Easy-to-Peel Fresh Hard-Boiled Eggs

Tired of struggling to unpeel a hard-boiled egg at Easter? We've got a technique that will leave your shells easy to peel and your yolks a beautiful yellow.

by Rachel Hurd Anger

I challenge you to forget every old wives’ tale you’ve heard about hard-boiled eggs. Forget salting the water, adding vinegar, calling Mom to ask how hard to boil them, or shaking cooked eggs inside a jar.

The answer to easy-to-peel hard-boiled eggs isn’t in boiling at all. The perfect egg is steamed, then quickly chilled.

Why do store-bought eggs peel more easily than fresh eggs?

Unfortunately, it’s because they’re old. You could gather your oldest eggs, boil them the old-fashioned way, and cross your fingers.

Or you could try steaming today’s eggs and chilling them in ice water. Trust me, it works! Here’s how to do it:

Step 1

Pile washed, fresh eggs into a steamer basket, leaving enough room for the lid to fit securely.

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Step 2

hard-boiled eggs Easter

Fill the pot with 2 inches of water and bring to a rolling boil over medium heat. Once the water is boiling, set a timer for 20 minutes and let the eggs steam.

Step 3

Two minutes before the timer stops, add ice to a large bowl, and fill with enough cold water to cover the eggs you’ll be adding.

Step 4

hard-boiled eggs Easter

When the timer stops, turn off the stove, lift the lid and carefully transfer each egg into the ice water. The drastic temperature change is what will make these eggs simple to peel.

Cold water from the tap will not suffice, so please use ice.

Step 5

Once the eggs have completely cooled, remove them. Now the eggs are ready to color for Easter or to be peeled for snacks and lunches.

Why It Works

The harder you boil the water, the more steam you get. But you can’t overcook them nor do you risk burning any eggs under the shell.

With traditional methods for making a hard-boiled egg, cooling under the cold tap doesn’t chill the hot eggs fast enough, so they continue to cook in the center. That’s why you’ll sometimes see that yucky greenish gray color around the yolk—those eggs are overcooked.

Color Easter Eggs Without a Kit

hard-boiled eggs Easter

Backyard eggs of all shades will make beautiful variations in color, and you don’t need a store-bought kit to color them. If you have vinegar and food coloring, you’re ready to go.

Use a coffee mug to color one egg at a time, or a small bowl to color more eggs at once.

Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar and a good squeeze of food coloring into the container, then fill it about halfway or so with hot water from the tap. Add eggs gently with a large spoon.

When you’re ready, use the spoon to lift them out, and place each egg on a kitchen towel to dry. Cotton is more absorbent than paper, and food coloring won’t stain it.

Troubleshooting Tips

  • To color eggs evenly, always wash them first. The eggshell needs to be porous to absorb color, so it’s necessary to remove the bloom. Some eggs might be blotchy after they’re colored, like one of my orange eggs in the photo. The bloom was thick enough on that egg that I couldn’t remove it all.
  • Only use 1 teaspoon of vinegar. Vinegar sets the dye to the shell, but using too much vinegar will actually strip the egg’s color right off the shell. Your chickens’ brown eggs will be beautiful once they’re colored, but use too much vinegar and you’ll find yourself wiping off all the color and starting over with the white shell underneath.

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