You’d think that the freshest eggs would make the best deviled eggs, but that’s not the case. Very fresh eggs—like the kind you would get from your backyard chicken coop or at the farmer’s market—are harder to peel because the inner membrane of the shell sticks to the egg white. Supermarket eggs have aged enough, which makes them much easier to peel.
Mistake: Over (or under) cooking the eggs
Underdone eggs have soft, runny centers, and overdone eggs have a stinky green ring around the yolks. For yolks that are perfectly cooked but not too dry, start your eggs in cold water, bring the water to a boil, remove the pan from the heat, and let them rest in the pan for about 10 to 12 minutes.
Mistake: Not chilling in ice water
When your eggs are done, immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water and let them sit for at least 15 minutes. This will shock the egg, which helps the shell peel off more cleanly. And it helps cool down the eggs.
Mistake: Making one big crack
Time to peel! While it’s tempting to give the eggs one big whack on your counter, several gentle taps will form little cracks that make it easier to peel away the shell.
Mistake: Not peeling under running water
Be sure to peel your eggs under running water. No one wants to bite into a stray bit of shell.
Mistake: Not grating the yolks
For the smoothest filling, try grating the yolks on the small holes of a box grater. You can also press them through a fine-mesh sieve. If you don’t mind a few lumps, mashing the yolks thoroughly with a fork works too.
Mistake: Too much (or too little) mayonnaise
You want your filling to have some body and still taste like eggs, so don’t overdo it with the mayo. For a dozen eggs, ½ cup mayonnaise will make a smooth, creamy filling that can sit up high when spooned into the egg.
Mistake: Not spicing it up
Be sure to add something acidic and spicy to your filling to balance out the richness of the yolks and mayonnaise. Dijon mustard, vinegar, hot sauce, pickle relish, are all good options.
Mistake: Messy piping
If you don’t have a steady hand to spoon the filling into the halved eggs, try piping the filling with a ziplock bag.
Mistake: Not using an egg tray
Every Southern cook has a deviled egg tray. (If you don’t, borrow your grandmother’s.) It’s the best way to keep your eggs from slipping and sliding right out of your guests’ fingers.
Mistake: Not topping with paprika
The final touch of any proper deviled egg is a dusting of paprika. Whether you like smoked, hot, or sweet paprika, that little touch of red is what makes it “deviled.”
Mistake: Letting them sit out all day
Never leave deviled eggs out at room temperature for more than two hours, or one hour in very hot weather. Not that they tend to last that long!