Did I say “cheap”? Whoops! I meant “frugal”. That’s much more politically correct.
I also mean to say, “Appetizer? Don’t make me bring an appetizer? I can never think of a good appetizer!”
As much as I do in the kitchen, for some reason grazing foods to feed a crowd were never my forte, at least until I learned this spicy cheesy chicken dip and reverse engineered it to use all from-scratch ingredients.
Simple deviled eggs were always my go-to when I have to bring a dish to pass. Here’s why I still love ’em:
- They are recognizable without a label.
- Everyone loves them. Deviled eggs always get eaten.
- They’re cheap! (I mean, inexpensive.)
- Eggs are healthy, and I can make them healthier.
- I know how to make them.
- They use common ingredients.
- Did I mention you can make enough for a presentable dish to pass for about $1.50? Even if you choose pastured, organic eggs, you can get away with $4.50 for your whole party requirement. (My good eggs are $4.00/dozen. I imagine this varies widely.)
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Three Tips for Savvy Deviled Egg Makers
1. Crack the eggs under water for easier peeling.
Peeling the eggs is the most time-consuming part of deviled eggs, and if you can get water under the shell, you’re more likely to have luck speeding up the process. I cool the eggs in cold water and then crack them in a fresh batch of cold water and leave them immersed. Eggs peel best when they’re less fresh, which is why my farm eggs give me such a terrible time, one tiny piece of shell after another.
There are some great ideas for different ways to make peeling hard-cooked eggs in the comments, and recently I’ve found that eggs cooked in the Instant Pot are a breeze to peel.
2. Mash the yolks easily.
Either use a hand blender or just throw them all in a plastic bag and smush away! This is a great job for a young child.
3. Use a tool to fill the whites in an efficient way.
If you mash the yolks in a baggie, snip off one corner and squeeze the contents into each individual egg white shell. No clean-up required! I like to use my Wilton Dessert Decorator with the wide tip to make the deviled eggs really pretty.
Even Healthier Deviled Eggs
Since you are (hopefully) trying to avoid industrial oils as much as possible, you’ll get squeamish when you read “soybean oil” on the ingredients list of most mayonnaise or Miracle Whip jars. Here’s how I “cleaned up” the basic deviled egg recipe:
How much mayo and mustard do you use? Trial and error:
First I use a plop of each, slightly more mayo than mustard (I love mustard; you may want less of that!).
That’s much too dry
Double the amounts
Still too dry, but closer
I added one more hefty dollop of each, along with about 1/2 tsp salt and a few grinds pepper for a dozen eggs, and it was great. Finish with a spoon instead of the hand blender. You just have to taste and see!
Deviled Eggs, Little Helper Style
My kids have been helping in the kitchen since long before we created Kids Cook Real Food, a video eCourse that teaches kids cooking skills and I was always intentional about it like I am in the Cooking Curriculum Map.
There are a few modifications you may have to make to your personal recipe (especially if you usually go free-style, like I do) in order for little ones to help:
- The hard-boiled eggs need to be easy peelers.
- This will happen, I understand, when the eggs are not as fresh. You can also crack the shells after they’re cold but still in cold water. This allows water to get under the shell and helps them – usually – to slide right off. My son had the patience of a saint and would pick off every little shell fragment when he was two. By the time he was three, he was done peeling eggs after he encountered one that wasn’t an “easy peeler”. Shucks.
- Much like my posts, you need to really hold toddlers’ hands through detailed directions if you want them to do something correctly. To teach how to peel eggs:
- Teach the process in great detail.
- Set up the child with a shallow bowl of water, a bowl or plate for the shells, and a bowl or plate for the peeled egg. Only give them one egg at a time.
- Demonstrate the entire process:
- Crack the egg all the way around.
- Dip in the water to loosen the shell.
- Show how to peel, using as much description as you can.
- Show the child exactly where to put the shells, telling them that the shells need to go into the garbage bowl right away. This will help the child learn order and precision.
- After peeling, show the child how to check for shell fragments and dip into the water to rinse off.
- Put the peeled egg into the bowl.
- The child is now ready to try the skill on his/her own.
- NOW you can show them how to cut the eggs.
- Again, make sure you have clear-cut areas for peeled eggs, cutting the eggs, and putting the pieces. Decide if you want them to cut the entire egg and then move the pieces to the bowl, or move each piece as they cut it into halves. Do it the same every time.
- Watch the child do the work, especially the first time. Wait a moment before responding if you see a mistake. They may catch it themselves! Don’t forget to allow for little errors that won’t change the outcome of the dish
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Here’s a picture I took many years ago of my son helping me make deviled eggs.
My dear 4-year-old asked to help like he did when he was little, and I was happy to work with him but a little nervous he’d get frustrated by the tough shells. He actually said, “This is fun!” and peeled four of my eggs for me.
I hope all of you who have young children (or medium-sized children, for that matter!) can make a habit of inviting them into the kitchen and capitalizing on the teaching moments.
If you need more real food appetizers that will please a crowd, check out the many ideas I’ve collected.