Why You’ll Never Hard Boil Eggs Again – The Secret for Easy to Peel Eggs

Easy to Peel eggsI opened the refrigerator door over the weekend, closed it again, and went to the phone.  I called our neighbor and told her that it was time for her to start saving her empty egg cartons.  Ever since we adopted 3 new hens recently, we have been getting fresh eggs faster than we can use them.

I love hard boiled eggs, but I hate to peel them.  In fact, I might actually have an egg-peeling disfunction.  I end up creating craters and losing up to 1/3 of my egg when all is said and done.  Eons ago, when I did a giveaway for a LeCreuset steamer, a reader left me a comment telling me about her favorite way to hard cook eggs.  To steam them.  This rocked my world.

So, I tried it.  That very same day.  And it was amazing.  The eggs were perfect, with no green ring around the yolk or pits and holes left in the egg.  And the best part? They were easy to peel, even though I used fresh eggs, which are notoriously more difficult to peel.

I am a changed woman.  I know that I have been a kale chip evangelist.  But now I may have to stray…and start preaching about steaming eggs and how they are so easy to peel.  Or maybe you should.

Why Steamed Eggs are Easy to Peel: Kitchen Science

Egg shells are permeable, which means that they are porous.  Water molecules in the steam form are tiny enough to penetrate the shell.  While they don’t disrupt the membrane, the heat from the steam is adequate enough to cook the egg inside.  I have some super smart science-friends – maybe they will chime in and give a better explanation.  One can hope, at least.

Hard Cooked Eggs – Steaming Method
by What’s Cooking with Kids

You’ll need:

1.5 quarts of water
1 dozen eggs
1 steamer basket, ideally one that nests into the top portion of a pot

  1. Put the eggs into the steamer tray.
  2. Fill the pot with 1.5 quarts of water (if your steamer tray nests into the top portion of your pot).  If you are using a small tray that sits on the bottom of your pan, you may not be able to use enough water to steam the eggs for the desired length of time.
  3. Set the steamer into the pot and turn on the heat.  Cover the pan.
  4. Bring the water to a boil, and then turn down the heat to a simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Allow the eggs to cool enough for you to handle – you can peel them immediately or whenever you are ready to eat them.
  6. Store them in the refrigerator.


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72 Responses to Why You’ll Never Hard Boil Eggs Again – The Secret for Easy to Peel Eggs

  1. Ya know what’s funny? We GAVE UP on hard boiling fresh local eggs because we could NEVER peel them. Finally we were in Bed Bath & Beyond one night and saw this little egg cooker that could poach, soft boil, and hard boil eggs in 7 minutes. So we splurged the $30 and bought it. It works wonderfully but you know what I figured out? All it does is steam the eggs! I wish I saw this post before I dropped the $30 but this is great info!!

    • Brenda Tyler says:

      We have chickens and lots of fresh eggs. We, too found the fresh eggs to hard to peel when boiled. So I bought Eggies off of the television. They work very well but are kind of labor intensive as each one consists of four pieces that must be oiled before use and taken apart and washed after. I am going to go steam some eggs right now and try this out!!! Thanks for the info.

  2. Wow, I would have never thought of this. One question though, do the eggs ever get over cooked? I think I am going to try this one on for size…

    • Michelle Stern says:

      I cooked mine for 20 minutes and it was perfect!

      • Kat says:

        I just made some steamed eggs. My pot ran out of water at the 12-minute mark, and I had to quickly boil some water to add to the egg pot. Even with the interruption in the cooking, the eggs are PERFECT! I will never boil eggs again!!

  3. Fuji Mama says:

    Genius!! I have never steamed eggs before, and have no clue why! Time to change that . . .

  4. Noel Chapman says:

    Absolutely love this! The battle I have with peeling the hard boiled egg each time I make deviled eggs. Ugh, what a nightmare sometimes. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I had no idea! Thanks for the tip.

  6. What a great idea! I have this Multi Steamer Pot Set and I think I need to try this like…right now. Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. Tina says:

    I’ll have to try this!

    Usually the problem with eggs that are too hard to peel is that they are too fresh. That would definitely be the case with your eggs, fresh from the hen.

    My mom has always done something similar. She actually puts her eggs in the water though. She puts them in, lets the water come to a boil, then covers the pot and removes them from the heat and lets them sit for 20 minutes.

  8. Mary Mac says:

    We also have our own hens and those eggs are near impossible to peel!!! I actually bought eggs at the store to make my deviled eggs for Easter. Thanks for the tip! Love it too!

  9. Hinna says:

    I’ve never heard of steaming eggs before your post. For many years I had to eat hard boiled eggs with green rings, but after picking up a few tips here and there, the green rings have disappeared! I put the eggs in water and boil them for two minutes. Then I turn off the heat and cover the eggs so that they sit in the water for 5-7 minutes. Perfect eggs every time!

