How to Avoid the Dreaded Green Ring Around Your Hard-Boiled Egg Yolks, According to 5th Generation Chicken Keeper

Hard-boiled eggs with green ring around yolk

With Easter fast approaching, you might have eggs on your mind. Maybe you'll stuff plastic ones with candy and hide them in your yard and/or turn some into a quiche, a frittata or a perfect scramble (a la Jacques Pépin) for Easter brunch. Or maybe you're planning on hosting this year, and deviled eggs are on the menu.

Deviled eggs start with hard-boiled eggs, of course, and one of the keys to perfect deviled eggs is an expertly cooked egg. But despite your best efforts, sometimes you cut into your eggs and there's a green ring around the yolk. Ugh!

To figure out what causes the dreaded green ring and, more importantly, how to prevent it, we talked with Lisa Steele, a 5th-generation chicken keeper, founder of the Fresh Eggs Daily blog, author of The Fresh Eggs Daily Cookbook, and host of “Welcome to My Farm” on CreateTV and American Public Television.

Here's everything you need to know to avoid the green ring around your hard-boiled egg yolk so you can have picture-perfect deviled eggs for Easter—and the rest of the year.

Related: How to Make Perfect Deviled Eggs

Why Do Hard-Boiled Egg Yolks Turn Green?

Let's start with the science, shall we? "It's a chemical reaction," says Steele. "There is hydrogen sulfide in the egg white, and that combines with iron sulfide that's in the egg yolk. So as you heat an egg, the proteins break down and they start to release sulfur gases, which is that smell that you get when you cook eggs. The gases react with the iron and that turns the surface of the yolk a greenish grayish color."

Older eggs can also be more prone to cooking up with green yolks. Steele says that as an egg ages the alkaline level in the white increases, which can hasten the chemical reaction that leads to green yolks.

Related: The Best Way to Make Smooth, Fluffy, Never-Ever Lumpy Deviled Egg Filling

How Do You Prevent Egg Yolks From Turning Green?

Because the chemical reaction that leads to green yolks is triggered by heat, it's important to cook your eggs more slowly and gently. Steele's favorite method? Steaming them. "I eat like a billion eggs a year," says Steele. "I have not seen one of those green rings in years since I started steaming my eggs."

Here's how she prefers to steam her eggs:

1. Set up your steamer. Add a few inches of water to a bot and add a steamer insert or basket. If you don't have either, Steele says a bamboo steamer or colander will work. You just want to keep the eggs up and out of the water and you want to make sure you can get a lid on your pot to trap the steam.

2. Add the eggs. Once the water comes to a boil, add your eggs. Steels says she hasn't noticed much of a difference between steaming room-temperature eggs or ones straight out of the fridge.

3. Cook 'em. Cover and let the eggs steam for 12 minutes. While the eggs steam, put some water and ice in a medium to large bowl.

4. Chill 'em. As soon as the 12 minutes are up, transfer the eggs to the ice bath. This will help them peel more easily and is also another way to prevent the green ring. "They should go right into an ice bath because that releases the pressure in the egg really quickly," says Steele. "It forces the hydrogen sulfide away from the yolk and toward the shell, which would prevent the ring from creating around the yolk."

Related: The Absolute Best Way to Peel Hard-Boiled Eggs

Is It Ok to Eat Eggs With a Green Yolk?

Steele assures us that it's safe to eat eggs with a green yolk. Although the eggs might smell a little extra sulfurous when they overcook, the green color won't affect the taste that much.

What Can You Do If Your Egg Yolks Turn Green?

Things happen and sometimes life gives you green egg yolks. If you find yourself in that situation, Steel says to lean into it. "I'd say add some avocado to the filling and add some spices too." Some cooks like to use avocado instead of mayo, which gives the filling a rich taste, a fresh flavor and a green hue, which is what you're looking for if you're in this situation.

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