Jammy Eggs Are The Secret To Luxuriously Soft Egg Salad

The humble egg is a miracle ingredient. It can be cooked and used in a thousand different ways, from fanciful cloud eggs for brunch to satisfying eggs for dinner. However, the simple and economical egg salad is a perennial favorite. A combination of chopped egg, mayonnaise, and seasonings, egg salad is a refrigerator staple that can serve as a salad topping and a sandwich filling, making it a great option for lunch.

However, despite its simplicity and versatility, egg salad is not quite universally beloved. For those who dislike it, their complaints often stem from the smell of the dish, and the chalky texture of the hard-boiled egg yolk. Fortunately, all those complaints can easily be traced to one simple problem: overcooked boiled eggs. It seems hard to believe that boiled eggs can be overcooked, but it is true. When eggs are boiled for too long, the iron particles of the yolk interact with the sulfur particles of the egg white, creating a foul smell and a green-gray coating around the yolk. Overcooking the egg also makes a dry yolk, resulting in an unpleasant chalky texture that leads egg salad to be less than appetizing.

Soft boiled eggs makes all the difference

This problem can be resolved by slightly undercooking the eggs, which not only eliminates the bad smell from overboiling but also creates silky, jammy yolks that yield a creamy, luxurious egg salad. And no, jammy eggs aren't unsafe to eat — but eggs stored in the refrigerator door might be.

To achieve soft-boiled yolks, bring a pot of water to a roiling boil. Lower the eggs gently into the boiling water with a large spoon. Set your timer to eight or nine minutes, depending on the size of your eggs. While the eggs are cooking, combine cold water and ice in a bowl large enough to contain all the eggs. When the time is up, transfer the eggs from the pot to the ice bath with a slotted spoon. Leave them in the ice bath until completely cooled before peeling. The result is an egg that is halfway between soft- and hard-boiled, devoid of the smell of sulfur, and a yolk that is still creamy and nowhere near chalky. By mastering this basic step, you are well on your way to creating a fantastic egg salad. 

The perfect egg salad

Once peeled, chop the egg into medium-sized pieces by hand or with an egg slicer. Avoid the temptation of the food processor, which would pulverize the eggs and create a mushy texture that some find unpleasant. In a bowl, combine the chopped eggs, dijon or whole grain mustard, minced herbs of choice (such as chives or parsley), and just enough mayonnaise to bind the entire mixture. The mustard adds some much-needed bite while the herbs provide freshness and pleasant visuals. Season with salt and ground pepper, and you have made the perfect basic egg salad.

With that base, you can customize your creamy, chunky egg salad in a wide variety of ways. Try adding finely chopped celery or cucumber for some crunch to go with the creamy egg, or toss in chopped scallion whites to give your egg salad a slight oniony sharpness. Adding paprika imparts a savory smokiness while cayenne pepper spices up an egg salad with some heat. Adding chopped cooked chicken makes a heartier sandwich filler, and adding cold-cooked pasta creates a substantial pasta salad. You can even make a large batch of plain egg salad ahead of time and customize it differently every time you use it — an endless array of sandwich fillings and salad toppings — making the egg salad a healthy, protein-filled option that is ready straight from the fridge.