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Deviled Egg Secrets

Deviled Egg Secrets

We talk to chefs about what ingredients they think are essential to deviled eggs

Ali Rosen

Deviled eggs

Deviled eggs are showing up on menus more and more — and both chefs and home cooks alike can’t seem to get enough of these easy appetizers! But there are many variations on deviled eggs, and the dish has been given an individual spin by almost anyone who tries it. It’s the type of recipe where everyone has a secret ingredient and everyone thinks their recipe (or their grandma’s or their favorite restaurant’s) is the best!

We decided to ask some of our favorite chefs what their secret ingredient is. A few didn’t want to tell us. A very few (like Incanto’s Chris Cosentino) said they didn’t make deviled eggs. But most had them on their menu and were willing to divulge a little bit of what makes theirs magic. Jeff Michaud of Philadelphia’s Osteria Restaurant makes his restaurant’s version with porcini mushrooms. Frank Lee of Charleston, S.C.’s Slightly North of Broad adds some mustard as well as his secret recipe for sweet pepper relish. Anthony Lamas of Louisville, Ky.’s Seviche likes to give his a latin twist with pickled jalapeño, while Andrew Ticer from Memphis, Tenn.’s Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen likes to give his eggs a Southern flair by using the old classic, lard.

For more secrets, watch the video above!

I made deviled eggs nine ways and found the best recipe

The deviled egg: A potluck staple. A titan of the hors d’oeuvre world. Not exactly impossible to screw up, but also nowhere near as complicated as their fancy appearance might suggest. But as with all classic recipes, there are many, many ways to make them, and small variations make a huge difference.

I live in a one-bedroom apartment in a vintage building, so my tiny kitchen and I can never truly go full America’s Test Kitchen on a project like this. It didn’t stop me from trying. I attempted nine different deviled egg recipes, generally omitting anything ingredients that could make the egg part of the proceedings a side show—so, no shrimp, crabmeat, asparagus tips, avocado, bacon, pumpkin, and so on. With one exception, which I’ll outline below, if it didn’t go in the filling mix, I didn’t use it.

Below are the best recipes, most useful tips, and general lessons I learned from spending nine hours hard-boiling, mashing, mixing, squeezing, garnishing, and yes, eating deviled eggs. The most surprising takeaway? I still like them.

If you’re wondering where the other six are, I already ate them.

It started on a Zoom reunion with high school friends about a month into quarantine, when one of my friends admitted to a sudden and persistent craving for deviled eggs. He’d never made them before, never even really liked them, but now, alone in an apartment in Boston, he couldn’t stop thinking about that creamy, tangy taste. As soon as he said it, the rest of us perked up. Had anything ever tasted better than a deviled egg? In our Southern childhoods, deviled eggs were the staple of every potluck, family reunion, and funeral — all the gatherings of celebration and grief now made impossible by the pandemic. We speculated that now, isolated indefinitely, we craved the taste of the community we couldn’t have.

Within a couple of days, we were texting each other photos of our deviled egg attempts, exchanging critiques and recipe tips, a sort of asynchronous potluck. Too much mayo. Where’s the paprika? If you’re wondering where the other six are, I already ate them.

Curious about what others were craving in quarantine, I conducted an informal poll on Facebook: friends were cooking holiday recipes out of season, carb-heavy comfort foods, and other potluck favorites. Among the Southerners who responded to my admittedly unscientific poll, deviled eggs were a clear favorite. Days after our Zoom call, my white friend’s Black co-teacher told her, unprompted, about the deviled eggs he’d served his family the night before. “Do white people eat deviled eggs too?” he asked.

Deviled eggs were part of the landscape of my upbringing, as benign and reliable as bread. But now, I began to wonder: if the pandemic is a kind of pressure cooker on both personal and societal levels clarifying values, bringing out hidden longings, suppressed rages, and quiet joys, and exacerbating global injustices — what can we learn about ourselves from what we’re craving in crisis? Where do deviled eggs come from and what do they mean? What do we find in the apparently benign?

I wanted to understand more about the role of early food memories in times of crisis, so I reached out to Susan Whitbourne, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She explained early food memories are located in this nexus in the brain between emotions and smell and taste and memory. They’re powerful because they engage all five senses and are contextually linked to emotionally-rich memories of family, tradition, and ritual. Food memories are subcortical, meaning they are primitive, nonverbal, nonlogical memories that can be provoked by stress. So it makes sense, Whitbourne said, that in this time of upheaval, we should find ourselves craving comfort foods before we can articulate why.