  10. Susie says:

    If this works, you are a genius! I used to have trouble peeling eggs but now that have Parkinson’s, it is impossible! And I love deviled eggs! Thanks for the tip!

  11. Deanna says:

    An amazing idea – I just tried it and it works great – I never would have thought of this – thanks for thinking out of the box!!

  12. cynthia says:

    thank you!! and my chickens thank you, since I will not be frustrated trying to peel their lovely fresh eggs anymore.

  13. Jadey says:

    How long do you leave them on for soft eggs? I like a runny yolk.

    • Catherine North says:

      Softboiled take about 6 1/2 minutes, I do my hardboiled for 15, and immediately cool with icewater till I can peel them.

  14. Jennifer says:

    OMG! You are my new best friend!! I have not had egg salad or deviled eggs since I got my chickens because I’d lose half the egg every time I tried to peel it. I can’t believe this actually worked…I thought I’d tried everything! Thank you, thank you!!

  15. Sharon says:

    This is a great idea! I make my chickens’ boiled eggs easy to peel by piercing the blunt end with a pin before dropping it in the boiling water. That allows the air to release while it’s cooking, and makes it a no-problem peel.

  16. John Monday says:

    I know a lot of folks who don’t eat eggs (they’re allergic, for health reasons, or concerns about animal cruelty). Here’s an awesome site that gives tips on cooking and baking without eggs: http://EggFreeLiving.com

  17. Brigit says:

    I have chickens too and was very sad to discover that I could not figure out how to peel an egg. Then I learned this on some late night PBS show when I couldn’t sleep at 3am. Then I had to try it. Immediately. To hard boil fresh eggs you can peel you have to add salt to the water….alot of salt. I add 1/4 cup when I boil 1 doz eggs. The shells will come right off. You can even do this method if you like to soft cook them.

  18. Mira says:

    I’m definitely going to try this…we love hard cooked eggs at our house and hate leaving bits behind.

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  21. Mac says:

    Steaming hard-cooked eggs is the only way to go. First, I use the little steamer basket that sits on the bottom of a big or little pot. I’ve cooked perfectly 2 or 2 dozen eggs that way in only 12 minutes using an inch of water under the steamer basket. Put the room temperature eggs in the basket (and I’ve cooked eggs bought that day), bring it to a boil, cover it, set the timer for 12 minutes maximum. After that, take them to the sink (I peel them hot) and run each egg under cold tap water. Crack the fat end, then the skinny end and then roll it (with a little pressure) between my palms. Sometimes, the shell comes off in one piece (that’s when I want someone to take my picture). Sometimes it takes a little more work like breaking the skin on the skinny end (they seem to peel better from the skinny end down). Then I plop them in a bowl of cold water. I recently did 30 eggs for deviled eggs and it took less then 20 minutes to peel all of them. And, here is the best thing of all … steamed eggs don’t STINK!

  22. Anna says:

    I was so excited about this!! But it didn’t work! HELP! I really want this to work. We have just a few hens and so the eggs are precious. I have to wait to boil them to have any hope of peeling. So, I tried this and I love the way it looked and tasted but the peeling was a nightmare. Any thoughts?

    • Michelle Stern says:

      The peeling when I steamed them was super easy – so I don’t know what could have happened. We love our girls, too! Good luck,

    • Catherine says:

      after you crack them, start peeling at the end with the air space and make sure you get the membrane, if they are still sticking, run them (cracked) under warm water to make the membrane slippery.

    • Nix says:

      Are you using a double boiler style steamer or regular insert? I do it like this….
      1. Bring about 1 quart water to a boil lid on.
      2. Remove lid and set steamer tray on pot
      3. Replace lid and let it boil about 8 minutes more.
      4. Turn off the water and leave the lid on for about 12 minutes
      5. Remove basket from pan and run eggs under cold water.
      6.gently squeeze the shell to crack and it falls right off.

      Good luck

  23. susie says:

    anna, if it makes you feel better, this didn’t work for me either. actually, to be more accurate, it worked with a few eggs and not with others. i was so hopeful…

    • Michelle Stern says:

      I am so sad to hear this didn’t work for you. It has been great with our eggs. Sorry for getting you excited 🙂

  24. Mark says:

    It’s even easier. I take my eggs right from the fridge and put them in the steam basket (water is already boiling). Put the lid on. 8 minutes, juicy yolk; 11 minutes, yolk just before fully cooked; 13 minutes, fully cooked yolk. Easy as you can get.

    • JSP says:

      Mark, TY. I tried this easy method and it worked great! Cooking time may vary depending on how high your steamer is set (or the burner below it).

      I then dropped into an ice bath for one minute and used mac’s peeling method.

      I did soft boiled today but will be using this method from now on for soft & hard boiled!

