Deviled Eggs–and How to Boil the Perfect Egg


Deviled eggs seem to belong with Easter and summer picnics, and I have always liked them, yet seldom made them. Partly I was insecure about my egg boiling abilities.  I didn’t know how to boil eggs so the outside of the yoke didn’t either turn gray from over cooking, or be all gooey from under cooking.  I also didn’t like peeling the eggs when it seemed they peeled Very Badly more often than not, so that half the egg white pulled away with the shell. Several years ago I learned that older eggs peel easier than fresh ones, so if you let a dozen sit in the refrigerator for a month they peel better.

I seldom think that far in advance about boiling eggs, but when I managed it they did peel easier, but I still had graying edges to my yolks sometimes.

This spring Cooks Illustrated once again did what Cooks Illustrated always does–explain the science of a thing–in this case, egg boiling. Learning the science of cooking rather delights me, and this knowledge has changed my relationship with boiled eggs. I couldn’t believe one could boil an egg for 13 minutes and not have the yoke be all gray and chalky, but it turns out the gray comes more from having older eggs than overcooking them. Use the freshest eggs you can and other frustrating parts of boiled eggs (like off-centered yolks) are also minimized. Below is the how-to; if you want the scientific explanation look up March/April 2016 issue of Cooks Illustrated.

The Perfectly Boiled Eggeggs

Bring water to a boil in a pan large enough to accommodate all the eggs you want in a single layer. It is not important for the water to completely cover the eggs.

Using a spoon, take cold eggs and place them one at a time directly into the boiling water. Cover the pan and boil for 13 minutes (yes! 13 minutes!).

Meanwhile get a bowl with ice water ready, and once the timer goes off scoop up the eggs with a slotted spoon and transfer them to the icy water bath. Once eggs are cool peel and use however (although wait to peel them until you plan to use them.)

Deviled Eggs

Peel 6 boiled (and cooled) eggs and then slice each in half from top to bottom. The yolks come out easier if you don’t cut through the yoke, but only cut through the white of the egg, but either way–separate the yolk from the whites, putting the yolks in a bowl, the whites on a plate.

Add the following to the yolks and blend with a fork, smashing and mixing until smooth:

1-2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1/2-1 Tbsp. Dijon or other spicy mustard
1/2-1 Tbsp. hot mustard relish (which I just happened to have because I made it last year and like to add it to just about anything when I want to wake it up a bit). Substitute a relish of any kind, or omit the relish altogether. This is optional and not in most recipes, but I love the complexity it adds. A Tbsp. of chopped capers would do something similar.
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. (approximately) chopped Parsley or Chives

I’ve offered a broad range on the ratio of mayo to mustard. We like our eggs to be heavier on the mustard and lighter on the mayo and use more like a 1:1 ratio. Traditionally the ratio is closer to 3:1 (e.g. a tablespoon of mayo to a teaspoon of mustard). Use your own taste preferences to determine ratios.

Spoon the yolk mixture back into the egg white boats, sprinkle with paprika, and garnish with a bit of parsley or chive.



  • I will definitely try this method next time I boil eggs! Thanks, Lisa. I want to see what happens if I am not human. I found out.

  • I needed to make potato salad for a memorial service tomorrow so I fearfully tried your 13 minute boil method. I am so sorry to be 81 years old before learning this. No egg broke even when put into the boiling water, the yolks were a beautiful yellow with no darkening even after boiling for 13 minutes and they peeled without a speck of the shell sticking to the whites! I will definitely make more deviled eggs now that I can have smooth skinned whites to hold the yolk mixture.

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