A collection of oral histories about deviled eggs, gathered at the 2004 Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium, revealed the deep emotional pull of this ubiquitous comfort food. The collection demonstrates both the diversity and commonalities of deviled egg recipes, from insistence on brand-name mayo to more unusual ingredients like anchovies, cracker crumbs, and sour cream. What was nearly universal, though, was the intensity of memories surrounding the humble food. “Every time I make deviled eggs or hear about them, the door to the house of good memories and comfort foods opens once again. Not only can I see the food we had, but I can smell the water AND, the gas and oil,” recalls Linda Weiss, transported to the riverside picnics of her childhood. “Chill them and eat them and try to recall the first one you ever ate,” instructs Winston Hoy.

“I think it’s definitely one of the most evocative foods,” renowned Southern chef Scott Peacock agrees over the phone. The deviled eggs of his Alabama Gulf Coast childhood featured sweet relish juice, mustard, Kraft Miracle Whip (“kind of a scar” on his childhood), and paprika (“the only time [it] came out of the cabinet.”) Today, he prefers the more elegant recipe he learned from his friend and mentor, the legendary queen of Southern cooking, Edna Lewis. Lewis blended her yolks smooth with heavy cream and added a touch of sugar. “Silky and suave,” says Peacock, that egg “draws you in and has secrets to tell.” He served deviled eggs at Lewis’ memorial in 2006.

Cooking nostalgic foods, reflects Whitbourne, can be a way of “retracing your steps back to this earlier self of yours, rewinding time, as it were.”


  1. Hard boil 1 dozen eggs. Cool and peel off shells.
  2. Cut eggs in half long-way.
  3. Pop out the yolks, and place in a mixing bowl. Mash well with fork or with mixer.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix Miracle Whip, mustard, vinegar, sugar and salt.
  5. Add the Miracle whip mixture to the egg yolks, and mix with a hand mixer until smooth.
  6. Scoop back into the whites sprinkle with paprika before serving.

For the full recipe for Classic Deviled Eggs with Sugar, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Make them in advance

Having a party this weekend and want to prep as many of your dishes as possible? Or don’t feel liked peeling eggs all Easter morning? These eggs are definitely a dish that you can meal prep in advance.

Separate the egg white and the yolks. Combine the yolks with the filling ingredients and store in a sealed bag in the fridge. Store the whites in a separate sealed bag, also in the fridge.

Pipe the yolk mixture into the eggs on the day of serving. A few hours in advance is totally fine! Eat within 2 days from prepping.

The Pioneer Woman’s Secret for Delicious Deviled Eggs

It’s prime picnic and barbecue season and, for the Pioneer Woman, that means deviled eggs. In the “Pickup Picnic” episode of her Food Network show, Ree Drummond spread out a massive tailgate picnic that included spicy chicken, baked beans, mocha brownies, and what she called “the most delicious deviled eggs you’ll ever taste.”

“I kinda think deviled eggs are the quintessential picnic food,” she said. “And all the guys love ’em.”

Deviled eggs are a really good recipe to be able to break out in a pinch for a big party. They’re not expensive, they can be made in huge quantities without much effort, and they can be dressed up or down with different seasonings for any occasion. (Ree says she fills her eggs with a spoon for a “rustic look,” but you can also whip the filling so it’s smooth and pipe it into the eggs with a pastry bag if you want them to look fancy.)

Ree has several variations on deviled egg recipes in her holiday cookbook, but her recipe for basic deviled eggs starts out the classic way. Her technique for hard-boiled eggs is to put all the eggs in already-boiling water, then turn the heat down to a simmer and leave them for 10 minutes. She rinses the boiled eggs in cold water to cool them quickly and make them easier to peel.

Then she peels the eggs and cuts them in half, and mixes the yolks up with salt, pepper, mayonnaise, and mustard until she has a paste. Pretty basic, yeah?

But then she breaks with tradition and adds chopped pickles to the yolk and some pickle juice for extra flavor. Then she adds white vinegar, hot sauce, and sugar.

“For texture and tang, I like to add chopped pickles (or pickle relish), a little vinegar, and a little pickle juice. Yum!” she wrote on her blog.

I always associated deviled eggs with smoothness, not texture, but Ree likes to mix things up and add pickles for crunch. (She does the same thing with her potato salad, too.) And one of the best things about deviled eggs (besides the fact that you can make 100 of them for probably less than $10) is that they’re infinitely customizable. You can add anything to a deviled egg to suit your tastes — even pickles.

What do you think of the Pioneer Woman’s deviled egg recipe?

Our Easy Deviled Eggs Recipe

I mentioned above that we really like to keep things simple. To me, perfect deviled eggs have mayonnaise, a little vinegar or lemon juice, regular yellow mustard, salt, and pepper. I simply mix the yolks with the ingredients I just listed until smooth then add the filling back into the egg white halves.

