When you’re looking at ways to store eggs (for regular use and for food storage), it’s important to consider how to store them in both cooked and raw forms. But how do you store boiled eggs in the shell – for both short and long periods of time?
Boiled eggs can be stored on the counter for immediate consumption, in the fridge for up to a week, frozen for up to 3 months, pickled for eating many months later, or freeze-dried for safe eating years later. Here is what you need to know about the 9 best ways to store boiled eggs in their shells.
Ready to store those boiled eggs? Let’s talk about how to store them safely – and in the easiest manner.
The 9 Best Long-Term Ways to Store Boiled Eggs (that are still in the shell)
Now, if you’re just wanting the quick, short version, here it is in a table form. Because sometimes it’s nice to just have what you need – so you can get on with your day.
You’ll notice that there are 3 bonus ways to store your boiled eggs for varying amounts of time. These are bonus methods because you have to shell your boiled eggs – so they can’t count towards our ways to store boiled eggs in their shells. However, they’re super useful to know, so I just had to include them in the table.
|Way to Store Boiled Eggs (still in the Shell)||How Long it’s Safe to Store Before You Eat||Notes|
|1||On the counter||2 hours||Once cooked, the FDA recommends eating boiled eggs within 2 hours – or sticking them in the fridge ASAP. There are plenty of stories of people eating boiled eggs that sat out for hours, days, weeks, or longer though. However, it’s probably safest to stick with the FDA’s guidelines.|
|2||In your lunch bag||Several hours||Want that boiled egg for lunch? Stick it in your lunch bag. Add a cool pack to keep it fresh, cool, and safe until lunch. Or stick it in the fridge at work if you have access to one.|
|3||In the fridge, no container||1 week||Keep the eggs away from anything that’s got a strong odor, like cheese and garlic – or your eggs will absorb that smell.|
|4||In the fridge in a sealed container||1 week||Add a damp paper towel over the eggs (but in the container) to keep the eggs fresher.|
|5||Covered with water and refrigerated||1 week||Be sure to change the water covering the egg(s) daily.|
|6||Freeze the whole boiled egg||3 months||The egg white will completely inedible. Just use the yolk. This storage method is discouraged by the FDA.|
|(bonus)||Freeze the shelled, boiled egg yolk in a container||3 months||But this isn’t keeping the egg in a shell.|
|(bonus)||Freeze Raw Eggs||1 year||Let it thaw in a fridge or under cold, running water. Then, leave the raw egg out for about 30 minutes to get back to room temperature before using the egg in a dish that’s cooked properly.|
|7||Pickle the boiled eggs||Several months||Eggs need to be pickled for at least 1-2 weeks before being eaten. The FDA discourages home pickling and canning of eggs.|
|8||Thousand-Year-Old Eggs||1-6+ months, depending on the style||The egg is converted into a new food by bacteria action – and may develop alcoholic properties.|
|9||Freeze Dried Boiled Eggs||—||Boiled eggs still in the shell won’t freeze-dry properly, thanks to the shell.|
|(bonus)||Freeze Dried Boiled Eggs (shelled)||Years||The boiled egg must be halved, sliced, or diced in order to properly freeze dry.|
The freeze-drying method, in particular, had to be included! Because freeze-drying is just one of my favorite ways to store food – it’s easy, it lasts for years, and it’s easy to use in everyday recipes. But don’t worry – we’ll go into freeze-drying boiled eggs later on in this article.
Do Hard Boiled Eggs Last Longer in the Shell or Peeled?
Based on my research (and way too much time on the FDA’s website), there is only about a two-day difference between how long you can store peeled boiled eggs and those still in the shell – at least when they’re in the fridge.
- Peeled boiled eggs can be stored in the fridge for about 5-7 days. They need to be covered with water and in a container.
- Boiled eggs (still in the shell) can be good for up to 7 days in the fridge. They can be stored in water or out of it. They can be in a container or not. They’re far more flexible with storage options.
However, if you want to compare shelled boiled eggs and boiled eggs still in the shell that are being processed further (so you can store them longer), then there’s a lot more wiggle room in the timing.
You know what? Let’s go ahead and make another table for comparing all the ways boiled eggs can be stored – in and out of the shell. And for how long they’re safe to eat (and how long they last).
|Boiled Eggs in the Shell||Peeled Boiled Eggs|
|On the counter||2 hours||2 hours|
|In the fridge||7 days||7 days if covered with water that’s changed daily|
|Frozen||Not recommended (but up to 3 months)||3-12 months|
|Pickled||3-4+ months (will need to peel the pickled eggs before eating)||3-4+ months|
|Thousand-Year-Eggs||1-6+ months, depending on the style||1-6+ months, depending on the style|
|Freeze-dried||won’t work properly due to the shell||2+ years|
So if you’re wanting to freeze dry your boiled eggs, they’ll last far longer if you shell them. However, if you’re just sticking eggs into the fridge, the difference in how long you can store them is negligible.
Can You Peel Hard-Boiled Eggs Ahead of Time?
If you’re wanting to know if you can peel a hard-boiled egg before you boil it, the answer is a definite NO. That’s called cracking an egg – and it’ll be quite raw and goopy inside. It’ll go everywhere.
However, once you’ve boiled the egg – then you may want to peel it “ahead of time” before you eat it (whenever that may end up being). Peeling a hard-boiled egg “ahead of time” opens up a lot more processing options for both eating and storing your boiled eggs.
