Alton Brown’s Secret for Easy-to-Peel ‘Hard Not-Boiled Eggs’ (and Why He Stores Raw Eggs on Their Sides)

There are as many methods to cooking the ideal hard-boiled egg as there are people. Culinary personality Alton Brown shared his not-so-secret secret to what he considers the perfectly cooked egg.

So get your eggs in a basket and give the Good Eats star’s creamy and utterly peelable eggs a go.

Celebrity chef Alton Brown poses for a photograph in a dark suit and white shirt.
Alton Brown | Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Netflix

Brown says steaming results in great-tasting hard-cooked eggs

In his latest cookbook Good Eats 4: The Final Years, the chef reveals that steaming is the way to go for the dish he calls his Hard Not-Boiled Eggs.

“I adore hard-boiled eggs but firmly believe steaming results in a creamier white and easier peeling,” Brown writes. “Although hotter than boiling water, steam is less dense so slower to penetrate the shells.”

It turns out, steaming the eggs is also kinder to its shells, “so you’re less likely to crack any shells during the process,” he continued. “Steam is also more reliable because, unlike water, which drops in temperature when the eggs go in, steam is pretty much a constant temperature at standard pressure.”

To steam your eggs, Brown says to bring about an inch of water to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the water is boiling, place the eggs in a folding steamer basket and “carefully” lower it into the pot, and cover it. Allow it to steam for “exactly 11 minutes” for a creamy-yolked egg, and 13 minutes for a “traditional” hard-cooked egg.

How to easily peel hard-cooked eggs, Alton Brown style

Once the eggs have steamed to your preference, the chef says, remove the steamer basket to an awaiting large bowl of room-temperature water. (While the chef at one time was a proponent of using an ice bath for hard-cooked eggs, evidenced in his early 2000s video above, he now discourages it because “shocking the cooked eggs can constrict the membrane, which makes peeling a whole lot harder.”)

Here’s Brown’s go-to peeling method now: “Allow them to cool enough to handle comfortably, 30 seconds or so. Carefully crack the shell by tapping it on a flat surface and peel under the water.”

Why the chef likes storing his raw eggs on their sides

As for the Iron Chef host’s preference for keeping his eggs in the refrigerator on their sides, he explains: “Because I like hard-cooked eggs, I stash my ova on their sides. It’s my belief, over 20 years of testing, that the cord of twisted albumin called the chalaza, which acts as a shock absorber for the yolk, has a better chance of keeping the yolk centered if stored horizontally as opposed to on end.”

This method of storage is especially important for store-bought eggs, which generally are not straight-from-the-hen-coop fresh because, “as eggs age, the albumin thins and the chalazae sag, and the yolk settles to the side.”

And if you’re wondering how to store your eggs on their sides, Brown knew you’d ask: “Secure the egg carton with several rubber bands. Place on its side in the refrigerator for at least five days.”

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