In our family, we have a few sacred foods: chocolate peanut butter balls, sand tarts (a Pennsylvania Dutch classic) and… deviled eggs.
This might sound like a weird combination, but it’s not like we’re eating all of these foods at once. The sweets are usually reserved for the holiday season, gracing our tables and dessert trays from November through New Year’s.
But the deviled eggs — we eat those year-round: graduation parties, birthdays, cook-outs, Easter, Thanksgiving. If we’re stuffing our 40+ family members into the same house for a few hours to celebrate something, those eggs are bound to make an appearance.
My Aunt Judy has been making these eggs for our family since before I was born. They’ve been known as “ooh-ooh eggs,” because my uncles would yell “Ooh! Ooh!” when they saw her carrying in a tray loaded with them. They still do this.
And yes — they are that good. Creamy, tangy, perfectly-balanced — these are a seriously delicious little hors d’oeuvre.
I didn’t realize how lucky I was growing up with these delicacies, until I moved away to graduate school and was struck with a craving for deviled eggs – miles away from home and months away from the next family gathering that I could attend.
I was wary of making my own — how could they ever live up to my aunt’s? So, the next time I went out to eat, I went to a place that had deviled eggs on the menu and ordered them.
I was shocked by the flavorless, dense, unappealing deviled egg that was served to me alongside an otherwise delicious meal. Why even bother to perfectly cook a brisket if you’re going to botch the deviled egg?
I figured this must be a one-off, but the pattern continued. It didn’t seem like anyone could make deviled eggs that were as good as what I had growing up. And, worst of all, people seemed okay with the bland deviled eggs they were being served.
But maybe it was just nostalgia. Maybe I thought the deviled eggs of my childhood were the best because I was a kid and I didn’t know any better.
Nope — the next family gathering arrived and the deviled eggs were just as good (if not better!) than I remembered. I asked my Aunt Judy right then and there for her recipe. I needed to be able to replicate the eggy magic for myself. She kindly obliged.
Of course, she’s a true cook when it comes to this dish, so she has no measurements written down, and her method goes a lot by feel. So, I truly have had to feel and taste my way around this recipe to get it anywhere close to what I had growing up.
Even if I did have her exact recipe, though, I don’t think I’d share it. You have to marry into this family (or at least get invited to a major holiday) to get a taste of those eggs.
But I have put together a deviled egg recipe that’s pretty dang close. Trust me — these are no bland, boring, watered-down deviled eggs. The filling is creamy and tangy, and perfectly-balanced to bring out what makes hard-boiled eggs so darn good.
These are sure to please at your next socially-distanced cook-out or Fourth of July celebration.
A Few Tips for Making the Best Deviled Eggs:
- Don’t overcook your eggs. Use the steaming method outlined below to keep those eggs at the perfect level of doneness, and to make them easier to peel. Be sure to dunk your hard-boiled eggs into an ice water bath as soon as they come out of the boiling water to stop them from cooking any longer.
- Don’t use a serrated knife to cut your hard-boiled eggs in half. This leads to those unsightly little lines across the top of your eggs. Instead, try a chef’s knife. I’m currently in love with this all-purpose ceramic knife from Kyosera.
- Try out different toppings. I’ve made deviled eggs with bacon, deviled eggs with relish, and deviled eggs with little crispy fried onions on top. I’ve even made deviled eggs that look like eyeballs for a Halloween party (just top with sliced pimento olives!), so this is truly a place you can let your creativity run free.
- You don’t need a deviled egg plate for serving, but they do help. Of course, any decorative plate will do when it comes to serving your deviled eggs — they taste great no matter what. But when it comes to transport, an egg plate will become your new BFF. I adore the fresh, summery feel of this robin’s-egg blue plate.
How to Make the Best Deviled Eggs
Makes one dozen deviled eggs.
6 Large eggs (usually chicken, but duck eggs and quail eggs also work!)
3 Tbsp, Mayonnaise ( I swear by Duke’s)
1 ½ Tbsp. Mustard
½ Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. White sugar
2 Tbsp. White or apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Freshly-cracked pepper
Smoked paprika, for dusting on top
Sprig of fresh parsley or dill, for garnish
- Set a steamer basket in a large pot over about an inch of water. Bring the water up to a boil over medium heat to create steam in the pot. Once the inside of the pot is steamy, place your six eggs in the steamer basket and replace the lid. Steam the eggs for 15 minutes. If you are using more than six eggs, they may need an additional 1-2 minutes.
- While your eggs steam, prepare an ice water bath for them by placing some ice and cold water into a bowl. When the timer goes off, use tongs to place the eggs into the water bath to prevent them from cooking any further. Once the eggs are cool to the touch, empty out the ice water and put the eggs in the fridge for at least half an hour, until they are cold enough to handle.
- Peel the eggs once they are cool enough to work with. Rinse each egg to make sure all of the particles of the shell are removed.
- Cut each egg in half and carefully scoop out the yolks into a small bowl. Add the mayonnaise, mustard, Dijon mustard, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper to the yolks, mashing the ingredients together thoroughly. You can use an electric mixer on low-medium speed for this as well, for a lighter feel.
- Once the mixture is smooth and no lumps of yolk remain, transfer it back into the empty white halves, about a heaping teaspoon per egg. You can just use a spoon, or you can use a piping bag with a star tip if you really want to fancy them up.
- Before transferring your deviled eggs to their serving dish, sprinkle some smoked paprika over them, and add a small sprig of fresh parsley. Keep chilled until ready to enjoy.