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Nigella Lawson's hack for making perfect deviled eggs is super simple

Nigella Lawson and more expert chefs weigh in on how to deal with an off-centered yolk.
/ Source: TODAY

It's never easy to attempt stuffing an elegant yolk mixture into the misshapen center of a hard-boiled egg.

Anyone who makes deviled eggs for brunch (or just because!) knows how delicious they are. But a thin outer layer of egg white that breaks apart under the pressure of a creamy yolk is a sure way to ruin a good thing. It's an Easter meal disaster just waiting to happen.

Before executing a lovely spring-themed menu of honey-baked ham, roasted asparagus and deviled eggs, brush up on Nigella Lawson's classic recipe, which offers the secret to making perfectly centered hard-boiled eggs.

Basic Deviled Eggs

Basic Deviled Eggs

Casey Barber

The key to Lawson's hack is essentially storing eggs in a different way before they even hit boiling water.

"In order to help the yolk keep centered as they cook, I leave them lying on their sides in a dish (rather than sitting upright in their boxes) overnight out of the fridge before cooking them," Nigella writes in the chef's note. "It’s not a fail-safe guarantee, but it does seem to make a difference."

In the U.K., where Lawson resides, eggs are often kept at room temperature in the grocery store, so it's not unusual for home cooks to keep their eggs on the counter. In the U.S., however, it's safer to keep eggs refrigerated to keep the risk of salmonella at bay. But it's perfectly OK to try Lawson's sideways hack and keep the bowl of eggs chilled in the fridge.

Nigella Lawson/deviled eggs
Concerned about perfectly centered yolks? Try laying those eggs on their sides. Getty Images

Several commenters on Chowhound's home-cooking forum supported Lawson's tip.

"Last year I made several dozen deviled eggs for a holiday party, (one whole flat) and I turned each one over the day before cooking them. Perfectly centered, every last one of them," one person wrote.

A couple home cooks said they kept all the eggs inside the carton and — very carefully — turned the whole carton on its side in the fridge.

Elisa Marshall, chef and owner of Maman, a bakery and restaurant in New York City, also vouched for Lawson's method.

"After packaging, the yolk generally settles at the bottom large part of the eggs, so our fave tip, like Nigella, is to place the entire carton in the fridge on its side to allow the yolks to slowly shift overnight to the middle of the egg," Marshall told TODAY Food. "You can use two jars to prop these up or place at the side of the fridge. Another great option, in the carton itself, is to turn each of the eggs on their side horizontal as opposed to standing upright."

Try placing eggs sideways in the carton to ensure beautiful deviled eggs.
Try placing eggs sideways in the carton to ensure beautiful deviled eggs.Elisa Marshall / Elisa Marshall/Maman

Despite the positive feedback for this unconventional tip, not all chefs think it works like a charm.

"I’m intrigued, but apprehensive," Laurence Edelman, chef and owner of Left Bank in New York City, told TODAY of the sideways-egg effect.

He did, however, offer another hack for centering hard-boiled eggs, which he learned from French-born chef, TV personality and cookbook author Jacques Pépin, who famously co-hosted "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home," with Julia Child for years.

"Pierce the round end of the egg with a thumbtack before boiling it," Edelman told TODAY. "The air escap[ing] helps with consistency. A pro tip I can tell you, cook an egg or two more than you’ll need if [appearance] is important to you. Too often there’s an uncooperative player in the carton."

Whichever hack strikes your fancy, it never hurts to have extra eggs on hand. And, of course, even unruly eggs make for a terrific egg salad.