How to easily peel boiled eggs: We tested 7 hacks and there’s only one way that really works every time
Peeling boiled eggs can be frustrating when you can’t seem to separate the shell from the white. Here are 7 different methods to try to peel an egg.
Let’s start with a confession: I love food and I love cooking, but I hate washing dishes. I will do almost anything to avoid washing dishes, which has led me to develop a particular style of cooking so that I use as little dishes as possible.
So when it comes to eggs for breakfast, I quickly learnt that boiling is the easiest way to cook eggs without scrubbing frying pans or using too much oil. However, this introduces another challenge – how to peel boiled eggs easily and efficiently.
I Googled and tried out each of these methods so that you don’t have to.
- Use a teaspoon
Method: The idea is to insert the edge of the teaspoon between the egg white and the shell then slide the spoon around until they are separated. This is similar to the method used to remove the skin from an avocado. This sometimes works with hard boiled eggs, but anything softer is very difficult to manipulate in your hands.
- Dunk in ice cold water
Method: Once the eggs have boiled to your taste, immediately place them in a bowl of ice water. This can sometimes be effective, but I don’t have trays and trays of ice cubes on hand just in case I want to eat some eggs. The eggs will also be cold by the time you eat them, so might not be ideal for breakfast time.
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3. Roll across the counter
Method: The idea is to apply a light pressure and roll the eggs on a hard surface to create thousands of small cracks in the eggshell. The shell should then just flake away. Sometimes this happens, and sometimes you just end up with tiny bitty pieces of shell stuck to your egg that you have to pick off one by one while you slowly burn your fingers.
4. Under running water
Method: Peel the eggs under a running tap. The idea is that the gentle pressure of the water will help to dislodge the shell. This wastes an incredible amount of water, and I would not recommend this method unless you’re catching your wastewater and recycling it.
Score: 2/ 10
5. Shake inside a container
Method: Once the eggs are cooked, place them inside a plastic container with a little cold water and close the lid tightly. Shake the container gently until all the shells have fallen away. This is a similar method to number 3, but works best when you have large numbers of eggs to peel (6 or more) and they are well-boiled. Some people use a glass tumbler for this method, but that means another item that needs cleaning.
6. Blow them out
Method: Once you’re happy with the doneness of the eggs, remove them from the hot water. Break a bit of shell at the pointy end and break a small hole at the larger end, then place your mouth on one opening and blow very hard. It’s not very flattering, so try to make sure that you’re alone. The idea here is to separate the membrane from the egg white (see an explainer on the membrane below) but, especially in the age of COVID-19, I’m not sure you should be putting other people’s food into your mouth.
7. Use old eggs
Method: Use eggs that are at least 1 week old; 10-14 days is even better. Eggs can be stored at about 20⁰C for up to 30 days without any issues and this method works every single time. Boil as usual, throw off the hot water then peel gently with your fingers. Combine with method 3 for best results.
Why it works
When you’re peeling a cooked egg, you’re separating three different substances. On the outside you have the hard shell, beneath that is the membrane and underneath the membrane is the egg white. The shell is porous, meaning as the egg gets older, it gradually loses moisture through the shell. The interior of the egg will shrink ever so slightly, pulling the membrane with it and allowing you to peel the shell away with more ease.
There’s also a change of pH that occurs as eggs age. In a fresh egg, all these layers are very firm and tightly connected, which is why when you try to peel a fresh boiled egg, you may lose chunks of the white with the shell.
Do you use a different fool-proof method to peel your eggs? Tell us in the comments below – we’d love to learn your secrets!