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Classic Egg Salad Recipe

Nothing fancy. Not original. Just delish. A classic egg salad recipe is infinitely versatile in what you add to it and how you serve it. Stick to 3 ingredients. Or jazz it up. It’s up to you.

Creamy egg salad is the quintessential lunch-counter food, picnic food, toddler food, tea party or celebration food, brunch food or take-it-to-school/work food. Check out our tips, shortcut variations, add-ins and Q and A’s. 

egg salad sandwich 3

How do you like your egg salad?

  • Between two pieces of plain white sandwich bread, period?
  • Creamy egg salad? Or textured with bigger chunks?
  • Bland? Or bursting with flavors?
  • Love egg salad but hate the calories?
  • With real mayonnaise (yes!) or with substitutes?

Here’s the thing. It’s your call. My suggestion is to start with the bare bones – hard boiled eggs, mayonnaise, salt and pepper – and go from there with one or more of our variations below. 

We’re using a fairly classic recipe that boosts the bare bones with some crunch (celery) and some extra flavors (Dijon, green onion). It’s an easy egg salad that can be tailored any way you like.

How to make great egg salad

6 eggs in pot of water
Place eggs in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover the eggs by 1 inch/2.5cm. I use two eggs per person for a generous portion. 
eggs boiling in water
Bring water to a rolling boil, then cover the pot, turn off the heat and let the eggs sit for 12-14 minutes. See notes.
eggs cooling in ice water
Drain the water and transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water for a few minutes. Or run under cold water for 5 minutes.
eggs cut in half on cutting board
Crack eggs on counter several times all over. Peel under under cold running water. Cut in half. The egg on the left sat in boiled water for 12 minutes. The rest for 14 minutes.
chopped egg, onion, mustard, celery, mayo in bowl
Chop eggs and transfer to a medium bowl. Add mayo, Dijon and finely chopped celery and green onion.
egg salad mixture in bowl
Mash chopped eggs and other ingredients with a fork. Add salt and pepper to taste.
egg salad sandwich
Make egg salad sandwiches…
Or scoop the egg salad into a lettuce cup. Or use it in other ways (see variations).
egg salad sandwich on bun with lettuce p

How to make hard boiled eggs

  • Method 1 (as per recipe): Bring to boil, turn off the heat and let sit for 12-14 minutes.
  • Method 2: Bring eggs in a pot of water to boil. Lower to medium-high heat. Boil for 7-9 minutes. Transfer to ice water.
  • Method 3: how to make hard boiled eggs in an instant pot.

Special conditions: Several things can affect your hard boiled eggs – size of the eggs, age of the eggs, altitude and what type of stove top you are using. For example, if you live in a high altitude area, your eggs will take more time (apparently an extra minute per 1000 feet/305 meters). And, if you are using an induction stove top, cook eggs for 14-16 minutes, not 12.

If you think ahead… Many will say to bring eggs to room temperature before you boil them to cook them more evenly. I never remember to take them out of the fridge, so if I’m not rushing I run them under warm water for several minutes. Cold eggs will still work though. Just add another minute to cook time.

Tailor To Your Taste

Here are some variations to try to make the egg salad the way you like it.

Add-ins

  • Fresh herbs such as dill, chives, parsley, basil, tarragon
  • Chopped olives, pimentos or capers
  • A splash of Worcestershire sauce and/or lemon juice
  • A sprinkle of garlic powder
  • Celery and Dijon mustard (as per recipe)
  • Dill pickle relish
  • Red onion, finely chopped

Ways to serve egg salad

  • In a regular sandwich – on white bread, rye, pumpernickel, buns, slider buns, croissant, bagel.
  • As tea sandwiches or party sandwiches (cut into quarters, no crusts)
  • In a lettuce wrap or cup
  • On crackers or cucumber rounds as an appetizer
  • Stuffed in tomatoes
  • Scooped into celery (an egg salad log)

Substitutes for mayonnaise

  • Traditional egg salad is made with full fat mayo, but you can also use light mayonnaise, miracle whip, sour cream, pesto, Greek yogurt, avocado, ricotta cheese, hummus, vinaigrette dressing, pesto.

FAQ – Good to know

How can you tell if an egg is fresh?

A fresh egg will sink to the bottom of a bowl of water and lie on its side. A slightly older egg will sink to the bottom in water, but stand on one end. An expired egg will float in water (toss it!).

What is the best way to peel an egg?

Crack it gently all over on the counter. Then peel. If the peel is sticking to the egg, try peeling the egg under running water. Slightly older eggs are easier to peel than fresh eggs.

Are eggs healthy for you?

