With their shells still on, hard-cooked eggs promise tender whites and uniformly opaque (but not chalky) yolks. But as soon as they’re peeled, the truth is revealed: overcooked yolks, rubbery whites, and a torn, mangled appearance, thanks to the stubborn shell. Even if the eggs are cooked well, they can sometimes be hard to peel.
Sign up for the Notes from the Test Kitchen newsletter
Our favorite tips and recipes, enjoyed by 2 million+ subscribers!
- Start the eggs in hot water: Starting the eggs in hot, rather than cold, water causes the whites’ proteins to seize and bond together, preventing them from sticking to the shell membrane so that the peel slips right off.
- Steam, don’t boil: Steaming doesn’t lower the temperature of the water, so the eggs will cook evenly every time.
- To peel immediately, shock then shake: If you want to peel the eggs right away, prepare the ice bath in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Once the eggs are chilled, pour off half of the water and, holding the lid in place, shake the container vigorously using a vertical motion (the eggs will hit the top of the container) until the shells are cracked all over, about 40 shakes. Peel, rinse, and use as desired.