This Is Julia Child’s Secret for Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

It's a simple secret, but it changed the way I cook.

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The first time I met Julia Child, I was covered in egg yolks, arguing with three other cooks and ready to throw a pot across the room. Not my finest hour, but it’s one I’ll remember for as long as I live.

Anyone who loves cooking knows and adores Julia Child. We’re all familiar with her infamous quotes and her timeless cooking tips, and the fact that people are still using her first cookbook, published over 50 years ago, is a testament to how special she was. We’re still remembering her with cooking shows dedicated to her genius! But I’ll remember her for a different reason.

How I Met Julia Child

James Schend learning about Julia Child's hard boiled eggsCourtesy James Schend

In 1995, I was selected as one of the 10 Best Student Chefs by Food & Wine magazine and was invited to attend their festival in Aspen, Colorado. The 10 of us helped prepare the recipes the master chefs were going to demonstrate and we even got to assist them on stage. Julia was going to be demonstrating a classic Nicoise Salad, in which hard-boiled eggs are one of the main ingredients.

Hours before her demonstration, we started to prepare all her ingredients. Oddly enough, not a single one of us remembered we were almost a mile and a half above sea level, and water boils at around 190°F instead of 212°. So our 12-minute eggs were practically raw. In fact, nothing was cooking as it should. So we did what came naturally to us: We panicked.

Of course, Julia picked that particular moment to appear.

You could have heard a pin drop. We stared in awe as she walked around the room taking it all in. Within 20 seconds she had figured out the situation. She smiled, sat down and said, “Alright, the first thing you need to do is relax because you won’t find a solution if you don’t.” She was right. We were so frantic and stressing out that we couldn’t focus on what was really happening or how to fix it. Then she reminded us we were high in the Rocky Mountains and gave us a few pointers on cooking and baking above sea level.

The Julia Child Hard-Boiled Eggs Trick

As it turned out, Julia’s trick was shockingly simple—but like most of her tips, absolutely foolproof. She used a pressure cooker to make hard-boiled eggs. Because a pressure cooker creates its own atmosphere, the elevation doesn’t matter—which means that we had perfectly cooked eggs in a matter of minutes.

She also recommended plunging the eggs into an ice bath to stop them from cooking. That trick is useful whether you’re at elevation or not! And while we may not all have pressure cookers, you can use Julia’s foolproof method to make Instant Pot hard-boiled eggs.

Also, check our easy techniques for how to boil eggs which will make you an eggs expert in no time.

Her Words Stuck With Me

Learning to cook the perfect hard-boiled eggs was useful, but her other simple suggestion really stuck with me over the years. Now, whenever things get a little frantic, I take Julia’s advice and relax a bit and in almost every case, a solution presents itself. It is such a simple trick but one that’s hard to master. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and sometimes miss the most obvious solutions. So the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, do what I do; stop, take a breath and think of Julia.

For true fans of the grand dame of French cooking, here are some fun facts about Julia Child.

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James Schend
Formerly Taste of Home’s Deputy Editor, Culinary, James oversaw the Food Editor team, recipe contests and Bakeable, and managed all food content for Trusted Media Brands. He has also worked in the kitchen of Williams-Sonoma and at Southern Living. An honor graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, James has traveled the world searching for great food in all corners of life.