We Tested 4 Famous Egg Salad Recipes and the Winner Is a Total Game-Changer

published Aug 25, 2023
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egg salad in four bowls next to each other
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Pearl Jones

For me, egg salad evokes peak springtime, probably because most of my egg salad memories exist post-Easter. But egg salad is more than just a solution to an abundance of boiled eggs. It’s the perfect anytime snack you can make out of just two basic ingredients: eggs and mayo. 

Of course, most egg salad recipes take things up a notch by incorporating something crunchy, or pickle-y, or fresh, like herbs. Some call for steaming the eggs, while others call for boiling — and there’s certainly no shortage of ways to mash them or sandwich them.

While I don’t really believe there’s a wrong way to make egg salad, I won’t deny that some taste better than others. In an attempt to find out which combination of ingredients and techniques is the most eggcellent, I pitted four popular recipes against one another. Would crunch win over no-crunch? Would avocado be the true hero?

Ultimately, I learned there are many ways to cook and chop an egg, and all of them are fairly easy and very satisfying. And while these recipes are packed with smart tricks, what it really came down to for me was flavor and crave-ability. The winner was the one I reached for the most — and I have a feeling it will eggcite you, too. Let’s get cracking!

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Pearl Jones

Meet Our 4 Contenders

To keep the playing field fair, I eliminated any recipes that put too much focus on the sandwich and not enough on the egg salad itself. And while the egg-cooking method is certainly important, it wasn’t my primary focus. (If you’re looking for the best way to boil an egg, check out this Skills showdown.) Ultimately, I was looking for four popular recipes that each had a distinct point of view.

Smitten Kitchens recipe features homemade pickled celery, which was a mix-in I’d never seen before. I was also excited that Deb calls for an egg slicer, because I rarely get to put mine to use.

Carla Hall’s recipe calls for from-scratch chive mayonnaise, and so of course I had to know: Is homemade mayonnaise the key to better egg salad? The rest of her recipe is pretty simple, and calls for chopping the eggs into 1/2-inch pieces with a knife.

Martha Stewart uses 10 egg whites and only 2 egg yolks in her twist on egg salad. Her recipe, which also calls for light mayonnaise and an entire avocado, is the opposite of crunchy. She uses a pastry blender to chop up her cooked eggs.

Serious Eats calls for steaming the eggs, and then asks you to squeeze them into pieces with your hands. It also calls for lots of fresh mix-ins, including sliced scallions, fresh parsley, and lemon zest and juice.

How I Tested the Egg Salad Recipes

I tasted these salads over the course of three days to see how the flavors and textures evolved. I tasted each one alone and on toast, and used the same type of bread for each test. I originally wanted to use a Pullman loaf, but after three shopping fails, I went with Martin’s sliced potato bread. I also used the same brand of egg across all tests.

For all the recipes made with store-bought mayo, I used Hellman’s canola mayonnaise. Martha’s recipe called for light mayonnaise, so I used Hellman’s light mayonnaise. In order to keep this showdown mostly about the salad itself, I kept any recommended accoutrements, such as lettuce or radishes, out of the equation.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Pearl Jones

1. The Most Underwhelming: Martha Stewart’s Egg Salad

This recipe is titled “Martha’s favorite egg salad sandwich,” and Martha rarely misses, so I figured it would be one of my favorites, too. But out of all the recipes I tested, this is the one I probably wouldn’t make again.

The biggest miss here is that Martha removes most of the egg yolks and replaces them with avocado. She also uses light mayonnaise. After tasting all four of these egg salads side by side, I now believe that the texture and mouthfeel of egg yolks combined with full-fat mayo is a big part of what makes egg salad so delicious, and unfortunately Martha’s had none of that. I also didn’t like that the recipe was so wasteful: Eight egg yolks went into the trash.

I will give her points for her egg-chopping method, though. She uses a pastry blender to smash the eggs, which is a brilliant way to put this often-overlooked tool to use.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Pearl Jones

2. The Best Egg-Cooking Technique: Serious Eats’ Egg Salad

I thoroughly enjoyed all of the top three recipes, and there is less than one point separating them. This version stood out for its technique of steaming the eggs, which was just as easy as boiling and made them the easiest to peel. This egg salad also had nice crunch, thanks to finely diced celery, although I would have preferred it to be pickled, like in Smitten Kitchen’s.

My biggest complaint about this recipe is that it took awhile for the flavors to meld. I love the way the scallions seasoned the dish, but I could only appreciate those flavors a few days in. If you’re looking for a great egg salad to eat immediately, this isn’t it.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Pearl Jones

3. The Flavor Queen: Smitten Kitchen’s Egg Salad

Smitten Kitchen is the only one who quick-pickled her celery, which added tons of crunch and flavor to her egg salad. And then she adds even more flavor with coarse mustard and minced shallots. Because of all of this, this egg salad didn’t need to be served on bread — in fact, I preferred it straight from the mixing bowl. Unlike Serious Eats’ recipe, this one is best right after you make it, and actually loses a bit of its pizzazz as it sits.

I also liked that this recipe calls for an egg slicer. It makes quick and easy work of slicing hard-boiled eggs, and it’s fun to use, too. If Carla’s egg salad hadn’t been so dang delicious, I would have happily crowned this egg salad the winner.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Pearl Jones

4. My New Go-To: Carla Hall’s Egg Salad

Yes, Carla Hall’s egg salad is the winner of this showdown, but it’s really her homemade chive mayo that deserves the crown. It’s a cinch to make, thanks to her brilliant food processor technique, and it helps carry flavor to every part of the salad. Time and time again my palate chose this version. It’s rich but still tastes fresh, and it’s even better on toast: The chive-infused creaminess soaks into the bread in the most perfect way. The only thing missing for me was a little crunch, so next time I’ll throw in some chopped celery. Or maybe I’ll steam my eggs (a la Serious Eats), make some pickled celery (like Smitten Kitchen), and then bring it all together with Carla’s awesome mayo for a truly eggceptional sandwich. (Sorry. I’ll see myself out.)

Now it’s your turn to tell us: Do you have a favorite egg salad recipe? Let us know in the comments!

This post originally ran on The Kitchn. See it there: We Tested 4 Famous Egg Salad Recipes and the Winner Is a Total Game-Changer