I Tried the “Easiest” Way to Peel a Hard-Boiled Egg

published Dec 11, 2018
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(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

One of the most hotly debated techniques in all of cooking is the easiest, best way to peel a hard-boiled egg. There are a lot of tips I’ve encountered over the years, including adding baking soda to the boiling water, blowing the egg out of its shell, and making sure the eggs are cold before peeling. But then I came across a new method in a recent video on Epicurious and I had to try it out.

In a video by Epicurious, 50 people are asked to peel an egg with no assistance or instruction whatsoever. As you watch it becomes clear that a good 50% don’t know how to peel an egg at all. Some break the egg in half (a hard-boiled no-no), some try to crack the shell with entirely too much force, which shows me they’re not true egg-salad makers or deviled-egg lovers. One dude even picks up a potato peeler (and although it seems like a cute joke at first, it’s clear he has absolutely no idea how to peel an egg). Then, slowly, the participants get better and better in a gradient of skill until one of them peels that egg perfectly.

So how do you peel an egg perfectly? In a segment right after the 50 novices bungle their way through peeling, Chef Frank Proto, teacher at the illustrious Institute of Culinary Education, tells everyone the best way to peel a hard-boiled egg. He says first tap the top and bottom to find the air bubble (eggs typically have air inside them unless they are extremely fresh… the bigger the air bubble, the older the egg), and then peel the egg in a bowl of cold water because the water will separate the bond between the shell and the egg inside.

Seems easy enough, right? I decided to put Chef Proto’s method to the test. As I found out, these tips, Here’s what I did:

  • I boiled four eggs in a medium pot with three cups of water.
  • After boiling the eggs, I drained the pot and put cold water in the pot to let the eggs cool.
  • Then I started peeling the eggs using Proto’s techniques, and got better and better: peeling the eggs in a bowl of water really helps loosen the egg shell as you peel it. He knows his stuff. It took me, a novice, about a minute and a half to peel an egg.
  • The tap trick Proto uses to find the air pocket has varied success, depending on where the bubble is on your egg. A lot of times, in my experience, I found the air bubble was on the side or too small or shallow to make any difference when first peeling it. (This is probably because the eggs that I got were very fresh, so shout-out to my local supermarket.) If I did find a bubble at the top or the bottom of the egg, it was indeed much easier to peel.

I’m amazed I was able to peel an egg that quickly — I wish I took a video of my reaction to doing it that fast because I felt a little bit like Michael Phelps reaching for his first gold medal. In fact, this method cut my peeling time down by half. This is somebody who boils and peels hard-boiled eggs maybe twice a year, and I felt sous-chef worthy by the end. You might fare even better… if you’re quick to the draw.

Still I encourage you to try your own experiment at home to see what’s the best technique for you. By the end, like me, you’ll have learned something about yourself, and hey, you’ll be able to

make a delicious bowl of egg salad