Ten Steps to a Better Deviled Egg

March 22, 2014

It may not seem like spring, but the hens haven't noticed; suddenly farm-fresh eggs are everywhere. All these beautiful eggs just make me want to start deviling them.

Deviled eggs have been delighting people in all corners of the world for at least two thousand years.  One of life’s most affordable luxuries, a good deviled egg leaps joyfully into your mouth to dazzle you with its tender softness and luxurious flavor. Originally known as “stuffed eggs” or “mimosa eggs,” they did not become “deviled” until the eighteenth century, when the culinary use of the term was appropriated for everything containing hot spices or condiments. (Interesting aside: Deviled ham is the oldest existing American food trademark. Patent number 82 was awarded to the William Underwood Company in 1870.)  

But although deviled eggs may be delicious, they aren't always easy. Farm eggs are infinitely tastier than industrial ones, and the hens aren't tortured as they are on factory farms, so you can feel good about eating them. But they're fresh – and fresh eggs are almost impossible to peel. To begin with, you have to start early. And that's just the first step.

1. When eggs are new, the membrane beneath the shell sticks so tightly that peeling them is a serious challenge. As eggs age, the protective coating on the shell becomes porous and begins to absorb air making the whites less acetic. (This is why the whites of freshly laid eggs are cloudy; as they absorb air they lose some of the carbon dioxide in the albumen, the ph rises, and the whites become clearer.) So buy eggs that come from a real farm and put them in the refrigerator for a week or so to age. 

2. While the egg whites are losing their acidity, they're also getting thinner, meaning that the yolk is moving farther from the center. So if you’re intent on perfect deviled eggs, store them on their sides rather than in a traditional carton.

3. Bring the eggs to room temperature before cooking. This will prevent cracking.

4. Put your eggs in a pot that will hold them in a single layer, so they cook evenly. Cover them with cold water and raise it quickly just to a boil.  Cover the pot, turn off the heat and let the eggs sit for 12 minutes.

5. Chill the eggs, immediately, in a bowl of ice water.  This will prevent the dread green circle around the outside of the yolk, which occurs because the iron in the yolk reacts with the sulfur in the white when the temperature of the egg reaches 158° F.  Although perfectly harmless, it lends your deviled eggs a slightly ghoulish air. 

6. Shell your eggs, then put them in the refrigerator for half an hour.  This will make them cut more cleanly. 

7. Cut the eggs in half lengthwise, then slice a  bit off the bottom of the white of each half so they won’t wobble on the plate.  It make them considerably easier to fill.

8. Whip the yolks in a food processor; it will make them smoother, and give you the ethereal tenderness that you want in a deviled egg. 

9. Use a pastry bag to fill your eggs; it is so much easier than trying to do it with a spoon. 

10. Use homemade mayonnaise in the filling. Most of the flavor is going to come from the mayonnaise. Wouldn’t you rather be in charge instead of relying on an industrial ingredient?  If you like the bite of olives, use olive oil. If you prefer to let the flavor of the eggs come singing forward, use a more neutral oil. 

Deviled Eggs

There are two questions you must ask yourself before you start. The first is whether you prefer your filling to be thick or creamy. The second is what you plan to put on top. Everything else is elementary. 

12 farm fresh eggs, hard boiled as above

1/2 to 3/4 cups homemade mayonnaise

1 teaspoon mustard

a splash of vinegar

salt, pepper

cayenne, caviar, pickles….. 

Once the eggs have been cooked, peeled and chilled, cut each one in half.  Cut a small slice off the bottom of each half so it sits flat on a plate.  

Scoop the egg yolks into a food processor.  Add a half cup of mayonnaise, the mustard and vinegar, and process until it's very smooth. If you like a looser filling, add the rest of the mayonnaise. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and spoon the filling into a pastry bag.

Pipe the yolk mixture into the egg whites. For the world’s best deviled eggs, top with caviar or salmon roe.  You can also sprinkle some cayenne on top, add a jaunty little bit of beet, a small triangle of pickle, a bit of crumbled potato chip, some chives, caperberries or…. the possibilities are almost endless.  


Easy Food Processor Mayonnaise 

(This will make about 2 cups, which is more than you need. But it keeps for at least a week, and there’s something wonderful about knowing you have homemade mayonnaise on hand for sandwiches, tartar sauce and dressings.) 

2 egg yolks

1 egg

1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar

1 teaspoon mustard

pinch of salt

about 2 cups oil, at room temperature (not cold) 

Put everything but the oil into a food processor and process until creamy, about 15 seconds.  With the machine still running, slowly pour the oil into the machine until your mayonnaise is the consistency that you want.   


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  • I have started with eggs from the farmer’s market in Santa Fe, usually they are speckled or light green. Then I place the eggs in a large muffin pan, one in each space, turn on the oven to 325 degrees and bake them for 20 minutes. They are easy to peel and the yellows are scrumptious.

  • Hank Harrison says:

    The recipe says cut the eggs in half, pop the yolks out and blend them with any egg white trimmings. Why would there be any egg white trimmings, if you just cut the egg in half?????


  • Barb says:

    The egg trimmings is the little bits you cut off each half to keep it from wobbling around.

  • Phyllislaline says:

    How far ahead you prepare the eggs for serving?

    I love your new book and delighted in hearing your tape. Thank you, Phyllis Laline

  • Michael Hennebry says:

    When did pastry bags become easy?
    In my experience, there is always rather of lot of filling that I cannot get out of the bag.
    As I usually only devil 6 or a dozen eggs at a time,
    it is a noticeable fraction of the total.
    Likewise food processors.

  • Denis says:

    I prepare my deviled eggs the night before any event. I always get water on the bottom of my serving platter. They’re sort of swimming in it the next day. Oh and they are fully chilled (before anyone says they’re still warm causing condensation) thanks folks!

    • Cindy says:

      I actually dry my eggs after peeling but before cutting in half with a paper towel. Minimizes slippage while slicing and they don’t lose any surface water into the “bowls” on the platter.

  • Angela says:

    Thanks Ruth for sharing how to prevent eggs from cracking while boiling. I cook 2 extra eggs and mash them with yolk mixture so I don’t run short. I also use Brianne Poppyseed dressing instead of mayo; it tastes awesome! I cook the eggs the night before and let them sit in the fridge overnight in a bowl of water; they peel so much easier.

  • Larry says:

    making eggs with green olives cut up makes eggs taste awesome i also use spicey pickles or relish,i peel my eggs by rolling them on a cutting board ,just roll them like your making a snowball then their easy to getting the shell off the eggs

  • Tony says:

    During stone crab season, I fold stone crab meat and using the yolk filling as a binder. Next step will be to top with a little caviar.
    Thanks for sharing!