“I always get the shell in the pan,” he told me. “What am I doing wrong?”
I asked him to show me how he cracks his eggs. He gave it a couple slow, indecisive whacks on the edge of his skillet, and I immediately knew the answer.
If you don’t want shell in your egg, crack your eggs on a flat countertop.
This is not to say it’s a perfect method. Shells happen. But according to chefs and cooking institutions who know far better than all of us, the countertop technique is the most foolproof technique, for reasons we’ll explain below.
Unfortunately, most American home cooks are cracking their eggs the “wrong” way (there’s no real wrong way, but we’ll call it that for the purposes of this story). We conducted a poll of 1,000 Americans and found that 57% crack on the edge of a bowl or pan (ahem, the wrong way), while only 23% use a flat countertop (the right way). It should be noted that people under the age of 30 were significantly more likely to crack on the countertop!
Here’s Why The Countertop Method Is Best
Reader’s Digest is also a fan of the flat-on-the-countertop method, citing it as the best way for beginners to crack eggs and admitting it’s the default technique used by their test kitchen cooks.
So why is the countertop better than the bowl’s edge? There are three reasons:
The sharp edge of the bowl or pan actually pushes the shell inside the egg, increasing the risk that small pieces of shell will get inside the egg’s liquid.
Cracking the egg directly on or over the bowl or pan increases the chance that broken shell will fall directly into your mixing bowl/pan.
Cracking the shell on a sharp edge actually breaks through the shell’s thin inner membrane, destroying the safety net that catches broken pieces of shell. Cracking on a flat surface keeps the membrane intact, adhering to the loose pieces of shell.
Chef Frank Proto from the Institute of Culinary Education agrees: “If you crack on the edge of a bowl, you risk getting micro shards of shell in your dish,” he told HuffPost. He also suggested cracking two eggs together as an alternative.
Of course, there are people like Gordon Ramsay who fly in the face of danger and crack on the edge of the bowl just fine, living to see another day. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t crack on a flat surface ― confident cooks have figured out all sorts of ways to do it. But if broken shells are a frequent problem for you, consider switching to the countertop method.
*The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted July 11-12 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.
Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some but not all potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.