Deviled Eggs: simple tricks for perfect results

Deviled eggs.

Everyone knows how to make these picnic-basket favorites, right? I mean, if you’ve ever done the “A to H bring a side dish” community supper thing, you’ve made deviled eggs.

Or not.

From the informal poll I did just now here at King Arthur Flour, cooks these days fall into two camps –

“Yes, I know how to make deviled eggs; they don’t really need a recipe, do they?” Or “Well, my mom always made them, and I like them, but I’m not sure what’s in ’em…”

If you’re in the first camp, keep reading; I’m going to share some egg tips here you might not have heard.

And if you’re in the second camp, definitely keep reading; within 10 minutes, you’re going to become a member of the Society of Deviled Egg Experts.

First step: Plan ahead. Make sure the eggs you’re going to boil aren’t particularly fresh – the fresher the egg, the more difficult it is to peel after it’s boiled.

Been there, done that, right? You’ve boiled a pot full of eggs, and every single one of them disintegrates into chunks as you frustratedly try to remove the shell. Solution: not-so-fresh eggs.

And how do you identify the less-fresh eggs you want? Look at the date on the side of the carton; if you’re buying eggs for deviling, go for the carton with the closest sell-by date.

Second step: Plan some more. Take your carton of eggs, and prop it up on its side in the fridge for at least 12 hours (preferably longer) before starting your deviled eggs project. You’ll want to put a rubber band around the closed carton, to keep it from popping open. More on this later.

Third step: Keep planning! Bring eggs to room temperature before you’re ready to cook them; cooking times are based on room-temperature eggs, not cold ones.

If you forgot to take the eggs out of the fridge, place them in a bowl of hot tap water for 10 minutes, to take their chill off.

OK, NOW we’re ready. Let’s boil some eggs.

Place the eggs in a single layer in your chosen pot, one with a tight-fitting cover. Add water to the pan until the eggs are covered by about 1″.

The eggs pictured above aren’t completely covered yet; first I wanted to see if they were perfectly “unfresh.” See how they’re not lying flat, and a couple are actually standing almost on end? Just right.

Bring the eggs to a rolling boil. Not a simmer (upper left); not a hard simmer (upper right); but a real, full-out boil.

IMMEDIATELY remove the pan from the heat, and slap on its cover. See, you’re not really HARD-boiling the eggs; they’re going to SLOWLY cook in hot water.

Start your timer: 12 minutes for medium eggs; 17 minutes for large; 19 minutes for extra-large, and 20 minutes for jumbo.

Why is the timing so important here? I mean, hard-boiled is hard-boiled, right?

Not to deviled egg aficionados. Over-cooking eggs results in rubbery whites; and adds the dreaded “green sheen” to their yolks. For tender whites and bright yellow (not greenish) yolks, cook for the recommended amount of time.

When the timer goes off, drain the eggs…

…and place them in a bowl of ice water to cool. Once they’re cool, peel and make deviled eggs; or refrigerate for up to 1 week.

When you’re ready to peel the eggs, tap the flat end on a hard surface to crack it; then start peeling. Peeling under cold running water makes the task easier.

OK, so why did you prop your egg carton on its side for 24 hours?

To center the yolks in the whites. Top egg, not propped; bottom egg, propped.

“Oh, big deal,” you say? Hey, if you’re going for the prettiest plate at the potluck, presentation matters!

Uh-oh… see that dark edge around the yolks? This was the first batch I boiled, before I read‘s treatise on boiling eggs.

See these? No green. Lesson learned.

Now, this next step may seem a bit fussy, and feel free to ignore it…

…but it’s easy enough to do, if you have a fairly large garlic press – so why not?

Cut each boiled egg in half lengthwise. Gently scoop or pop the yolks out of the whites, and place them in the hopper of a garlic press. Press them into a bowl.

Most recipes call for you to mash the yolks, but I’ve found that ricing them makes the finished eggs a bit lighter.

At last! We’re ready for an actual deviled egg recipe.

These amounts are for 6 boiled eggs, which will yield a dozen deviled egg halves.

Add the following to the cooked yolks:

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 to 2 teaspoons prepared mustard; or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 4 tablespoons sweet pickle relish, pressed dry; optional
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, optional, for enhanced flavor

Stir gently to combine. Pack the yolks back into the whites; a teaspoon cookie scoop is a handy tool for this task.

