Do Hard-Boiled Eggs Go Bad?

Hard-boiled eggs can be a great high-protein breakfast or a great addition to salads, but if you’re trying to plan ahead for easy meals or meals on-the-go, you’re probably wondering if hard-boiled eggs go bad.  Let’s see.

Quick Answer

Hard-boiled eggs are best kept covered, but not peeled, in the inside portion of your refrigerator and away from the refrigerator door.  Harmful bacteria will develop and quickly grow if your hard-boiled eggs are left outside the refrigerator for too long. If your eggs have been outside the refrigerator for more than two hours, throw them away.  


Hard-boiled eggs are a great source of protein and are part of many recipes.  Ensuring your eggs are safe to eat, regardless of where they have been stored, is important.

Do Hard-Boiled Eggs Go Bad? How Long Do Hard-boiled Eggs Last?

Given the rise in popularity of hard-boiled eggs thanks to their health benefits, it’s important to know how long your hard-boiled eggs can safely be outside the refrigerator and still be good to eat.

How Long Do Hard-boiled Eggs Last Outside?

Hard-boiled eggs are best kept in the refrigerator, but Easter egg hunts require eggs, and finding a good use for all those eggs after the hunt is important too.  So, in hopes of keeping you safe, let’s walk through how long your eggs will be good to eat.

Two-hour rule:  Hard-boiled eggs left out of the refrigerator for more than two hours should be thrown away.  After two hours harmful bacteria can develop and quickly multiply and, if eaten, will cause you to become sick.

If in doubt, smell your eggs:  If you have any doubt as to whether or not your egg is safe to eat, smell it.  Eggs that have gone bad have a “Sulphur” or rotten smell to them.  That shouldn’t be your only guide, however. Eggs that have been outside the refrigerator for a few hours may not have developed the smell quite yet, but they still aren’t safe to eat.

If you plan your Easter egg hunt carefully, those eggs are still fine to eat.  When in doubt, though, err on the side of caution and don’t eat those unrefrigerated hard-boiled eggs.

How Long Do Hard-boiled Eggs Last in the Fridge?

Hard-boiled eggs are best kept in their shell until ready to eat, covered, and in the inside part of your refrigerator.  Regardless of whether or not you peel your eggs, they should be safe to eat for up to one week.

Storing hard-boiled eggs:  Hard-boiled eggs should be stored in your refrigerator within two hours of cooking.  It’s best to keep your eggs away from the temperature fluctuations that come from opening the refrigerator door, so store them in the inside part of your refrigerator.  It’s also best to keep your eggs covered using either a container or a food storage bag to keep them away from any odors in your refrigerator.

To peel or not:  Hard-boiled eggs stay freshest stored in their shell, but if you must peel them ahead they’ll be fine.  Store peeled eggs covered, but moist.  This is best achieved by including a damp paper towel in the container with the peeled eggs.  The towel can be on top of or underneath the eggs.

Hard-boiled eggs, if stored properly in your refrigerator, should last up to one week.  Boiling ahead and storing will make breakfast on-the-go quick and easy.

How Long Do Hard-boiled Eggs Last in the Freezer?

There are times when you have extra hard-boiled eggs and it’s logical to wonder if you can freeze them.  Only one part of the egg, however, takes well to being frozen.

Hard-boiled egg whites:  The white portion of hard-boiled eggs does not freeze well.  It becomes tough and inedible.  If you want to freeze your hard-boiled eggs, discard the whites.

Hard-boiled egg yolks:  The yellow part of hard-boiled eggs, or the yolks, freezes very well and if properly stored, can last up to six months in your freezer.  The yolks are best stored in a food storage bag or freezer-safe container.

Egg yolks can be safely frozen for several months.  Hard-boiled egg whites, however, don’t freeze well and should either be eaten before they go bad or they should be discarded as you freeze the yolks.

How to Tell if Hard-boiled Eggs Are Bad? How To Know if Hard-boiled Eggs Are Fresh?

Hard-boiled eggs last about a week in your refrigerator whether you peel them or not.  Before you eat those eggs, however, be sure they’re fresh.

Freshness:  The best way to tell if your hard-boiled eggs are fresh is if they smell fresh.  Eggs that are going bad or have gone bad have a smell or an odor to them.  If you detect an odor or even if your eggs just smell different, throw them away.  Eating a rotten egg can make you sick so if you have any concerns just throw the egg away instead of eating it.

Tricks:  There are plenty of tricks out there designed to tell if your eggs have been boiled or not or if they are fresh or not, but the surest way to know the answer to either question is to crack or peel the egg.  Sometimes the odor of a bad egg is hiding underneath the egg’s shell.  If, after cracking the egg everything seems fine, then you can go ahead and cook or use the egg as you had planned.

Be sure to eat only fresh hard-boiled eggs.  In this case, your nose definitely knows what is fresh and what isn’t.

How to Store Hard-boiled Eggs?

Hard-boiled eggs, peeled or not, are best stored in the refrigerator.  Keeping your hard-boiled eggs nice and cool will help them to stay fresh as long as possible.

Inside the refrigerator is best:  Your hard-boiled eggs will stay freshest in kept in the coolest part of your refrigerator.  Store your eggs inside your refrigerator and away from the door.

Keep them covered:  For best results, store your hard-boiled eggs in a container or a food storage bag, removing as much air as possible.

If peeled, keep them damp:  If you peel your hard-boiled eggs for storage in the refrigerator, add a damp paper towel to the container or bag they are stored in.  The towel can be either on top of or underneath the eggs.  This will ensure the hard-boiled eggs don’t dry out.

If stored properly your hard-boiled eggs should last a week.  Take care to ensure they stay cold and if peeled, they also stay moist.

Can You Freeze Hard-boiled Eggs? How? Why?

When you have extra hard-boiled eggs it’s easy to think about freezing them so you can keep them longer. Part of those eggs can and part of them can’t.

Separate the whites from the yolks:  Hard-boiled egg whites do not freeze well, but hard-boiled egg yolks do.  If you want to freeze your hard-boiled eggs, it’s best to separate the eggs and freeze only the yolks.  Those yolks should last up to six months in your freezer.

Freezing the yolks:  Store your hard-boiled egg yolks in a freezer-safe container or a food storage bag to keep them fresh as long as possible.  You might want to consider how you will use the yolks and store them so you can easily remove a portion at a time from the container.

Hard-boiled egg yolks can be frozen for later use in all kinds of recipes or to add to your favorite salad.

How to Thaw Hard-boiled Eggs?

Frozen hard-boiled egg yolks can easily be thawed.  By removing the number of yolks you would like to use from the freezer and placing them on the counter thaw 30 minutes or so before you wish to eat you will easily have hard-boiled egg yolks ready to use.

Hard-boiled egg yolks are great on top of salads and can be added to many recipes.  With this time-saving tip, you will always have hard-boiled egg yolks on hand and ready to use.

Wrap Up

Hard-boiled eggs are perishable, but if properly stored can stay fresh in your refrigerator for up to a week.  How do you like to enjoy your hard-boiled eggs?  Tell us in the comments below.

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