When the crew demands this summer staple but you can’t be bothered to painstakingly peel a million of them, this genius, no-peel cooking trick will save the day... not to mention hours of your time. The secret is to use a classic French culinary technique known as a bain-marie to prep a number of eggs that have already been cracked in just a few minutes. This heated “water bath” method slowly bakes eggs in the oven without overcooking them, and it couldn't be easier to pull off at home.
- King Phojanakong, chef and founder of Kuma Inn, Small Axe Peppers, and Cook Like King in New York City
Ready to get cracking? To guarantee flawless execution of using a bain-marie to cook a bunch of egg salad-ready eggs at once, we spoke with a professional chef for the tips and tricks required to get the job done. We also learned more ways you can apply this technique to foods other than eggs (hello, effort-free desserts).
The bain-marie technique
First things first: What is a bain-marie, exactly? “A bain-marie is basically a hot water bath or double boiler," says King Phojanakong, the chef and founder of Kuma Inn, Small Axe Peppers, and Cook Like King in New York City. To make one, you simply fill a vessel with water and then lower another bowl, pan, or other container into the water bowl that contains the ingredients you'll be cooking or keeping warm. The water bath should only touch the outsides of the container—not the food itself. "Using a bain-marie creates a super gentle, very uniform heating environment, because the water creates a barrier between the food and the direct heat from the oven, stove, or heat source, preventing burning and uneven cooking,” Phojanakong adds. It's not entirely dissimilar from sous-vide cooking—it's just a lot easier to execute and doesn't require any special tools or gadgets.
Phojanakong says this simple culinary technique can be applied to many delicious dishes like custards, flan, cheesecake, or even making scrambled eggs. “If you’re into creamy scrambled eggs, cooking them in a bain-marie ensures perfectly creamy, just-cooked scrambled eggs,” he adds. (FWIW, this is also a brilliantly fuss-free way to feed a large hungry crowd breakfast.) “At the restaurant, we also use a bain-marie setup to cook and hold sauces containing eggs or high fat, like hollandaise and beurre blanc." According to Phojanakong, using a bain-marie prevents the sauces from separating or evaporating, and preserves their concentration, which can both occur when faced with high heat.
How to make easy hard-boiled eggs without peeling them using a bain-marie
A recent viral video on TikTok by @jamiefielding_ with over 14 million views shows her using a bain-marie to bake eggs in the oven for an egg salad recipe. Yes, you heard that right: In addition to avoiding the trauma of peeling dozens of eggs, you won't have to wait an eternity for a large pot of water to boil either.
To get it started, Fielding greases a loaf pan with a tablespoon or so of avocado oil using a dry paper towel, and makes sure to get all of the crevices and bottom all oiled up. Then, she carefully cracks seven eggs into the pan, keeping the yolks intact to avoid mixing them with the whites.
@jamiefielding_ Reply to @christygclay so much easier than trying to peel eggs. #eggssalad#howtoboileggs#nopeeleggs#easypeelhardboiledeggs#hardboiledeggs#breakfastideas#highproteinbreakfast #eggsalad#eggsaladsandwiches#EasyWithAdobeExpress #eatmore#healthytok#cookingtok#foodtok ♬ original sound - Kitchen Hacks & Nutrition
Next comes the most important step, the bain-marie. To set up the bath, Fielding fills a large 9 x 13-inch baking dish with room temperature water until the eggs are just-submerged. She then places the loaf pan in the center of the water-filled baking dish, and puts them in a 350°F oven to cook for about 30 minutes. Once ready, Fielding removes the loaf pan from the baking dish and releases the eggs from the edges with a rubber spatula. Finally, she carefully flips them onto a clean cutting board and uses a large chef’s knife to roughly chop the eggs. Et voilà! Easy “hard-boiled” eggs for salad, minus all of the time-consuming fuss and elbow grease.
Tips and tricks to *safely* use this cooking method
When handling hot water in the kitchen, it’s always important to be careful. To safely apply the bain-marie cooking method, Phojanakong shares a few easy pointers to prevent any kitchen mishaps. “To avoid any potential burn situation, make sure to use a base vessel with high sides, so water doesn’t overflow when moving the containers in and out of the oven or from the heat source." Phojanakong also recommends keeping the oven around 325°F (or the flames on the stove at low or medium temperatures) to prevent the food from drying out, scorching, or burning.
TL; DR: If done carefully, using a bain-marie to cook eggs for a crowd can yield chef-quality results at home with approximately zero effort required.
Watch the video below to find out why Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, MS, RD calls eggs "nature's multivitamin":
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