If you’re feeling fancy, you can pipe the yolks using a pastry bag and tip; personally, I’ve never felt that Martha Stewart-ish…

The traditional garnish is a light sprinkle of paprika atop the yolks; this gives the deviled eggs some color, but is completely optional, of course.

Now, how about some simple variations?

•Curried deviled eggs: Substitute 1/2 to 1 teaspoon curry powder for the mustard; and 2 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped chutney for the pickle relish. Omit the Worcestershire sauce.
•Scallion deviled eggs: Substitute 2 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped scallion, both white and green parts, for the pickle relish. Add 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, if desired.
•Savory deviled eggs: Substitute tartar sauce for the mayonnaise and omit the pickle relish, for a slightly less sweet/more tangy treat.

Keep these simple tips in mind as you embark on (or continue) your deviled egg journey. With all those boiled eggs you end up with around Easter time, it’s good to have a destination beyond egg salad!

Please read, make, and review our recipe for Deviled Eggs.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Pat Smith

    This method used in boiling, covering, timing and chilling the eggs worked quite well. I never chance making deviled eggs because of frustration with crumbling eggs. It’s Easter season and eggs in the grocery store are very fresh. I gave it a try, there’s always egg salad if it doesn’t work. I only ruined one egg, the remainder turned out perfect. Thank you for the exact formula, it’s deviled eggs tonight.

  2. Wilma J

    Depends on where I am taking them, try to make them different. one is with mayo, touch of mustard, some pickle juice. another is mayo and curry powder. If you like curry, you will like these. another is mayo, bacon, and parsley. If a white is messed up, I mix it with the yolks. Made the colored whites, and they were a great hit. I used the paste food coloring to do them. Use a decorating bag with a large star tip and you will have a very pretty deviled egg plate

  3. Joan DelPozzo

    For my two cents worth, my mother always put deviled ham in with the yolks and a bit of mayo. I do that as well, adding a bit of dry mustard and some dried parsley. Large can of ham to a dozen eggs works well. Oh, I also use my portable mixer to get it nice and fluffy. Pampered Chef has just the right gadget for filling the eggs prettily too. It’s a clear gun type thing that works like a charm. Love the idea of putting them on their side and will try that. Bought egg cookers for the kids for Christmas and they say their fresh from the hen eggs peel like a dream Finally a gadget they love.

  4. Patrick

    Once you learn how to pipe the filling, you’ll never go back, much neater and faster.
    From Vermont, so of course we make Maple Bacon Deviled Eggs,
    also Smoked Salmon mixed with yolks give a nice pink color and are a nice dressy version.
    Put a teaspoon of baking soda in your water and the shell peels off with no problem.

  5. Judy Lee

    Don’t have time to read all the comments so this may have already been said. After you drain the hot water shake the pan vigorously to crumble the shells before you put them in cold water and the shells will literally fall off unless you have used fresh eggs. Actually I just dump them in a colander and run cold water over them.

  6. Patty Jacobson

    Along the line of the Martha Stewart comment about using a pastry bag and tip to fill the whites prettily, I mix my ingredients together with a fork or potato masher or a combination of both, mix as well as possible. I then fill a small ziploc baggie with the mixture, seal, cut a small hole in the bottom corner of the ziploc bag and fill the whites forcing the mixture through that hole. Not only are the eggs prettier but the filling is smoother. The smoother texture is appreciated in our family. No leftover deviled eggs.

  7. Sue

    Instead of mayo I use lemon yogurt. Less calories than mayo and it gives the egg a great flavor and beautiful color.

  8. GDub45

    Thank you for all the info re the best way to hard boil an egg, etc.
    While I agree with everything written: somewhat fresh eggs, 1″ below water level, bring to a boil – cover off heat for 14 minutes – same time in ice, I find the sequence lacks one very important point:
    That being one must poke a very small hole in the large end of the egg before immersing it in the water.
    This will allow entrapped air to escape thus avoiding cracking the shell due to rising air pressure and the small amount of water that enters the egg will facilitate the shell removal later.
    Good luck!

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      I never knew that – and yes, sometimes my eggs do crack. Thank you SO much for this helpful tip! PJH

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