I love using my small cookie scoop to add the deviled egg filling to the egg white halves. You can also use a spoon or piping bag.

Since we have one in our kitchen, I love using our small cookie scoop for adding the deviled eggs mixture into the egg white halves, but a regular spoon works quite well. Another idea is to cut the corner of a resealable plastic bag, fill it with your filling then pipe it into the egg white halves.

Add Even More Flavor For Amazing Deviled Eggs

When we were playing around with this recipe, we both rummaged through our refrigerator and pantry to come up with a bunch of fun toppings we thought would work well for deviled eggs.

For something more classic, you could use smoked or sweet paprika. Or just add a sprinkle of flaky sea salt on top (Joanne’s favorite). Then to liven things up a little you can go crazy with Sriracha, pickled jalapeños, pickled onions, bacon, feta cheese, pickles (sweet or dill), or fresh herbs like chives.

Classic deviled eggs are delicious, but how about upgrading them to include bacon, pickles, spice, or even cheese?

Four Tips for Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs

You can’t have deviled eggs without hard boiled eggs. Here are four tips for making them perfectly, every time.

Use a wider saucepan with a lid. When cooking hard boiled eggs, it’s important that the eggs can fit in one layer. Our recipe below calls for 6 large eggs. A medium saucepan does the trick nicely. If you are planning on doubling the recipe, you might want to consider using a large, wide saucepan instead.

Cover the eggs with cold water, not hot. When cooking hard boiled eggs, we want the water covering the eggs to heat from cold to boiling. By starting with cold water and not hot, the temperature rises slower, preventing the risk of shells cracking and promotes even cooking.

Bring to a boil, cover the pan, cook for 30 seconds then remove from the heat. For hard-boiled eggs, we’re really depending on the heat of the water, not the heat of the burner. The moment we see a rolling boil, we cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for a mere 30 seconds. After that, we slide the pot off the burner completely and let it stand for 12 to 14 minutes, depending on the size of our eggs.

Stop the cooking by plunging into icy water. When you know your eggs are perfectly cooked, you want to stop them from cooking any further as quickly as you can. The easiest way for us to do this is to transfer them into ice water and let them stay there for 5 to 10 minutes. Once cool, you can peel and get to making deviled eggs.

By the way, since posting this deviled eggs recipe, we’ve added a full tutorial for how to cook eggs in a pressure cooker (like an Instant Pot). The eggs turn out perfectly and are easy to peel. If you have a pressure cooker, I highly recommend taking a look.

My Tips for Easy Peel Eggs

If you’ve made deviled eggs or hard boiled eggs before, you’ve probably experienced the occasional stubborn egg that just doesn’t want to peel nicely. There are lots of tricks out there for easy peel eggs. We’ve tried a few, but have found the following tricks to work best for us:

  • Try not to use the freshest eggs. Fresher eggs don’t peel as easily so if you have the chance, buy eggs for deviled eggs a few days in advance. (This is not necessary, it just makes things a little easier)
  • Cool the eggs completely before peeling. We find this helps a lot, but if you’re still having trouble, crack the cooled egg and place it back into the ice bath. The water sneaks underneath the shell where you cracked it and makes it easier to peel after 5 minutes or so.

Recipe updated, originally posted April 2014. Since posting this in 2014, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne

  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon prepared (dry) mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Paprika for garnishing

Place your eggs in a pot of cold water and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil.

Once the pot is at a roaring boil, set a timer for 12 minutes and allow the eggs to cook (do NOT turn off the heat. Let the eggs sit in the boiling water).

After the timer goes off, remove the eggs from the stove and place the eggs in a bowl of ice-cold water so the eggs can begin to cool down.

Gently peel the shell from the egg and discard the shell. Repeat until all shells have been removed.

Take one egg and a time and cut the egg long ways. Use a spoon to gently remove the cooked yolk and place in a medium-sized bowl.

Set aside the white portions of the eggs in a 9吉 serving dish (for easy transportation). You can also place them on a plate. Repeat for all the eggs.

In the bowl with the cooked yolks, mix the yolk, mayonnaise, sugar, dijon and prepared mustard, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Do not add the paprika.

Stir until creamy and smooth. If you want to save time, use a potato masher to help break down the yolk for a faster mix.

Taste for flavor. Add extra sugar or lemon juice (a little at a time) to change the flavor. If you desire a sweeter taste, add a little more sugar. Or, if you like the egg/mustard taste then feel free to add a little more lemon juice.

