I Tried 3 Egg-Peeling Techniques, and This Is the Best One

Stop flicking and picking shells. This easy method for peeling hard boiled eggs will never disappoint you.

Peeling hard boiled eggs
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I've known how to peel a boiled egg from early in my childhood.

That's because, at every gathering, large or small, my family has deviled eggs. Despite the fact we number only slightly more than half a dozen now, we typically make over two dozen deviled eggs. Why? Truth is, I don't know. We always have, and we always will.

But all those deviled eggs mean I was raised a peeler. As soon as I had the dexterity to pick the specks of egg off the bouncy hard-boiled eggs, I sat beside my grandmother and great-grandmother gently removing peel as best I could.

My first attempts were, of course, quite awful. The eggs I peeled were probably cut up for potato salad and never saw the hug of the deviled egg tray.

Undeterred, I prized myself on getting progressively better as I grew older. Now that the egg peeling is left largely up to me all these years later, I've been on a mission to find the best way to peel an egg so I can save time, frustration, and probably more than a few colorful words.

How to Peel Hard Boiled Eggs

I tried three egg-peeling techniques that have a lot of internet acclaim to see which would leave me with smoothly peeled ova every time. Here are my results.

The cooking technique: I bring a saucepan with enough water to cover the eggs to a boil. Then, I remove the pan and cover it with a lid and let the eggs cook in the piping hot water for 12 minutes. Finally, I transfer the cooked eggs to a bowl of cold water and let them sit for 3 to 5 minutes before peeling.

Egg Peeling Method #1: Boiling Eggs with Baking Soda

The egg whites of fresh chicken eggs have a relatively low pH, but after several days sitting in a refrigerator, that starts to climb. As an egg's alkalinity climbs higher, the eggs are easier to peel. (Indeed, older eggs are often easier to peel than fresh eggs.)

The strategy behind this technique supposes that adding baking soda to water before you boil eggs will increase the water's pH. The higher pH level will also up the pH of the egg whites, at least in theory, making a smooth separation between egg and shell easier.

For this test, I added one teaspoon to a large pot of water that held one dozen eggs.

The results for this egg-peeling method were quite mixed. Some eggs peeled beautifully (as I should note they sometimes do with plain water, too), and some were a pockmarked mess.

Egg Peeling Method #2: Using a Spoon to Slip Off Egg Shells

The main difficulty with peeling eggs is getting the thin membrane that adheres like concrete to the egg to release its death grip. This egg-peeling theory posits that a spoon is the just-right tool for slipping under the membrane and getting the shell off in seconds.

I started this test by cracking the egg shell gently over most of the egg's surface. Then, I peeled a small section of egg shell off the egg. Using a regular spoon, I carefully worked the edge of the spoon under the shell, then slid the spoon along the egg's natural curve to pop up greater sections of shell. I continued rotating the spoon under the shell until all of it was off the egg.

This worked beautifully. I rarely hit a snag and found I could get most eggs peeled in three to four "sections" of shell.

Egg Peeling Method #3: Peeling Eggs Under Water

Water can be a great resource when peeling eggs. Peeling under water may make shell pieces less "sticky" and speed up the peeling process. Water can slip in between cracked shell and egg white to help loosen the shell.

That's what this egg-peeling method imagines, at least.

I held each egg under cold running water and started peeling at the wider end of the egg. When I hit a snag, I let the stream of water hit the stuck spot directly in hopes it would loosen up the shell.

Besides dropping the eggs a few times (and using far more water than was necessary), my results were consistent with typical dry peeling. A few pieces of white came off with the shell, but I never got long sheets of shell to peel off. That means this method wasn't any faster or better.

The verdict: Ready your spoons! If you find yourself face first with a dozen (or more) hard-boiled eggs that need their shells shorn, a spoon will make quick and smooth work of getting those peels off. I do recommend looking for a spoon with a slightly thinner edge. It's less likely to snag on the white as your sliding the spoon along the egg's surface.

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