  25. Nancy Barnes says:

    anna, I wonder if it is necessary to wash the eggs rather well so that the steam can get through the pores of the shell. I believe eggs supposedly keep better if they aren’t washed because the coating keeps them fresher but then the steam might not get through the pores to separate the shell from the membrane.

    The first time I tried this the eggs were green free but only some of them peeled easily. Today I was especially careful to wash them even though they were clean (from vital farms) to start with. Everyone peeled, after following Mac’s directions, in one piece.

  26. Nancy Barnes says:

    . . .actually I used the directions at the top with the quart and a half of water and used Mac’s directions for the peeling, and I only did 8 eggs.

  27. Amy says:

    Well, I tried this, but when I turned it down to simmer, it didn’t stay hot enough, so after 20 minutes, it was barely cooked (maybe soft boiled). So I turned it up and cooked for 10 more minutes. Then I cooled them under water and tried peeling one. Mutilated it. Then It tried Mac’s peeling directions and it wasn’t as bad, peeling under the water, but it wasn’t deviled egg pretty either. Can you cook them too long? I will try Mac’s directions for steaming them and then, if it doesn’t work, I give up. I’ll have to keep a dozen in the back of the fridge for a couple weeks at a time.

  28. Debbie says:

    I have been suffering through cooking hard boiled eggs for 30+ years. I was going to buy the egg steamer, but had this brilliant idea to look up steaming eggs and found this post. Thank you. I have so far made eggs 4 times in my pot that has the drop in basket I have steamed 1 or 2 dozen eggs and only lost 2(they were probably cracked). I drop them right into ice water when finished and they peal perfectly every time. I get farm fresh eggs and they have come out perfect everytime. Plus if i need to do more I could load it up and do another batch. I must have tried 20 ways to hard cook eggs in the last few months. Thank you problem solved in time for dyed eggs.

  29. Sara C. says:

    I will never, ever boil my eggs again…amazing! Tried this for making eggs for Easter dying, and tried peeling one right away. Some of these were pretty fresh eggs, but the peeling went so well! Thank you!

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  31. Marie S says:

    I don’t have a conventional steamer basket, but I do have a Tupperware microwave steamer… any idea how long it would take to steam them in the microwave??

  32. Donna says:

    For successful cooking of eggs in your microwave, keep these following points in mind:

    Microwave Eggs cooked in their shells will explode!

    Even out of the shell, eggs can and may explode in the microwave because rapid heating causes a buildup of steam. Always use a wooden pick or tip of a knife to break the yolk membrane of an unbeaten egg before micro-cooking to allow the steam to escape.

    Covering cooking containers with a lid, plastic wrap, or wax paper encourages more even cooking and (if you forgot to prick the yolks) helps to confine the explosion!

  33. StanR says:

    Wanted to mention that the “green ring” means they were overcooked causing a reaction between the yolk and white. It’s common–my mother’s eggs always had the green rings, and I didn’t know any better as a kid–but avoidable.

    You’ll find a number of methods out there for hard-boiling eggs, but all the “good” ones share that they don’t overcook the eggs.

    Try putting room-temp eggs in a pot of cold water, covered by an inch or so of water, and then bringing that up to a boil. Once at a rolling boil, turn off the heat, let them sit in the hot water for 12 minutes, and then transfer them to a colander and cool them with cold running water. You’ll notice the difference, and the lack of that sulfury smell.

    Thanks for the blog post!

    (Who’s cooking eggs with microwaves?! Stovetop not only delivers superior results, it’s less explosive. You can easily rig a steamer with any boiling-temp safe glass or ceramic container–such as a little ramekin or bowl–in a pot of an inch or two of water. Use the little rim that comes with home-canned jars or a couple metal forks to lift it off the bottom of the pot; lifting the dish will prevent the bubbles forming in the water from chattering the container. There you go, cheap steamer! Experiment: it’s just an egg!)

  34. StanR says:

    To clarify, by chattering I did mean chatter, not shatter, as in making the container bounce a little on the bottom, making an annoying chatter.

  35. Kerry W says:

    I have been doing this for years now. I steam my eggs in a tiered electric vegetable steamer. Once you have steamed an egg you will never go back to boiling :0)

  36. michelle says:

    i must admit when i first read this posting i thought…ya right. so today i went out to the barn and got some fresh eggs. popped them in muffin tins and put them into my toaster oven. 350 for 25 mins, dumped them in cold water and they peeled perfect. no white left behind at all. last time i peeled fresh eggs about all i ended up with was yolk. i am so spreading the word!

  37. Lynn Bailey says:

    Just tried this – worked perfectly! At 60 years of age, still learning!

  38. Sue says:

    I can’t wait to try this! As far as fresh farm eggs, I was told the eggs need to “cure” for 2 weeks before using to make hard boiled eggs. And that fresh farm eggs, unwashed, will keep for 3 months in the refrigerator.