Spoon filling into a sealable baggie and remove air.

Then cut a small hole of the tip (about 1/2 inch) of the baggie.

Squeeze the yolk mixture into the eggs.

Garnish the eggs with paprika and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

To save your sanity, make this meal the day before the big meal is served. Or make and eat and enjoy this delicious treat by yourself (without feeling guilty, of course)!

How to Make the Best Deviled Eggs Ever

Our Test Kitchen has the classic recipe that grandma swore by.

One thing's for sure: Deviled eggs taste a lot nicer than they sound. And many people can attest (including us!) that this hors d'oeurve is a must at any party, especially come Easter.

To master the art of making deviled eggs, you also need to perfect hard boiling eggs (check out our tips and tricks!). To guarantee that the egg's yolk is cooked through, shake the egg once it's done. If it feels solid like a rock, you're good to go.

Now, let's get down to business. This recipe is a triple-tested favorite of ours for every holiday and summer picnic, but if you're in the market for something different, stick around for variations.

Deviled eggs &mdash one classic dish, a million different ways. Start with this basic recipe, then dress up your table with our other colorful variations. Follow the basic technique, then get creative with a yolk mixture of your choice: pimento cheese, shrimp, and more.

What you'll need:

&bull 1 tablespoon dijon mustard

&bull Cooked bacon, cut into small pieces

Of course, the true first step is to hard boil your eggs but we're assuming you've done that. Once chilled, start peeling your eggs from the larger end. If you're struggling to get the peels off, run the eggs under cool water while you take the shell off &mdash this helps them separate. Once peeled, cut each egg in half, length wise.

Plunk the yolks into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Then add in 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon dijon mustard, and 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce. Mash and mix up to create a creamy consistency.

Spoon yolk mixture into your piping bag. The thriftiest &mdash and least-time consuming &mdash option is to pipe out of Ziploc bag. Simply, snip a corner of the bag with a pair of scissors and squeeze.

One by one, pipe the eggs with filling. To get a more polished piping shape, try a squiggle movement. If you're not into piping, a tablespoon full of the yolk mixture plopped into each egg works fine too &mdash you can always dress them up more with toppings.

For this classic recipe, top with paprika and crispy bacon pieces. Add a touch of greenery with chopped chives or cilantro.

When it comes time for serving, mix and match the flavors (try some of our favorites!) on a serving platter or even, layer a medley of flavors on a tiered cake stand ($23,

Oh, and don't forget to sprinkle in a few deviled chicks &mdash they'll be a hit with both kids and adults!

If you prep in advance, store the finished eggs in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Line a baking sheet with damp paper towels, place eggs with the rounded side facing up, and lightly with plastic wrap. If you hard boil eggs ahead of time, they will keep for up to one week in the refrigerator. Never freeze deviled eggs because it will ruin the soft, creamy consistency we all know and love. Bummer, we know.

For extra presentation points, pipe your yolk-mayo mixture with a piping bag ($10, or a makeshift piping bag, made by snipping the corner off of a trusty Ziploc bag ($5,

Make These: Pimiento Cheese Deviled Eggs

Good news! You can now watch our Test Kitchen Secrets how-to videos on Amazon Video &mdash and they're included with your Prime membership! If you're not a Prime member, click here to sign up.

Martha Stewart's Rich Deviled Eggs Call for a Secret Ingredient That's a Game-Changer

Has Martha Stewart ever failed us? No -- and we don’t expect her to start now. The queen of food has shared another delicious recipe from the November issue of Martha Stewart Living, and we’re already declaring it a winner: Rich Deviled Eggs! With the holidays around the corner, deviled eggs are an appetizer that’s guaranteed to be a favorite. But lest you think these are just any old deviled eggs (which, hey, no complaints from us!), Stewart and her team of food editors have surprised us by incorporating one secret ingredient that’s a total game-changer: butter!

“We cook the eggs for exactly eight minutes, then whir butter into the yolks for pillowy creaminess,” began the post on Instagram. Why haven’t we thought of this? We’re not sure. But this is the only way we’ll be making deviled eggs from here on out.

In case you’re not convinced at the power butter holds in this recipe, take it from Martha Stewart Living editor at large, Shira Bocar: “I used to swear by mayo and mustard only,” she was quoted as saying in the post, “but once you add butter to the filling, you’ll never go back.”

This rich recipe is a classic. And if you’re not sold yet, (honestly, we’re not entirely sure why you wouldn’t be) you’re in luck. Stewart included three additional unique variations that are definitely worth trying: Smoked Trout, Pesto, and Spiced Hummus.

Related: Martha Stewart on making your own jam

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