Can I eat this? Air fryer hard-boiled eggs
December 2, 2021 6:36 AM   Subscribe

I made hard-boiled eggs in my air fryer for the first time. When I peeled the eggs, the egg white is slightly brown.

This is the first time I've made hard-cooked eggs in the air fryer, so I don't know what to expect. The brown color is very light, and mostly on the "flat" end of the cooked egg. It looks like it could be very slight scorching, but I don't know if that is a thing that happens with hard-boiled eggs cooked in an air fryer.

The expiration date on the egg carton is tomorrow. They have been refrigerated since purchase.

The raw eggs looked fine and I didn't notice anything amiss (but I didn't crack any open, just put the whole lot in the air fryer.)

The eggs are large eggs with brown shells (by which I mean, the shells started out brown.)

I cooked them at 275 degrees for 15 minutes, per this recipe. I did not plunge them into an ice bath, after the air-fryer shut off I left them sit in it for about an hour, then refrigerated the eggs in their shells.

The shells did not crack while cooking.

The cooked eggs smell fine, inside and out. The yolk looks normal for a hard-cooked egg.

Is the browning just a thing that is known to happen when air-frying eggs? Or is it something to be concerned about? I'd like to have a couple of these for breakfast but not if they're off in some way.
posted by Serene Empress Dork to Food & Drink (14 answers total)
Best answer: If the yolk has solidified as typical for a hard-boiled/cooked egg, that means it hit 70 degrees C (ref). So you can be reassured that the white has also been fully cooked and is safe to eat.

The browning of the whites is from overcooking. There is a bit of sugar in egg white and it goes through a Maillard reaction in enough time.

You need that ice bath right at the end of the cooking cycle or else the eggs continue to cook from latent heat in the egg, the air, and the fryer for the entire hour as you mentioned. That's way too much cooking time.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:56 AM on December 2, 2021 [11 favorites]

Look at it this way: pan-fried eggs have crispy brown bits. On these, the brown is just more evenly distributed.
posted by feral_goldfish at 7:10 AM on December 2, 2021 [5 favorites]

Eggs are a very, very delicate food. They don't just break easily when raw, they overcook practically instantly. The ice bath is non-negotiable.

Yours are fine, just overcooked - they might not taste good but they won't hurt you.
posted by epanalepsis at 7:30 AM on December 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have tried alllll the methods and yes, dry methods are much more likely to produce browning, to the point that it's a little hard to avoid if you want the yolk really hard-cooked. I do think you luck out more with fresher eggs, as older eggs have been losing moisture as they sit. Then you cook it in dry air, sucking more moisture out until browning begins. And I think it happens before you ever reach the chance to put it in ice, for the most part.

I've never been bothered by the flavor, though sometimes it does mean that the yolk is so cooked it's rubbery and a little sulfur-y.

(After trying allll the methods, the Dash egg cooker wins hands down.)
posted by Lyn Never at 8:23 AM on December 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'll add a tedious note from my kitchen engineering experience: the temperature swings you find in an inexpensive open-cavity oven sometimes are too wide for precise cooking. Meaning: what you think is 275F in an air fryer might go from 265 to 285 and back at any given time as the heater goes on and then the food soaks up the heat. That's the nature of how this electrical appliance operates, unless I'm wrong and you have a device that is using PID temperature control with a solid-state relay. But I've never seen an air-fryer like that.

That might be okay for chicken strips but eggs can be very delicate and finicky when it come to cooking. You'll get results, but the consistency will not be there.

I've tried hard-boiled eggs in a small air-fryer and wasn't that happy with the result. The convection airflow does cover some of the swings better than, say, baking them on a cookie sheet but the theory still stands.

A plain old water bath will never exceed 212F based on the nature of how H2O boils in an open pot. You'll get more consistent results once you tune the recipe for your size of egg and how you like them cooked. Even the Dash uses water as a temperature modulating device (and, like a rice cooker, knows it's done when the water boils off and the temperature climbs above the boiling point)
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:36 AM on December 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

I get this sometimes with steamed “hard boiled eggs.” (I usually do them that way, the shell comes off more cleanly.) They’re completely fine.
posted by tchemgrrl at 8:42 AM on December 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: tchemgrrl... how do you steam your eggs? I have a really hard time getting the shells off when I boil eggs (unless the eggs are older.) That's the main reason for trying the air fryer, I'm looking for the best way to cook that allows the shell to come off cleanly.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 9:05 AM on December 2, 2021

I saw it in Cook’s Illustrated—just set up a covered pan with a steamer basket, get the water boiling, add the eggs, hang out for 13-15 minutes, pop them into cold water. (One note: turn down the heat for 20 seconds or so before adding the eggs to avoid any hot spots. I had occasional exploding eggs before making this adjustment, I think I just over-cranked the heat.)
posted by tchemgrrl at 9:23 AM on December 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

Do you have an Instant Pot? They're great for making steamed/hard-boiled eggs that are easy to peel. I use the 5-5-5 method.
posted by belladonna at 9:29 AM on December 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

I definitely recommend piercing eggs if you're going to steam them. It makes them easier to peel and you're less likely to get an air bubble that makes a weird egg butt (more important if you're making deviled eggs). The Dash cooker actually comes with a water measuring cup that has a clever piercer in the bottom that works better and easier than any egg-piercer I've ever tried, but it's apparently irreplaceable (and I can't find mine) and this one seems pretty reliable.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:15 AM on December 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

I've had really good results lately (reliably cooked the way I want them, and easy to peel) using this method demonstrated by Kenji Lopez-Alt. From the video description: "boil an inch or so of water in the bottom of a saucepan or wok. Add the eggs straight from your fridge (the water doesn't need to cover them). Cover with a lid and boil/steam them 3 minutes for extremely soft, 4-5 minutes for soft, 6-7 minutes for medium, and 9-12 minutes for hard. Let them cool naturally or in an ice bath."
posted by kiripin at 11:55 AM on December 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

I was weak and actually bought a Dash 6-egg mini cooker. It works very well. The trick: punch a pinhole through each egg before putting them in the cooker (with the punch included as a part of the measuring cup). Add the right amount of water for how well you want your eggs done. Load the eggs, add the water, plug it in. It starts chiming when done. Plop the eggs into cold water and shell, consume. :)
posted by kschang at 12:41 PM on December 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I rarely have problems with peeling eggs. I traditionally did the start-in-cold water method, turning off the heat when it hits boil and letting the eggs sit covered for 8-9 minutes for hardcooked, 7-8 for yolks that are a little more jammy, but I have switched to Kenji's method with great results (as noted by kiripin above).

But it's not the cooking method: it's the cracking and cooling. SERIOUSLY.

What works for me well over 95% of the time: once time is up, put the eggs into cold water, CRACK THE SHELLS SO YOU GET SOME CRAZING, then let the eggs soak in the water for at least a minute, longer if you have more patience than me. The water seeps in between shell and egg, and everything peels nicely. As long as you aren't cooking a very soft egg, the water won't affect the texture or taste of the egg.
posted by maudlin at 1:12 PM on December 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: omg, I hard boil a dozen eggs every week (6 at a time): Bring a saucepan of water to boil, ladle in eggs, boil 10 minutes. Ladle out into bowl of cold tap water. As soon as you put the last egg into the cold water, take the first one out, tap and roll it under your palm on the counter, then start peeling. The shell will fall away practically in one piece. The egg will be a bit squishy but will firm up after you put it in the fridge. I save one out to eat right away, it is perfectly cooked.

I leave the egg carton on the counter, new eggs/old eggs, doesn’t matter. No need for ice cubes.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:24 PM on December 2, 2021

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