Making hard-boiled eggs is one of those skills you think you’ve mastered — Eggs. Water. Boil. Done… right? Not so fast.

If you struggle to remove the shell or bite into a slightly sulfuric, green-tinted yolk, your eggs are less than perfect. It’s nothing personal: these problems arise when the proper level of doneness hasn’t been reached. Improve your process with these four steps for perfect hard-boiled eggs.

Step 1: choose older eggs 

The age of an egg does make a difference. The outer membrane of a freshly laid egg will cling to the shell more than older eggs, making the peeling process for difficult. Most likely, the eggs you’re getting at the supermarket are old enough that aging them in your fridge isn’t necessary, but check the expiration date. You don’t want expired eggs, but a week or two out are primed boiling candidates.

STEP 2: Cooking the eggs

Place eggs in pot, and cover with cold water. Place eggs on stove and bring the water to a boil. One the water turns to a rolling boil, turn off the heat source, remove it from the heat and cover quickly. Allow the eggs to sit in the water for about 9 to 12 minutes, depending on the size, small to large. (Set a timer.) When done, eggs will have bright yellow yolks and non-rubbery whites.

STEP 3: Cool it

When timer is up, gently remove eggs from the water an place them, again gently, in a large bowl of cool water. This is stop the cooking process. Let sit for a minute or two — any longer and they’ll be tougher to peel. You want the eggs to be at room temperature for best peeling results.

STEP 4: Get crackin’

Using the palm of you hand, gently roll the egg on your countertop, so that the shell is cracked all over. Then, using your room temperature water, submerge the egg and begin to peel. A running faucet can also work to your advantage too, as the pressure of the water can chip away at shell pieces without damaging the whites.

And there you have it! Perfect hard-boiled eggs, peeled and ready for serving in whatever Cobb salad, deviled egg or other magical egg creation you choose!

Also see, Here’s how your favorite chefs whip up their scrambled eggs.

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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.