina Janson on March 29, 2013


i love that, back the basics. easter egg kid party...egg invite, empty colored egg shells, and coloring tables

By benita wheeler on March 28, 2012


Very nice cooking ms paula love it.......

By Anonymous on March 22, 2012


How wonderful to know I'm doing something right. Apart from not knowing that the air bubble will likely be in the larger end, I as they say "got it goin' on" thanks to my momma! She'll be 75 next year and to thank her for all her knowledge, love and support, I want to take to Georgia. If I can do it, then we will be stopping in to eat at your place. I hear great things about it. Thanks so much for the tips. You are truely an angel. May God bless you and your family. Sincerely, Renee Jones

By Renee on March 22, 2012


Paula- You have inspired me in so many ways around the kitchen. I aspire to cook like you, my mom, and my mother-in-law. (They are old farm cooks that are Magiver in the kitchen.) Much like you. I wanted to say that I am on your side. I wish more people knew that you do not eat the way your program implies that you do. I wish people knew that your show is taped, and that it is on everyday. The negative publicity that you get irritates me. I have been a fan of yours for a very long time, and will be for years to come. You come into our homes like a girlfriend, with advise like a Mom, and laughter like a grandmother- all in one. You cook with love-and that is the special ingredient that makes everything taste better. The wonderful things you cook do not come from a "box" in the middle aisles of the grocery store. Those things are filled with things you cannot pronounce, preservatives, and things we dont need. Unfortunately, that is how a lot of Americans cook-you already know that. I am a nurse, and wish these folks would figure out the difference between Starbucks whole bean and sheep poop. Too bad things are edited, shortened, and taken out of context. I dont feel as though you need to justify, anything. I love your program, and choose whether or not to use your tips and recipes.

By Laura Vogler on March 22, 2012


I only use jumbo eggs. How long do I keep my eggs covered after boiling to make sure their cooked, but without The dark ring that forms by overlooking. Thank you

By Sandy on March 22, 2012


Thanks for the tips Paula. However my tip for releasing the membrane in the egg is to boil them in salt water. They peel right off without any problems. I love boiled eggs but just wouldn't fix them because they were so hard to peel but I have been doing this for years now and it works every time.

By gbrown1739 on March 22, 2012


Very good tips...I knew the proper way to cook eggs, but not how to test for freshness and have oftentimes wondered if some I had were still good.

By Carolyn on March 22, 2012


Just reminded me to clean out my fridge, later!

By Kathy on March 22, 2012


Me encanta su programa, lo que proyecta usted, y su familia que muestan ser una familia muy unidad, y pienso que quizas ese sea uno de los motivos de su exito. La felicito por ser así, y felicito a toda su familia por tenerla. Amelia Salomé Villarreal Flores.

By Amelia Salome Villarreal Flores on March 21, 2012


Love the recipes from Paula, love everything about her BUT, take off the rings when breading or flouring the food, my stomach turns when I see all those diamonds in the flour, egg mixture.

By Deanie on December 28, 2011


I am 62 years old and thought that I knew everything that there was to know about hard boiled eggs. I was wrong!! Paula, you have taught me a thing or three. May God Bless you real good! Sincerely, Noreen

By Noreen McCafferty on May 10, 2011


Your cooking instructions are very good, except . . . add or subtract 3 minutes for each size above or below 'large.' ex. ex-large plus 3 minutes; medium minus 3 minutes. I usually use jumbo eggs so I add 6 minutes. While working for egg producers for many years, I learned this from American Egg Board information.

By Sara Ross on April 25, 2011


Thanks for this advice i will check it out in my home..coz i am egg eater that's why i really like this.. thank you.

By Joseph4Kammer on April 22, 2011


Thanks for the information. I always wondered why some of my eggs were hard to peel. And several times I have overcooked my eggs. I will give this a try. I have to make eggs for hunting on Easter Sunday. Happy Easter!!!

By Donna Lancaster on April 21, 2011


Is it ok to dye eggs and leave them out of the refrig so the dye won't run

By Anonymous on April 21, 2011


Good tips ... I am the deviled egg person at all family holidays. They always taste great but sometimes aren't so pretty. Maybe this will help me be able to serve a prettier platter. For fun I'll share my recipe: Regular Mayonaise (nothing fat free or salt free and NO Miracle Whip) Brown Mustard Pickle Relish from Bread & Butter Pickles Salt & Pepper I salt and pepper my platter, lay my egg whites down then salt and pepper those. Fill the eggs then sprinkle with paprika. Sometimes I top them to be fancy, this year it will be with pimentos, sometimes chopped black olives or little bit of bacon bits. I make 3 dozen eggs and they are gone in a minute for my family of usually about 20 for holiday meals.

By Tammy Vernon on April 21, 2011

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Paula, I love watching you and your family. I miss seeing your show, I watched you everyday. My son lives in Charleston S.C. He took me to the Lady & Sons to eat. Oh my goodness! People are always telling me that I look just like the cooking lady Paula Deen. I always tell them that you are my hero. May God Bless You Mary Ann
Mary Ann Tharp in A Summer of Burgers on August 15, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Add a few spoonfuls of parmesan cheese to the flour and cornmeal breading and it kicks the tomatoes up another notch. Bev
in Crispy Fried Green Tomatoes on August 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

I just bought Paula's Peach Salad Dressing and wondered if anyone has a good recipe that they use it in?
Melissa in Taste Testing 101 on August 13, 2014 at 8:36 am

Congrats Bobby. Loved the family picture miss you Paula on TV will be watching online. Jack is getting big. Looks like his mom but Matt aka moose has your face. Your eyes cheeks hair even falls to his face like yours except to the left. Good luck on your next venture. You give us other 60+ yr women strength to move on. Keep up the good work.
Carol Bryant in Love at Last on August 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm