The [new] Secret to Easy-to-Peel Boiled Eggs

boiled eggs & curried chickpeas-5

Ever had a problem with peeling boiled eggs?

It seems you’re not alone.

Almost 2 years ago, I went on a quest for the ‘secret’ to perfectly peeled boiled eggs. I wrote about my findings over here.

While I still use some of that method, there are parts I’ve abandoned over time.

the ‘old’ secret

I’m sure anyone who has eaten boiled eggs at my place over the last few years will be happy to hear I haven’t actually been ‘blowing’ on the eggs to remove the shells.

It doesn’t feel right from a hygiene perspective. Even if the results are great looking eggs.

So I’ve been on the lookout for a new ‘secret’ for a while.

Thankfully, heaps of people had shared their suggestions and tips (and disgust at the blowing method) in the comments. So I had plenty of inspiration.

the ‘new’ secret

I’m now convinced there are two key steps.

1. only peel cooled eggs
Whenever I’m in a hurry and I start peeling before my eggs are cool, I end up with craters.

2. crack & roll
Cracking the shell all over and rolling between your hands separates the membrane from the egg and really makes a difference to the peeling experience.

A big thankyou to everyone who left suggestions on my previous post.

For those of you who prefer a little more detail…

8 Tips for Moon-Crater-Free Boiled Eggs

1. use older eggs.
Pretty much by the time you get eggs home from the supermarket they’ll be old enough. But if you’re lucky enough to have access to super fresh eggs, save them for poaching and keep the older ones for boiling, if you can.

2. poach or bicarb
If straight-from-the-hen-house-fresh eggs are your only option, think about poaching instead. Or add 1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda to the egg cooking water.

3. start cold
Starting the cooking with cold water decreases the chances of eggs cracking as you add them to a hot pan of water. It also evens out the cooking time so it doesn’t matter if your eggs were cold from the fridge or at room temperature.

4. be precise
Overcooked eggs can be more problematic to peel. And who wants rubbery eggs anyway? So use a timer and stick to it.

5. cool quickly
Slow cooked eggs are more likely to develop greenish-grey colouring on the outside of the yolks. Cooling quickly can prevent this discolouration occurring. Drain eggs from the pan and transfer to a cool bowl. Run water over the eggs then let them sit in cold water to complete the cooling.

6. cool thoroughly
I’ve noticed that warm eggs are more difficult to peel, regardless of their freshness. So make sure the eggs are cool before starting.

7. crack first
When you’re ready to peel, crack the shell all over by gently hitting it on the side of the sink, or another flat surface. This can be done before leaving the eggs to cool completely in water if you like.

I’ve also tried a method using a spoon to crack a ring around the circumference of the egg. Then carefully remove the ‘belt’ before lifting off the top and bottom halves of the shell. Not quite as easy as the crack-all-over method, but worth trying if you’re into exploring advanced egg peeling ;)

8. roll gently between your hands
The rolling is a new technique for me, but it seems to help loosen the membrane, making peeling a cinch.

boiled eggs with curried chickpeas 8

Moon-Crater-Free Boiled Eggs

makes as many eggs as you need

If you have more time, you can also bring the eggs to a simmer. Cover the pot and remove from the heat and stand for 20 minutes.

as many eggs as you need

1. Place eggs in a small saucepan. Cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer.

2. When the eggs start simmering, set your timer for 8 minutes.

3. As soon as your timer rings, drain the eggs and transfer to a bowl. Run cold water over the eggs for a minute and then let the eggs sit in the water until cool.

4. Bash the eggs on the side of your sink to crack the shells all over.

5. Roll the egg between your hands to help loosen the membrane. Gently peel the membrane and shell from the eggs.


video version of the recipe


boiled eggs with curried chickpeas

Boiled Eggs with Curried Chickpeas

Inspired by the kedgeree recipe that accompanied my previous boiled egg post. The chickpeas work even better than the rice to accompany the eggs.

I find with all the protein from the eggs and chickpeas, the fish in the original recipe isn’t needed at all. Feel free to add in some canned salmon if you like.

serves: 2
takes: 20 minutes

2-4 eggs
1 onion, diced
2-3 teaspoons curry powder
1 can chickpeas (400g / 14oz), drained
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves picked

1. Place eggs in a small saucepan. Cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer.

2. When the eggs start simmering, set your timer for 8 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan on a medium heat. Add a generous glug of olive oil and cook onions until soft, about 5 minutes.

4. When the onion is soft, add the curry powder and stir for 15-20 seconds before adding the chickpeas. Continue to cook for another minute or until the chickpeas are warmed through. Season and remove from the heat.

5. As soon as your timer rings, drain the eggs and transfer to a bowl. Run cold water over the eggs for a minute and then let the eggs sit in the water until cool.

6. Bash the eggs on the side of your sink to crack the shells, then roll between your hands to help loosen the membrane. Gently peel the membrane and shell from the eggs.

7. Halve the eggs. Serve on top of the warm chickpeas with the parsley.

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vegan – skip the eggs and serve with a generous handful of roasted cashews or almonds.

egg-free – serve chickpeas topped with fresh bocconcini or buffalo mozzarella torn into chunks.

leafier – serve on a bed of baby spinach leaves, or wilt a few handfuls of spinach or kale leaves in with the chickpeas.

kedgeree – replace the chickpeas with 1 1/2 cups cooked rice and add in some flaked smoked haddock, cod or salmon.

different spice – replace the curry powder with garam marsala or a combo of ground cumin and ground coriander.

video version of the recipe

With love,
Jules x

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  • I’ve got to send this to my grandmother. She boils her eggs for an hour! The last time I tried to gently explain she was WAY over cooking them she lowered the time down to 45 minutes. ;-) Maybe she’ll take your word for it though.

  • Thanks for this article. It’s a skill, isn’t it? We all presume we can do it, but not all of us can. At least, I can’t. Today, that changed. Thanks, again :)

  • Wonderful – I made your curried chickpeas this evening and I’m smitten! Thanks for the great food combinations. Quick, easy and so inexpensive! : )

  • Hi Faith
    Wow I’m almost tempted to boil and egg for an hour just to see how rubbery it turns out! Hope you have better luck in convincing your grandmother

    Thanks for the pressure cooker tips… they always scare me though

    So glad you enjoyed.. they’re one of my favourite things at the moment… smitten is a great word!

  • Thank you for adding variations at the end of most of your recipies, I enjoy that. I often change recipies due to the fact that I am missing one ingredient or another; your suggestions will help in those cases.

  • Of course should be recipes not recipies… either I have pie on the brain or I am simply a pea brain!

  • Awesome recipe… I had the curried chickpeas for dinner tonight, but i hate hard boiled eggs so I scrambled my eggs instead and mixed it all together, it was delicious!

  • this looks lovely! Just thought I would share my own secret to perfectly peeled eggs. Whenever I let mine cool the shell gets stuck to the egg, so as soon as they are done cooking I drain them and rinse with cold water and drain again they are usually still warm so I pick one out turn on the faucet and crack and begin to peel running under cold water to keep my fingers from burning and try to get the shell off in chunks. this is the only method that has ever worked for me.

  • love the recipe idea! just the general combination of hard boiled eggs + chickpeas sounded lovely, so i made them with spinach, chili powder, and lime juice – total success! thank you!

  • I can testify as to how hard it is to peel fresh eggs…I have four lovely chooks in my back yard and have yet to be able to peel an egg without losing chunks of it…even though I do use the older ones…but I’ve never tried the rolling technique so I’ll see how that goes I’ll give it another go!

    Love your recipes (haven’t bought bread since I discovered your no knead sourdough) and will be trying out this chickpea recipe as soon as I can.


  • FYI, I add a tablespoon of vinegar when first placing the eggs in the pot with the water. It prevents any eggs that may be cracked from oozing whites out during the boiling process.

  • I just made this and it was even better than I expected. Thanks so much for this recipe. So simple, quick, and delicious. I’ll be making this again- often.
    Oh, and the eggs were perfect too. :-)

  • I’ve been going through a legumes fever recently (they’re so good for me and my student budget) and stonesoup became a daily source of ideas and food goodness. I just tried this recipe, with a dusting of smokes paprika instead of curry, it was just as lovely ! Thank you !

  • The way I hard boil eggs, is to place them in a pot of cold water so that each egg is covered by the water, bring the pot to boil (uncovered), and when the boiling point is reached, place the pot off-heat and cover the pot with its lid. Let it stand for 10 minutes, and then transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice-water to stop the eggs from further cooking.

    After a few minutes soak in the bowl of ice-water, I break the shell of each egg rolling it to separate the shell from its membrane and induce smaller cracks around the shell and then easily peel the shell from the egg. Works every time, and the yolks are yellow (no green).

  • I’ve become used to losing half the egg when i peel them. After reading your post, i put it down to my impatience … i often peel while they’re still warm (at times, hot!!)
    I resolve to be more patient with my egg peeling in future. Thanks for the tips!

  • I can never get eggs to peel easily unless I do it under running water. I think this must have much the same effect as the ‘blowing’ thing, but without the risk of adding bacteria from your breath.

    Have you tried it? You can also peel the eggs while they’re hot that way.

  • I’ve never had any trouble peeling boiled eggs – I cook them, cool them under cold water, leave them to cool a little longer, crack them on the side of the sink – and then peel them under running water. I think the running water is the key – it loosens the membrane from the egg.

  • Looove your site!
    Another little secret for easy egg peeling – add a few TBSP of salt in the water you will be cooking the eggs in.

  • I need to ‘bring a plate’ tomorrow for a shared lunch.
    I decided on egg salad.
    Now I have 8 perfectly peeled boiled eggs.
    I’m going to chop them up and
    noone will appreciate my perfectly peeled eggs.
    Oh well, I do.
    Thanks, Jules.

  • That’s just the way my great grandmother taught me how to do it and I’ve never had a problem!

  • My husband always removes the eggs and runs cold water over them & adds ice. This really cools them quickly & they are much easier to peel.

  • I just wanted to say thank you, thank you, thank you! You have saved me so much time and frustration! I really appreciate your helpful tips! This was the first time I’ve had perfectly peeled eggs and I did it in under half of the time I usually do! Thanks again!

  • I am just new to your blog, but am really enjoying it.

    I just had to share with you my way of hard-‘boiling’ eggs, and that is to BAKE them. Put them in the oven for 30 minutes, at about 335 degrees (you may want to test and vary depending on your oven and hardness preference). Also, just place them in a muffin tin (so they don’t roll around). I thought for sure they would all explode on me, but this is not the case – perfectly cooked eggs, and mess-free.

  • When the eggs are boiled and cooled, I crack the shells and roll them in my hands until their kinda fractured. Then I break out each end, and from the big end I peel away enough shell that I can slip in the end of a table spoon between the membrane and the egg, and with a little water running on it I just keep slipping the spoon between the membrane and the egg until I’ve peeled all the shell off. The running water seems to lubricate the process. … My wife thinks I’m nuts, but it works for me.

  • Break the shell then slip a spoon under shell a slide around egg and under shell when you are peeling eggs while doing a cookin shoot and you are paying for a crew and talent you have not got time to pick off pices of egg shell from eggs

  • I crack the egg on top and bottom, remove enough shell to expose the white then roll it between my hands, the shell comes off, usually, in one go. No more craters!

  • Almost all of you have missed the real physics of peeling hard-boiled eggs. The story on the membrane in the egg is this: it adheres tightly to the shell but only lightly to the body of the egg. Eggs may be peeled either hot or cold using the following method. Crumble the shell around its “waist”, all the way around. Now pick out a bit of shell and membrane and pull it away from the egg, under warm running water. The trick now is to introduce, by capillary action, some water between the membrane and the egg. If you then keep rotating the egg under running water, lightly crumbling it in your fingers as you go,the water will seep between the membrane and the egg and after a few rotations the shell will come away as neat as you please. It works 8 or 9 times out of ten, and you will thank me for this revolutionary information.

  • Ah…the quest continues. Perhaps we should assign this challenge to Lawrence Livermore Labs!. This recipe failed. I was particularly careful to follow the directions, although I did bring the water a tad above simmer before heat removal….but this turns out to be moot, as the eggs were underdone. The peeling method didn’t fly either. I suppose its possible the eggs were new, but they were purchased from the local grocery. Keep trying everyone.

  • If all you have to do is use old eggs, then explain to me why, as a child, my easter eggs were always easy to peel. I payed no attention to how my sister and our mother prepared the eggs but here’s how the operation began: I was sent out Saturday afternoon to gather the eggs and then, that evening, my sister and our mother were coloring and decorating the eggs that I would start eating the next day, Easter Sunday. I could sometimes get almost half of a shell off intact. You can’t get fresh eggs in the supermarket; they’re about 2 weeks old when you get them so why is everybody having a hard time, in spite of all the tricks, to peel them? I think the myth about it being neccessary to use old eggs began with the Department of Agriculture looking out for the producers. You see, there is a lot of chickens being raised and a lot of chickens lay a lot of eggs. The last thing the producers want is for people to demand fresh eggs. When I want hard boild eggs, I try to find a carton with the expiration date that is the farthest in advance. Those are the “freshest”; not neccessarily fresh and I invariably find those to be the easiest to peel.

  • I add vinegar to the water, it doesn’t taint the eggs, someone already asked me that lol. Also the tip about cracking the top and bottom and then rolling between your hands is probably the fastest and easiest. This Thanksgiving I cooked my eggs Wednesday night and put them in the fridge because I had so much to do, I forgot them until the next morning so they were cold and they really peeled easy. Sometimes it is hit and miss until you find a way that works for you. :-) Thanks for sharing.

  • I tried this this evening with 3 eggs. The membrane on the first was stuck as tight to the contents as I’ve ever had, the second worked pretty well and the third one tore in half while I was rolling it around in my hands. I don’t think that any benefits of this method make up for the drawback of having to work with tiny fragments of egg shell.

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