How to Make the Perfect Hard Boiled Egg

July 2, 2011

Hard boiling eggs is a simple process but it's not exactly easy to get it right.  There are two major problems with hard boiled eggs that are poorly made.   First, they can difficult to peel because the whites have stuck to the shell.  This is especially true of fresher eggs because the whites have not fully matured.  An older egg is a better egg in this case.  Second, the yolks develop a green tinge due to a chemical reaction caused by the iron in the yolks and the sulfur in the whites. A perfect hard boiled egg has a tender white and a well set yolk.

To avoid these problems, I prescribe to the method Julia Child lays out in her book Way to Cook.  Julia Child was known for her meticulous recipe testing and I for one, trust her.  This method produces the perfect eggs albeit a bit time consuming but worth it. Using this method you will then have wonderful deviled eggs, egg salad salad sandwiches and more.

Hard Boiled Eggs (Excerpt from Way to Cook)

1-4 Eggs….2 quarts water
12 Eggs…..3 1/2 quarts water
24 Eggs…..6 quarts water

*note: water should cover the eggs by 1 inch, so use a tall pan, and limit cooking to 2 dozen eggs at a time.

1. Lay the eggs in the pan and add the amount of cold water specified. Set over high heat and bring just to the boil; remove from heat, cover the pan, and let sit exactly 17 minutes.

2. When the time is up, transfer the eggs to the bowl of ice cubes and water. Chill for 2 minutes while bringing the cooking water to the boil again. (This 2 minute chilling shrinks the body of the egg from the shell.)

3. Transfer the eggs (6 at a time only) to the boiling water, bring to the boil again, and let boil for 10 seconds - this expands the shell from the egg. Remove eggs, and place back into the ice water.

Chilling the eggs promptly after each step prevents that dark line from forming, and if time allows, leave the eggs in the ice water after the last step for 15 to 20 minutes. Chilled eggs are easier to peel, as well.

The peeled eggs will keep perfectly in the refrigerator, submerged in water in an uncovered container, for 2 to 3 days.

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Anonymous's picture

seems way too long of a process with people with kids. I'll stick to my usual routine and bring the water to a boil and cook eggs for 8-10 mins. rinse cool in freezer a bit, and get rid of shells. wala! ;p

Dreama's picture

I'm going to give this a try. I'll make the time to do it just to make the peeling easier. I hate it when the whites stick to the shell while peeling.

Anonymous's picture

Paula Deen has a much simpler way of boiling eggs and it works! Go to her website I agree with anonymous. Way too much trouble!

matantisi's picture

I agree that, if you're just boiling eggs for the kids, or for quick snacks, this is too much trouble. But if you are concerned about presentation and plan to use the eggs for something special, you really don't want that gray-green ring around the yolk. This method — which I first learned watching a Julia Child program — is great.

I actually make all my hard-boiled eggs following the first two steps. The second boil-and-chill is to make peeling easy, so if it's just for me, I don't bother with that.

Jamie Stanton 's picture

Are u kidding me? This is ridiculously complicated! Cover the eggs with water and turn on high. Set timer for 15 minutes. When timer goes off-- done! Seriously.