Updated: Dec 27, 2021
Deviled eggs have been here for years, enjoyed by most Americans during Easter, on brunch menus, and as bites to eat at Granny's house. I thought they were lost in time, but this delightful old-fashioned snack is making its way back onto hipster restaurant menus with a vengeance.
You probably first ate them at your grandma's house along with the likes of deviled ham salad, and deviled crabs (the curious food found at deli counters in their faux aluminum shell). But what exactly makes an egg, or anything else deviled?
Although they weren't prepared the same way, the roots of modern-day deviled eggs can be traced back to ancient Rome, where eggs were boiled, seasoned with spicy sauces and then typically served at the beginning of a meal—as a first course known as gustatio—for wealthy patricians.
The name came about in reference to the spicy ingredients that are often used to make deviled eggs, such as mustard, pepper and paprika. “Deviled” as a culinary term goes back to the 1700s, and it originally meant to cook something—anything—with lots and lots of hot and spicy condiments and seasonings. Today, the term is most closely associated with just two foods: deviled eggs and deviled ham. And those infamous faux shelled delicatessen deviled crabs.
According to eater.com, the comeback deviled eggs appear to have gotten its start about 13 years ago. As early as 2008, Aspen Social Club was serving yellowfin tuna deviled eggs to New York diners. Celebrity chefs like Anne Burrell started serving truffle deviled eggs at her Manhattan restaurant and the recipe became a hit among food bloggers. By 2012, the dish started popping up on menus in the West Coast. Chef Joël Robuchon is known for many dishes, including a luxurious deviled egg called oeufs mimosa; it’s made with crab, caviar, and a dainty topping of gold leaf.
The humble deviled egg can be anything you want it to be. That's the beauty of cooking at home--you're in charge. I've found the less toppings the better. Again, a few quality ingredients make a bigger impact on me than a whole mess of bougie accompaniments. However, I have a few tried and true go-to's and have made some new ones. I hope you enjoy the old tried and true.... deviled egg.
Things to Consider
Cooking Hard Boiled Eggs
The key to a great deviled egg is a perfectly cooked egg. Over the years, I have come across many "tricks" to make the perfectly cooked egg-- adding agents into the water like baking soda, vinegar or salt. None of those "tricks" worked for me. What I have found is an ice water bath after cooking helps to contract the egg and outer membrane from the shell making it easier to peel. It also contributes to helping the egg keep its shape. If you are planning to eat your eggs warm, just give them a quick dunk so they’re cool enough to peel safely. If you’re planning to eat them cold, they can hang out in the ice bath until you’re ready to eat them.
Notes on timing
For extra-large eggs, add approximately one minute to the recommended times to achieve the desired results. And remember that this spectrum of cook times is a guide, not a hard-and-fast rulebook. If you like your eggs at eight minutes, that’s what you should do. It’s almost impossible to make a mistake that would render your batch inedible, so feel confident experimenting with timing and techniques until you find out what works for you.
Egg Age Using water to determine the age of eggs is an easy trick. If an uncooked egg sinks in water, it’s fresh. If an egg floats in water, it’s old. Not necessarily bad, just old. If you crack it open and it’s discolored or smells like anything other than a typical egg, toss it. Otherwise, a floating egg is likely just fine for boiling and eating.
Why does age matter for boiled eggs? Older eggs are often much easier to peel than fresh-from-the-chicken eggs. It’s not that you should let all your eggs expire before you eat them (in fact, please don’t), but you might want to wait a week or two before you boil eggs you picked up from your backyard chickens, local co-op or farmers' market. If you buy your eggs at the grocery store, there’s no issue because most eggs at the supermarket aren’t going to be fresh off the farm on the day you buy them.
Green Yolks Sorry folks, bad news — a green yolk means that you’ve overcooked your egg. If you don’t have time for a do-over, it’s not the end of the world. Over-boiled eggs are still perfectly edible, just not as incredible as they could be. On a scientific level, the discoloration is an indication of the iron from the yolk reacting to hydrogen sulfide from the white, which creates that grayish-green ring. It’s not dangerous, just disappointing.
Sulfur Smell It means they are overcooked. The iron sulfide that creates a green ring around the yolks of over-boiled eggs also imparts a distinct sulfur smell. It doesn’t mean the eggs are rotten or inedible. Rotten eggs smell like hydrogen sulfide, which is much more pungent.
Save your eggshells Shells are so important and can be used for many things!
One of the most common ways to use eggshells is to keep plants healthy. You can use nutrient-dense eggshells in your composting — they are doubly great outdoors since they act as a natural pesticide for slugs and snails that don’t like sharp shells (and deer, who don’t like the smell of eggs). Indoors, you can crush up eggshells into your potted plants or let the shells soak in a jar of water that you later use to water your plants. You can also start seedlings in them over the winter and plant them in their very compostable containers in the spring.
In addition to the plant-related uses, you can use eggshells as an abrasive pan scrubber, add them to a broth or stock for extra calcium and minerals (just remember to strain them out before consuming or cooking with it), and to sharpen blender blades by running the blender with eggshells and water in it.
Hard Boiled Egg
9 large eggs
Stockpot with a fitted lid
Large, slotted spoon or colander
Bowl, ice and water for ice bath
1. Carefully place uncooked eggs in a single layer in a stockpot. Add cold water until the eggs are submerged under about one inch of water.
2. Bring to a full boil, uncovered.
3. Immediately turn off heat, remove from the burner and cover. 4. Set timer for…12 minutes for hard boiled (deviled eggs)
3 minutes for very runny soft-boiled eggs with just-set whites
4 minutes for runny soft-boiled eggs
6 minutes for creamy, custard-y “medium”-boiled eggs
8 minutes for firm (but still creamy) hard-boiled eggs
10 minutes for firm hard-boiled eggs
12 minutes for very firm hard-boiled eggs*** we will use these eggs for our recipe
5. Prepare an ice bath. Add ice and cold water to large bowl.
6. After the timer goes off, carefully remove eggs with slotted spoon and submerge in an ice bath to halt the cooking process. Cool them enough to peel safely.
7. Use a spoon under running water for easiest peeling.
9 hard boiled eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
What to do
cook hard boiled eggs according to the above directions
place in ice water bath to cool
crack, peel and place on paper towels to dry eggs
cut in half lengthwise, remove yolk and add to mixing bowl. Set egg whites aside
add all ingredients except garnish to egg yolks
6. mix until smooth and creamy. (You can use forks- but for a smoother mixture, use a food processor fitted with blade)
7. reassemble yolk mixture into egg whites. Using a pastry bag or plastic zipper bag is quickest and easiest but spooning the mixture back into the eggs works just as well.
8. Add your favorite garnish. Do what you want. It’s your deviled egg!
Accompaniments including but not limited to: hot sauce
stone ground mustard
Thank you to Dr. Paige Stoehr for the beautiful eggs and egg photos