How to Peel a Hard-Boiled Egg

No more mess! We'll show you how to peel a hard-boiled egg quickly and easily.

Peeled and halved hard boiled eggs laid out on a cutting boardTaste of Home

Everyone has that one task they hate. Maybe it’s cutting onions (so many tears) or unwrapping candies for a favorite cookie. For me, it’s peeling hard-boiled eggs. I always hate removing the shell because no matter how hard I try, I never can get the perfect peel. That means my deviled eggs never look as flawless as I want (though I can recommend some delicious takes on the appetizer).

Lucky for me, our Test Kitchen has three easy methods for removing the shell with picture-perfect results. That means no more ugly eggs and no more frustration! And I can cross this task off my list of most-dreaded. Let’s start at the very beginning: getting the perfect hard-boiled egg.

How to Cook (and Peel!) Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

To make eggs that are easier to peel, our Test Kitchen recommends not boiling your eggs at all. No, not even with a bit of vinegar or baking soda (our experts found these cooking hacks didn’t help at all). Instead, place eggs in a steamer basket inside a pot. Fill the pot with water up to the base of the basket. Heat your water, and once it begins to boil, set a timer for 14 minutes. When time is up, remove the eggs from the basket and plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. This should create perfectly hard-boiled eggs.

Even if you don’t have a steamer basket, there are still lots of ways to hard boil them without using the stove. Try hard-boiling your eggs in an Instant Pot, a slow cooker, the oven or even in an air fryer!

Find out exactly how to boil eggs, no matter which method you choose.

Method 1: Get Cracking

Instead of picking away at your egg under cold water, try rolling a hard-boiled egg back and forth on a hard surface until the shell is completely cracked. It should look like a cool mosaic before you even begin to peel. Once totally cracked, start peeling from the large end of the egg—it will help separate the thin skin (membrane) from the egg’s surface. To make things even easier, peel under cold running water.

Method 2: Shake it Up

This method is super-fun! To remove the shell, place a hard-boiled egg in a Mason jar with about 1 inch of water inside. Make sure the jar is tightly sealed and start shaking.

As you shake, the egg will crack and the water will help loosen the shell. After a few seconds, the eggshell should be falling off.

Method 3: Use a Spoon

Person using a spoon to carefully remove the shell from a hard boiled eggTaste of Home

To start, give the egg a good crack on a hard surface. Then carefully insert a spoon between the shell and the egg and rotate until the shell is completely separated. The shell should peel off easily, with minimal mess.

If you’re feeling adventurous, check out this viral video that shares yet another way to peel hard-boiled eggs. It’s not too much different than our method of shaking the egg in a mason jar with water, but we think it’s worth a shot!

Common Mistakes When Cooking and Peeling Hard-Boiled Eggs

  • Using super fresh eggs. Although it might seem weird, using older eggs makes all the difference once they’re ready to peel. The closer the egg to its “Use By” date, the more likely the shells won’t stick to the egg white as you crack them. Find out the trick that tells you how old your eggs really are.
  • Dropping your eggs right into boiling water. If you decide to make hard-boiled eggs on the stove, put them in the water at the same time that you put the pot on the stove so they gradually rise in temperature with the water. If you drop the eggs into boiling water, they might crack. Find out more mistakes you might be making with eggs.
  • Boiling the eggs too long. Doing this will create a green ring around the edge of your yolk that isn’t pretty—especially when you want picture-perfect yolks for recipes like Scotch eggs. Keep a close eye on your timer for the best results!
  • Cramming in too many eggs on the steamer basket. The more you overfill your steamer basket, slow cooker or Instant Pot, the more likely it is that your eggs will cook unevenly.

That’s all it takes for pain-free peeling. Now you’re ready for lunch!

Check out these egg recipes.
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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa is also dedicated to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.
Lauren Pahmeier
Lauren is an associate editor at Taste of Home, focusing on search engine optimization. When she’s not making sure readers can find TOH’s recipes on Google, she’s practicing her food photography, consistently finding new recipes to try and hunting down the most indulgent treats in the Twin Cities.