The Explosive Reason You Should Never Microwave Hard-Boiled Eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are a quick, easy source of protein for a nice morning snack, but beware if you're ever thinking about reheating them. As tons of TikTok and YouTube Shorts videos have shown, cutting into a hard-boiled egg after microwaving it will cause a loud, messy explosion. You'll be left with a kitchen or dining room splattered with yolk at best, while the less fortunate might even burn their skin.

The most dangerous part of this whole reaction is that the egg often doesn't explode until punctured, turning it into a sort of culinary landmine. That means it might look safe until you take it out of the microwave, slice it in half, and detonate it. The worst-case scenario is if you skip that step and immediately bite into the egg, at which point you'll be met with a face-first explosion. And don't think an egg still encased in its shell will add protection, either. On the contrary, a reheated eggshell can become shrapnel which can cause and has caused even more serious damage.

Why do hard-boiled eggs explode?

Strangely enough, the reasons behind the microwaved hard-boiled egg phenomenon is somewhat of a mystery. According to the Los Angeles Times, the prevailing theory is that the "egg yolk develops many small pockets of superheated water, leading to an increasingly unstable condition." The surrounding white traps the molten core under pressure until "the egg yolk is disturbed by an internal or external stimulus" and "the pockets spontaneously boil, thereby releasing considerable energy."

A study that focused on the sound pressure of this reaction found that the internal temperature of a microwaved egg rose to above the 212 degrees Fahrenheit (or 100 degrees Celsius), or the boiling point of water. Heating a pot of water on the stove is a slow process, but fast-forwarding that reaction to less than a second creates a steam-powered explosion similar to a miniature pressure cooker accident. The study also found that the eruption's noise reached 86 to 133 decibels at its peak, or anywhere from city traffic to the loudest of rock concerts.

How do you heat up hard-boiled eggs?

If you need to reheat a cold hard-boiled egg, there are alternative methods of doing so that avoid the violent, sloppy aftermath of a microwave. You can pour some boiling water over some eggs inside a heat-proof container and then cover it so that the water doesn't cool off too quickly. Let the eggs sit for about ten minutes and they'll heat up gently instead of suddenly. You can also technically steam a hard-boiled egg, but that requires more materials than the simple hot water method.

Of course, there's also nothing wrong with eating a hard-boiled egg cold as long as it hasn't gone rotten, at which point heating it wouldn't make a difference anyway. If you need your hard-boiled egg hot, you can always hard-boil it from scratch again if you have an extra egg laying around. In any case, anything is worth the extra effort to not get sprayed with scalding yolk.