According to healthline, eggs do not cause heart disease. They are rich in antioxidants, protein, iron, vitamins and minerals. One large egg is 77 calories with 5 grams of fat, 0 carbs and 6 grams of protein.

What are the best type of eggs to buy?

According to Food and Nutrition, conventional eggs are perfectly fine. If you don’t eat fish or plant sources like flax or chia seeds, then Omega-3-enriched eggs might be a healthier choice. Pasteurized eggs are nutritionally the same as regular eggs, but  but likely safer with lower risk of salmonella. Organic eggs are not better, just different in the amount of nutrients supplied. Cage-free, free-range and pasture-raised eggs are not likely healthier or better, but you would be supporting humane farming practices.

What to serve with egg salad

Shortcut

  • Buy premade hard-boiled eggs. You can find them at Walmart, Target, Costco and many grocery stores. This cuts the recipe time to about 10 minutes.

Make Ahead

  • Hard boiled eggs: Keep them in the fridge in a ziploc or airtight container for up to 5 days. It’s best to peel them first.
  • Egg salad: Keep it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Egg salad sandwiches: Make them the same day or the day before, wrapping it in plastic wrap or an airtight container.

Other egg recipes you might like

egg salad sandwich 3
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Classic Egg Salad Recipe

Nothing fancy. Not original. Just delish. A classic egg salad recipe is infinitely versatile in what you add to it and how you serve it. Stick to 3 ingredients. Or jazz it up. It's up to you.
Prep Time8 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time28 mins
Course: brunch, brunch, lunch
Cuisine: American
Servings: 3 -4
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs, Note 1
  • 3 tablespoons real mayonnaise, Note 2 full fat is best, but light is fine too
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped green onions (or 3) 1 green onion
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped celery about 1/2-1 rib
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  • HARD BOIL EGGS: Place eggs in a medium saucepan in a single layer. Add cold water until it covers the eggs by about 1 inch/2.5cm. Bring to a rolling boil on high heat. Cover the pot, leave it on the burner and turn off the heat. If you are using an induction stove, let it boil for an extra minute before turning off the heat. Let the eggs sit in the hot water for 12-14 minutes (up to a maximum of 18 minutes). Note 3 for other cooking methods.
  • COOL COOKED EGGS and PEEL: Transfer eggs with a slotted spoon to an ice water bath (half ice, half water in a bowl) and let them sit for a couple of minutes to cool off. Alternatively, pour out the water from the pot and run the eggs in the pot under cold water for 5 minutes to cool off. Once cool, gently crack eggs all over on the counter and peel (if difficult, try peeling them under running cool water).
  • MAKE EGG SALAD: Chop eggs as finely as you like. Place in medium bowl with all other ingredients. Mash everything with a fork to combine well. TIP: Start with half the ingredients and keep adding until you get the consistency, creamy texture and flavors you like. To make a sandwich, use 2 bread slices with about 1/2 cup of egg salad. Note 5 for other serving options.

Notes

  1. Eggs: If you think ahead, try to use room temperature eggs or run them under warm water for a few minutes before boiling. If you don’t have time, cook them an extra minute or two. Slightly older eggs are easier to peel. The fresher the eggs, the harder to peel. 
  2. Mayonnaise:
    • Real mayonnaise is classic and delicious, but light real mayo is fine too.
    • Substitutes to try: light mayonnaise, miracle whip, sour cream, pesto, Greek yogurt, avocado, ricotta cheese, hummus, vinaigrette dressing, pesto.
  3. Alternative methods to hard boil eggs: 
  4. Variations and add-ins to try:
    • Chopped fresh dill or other fresh herbs such as chives, parsley, basil, tarragon
    • Chopped olives, pimentos or capers
    • A splash of Worcestershire sauce and/or lemon juice
    • A sprinkle of garlic powder
    • Celery and Dijon mustard (as per recipe)
    • Dill pickle relish, sweet pickle relish or dill relish
    • Red onion, finely chopped
  5. Ways to serve egg salad
    • In a regular sandwich – on white bread, rye, pumpernickel, buns, slider buns, a buttery croissant or bagel.
    • In tea sandwiches or party sandwiches (cut into quarters, no crusts)
    • In a lettuce wrap or cup
    • On crackers as an appetizer
    • Stuffed in tomatoes
    • Scooped into celery (an egg salad log)
  6. Make Ahead
    • Hard boiled eggs: If not making the salad right away (or if you have leftover hard boiled eggs), keep them in the fridge in a ziploc or airtight container for up to 5 days. It’s best to peel them first.
    • Egg salad: You can keep it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
    • Egg salad sandwiches: Make them the same day or the day before, wrapping it in plastic wrap or an airtight container.
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