Can You Eat Leftover Deviled Eggs? Here's What the USDA Says

Don’t throw ‘em away!

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If you're making deviled eggs this Easter, chances are, no matter how delicious they taste, you're going to have some left over. While you may be tempted to toss any uneaten eggs in the trash, we're here to tell you that leftover deviled eggs are perfectly safe to eat. However, there are some guidelines you should follow to keep your deviled eggs as fresh as possible.

For starters, it's important to understand that hard-cooked eggs (like deviled eggs) don't have the same shelf life as fresh eggs, which can last in the refrigerator for three to five weeks. When eggs are hard-cooked, the protective coating is washed away. This means that the pores in the shell are bare, making it easier for bacteria to enter and contaminate the egg. Since hard-cooked eggs are more vulnerable to bacteria, their shelf life is much shorter than that of fresh eggs.

Are Leftover Deviled Eggs Safe to Eat?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), hard-cooked eggs of any kind can be stored in the refrigerator for up to seven days, either left in their shells or peeled. However, since deviled eggs are prepared and often contain a filling made with mayonnaise or yogurt, they are best consumed within four days, if not sooner. Another big caveat here is that the eggs should be refrigerated within two hours of being boiled. Additionally, refrigerated cooked eggs shouldn't be left out at room temperature for more than two hours.

So what does this mean for your Easter celebration, or really any occasion for which you make a platter of deviled eggs? Since harmful bacteria can begin to form once that aforementioned two-hour window has passed, it's best to keep your deviled eggs refrigerated until you're ready to serve them. Though it may be tempting to display all of your beautiful deviled eggs at once, serving them in batches will help keep them fresh so your guests can enjoy them throughout the day. Depending on the size of your gathering, keep one plate of around a dozen deviled eggs out, and replenish with deviled eggs from the fridge as needed.

To properly store deviled eggs in your refrigerator, arrange them in a single layer in an airtight container. A designated egg carrier will also do the trick. And if you plan to send a friend or family member home with some deviled eggs, be sure to keep them in the refrigerator until that person is ready to leave. Again, properly stored deviled eggs will keep in the fridge for up to four days, but you should always give them a sniff and check for signs of spoilage to be sure they are still safe to consume.

Can You Eat Dyed Eggs?

Believe it or not, dyed Easter eggs are perfectly safe to eat so long as you use a food-safe coloring. After you hard-cook the eggs, they should be dyed and returned to the refrigerator within two hours. And, as with all foods, those dyeing the eggs should thoroughly wash their hands before handling them. Dyed, hard-boiled eggs will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week. Per the USDA, they should not be frozen.

Can You Eat Leftover Pickled Eggs?

Some Easter celebrations include pickled eggs, which are hard-cooked eggs that have been marinated in vinegar and pickling spices, spicy cider, or juice from pickles or pickled beets. The USDA notes that homemade pickled eggs must be kept refrigerated, and will stay fresh for up to one week.

Can You Eat Eggs From an Easter Egg Hunt?

Many eggs that are part of an Easter egg hunt are made of (or filled with) chocolate, and are therefore totally fine to eat. However, some Easter egg hunts also include hard-boiled eggs. Not surprisingly, the USDA advises against consuming hard-cooked eggs that have been lying on the ground, because they can pick up bacteria and contaminate the inside, especially if the shells are cracked.

"Eggs should be hidden in places that are protected from dirt, moisture, pets, and other sources of bacteria," the agency states. "The total time for hiding and hunting eggs should not exceed two hours. The 'found' eggs must be washed, re-refrigerated and eaten within seven days of being cooked."

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