Hard boiled eggs are a popular treat that most people love, but when you’re clearing up after a party or a big lunch and you find a bowl full of them, you might be wondering whether they are still okay to eat, or whether they need to be thrown away. It’s important to be cautious with all animal products, because they can harbor dangerous bacteria if improperly stored.
How long do hard boiled eggs last unrefrigerated? Hard boiled eggs should not be left unrefrigerated for more than two hours. If you have left them at room temperature for longer than this, you need to throw them away, as there could be harmful levels of bacteria in them. Don’t eat them or put them in the fridge for later.
How Long Can Hard Boiled Eggs Be Left Out?
It depends a little on the temperature, but if the room is reasonably cool, hard boiled eggs should be refrigerated within two hours. If the room is hot (over 90 degrees F), they need to be refrigerated within an hour if they are to be eaten later. Keeping them out for longer could cause food poisoning as a result of bacterial spread.
Bacteria spreads much faster when food is kept over 40 degrees F, so if you want to slow it down, you need to keep food in the fridge. Do not leave hard boiled eggs on the counter or table past the two hour mark, and ideally, try to refrigerate them as soon as possible.
If you are serving hard boiled eggs as part of a buffet, keep them in the fridge until you are ready to use them. This will keep them fresher and may also help to retain the texture, because they will be exposed to less airflow.
How Do You Refrigerate Hard Boiled Eggs?
It’s best to store hard boiled eggs with the shells intact. This reduces the oxygen flow and keeps the eggs fresher, and may protect them from cross contamination. Place them in a tub or other sealable container, put the lid on, and put the eggs in the fridge.
Keeping the eggs in their shells will also help to keep them from drying out, which will give them a better taste and texture when they are eaten.
It is fine to put peeled hard boiled eggs in the fridge too – you just need to be aware that these will not keep as well as unpeeled eggs. If you have accidentally made too many and peeled them, take extra care to put them in a sealable container.
How Long Will Hard Boiled Eggs Last For in the Fridge?
Unpeeled hard boiled eggs should last for about seven days if they are placed in the fridge promptly. An egg that is very fresh when cooked will last better than an egg that is not so fresh, so try to use up old eggs more quickly.
You may find it helps to write the date that the egg was cooked on the shell in pencil. This will make it easier to use it up within a good amount of time.
If you are putting peeled hard boiled eggs in the fridge, you should aim to use them up more quickly. They will dry out, which will ruin the flavor and texture, and they are more at risk of being contaminated by bacteria in the air.
Some people recommend eating peeled eggs within a day for the best results, but according to the USDA, they should also be safe for up to a week. However, if you plan to store the eggs, leaving the shells intact is the best way to make them last well.
Can You Freeze Hard Boiled Eggs?
While you can freeze hard boiled eggs, most people advise against freezing hard boiled eggs because the freezing process makes the egg whites tough and rubbery. The yolks can be frozen separately if you wish to preserve these, but don’t place the whole eggs in the freezer.
Frozen hard boiled eggs are not dangerous to eat, but they are often inedible or close to inedible. They will not be pleasant, no matter what you do, so try to avoid freezing them.
If you are going to freeze hard boiled eggs, remove the shells so that when the whites expand, they do not cause the eggs to explode.
How Do You Know If Hard Boiled Eggs are Safe to Eat?
You should always smell and inspect eggs before eating them. Eggs that have gone bad may develop a slimy, slightly green surface and an odd, sulfurous smell. They might also turn mushy or watery on the outside, or dry out and become yellowed.
Don’t eat eggs that smell, taste, or look odd. Not all eggs will show clear signs when they have gone bad, but if the taste or texture of the egg has notably altered, it needs to be thrown away.
This is a sign that bacteria levels are high and they are breaking down the egg. You should not risk consuming the egg due to this.
When in doubt, it’s better to throw away a hard boiled egg than to risk eating one that has gone bad.
Should You Slice Hard Boiled Eggs in Half Before Storing Them?
There’s no particular benefit to slicing eggs in half before you put them in the fridge. In fact, doing so can increase the oxidization process, which may make the eggs go off more quickly. It’s better to store them intact, with their shells still on.
If you have already sliced the eggs, it’s fine to put them in a container and store them. Try to minimize the airflow as much as possible to keep the moisture in the eggs. You may find that wrapping the eggs in clingfilm or a wax wrap makes them last better.
If you have hard boiled eggs leftover after a party or you want to cook some in advance, make sure you are keeping them in the fridge at all times. Dangerous bacteria can grow in them if they are stored at room temperature, and you are at risk of contracting food poisoning.