  39. Sue says:

    Omgsh! I just did a batch and they turned out wonderful! I love how bright yellow the yolk looks. This is a keeper. Thank you for sharing!

  40. Sue says:

    I saw a few comments regarding that this method didn’t work for them with fresh farm eggs. Try “curing” (letting them sit in the refrig) the fresh eggs for 2 weeks before using. Let us know if there’s a difference.

  41. fab says:

    I just tried this- followed the recipe exactly (with store bought eggs) and the eggs came out barely soft boiled Ugh! I’m now boiling them.

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  44. Karin Leschke says:

    I have a little Black and Decker vegetable steamer. I wonder if that would work for half a dozen eggs or so?

  45. bgreen says:

    I buy fresh eggs from a friend at church and I hard-boil a dozen at a time for my breakfast during the week. I have been agonizing each morning to peel (2) of them, which was taking better than 10 minutes and I was losing a good portion of the egg. I tried your method this morning and it worked great. Less than a minute an egg to peel. Thank-you.

  46. chuck schulthies says:

    I followed the recipe exactly with a curve to it. I used fresh double yoke extra extra large AA grade eggs. I cooked half that were at room temperature and half that had been refrigerated. I brought the steamer to a boil and turned down to a simmer but took 4 eggs out at 13 minutes, 2 of the refer, 2 of the room temp. I submerged 1 of each in iced water and let 2 cool down normally. Perfect.

    The ones I allowed to steam the full 20 minutes and cool had started to over cook and just started to turn the outer rim green.

    All of the eggs peeled perfectly and without the sulfur smell.

    I recommend you don’t overcook the eggs and shock in iced water after removing them from the steamer to stop the cooking process.

  47. OMG…I’ve been a fan of steaming raw eggs in a Pam-sprayed ramekin starting with cold water and heating on high flame for 14 minutes. It makes perfect, shell-free, soft boiled eggs. But, once the soft boiled eggs are ready, you can put whole eggs into the hot steamer basket, lower the flame to medium, put the top back on and 20 minutes later, you get perfect easy-to-peel hard boiled eggs. Suddenly, my steamer pan is a daily go-to cooking utensil. Thanks for adding hard boiled eggs to my steamer techniques!!!

  48. Bonnie says:

    Can this be done in a vegetable steamer??

  49. Kristi says:

    You can use this for soft boiled eggs, too; 6 minutes for soft boiled, 12 for hard boiled was what I was told. Just make sure the water is boiling well, and you’ll lose less water if the pot is covered… should make it well beyond the 12 minute mark.

  50. jlmkoz says:

    I’m 66 years old and just learned this year how to peel hard boiled eggs,boil potatoes without peeling,make corn with out removing husks or that darn silk.
    I always put the eggs in cold water in a pan,brought them to a boil,removed from heat with cover on pan & let sit for 20 minutes,then into cold water.
    Didn’t matter if I tried salted water,baking soda in water,pinhole in she’ll on both sides,rolling them…nothing worked perfectly.
    Then I saw a to cook,cool,drain all water and replace cover and shake pot vigorously.
    Presto!All the eggs just slipped out of the shells,no part of the egg was damaged!
    Other tip,
    when boiling potatoes,leave them whole with the skin on.
    with knife cut around the middle of potato until both sides meet.Boil potatoes.The skin will peel off in 2 parts.Saves the time peeLing and no waste of potato.
    Look up how to cook corn on the cob intact in the microwave. 4 minutes,cut off about 1 inch at the stem end,shake or squeeze out corn cob,no silk remains no hulling corn cob either.
    Where were all these tips THAT WORK 45 years ago??????

  51. tom stone says:

    I was amazed at how well this worked. 5 eggs in a 2 quart sauce pan, left to steam for 16 minutes. When I took them out, I let them sit in a bowl of cold water for a couple minutes then crack & squeeze. Crack & squeeze, crack & squeeze.

    My best time was about 8 seconds to totally clear one of it shell. My worst time was still well under a minute. With some practice you really get it down.

    Just crack it like you want to break open the egg then just give it a gentle squeeze and the rest of the shell will fragment. If you’re lucky it will break right in half and slip off under running water.

  52. Sam says:

    WOW…love soft and hard boiled eggs, hate peeling. I have a Copper Moran hen and just tried this method with her day old to week and a half old eggs. AMAZING. I’m at 6900′ altitude and cooked in vegatable steamer for 13 min, then into ice bath, not quite hard boiled…f’n perfect. Thanks sooooooo much.

  53. Barbara Millet says:

    I steam my eggs and the use the Egg Stripper I purchased on HSN that peels 5 eggs under 10 seconds . I used it before Thanksgiving peeler 20 eggs in literally couple minutes

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