How To: Hard Cook (Not Boil) Eggs


When it comes to Easter, the first thing that comes to mind is, of course, brightly colored eggs. (And maybe a ton of chocolate too. Mmmm. Chocolate….)

A few weeks ago I was watching some videos on Swag Bucks to earn points towards Amazon gift certificates and I came across a Food Network video of Alton Brown showing how to hard cook – not boil – eggs.

(Side note: The above video keeps disappearing and reappearing somewhere else on the web. So if you come to this page and the video doesn’t work, please contact me and I will go find it again. Thanks! 🙂 )

So I had to try this out for myself. Luckily, I had a similar setup:

The results were fantastic. The eggs came out creamy and delicious, and they practically peeled themselves. Usually in a dozen I’ll get one that just doesn’t want to peel no matter what I do. I tried quite a few batches with this set up and didn’t ruin a single egg. The only difference I found was the timing. It’s probably my crap stove, but I found I got the best results with 6 eggs at medium-low for 15 minutes instead of low for 12. But, to be fair, “low” on my stove might as well be “off”. So if you decide to try it, be prepared to have a few trial runs to find the right timing on your stove.

Now that we know how to properly hard cook eggs, what kind of eggs should we be cooking? And here’s where it gets interesting. In 2007 Mother Earth News did a comparison study of eggs from 14 pastures and found:

“compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain:
• 1/3 less cholesterol
• 1/4 less saturated fat
• 2/3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene”

And their 2008 test showed pastured eggs also had 4-6 times as much Vitamin D as supermarket eggs.

(Update: Mother Nature Network has released a new article on egg nutrition. Check it out here.

So with all of this information, I did a comparison test. I purchased one dozen eggs from a local farm that raises their chickens on clover pasture and hard cooked them with a dozen eggs from a well known company that sells cage-free eggs and announces on their carton that their chickens are raised on a purely vegetarian diet. Here are the results:

Look at the color difference. The yolks of the pastured eggs are so dark they are practically orange. And here’s one of the reasons why: Chickens are omnivores, not vegetarians.

In nature, when left to their own devices, chickens will eat bugs, larvae, rodents. I’ve even heard tales of them eating frogs and snakes. Pastured chickens are allowed to do just that. It’s better for their health, which then leads to healthier eggs for you and your family.

Unfortunately, many egg producers are still advertising their “all vegetarian fed” hens. Since these hens are not eating their natural diet, these eggs are not quite as good. To quote this Red Mountain Post article:

“Unfortunately, the vegetarian feeding regimen of organic and free-range poultry induces a paler, weaker egg yolk than their omnivorous, beyond-organic counterparts. There is absolutely nothing natural about a vegetarian-fed chicken, and to be sure, the nutrient profile of eggs and meat from birds fed this way is going to be far inferior to birds with access to insects and meat scraps. Traditional farm flocks were often kept solely to consume the family’s kitchen waste— much of which was meat and scraps of fat.”

So this Easter, treat yourself and your family to a little extra slice of health and find yourself some pastured eggs. The American Pastured Poultry Producers Association has a list (by state) of their egg producers at their website. The bonus is, many of their egg producers also produce grass fed beef and pastured pork.

And while you’re at it, have a little fun with natural egg dyes this year. Cheap and fun! Happy Easter!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here