whole food ~ well made

A Quicker Way to Peel Hard-Boiled Eggs Comes with a Warning

With the new school year, we’re back to making regular batches of egg salad. If you have chickens or buy local eggs, you know that they are a hassle to peel.

Whenever I encounter one of those eggs where the shell/membrane seems to be bonded to the white like Gorilla Glue, I say things like #&*!*! and &%!*&!

I’ve heard many traditional remedies:

  • poke a hole in the raw egg with an thin embroidery needle
  • boil them in vinegar
  • boil them with baking soda
  • peel them under running water
  • 2017 update: the latest miracle cure for peeling local eggs is to steam them. Supposedly, this is the one method that reliably works!

In the rush to make school lunches, I don’t have time for any of this guesswork. So, I use a different method.

Warning: it is edgy and mercenary.

A New Way to Deal with hard-boiled eggs

My method is a daring and speedy way to remove those pesky shells from hard-boiled eggs and get lunch done.

I cut those hard-boiled eggs* in half with a chef’s knife. Then, I use a teaspoon to scoop out the egg into a bowl.

I know: what about the shells?

You’d be surprised how the shells–much sturdier than industrial eggs–do not shatter. There are a few bits here and there, but the membrane keeps them away from the interior.

You can only do this when you want the eggs mashed up.

{In other words, for making deviled eggs, I’m going to have to come up with something else. Honestly? I wait for potlucks to enjoy those pesky and delectable snacks.}

Two safeguards: I do take care with the spoon to avoid adding any shell to the bowl–and I do a spot check while stirring.

But when you’re doing a whole batch of egg salad with local eggs that are less than 10 days old, this is the speediest method there is.

Do you dare to try it?


and become a forager

Foolproof Hard-Boiled Eggs

I learned this method from a Cook's Illustrated magazine years ago and it works every time. The precise amount of time depends on your elevation. But once you know the timing for your area (mine is 15 minutes because I live at high elevation), you'll never have to guess again. Hard-boiled eggs are a great staple to keep in the fridge for a snack, for a salad or for making a quick lunch of egg salad on toast.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Lynne


  • 6 eggs pastured


  • Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover them with cool water by 1 inch. Bring the water to a full boil uncovered over medium-high heat.
  • As soon as it reaches a full boil, remove the pan from the burner, cover it and set a timer for 11-15 minutes. (If you live at sea level, use 11; any higher and increase the time. You'll have to experiment a bit to find the precise temperature but once you find what works, it will work every time.) 
  • When the timer goes off, immediately drain the eggs and cover them with cold water to stop the cooking and let them sit for 5 minutes.
  • Crack the eggs and peel the conventional way. Or, if the eggs are local and very fresh and you're making egg salad, cut them in half, scoop the eggs out carefully with a spoon and transfer to a bowl for mashing.

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