10 Kitchen Hacks for Cooking Eggs
We’ve hatched a flurry of tips to help you step up your egg game. Take a crack at these 10 easy hacks — we think they’re hard to beat!
From greasy-spoon diners to the most decadent prix fixe menus, eggs are showcased on plates across the world. There are so many ways to enjoy huevos: scrambled, shirred, hard-boiled, poached, even pickled. Worshippers know exactly how they like to prepare their eggs in the morning. I love them crispy-fried with browned edges swimming in oil. Jeff Goldblum loves frying his eggs and dragging a fork through the yolk.
You’d think eggs would cost a fortune with all of their magical properties (like whipping to stiff peaks for meringue or slow cooking into custard), but eggs are one of the most affordable and versatile foods in the world. Additionally, they’re only 70 calories each, full of protein, and contain no carbs.
Here are 10 kitchen hacks to take care of, cook, and extend the life of your eggs.
1. Check For Freshness — It’s Longer Than You Think!
The dates stamped on the carton only tell you when eggs are at peak freshness; they're fine to eat for longer than that. A true test uses a simple glass of water: Fill a pint glass or mixing bowl halfway with room temperature water and place an egg in it. If the egg stays horizontal at the bottom, it’s very fresh. If it starts to bob and tilt, it’s around 10 days old; if it floats vertically, it’s stale.
Why’s this? Eggs have porous shells. So, over time, the water inside the egg starts to evaporate, and to maintain equilibrium, it takes in air … and smells. This isn’t all negative, though. Tilting eggs are actually great for making hard-boiled eggs, because the extra air pocket makes them easier to peel.
2. Center Your Yolk: A Quick Fix
It can be frustrating to make a batch of deviled eggs and not know where the yolk will settle when you boil the eggs. When they rest on their sides during cooking, the yolks follow gravity and the whites are pushed aside, leaving thinner areas of white. After peeling and cutting the eggs in half, sometimes you’ll get broken sides of the whites that aren’t strong enough to hold the filling.
To prevent this, molecular gastronomist Hervé This has a very simple solution: Just stir the eggs around in the pot a few times during cooking. A slow centrifugal force will keep the yolk from leaning one way or the other.
3. Get Rid Of The Dreaded Green Ring
When you make hard-boiled eggs, you’ll sometimes see a green-grey ring around the yolk. It’s harmless, but unsightly. The ring appears in over-cooked eggs when the sulfur in the egg white reacts with the iron from the yolk. It also smells a little funky — like hot springs — because of the sulfur.
One way to avoid the ring is to “shock” the eggs by placing them in a large bowl of ice cold water immediately after boiling. This will stop the cooking process right away. Another way is to reduce the intense direct heat of boiling by using a gentler cooking method. Steaming or pressure cooking the eggs are good alternatives. Make sure the eggs are completely shocked and cooled before storing in the refrigerator for up to a week.
4. Turn Up The Volume … With A Muffin Tin
Preparing brunch has never been easier: You can make a lot of eggs in the oven all at once with the help of a muffin tin. For hard-boiled eggs, place one egg into each cup and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, then plunge them into an ice bath until cooled.
You can also use a muffin tin to make batches of baked eggs, miniature Spanish tortillas, frittatas, bread puddings, and quiches. Most of these can then be frozen if you’re looking for a quick, microwave-friendly breakfast for busy weekday mornings.
5. So A-peel-ing
Want to make the task of peeling eggs a little easier? I like to peel hard-cooked eggs under a steady stream of cold water or submerged in a bowl of cold water. Similarly, you can also put an egg in a plastic container or jar with a little water, close, and shake! The shell with slough off and then you can just pluck the shelled egg out and give it a quick rinse.
6. Eggshell To The Rescue!
It happens to everyone. When cracking eggs, a little bit of the shell falls into the bowl. I’ve spent many wasted minutes chasing it around with my finger or a spoon. But the fastest and easiest way to fish it out is with the broken half of the eggshell that you’re already holding. Another way is to simply wet your finger and grab it (the water will attract the shell like a magnet). For large volumes of eggs, I’ve found the eggshells stick to the bottom after simply transferring the eggs to another container.
If you’re really struggling, strain the beaten eggs through a fine-mesh sieve to make sure there won’t be any crunch when you take a bite.
7. What To Do With Leftover Whites
Don’t let unused egg whites go to waste — there’s a lot of ways you can put the whites to use. Whip up egg white omelets, angel food cake, marshmallows, macarons, or this fluffy dulce de leche cake. Or, of course, you can just fix yourself a whiskey sour and call it a day. If you don’t plan on using the leftover whites right away, you can freeze them individually in ice cube trays. Once frozen, transfer them to a plastic zipper bag; when you want to use them again, just bring them to room temperature.
8. What To Do With Leftover Yolks
One of the most classic ways to use egg yolks is in mayonnaise. These nutrient-rich yellow orbs also enrich ice cream bases and hollandaise sauce. It’s easy to cure them, too. Salt-cured eggs are an amazing umami bomb when shaved over pasta. And dropping a few yolks in soy sauce for two days yields a fudgy, salty condiment for rice bowls.
Egg yolks don’t freeze the same way as whites, so it takes an extra step to store them if not using right away. Per four egg yolks, add either ⅛ tsp. of Kosher salt or 1 1/2 tsp. sugar, honey, or corn syrup, depending on whether you’ll use them in a savory or sweet dish. Beat well before storing in the freezer.
9. A Perfect Circle
Use a circular cookie cutter to cook an egg to fit exactly on an English muffin or bun. You can try all sorts of cookie cutters, but it’s best to stick to general shapes because elaborate detail will get blurred. Don’t have a cookie cutter? Make a can ring by removing both ends of an empty can of tuna fish. Even better? Slice an onion or a bell pepper ring and place it in the pan. Crack the egg into the middle.
10. Ready To Cook, In The Shell
Sous vide cooking (meaning “under vacuum”) used to be a secret of fine dining establishments. Now, sous vide circulators are available for home cooks. This French technique is used to cook foods perfectly in a temperature-controlled water bath. Typically, meats or vegetables are vacuum-sealed before submerging, but eggs don’t require a bag: They're already in sealed shells.
Both egg whites and yolks coagulate at temperatures below the boiling point, but they cook at different rates. Cooking large batches of sous vide eggs at 147 degrees F yields soft eggs that are perfect to crack over soups, especially ramen. At 148.1 degrees F, the white will be runny and falls away easily but the yolk can be breaded and deep fried.
Bonus Hack! What About The Shells?
The fun isn’t limited to egg whites and yolks; the shells also have lots to share. Store them in cold water to draw out the nutrients and then use the fortified liquid to water your plants. Crush up eggshells and scatter them around your garden to prevent slugs and other pests. Egg cartons can also serve as packing material or fire starters for your grill.
Alton Brown calls eggs the “Rosetta stone of the kitchen,” because once you master them, you’ll crack open a world of possibilities.