Inside: This classic deviled egg recipe is creamy, tangy, and slightly sweet with a pickle relish Southern twist. The perfect party food for family gatherings, potlucks, and special occasions! ➡
Deviled eggs are as expected at every southern shindig as the casseroles and banana pudding. And with good reason. These nostalgic bite-size appetizers are easy to eat and full of creamy, tangy flavor—with just a hint of sweetness.
As with most heirloom recipes, everybody makes their deviled eggs a little differently (and swear they’re the best).
But all cooks need a basic classic Southern deviled eggs recipe in their “what can I bring” collection. So I’ve put together a traditional version so you can make sure to have one for your recipe files when you need it. (Make sure to pin it or print the recipe card at the bottom.)
And what makes this classic recipe so scrumptious? It’s the pickle relish!
What’s in deviled eggs?
Here are the few simple ingredients you’ll need for this traditional deviled egg recipe:
- 7 large eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
- 2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise (many Southern cooks swear by Duke’s)
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- 1 1/2-2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish (or dill relish if you prefer)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Paprika or smoked paprika for topping (optional)
- Chopped scallions for topping (optional)
Measuring apparently wasn’t a thing in Grandma’s day, so feel free to adjust these amounts and ingredients to suit how you like them best.
1. Prepare the hard-boiled eggs.
This is the part that takes the most time in this simple recipe. And if you really want to make it easy, buy them already pre-cooked and peeled! Costco has a warehouse-sized package that I love to use when I’m in a hurry.
But if you want to cook your own, here are four methods for making perfect and easy-to-peel hard-boiled eggs:
- Stovetop hard-boiled eggs: Bring a pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat and carefully slide the eggs into the hot water with a spoon. Cook over a low boil for 10-12 minutes, depending on the size of the eggs. While the eggs are cooking, fill a large bowl with ice and water. When the eggs are done, transfer them into the ice bath with a slotted spoon to stop the cooking. Leave until cool enough to handle, about 2-3 minutes. (Peel them underwater for an easy way to contain all the shell fragments.)
- Steamed hard-boiled eggs: Add an inch of water to the bottom of a large pot with a steamer insert and bring to a low boil. Add eggs to the basket, cover, and cook for 12 minutes. Remove the eggs and transfer them to the ice bath.
- Instant Pot hard-boiled eggs: Place eggs on the rack inside an Instant Pot and add one cup of water. Seal and set on high pressure. Cook for 5 minutes, then let the pressure naturally release for 5 minutes. Finish releasing and remove the eggs. Slide them into the ice bath to halt cooking.
- Air Fryer hard-boiled eggs: Place eggs in the basket of an air fryer and set the temperature to 250 degrees. Cook for 16 minutes and remove and cool in the ice bath. (Air fryers vary, so you may have to experiment a bit.)
2. Peel, slice, and remove the yolks.
Once the eggs are cool, peel the eggs:
- Remove from the ice bath after 2-3 minutes.
- Gently crack and roll the egg on the counter to break apart the shell.
- Start removing the shell at the large end (there’s an air pocket there) and completely peel the egg.
For hard-to-remove eggshells:
- If the shell is stubborn, run cold water over the egg as you remove the pieces. Or soak them up to 10 minutes in the ice bath and peel them under the ice water.
- The shells from fresh eggs from the farm will be harder to remove. For easy peeling, use store-bought, slightly older eggs.
Slice six of the eggs in half lengthwise.
Remove the egg yolks with a small spoon and place them in a food processor or bowl, along with the remaining whole egg.
Note: Feel free to skip the whole egg. This is an old trick from Paula Deen that makes the filling go further so that you have more than enough!
3. Make the filling.
Chop the yolks (and whole egg if using) in the food processor. Or you can mash with the back of a fork in a bowl, or use a hand mixer for a smooth creamy filling.
Add the mayonnaise, mustard, pickle relish, and salt and pepper to taste and mash or blend until smooth and creamy. Taste the filling and adjust as desired.
4. Fill the eggs and garnish.
Clean up the white halves before filling. (I also like to add a light sprinkle of salt to the egg whites, but I’m a salt fiend).
Fill the eggs one of these two ways:
- Fill the eggs with two spoons. One spoon for scooping the egg filling, and one for scraping it off into the egg.
- Fill the eggs with a piping bag. This is the best way to fill a lot of eggs fast. You can also place your piping tip of choice down in the corner of a ziplock bag and snip the end.
5. Garnish and serve.
Traditional deviled eggs are usually served with a sprinkle of paprika. Regular red or smoked paprika will do—it’s mostly just for color.
Since I love the pickle flavor, the best deviled eggs to me have lots of relish. So my favorite way to garnish them is with whole bits from the pickle relish.
And to finish them off, top them off with a bit of thinly cut scallions for a little more color.
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Serve these yummy appetizers on a pretty platter or deviled egg plate. If you have to transport them, try placing them in an egg carton or mini muffin tin covered with plastic wrap. Carry with care, then plate them when you get there. Or use a specially-made deviled egg carrier.
Deviled Egg FAQs:
Are deviled eggs a Southern thing? And why are they called “deviled” eggs?
While deviled eggs are definitely a “thing” in the South, they didn’t originate there. According to an article in It’s A Southern Thing, they’ve been traced back to ancient Rome where it was a spicy appetizer. The Romans described spicy foods with the word “devil”, then later the Brits adopted the term for adding seasoning and spice to dishes and called it “deviling”.
The best-known first sighting in the South was a recipe printed in an Alabama newspaper. It got passed throughout the South and became a new darling of the church potluck. So while we didn’t invent them and they’re also beloved everywhere, we do attempt to claim them as our own.
And another fun fact—because they were widely served at church gatherings, people early on called them “salad eggs”, “dressed eggs”, “divine eggs”, and “stuffed eggs” for fear of any association with the devil.
How long will deviled eggs save?
They shouldn’t be made more than 24 hours in advance. Store any leftover deviled eggs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
What other ingredients are good in deviled eggs?
Play around with different ingredients to make your own special family recipe! Try:
- Dill pickle relish instead of sweet relish
- Miracle Whip instead of mayo for a sweeter egg filling
- Dijon mustard instead of yellow mustard
- Chopped pickles and pickle juice instead of relish
- Dash of vinegar for an extra tangy filling
- A dash of hot sauce
- Bacon crumbles
Check out this other Southern heirloom recipe that’s a perfect potluck summer side— Marinated Shoepeg Corn Vegetable Salad.
As a kid, I missed out on these tasty bites—I thought they looked so gross! Now I have trouble stopping after only a couple. Can you eat too many deviled eggs? Probably…
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