I, like a lot of people, absolutely hate peeling hard-boiled eggs.
For the majority of my life, this hatred caused me to pretty much avoid making them. But then, in an effort to reduce his carb intake, my husband switched from having a daily bagel in the morning to a hard-boiled egg.
As the partner responsible for taking care of food in our household, I'm now regularly boiling up batches of hard-boiled eggs. But there's one problem: They're always difficult to peel! Since I'm obsessed with learning tips and tricks in the kitchen, I figured there had to be a solution to my egg dilemma.
It seems like everyone has their own ~trick~ that supposedly makes peeling eggs easier, from adding vinegar to the water to shocking the eggs in an ice bath.
But do any of these gimmicks actually work? I decided to spend a day dedicated to finding out.
The most common thing I hear people say is that you shouldn’t use fresh eggs, because fresher hard-boiled eggs are harder to peel.
There seems to be some debate online when it comes to boiling methods, though.
Some articles recommend putting the cold eggs in cold water and then boiling, while others urge you to drop cold eggs into already boiling water. People do concur, however, that you should cool the eggs afterward in an ice bath.
To account for this, I tried three different boiling methods.
I decided to have my husband David peel and rate the eggs from 1 to 5.
These are the 10-day-old eggs, after I hard-boiled them:
Here are the scores: 1 (super easy), 5 (very difficult), 2 (somewhat easy).
Surprisingly, the cold egg that went straight into boiling water was the most difficult to peel. But this was just the start of my testing, and I recognized it could just be an inconsistency among that particular dozen.
And here are the new eggs, which I bought the morning of my test, hard-boiled:
Scores: 2 (pretty easy), 2 (pretty easy), 4 (difficult).
TAKEAWAY: Early indicators suggested that older eggs aren't necessarily much easier to peel.
The results were pretty across the board, which is generally what you expect when peeling a bunch of hard-boiled eggs.
Also, the most difficult to peel egg came from the batch of eggs I'd bought over a week prior.
Starting with the older eggs:
Scores: 3 (somewhat difficult), 1 (super easy), 3 (somewhat difficult).
The egg that was dropped into boiling water was actually super easy to peel, but the others were just as difficult as the control group.
Then the fresh eggs:
Scores: 4 (difficult), 3 (mid-range in difficulty), 2 (somewhat easy).
TAKEAWAY: The baking soda didn’t make any difference.
There were a few eggs that were really easy to peel, but no consistency, and in general they were just about as difficult to peel as the control group.
Check out these almost-perfect-looking week-and-a-half old eggs:
Scores: 1's across the board!
Then the fresh eggs:
Scores: 1 (easy), 1 (super easy), 2½ (pretty easy).
The egg without an ice bath didn't come out perfect, but even so, pretty much painless peeling.
TAKEAWAY: All of the eggs I boiled in water with vinegar were significantly easier to peel.
Who would have thought?
Literally, the shells just come right off!
In real life, it's not practical to hard-boil an egg every single morning for David. So I'll usually boil a small batch every few days and store them in the refrigerator. The eggs always seem harder to peel after storing. While preparing for this experiment, someone recommend I try storing the eggs submerged in water.
To test this theory, I stored three eggs submerged in plain water, then stored another three like I regularly would: dry and in the egg carton.
Three days later, I had David peel and score the eggs.
TAKEAWAY: Eggs always seem just a little easier to peel freshly after hard-boiling.
Storing tends to make egg peeling arduous. But the vinegar trick made them pretty easy to peel, even three days later.
1. Older eggs were slightly easier to peel than fresh ones — but not by much.
To be totally honest, I didn't really see much consistency when it came to the age of the eggs. The week-and-a-half-old eggs did seem to peel slightly easier than the fresh eggs, but not by much. I definitely wouldn't not hard-boil a batch of eggs just because they were purchased recently.
2. Dropping cold eggs into boiling water and then cooling them in an ice bath also makes a slight difference.
The eggs that were dropped into hot water did score better, in general. The same goes for using an ice bath. However, none of these made nearly as dependable a difference as the vinegar did.