8 Tips for Making the Best Homemade Egg Salad Ever
Egg salad is misunderstood. Most people have a visceral reaction to this notoriously smelly lunchtime food, but I happen to love this classic salad and will come to its defense whenever necessary. My ideal egg salad is creamy, crunchy, acidic, herby, and has a subtle kick of heat. Trust me, this is not the egg salad that you're buying at a neighborhood deli. I love delis for so many things but egg salad is not one of them (sorry). Homemade egg salad is the only worthwhile egg salad in my book, and I feel strongly that a good egg salad could convert any previous egg salad hater.
Use a Jammy Egg
One of the biggest turn offs for egg salad haters is the texture of the salad. Store bought egg salad can oftentimes taste like chalky yolks that are doused in a heavy, mayo-based dressing. Instead, it's all about a 8-, 9-, or 10-minute boiled egg. To do this, you'll bring a medium pot of water to a boil, then gently lower your eggs in with a slotted spoon or spider, one at a time, and set your timer. When they're ready to come out, you'll transfer them to an ice bath and then peel. By cooking them to somewhere between a soft and hard boil, you get a delightfully jammy and soft (but not runny) yolk center, which makes for a light, pillowy texture instead of chalky or dry.
Keep It Chunky
After you've cooked the eggs, you don't want to cut them down so finely that the salad loses it's appealing texture. A coarse, rustic chop of your eggs is plenty — the smaller the egg bits, the less exciting the texture of this salad becomes.
Incorporate Crunchy Elements
Keeping your eggs in larger shards is not the only way to improve the texture of your salad. Listen, I get it — a common critique of egg salad is its mushy, gloppy texture. To avoid an egg salad that goes down like baby food, consider adding some interesting textural additions. Finely chopped celery, red onion, capers, or chopped pickles are a great way to add a subtle crunch.
Easy on the Mayo
Like I mentioned, another reason why so many folks are turned off by a store-bought egg salad is the excessive amount of mayonnaise. For me, if I'm making an egg salad with 8 eggs, I probably wouldn't use more than 2-4 tablespoons of mayonnaise. See? Not that much. Preferred mayonnaise brands can be a very divisive subject, so I'm going to leave that up to you. If you feel strongly about Hellman's versus Duke's versus Kewpie mayo, then use whichever feels right to you. If you are really turned off by the idea of mayo, you can also substitute Greek yogurt, sour cream, avocado mayonnaise, or ripe, mashed avocados.
Bring on the Acid
The only way you're going to wake up your egg salad with a jolt of flavor is by incorporating some acid into the dish. This can be done with a combination of mustards (Dijon or whole-grain are ideal), pickle juice, fresh lemon juice, or sherry/red wine/apple cider vinegar. If your egg salad tastes flat or one-note, that's probably because it needs an extra squeeze of an acidic component.
Go Hard on the Herbs
Now is not the time to go easy on fresh herbs. Dill, parsley, chives, or basil are all welcome additions to your egg salad. It will freshen up the flavor and add a visually enticing pop of green. You can even slice up a scallion (greens and whites) if you don't have any fresh herbs.
Give It a Kick of Heat
Another way to add some more depth of flavor to your egg salad is to give it some heat. A tiny pinch of cayenne, a chopped up jalapeno, or a few dabs of your favorite hot sauce are an easy way to add a subtle punch of spice.
Serve It With Something Starchy
Sure, you can enjoy this with carrots or celery, but I feel strongly that a creamy, egg-based salad like this deserves to be enjoyed with a hearty starch. Enjoy it between two slices of toasted bread for an on-the-go sammie, or just opt for one slice and turn it into an open-faced moment. Scoop it onto your favorite crackers or enjoy it with some warm pita. Real egg salad lovers will eat it straight up with a spoon, but if you're just dipping your toes into the world of egg salad, then start with a starchy base.
Don't let the famously off-putting scent of egg salad deter you from being an outspoken, dignified egg salad lover like myself. It's time that this misunderstood salad finally gets the love that it has always deserved.