Once peeled, an egg can be separated for better freezing, freeze-dried, pickled, or eaten on the spot.
Can I Put Hot Hard-Boiled Eggs in the Fridge?
While you can put hot hard-boiled eggs in the fridge, it’s not advised for two reasons.
- Hot eggs take longer to cool in the fridge, giving bacteria more time to grow.
- Hot eggs cooling in the fridge heat up the food around them – allowing bacteria to grow on that food, too.
So instead of cooling your eggs in the fridge, add them to a bowl of ice water. This will cool them quickly, keep your eggs safe from bacteria, and keep the other food in your fridge safe, too.
Once the eggs are cool, you can:
- take them out of the ice water and store them still peeled in the fridge.
- peel them and store them in a container of water in the fridge.
- process them further for longer-term storage while still in the shell.
- peel them and process them for longer-term storage.
Personally, I’m not perfect at remembering to cool hard-boiled eggs in ice water (or cold running water) all the time. When I forget to cool them properly, I do try to eat them much sooner than the week that’s usually allowed – usually within a couple of days.
And that’s for boiled eggs with no visible cracks – cracked eggs always need to be eaten first – or thrown away if they smell rotten.
How Do You Know if Stored Boiled Eggs Have Gone Bad?
Boiled eggs that have gone bad will have a rotten smell. They’ll smell like sulfur – and your nose will absolutely let you that they aren’t safe to eat.
If the yolk is various shades of gray, that’s not a sign that your boiled eggs have gone bad. That color change just tells you that they were boiled perhaps a bit too long.
However, if there are weird, oddly-colored spots anywhere on a boiled egg, that’s also a sign that there could be bacterial growth – and that egg should be thrown away. It’ll probably fail the smell test, too. Don’t taste that egg – throw it away.
How Do You Store Boiled Eggs without Refrigeration?
If you can’t refrigerate your boiled eggs, there are a few ways you can store them safely. Let’s go through them, from the shortest to the longest periods of safe storage.
Lunchbox – several hours
Technically, a lunchbox isn’t a fridge. Even if you add some ice, it’s barely refrigerated in my mind. Even so, this isn’t a long-term storage option. It’s probably safe enough for storing that boiled egg until lunchtime – but that’s probably about the max length of time.
Eat it for lunch – then discard any leftovers.
Pickling boiled eggs – several months
Pickling boiled eggs is a refrigeration-free storage option that will extend the shelf life of boiled eggs to several months. Of course, this assumes you like pickled eggs. I haven’t been brave enough to try them yet – I’ll have to work up to it, I suppose.
In any case, how long it takes to pickle the boiled eggs will depend on the recipe you use. Some recipes let you pickle the boiled eggs still in the shell, although they are far less popular than recipes with shelled boiled eggs. On average, it looks like the pickling process takes at least 1-2 weeks. And the pickling process may either need a fridge or a cool, dry space to control the temperature.
Once pickled, a boiled egg can be good for many months.
An important note, though. The FDA’s website strongly discourages home canning and pickling of boiled eggs. I’m sure it’s out of an overabundance of caution – because poorly canned home goods are a known cause of food-borne illnesses.
So if you are going to pickle eggs yourself, please be sure to do so responsibly – and make things as sterile as possible so that you aren’t getting yourself (or anyone else who’s eating your pickled eggs) sick.
Thousand-year-old eggs – 1-6+ months
Okay, so I hadn’t originally considered this as a way to store boiled eggs for longer periods of time. However, it appears like each of the 3 methods for making thousand-year-old eggs doesn’t require refrigeration. And since the preparation process can take up to six months, it’s definitely a way to store eggs long-term for eating several months later.
However, keep in mind that the process to make thousand-year-old eggs does use a bacterial fermentation. This means that the end product isn’t very egg-like – so it won’t be a good option if you’re wanting something other than thousand-year-old eggs.
Freeze dry the eggs – several years
Last but not least is the process that will help you store boiled eggs for years – with minimal (if any) loss in nutritional value. Freeze-drying boiled eggs is an awesome option! The only downside is that freeze-dried boiled eggs do require that you peel them.
This is because the shell and the freeze-drying process aren’t compatible. Trying to freeze-dry any egg with the shell still on will only end is not much happening.
- At best, you’ll have a slightly dried-out egg.
- At worst, you’ll have a huge mess to clean up in your freeze dryer.
So if you do want to freeze dry your boiled eggs, you will have to shell them. Then, you can half them, slice them, or dice them. Dicing them will probably work best – for both the freeze-drying process and reconstituting them for use in meals and recipes later.
Here’s a quick video clip of freeze-dried boiled eggs – so you can see that it is a totally awesome option.
So far, here’s what we’ve deemed as a great success with freeze-drying in regards to eggs:
- Raw, scrambled eggs (stores especially well and powders easily!)
- Raw, separated egg yolks
- Raw, separated egg whites (super fine powder)
- Boiled eggs, diced (still want to try sliced, though it’ll probably turn out very similar)
In any case, storing boiled eggs is very possible – and you can do it long term both in the shell and after it has been peeled. So get out there and store some eggs!
- “FSIS.” Shell Eggs from Farm to Table, www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/egg-products-preparation/shell-eggs-from-farm-to-table/CT_Index.
- “Storing.” Incredible Egg, www.incredibleegg.org/eggcyclopedia/s/storing/.