No More Grey Yolks: This Easy Chef Technique Will Give You Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs Every Time

Photo: Stocksy/ Helen Rushbrook
Just like potatoes, there are hundreds of ways to cook an egg. Scrambled, over easy, poached, sunny-side up... the list goes on and on. However, one of the most classic (and easy) ways to cook this protein-packed ingredient is by boiling them in a pot of hot water, aka making hard-boiled eggs.

Though the process of cooking hard-boiled eggs is fairly straightforward, the fact of the matter is that it's pretty easy to mess it up. Which is fair: You can never really tell when an egg is done cooking until you're finally able to crack it open, after all. (And the only thing worse that an exceedingly runny egg is one that's formed a chalky, greenish yolk... blech.) So, what’s the best way to perfectly cook hard-boiled eggs every time? We spoke with a chef that shared three egg-cellent tips and tricks to avoid another unfortunate breakfast mishap.

Experts In This Article

How to cook hard-boiled eggs perfectly, according to a chef

1. Boil your water before you add the eggs

According to chef Gavin Kaysen, a two-time James Beard award-winning chef, restaurateur, and the cookbook author of At Home, there are a few simple rules to follow that can help you nail the perfect hard-boiled egg. For starters—and definitely the most critical part—you should always boil your water before adding in the eggs. According to Kaysen, adding the eggs after after the water is boiling often helps prevent them from overcooking.

What's more, adding your eggs to the water after its boiling helps prevent that less-than-appetizing greenish-gray hue from forming around the egg's yolk. Though it’s not harmful, this color change is caused by a chemical reaction between sulfur (from the egg white) and iron (from the egg yolk), which reacts to form ferrous sulfide at the surface of the yolk. To avoid it, be sure to control how long your eggs have been cooking—and drop them in only once the water is boiling to help keep them at a more steady temperature throughout the cooking process. If you start with cool water to cook your eggs (instead of boiling water), it can lead to inconsistent cooking times.

2. Enlist a slotted spoon

Another important step is to handle your eggs carefully to avoid cracking the shells. “Although you don’t need the eggs to be at room temperature before cooking them, it’s important to carefully place them in the boiling water to prevent them from cracking,” Kaysen says. To prevent the risk of injury (to you and the delicate eggs), a slotted spoon can help assist with maneuvering the eggs in and out of a pot of boiling water. Now, once your eggs are all settled in the pot of boiling water, it’ll take roughly seven to ten minutes to cook them to perfection, depending on how well-done you like your eggs.

3. Give 'em an ice bath before you crack

After they're finished cooking, dropping your eggs into an ice bath will help prevent them from overcooking. When cool enough to handle, you can start peeling them open. Though this is definitely the most tedious (and difficult) part of the process, Kaysen shares his trick for how he does it quickly and efficiently at the restaurant and at home. “After cooking the egg, lightly tap the top and bottom on a flat surface to crack the shell. Then roll it along a flat surface—on the long side of the egg—to finish cracking the shell and peel,” he says.

Now, what to do with all of your perfectly hard-boiled eggs? How about using them to make this deviled eggs recipe from chef Kaysen’s new cookbook, At Home?

how to make hard-boiled eggs in boiling water
Photo: Libby Anderson

Deviled eggs recipe

Yields 16 servings

8 hard-boiled eggs
3/4 cup aioli
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon juice from a jar of
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Sweet paprika, for garnish
Sliced cornichons, for garnish
Dill sprigs, for garnish

1. Slice the sides flat on opposite sides of each egg so each egg half will have a flat base. Halve each egg lengthwise and remove the yolks.

2. In a food processor, combine the egg yolks and aioli and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure the entire mixture is homogeneous. Add the sweet paprika, lemon juice, cornichon juice, and salt and buzz to combine. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

3. Remove from the food processor and scrape into a plastic storage bag (or a piping bag) using a rubber spatula. Snip 1/4 inch from the corner of the plastic bag. If using a piping bag and you have a star tip, attach it to the bag. Pipe the egg yolk mousse evenly into each half egg.

4. Dust the tops with sweet paprika and garnish with sliced cornichons and dill sprigs. Serve.

An RD explains why eggs should be considered nature's multivitamin:

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