Friday, April 22, 2011

Apple #519: Deviled Eggs

As we are about to celebrate Easter, eggs are everywhere.  In TV commercials, in ads online, in the grocery store.  While thinking of various ways to prepare eggs, I remembered deviled eggs.  My mom used to turn our dyed eggs into deviled eggs eventually.  It occurs to me to wonder how we get deviled eggs on Easter, which is about as anti-devil as it gets.

Put more simply, what does it mean to "devil" an egg?

Deviled eggs.  The eventual fate of the Easter egg.
(Photo from CountryTime Recipes)

  • "To devil" some sort of food dates back to the late 1700s.  It meant to add heavy seasonings or lots of hot spices to a dish.
  • The idea, apparently, was to make food "hot" or "spicy as the devil."
  • In the 19th century, the hot spices were expanded to include spicy mustards or cayenne or curry.
  • Originally, deviling seems to have been done more often to meats, such as kidneys or ham.  Remember deviled ham?

Underworld deviled ham gets its name and its "sharp flavor" from the spices and condiments -- mainly mustard -- that are added.
(Image from Wacky Packages)

  • But eventually, the deviling was done to eggs, too.
  • You'll notice that in recipes for deviled eggs, mustard is a primary ingredient.  Our yellow mustard today is pretty mild, but perhaps once upon a time the mustard was hotter or spicier.  
  • The paprika which is to be sprinkled on top at the end may have once been a source of heat.  But in most recipes today, it's considered more of a garnish and it's usually listed as optional.  In my encounters with deviled eggs over the years, the paprika has appeared less and less often.

See? Not much paprika here.  But they did get all fancy and piped the filling into the whites.
(Photo and recipe from

  • I did find some recipes out there for spicy deviled eggs.  Here's one that looked like it might be especially tasty:
      • 12 eggs, hard boiled and peeled
      • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
      • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
      • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
      • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
      • 1 green onion, minced
      • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
      • 1 tablespoon horseradish
      • salt & pepper to taste
      • cayenne pepper
      • Cut the eggs in half. Carefully remove the yolks so as not to break the whites. Set the whites aside and put the yolks into a mixing bowl.
      • Into the mixing bowl add the mayonnaise, mustard, cheese, jalapeño, onion, parsley, and horseradish.  Mash the yolks with the back of a fork and mix well. Salt and pepper to taste.
      • With a teaspoon, scoop the mixture into the whites. Sprinkle each with cayenne pepper.
      • Cover carefully and refrigerate one hour before serving. (Recipe from

The deviled eggs shown here have smoked salmon on top, and the yolks are mixed with 3/4 tablespoons of Tabasco sauce.  That's another way to get some heat into those eggs.
(Photo and recipe from Blisstree)

  • I also saw a number of recipes out there that call for bacon, that oh-so-popular ingredient.  I imagine you could add bacon pieces to the recipe I listed above. 

These eggs have bacon pieces on top, and the recipe calls for adding 4 teaspoons of bacon fat to the yolk mixture. That's optional, though. Also on top is shaved white cheddar.
(Photo and recipe from Chow)

Happy Easter, and enjoy those eggs!

The Straight Dope, What's up with "deviled" eggs, ham, etc.? October 12, 2004
The Food Timeline, FAQs: eggs, deviled eggs


  1. I put Tabasco and bacon in mine. And, I'm obsessed with deviled egg platters. I think they're neat and I want as many as my kitchen cabinets can hold.

  2. I like those platters, too. When I was little, I used to play with one as a toy. Those tiny little dolls fit right in the shallows and slept very nicely there.


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