Hard-boiled eggs are a popular choice when it comes to healthy breakfasts and snacks. Not only are they packed with essential nutrients but are also incredibly versatile.
They are super easy to prepare and taste just as incredible. But what if you accidentally leave them out overnight? Are they still safe to eat? Let’s find out!
So, can you leave hard-boiled eggs out overnight? No, hard-boiled eggs, or any type of eggs for that matter, cannot be left out overnight. According to the USDA, the maximum time they can sit out is two hours, or one hour if the temperature is 90°F or above.
Read on for more information on storing hard-boiled eggs, how long they last, how to tell if they have gone bad, and more:
Is It Safe To Leave Hard-Boiled Eggs Out Overnight?
No, it is not safe to leave hard-boiled eggs out overnight as they become susceptible to bacterial contamination and unfit for consumption.
According to the USDA, certain foods such as hard-boiled eggs must never be left out at room temperature for more than two hours.
This is because when the temperature is between 40°F and 140°F, also called “the danger zone”, harmful bacteria get a chance to grow, rendering the food unsafe for consumption.
If the ambient temperature is above 90°F, they can spoil even faster and mustn’t be kept out for more than an hour.
When eggs are boiled, the integrity of the eggshell is compromised due to the high heat.
It is no longer sturdy and risks being cracked, exposing the inside egg to air-carrying harmful bacteria.
Boiled eggs sitting for long periods at room temperature can be the perfect host for such bacteria, making them unsafe to eat.
How Long Do Hard-Boiled Eggs Last?
Hard-boiled eggs do not have a very long shelf life and must be refrigerated within 2 hours of preparing them.
The total time they can last in the refrigerator depends on whether they are peeled or unpeeled.
As long as the shell is intact, hard-boiled eggs can be stored for up to 7 days in the refrigerator.
With the shell removed, they become more susceptible to spoilage and can last for only 5 days in the refrigerator.
Compared to raw eggs that can be kept safe in the refrigerator for 5 to 6 weeks, hard-boiled eggs have a much shorter shelf life.
This is because raw eggs have a coating on their shell that keeps the egg inside protected from bacteria.
Once the egg is boiled, the heat dissolves the protective layer, making it more susceptible to bacteria entering through cracks in the shell. This is also why peeled hard-boiled eggs have a shorter life span than unpeeled ones.
Here is a summary of how long raw and hard-boiled eggs last in the refrigerator:
|Egg Type||Time It Lasts In The Refrigerator|
|Raw egg||5 to 6 weeks|
|Hard-Boiled Egg (With The Shell)||7 days|
|Hard-Boiled Egg (Peeled)||5 days|
How To Store Hard-Boiled Eggs?
Hard-boiled eggs are easy to store in the refrigerator so that they can last for a few days.
The first step is to let them cool at room temperature for a while.
This is an important step since placing hot items in the refrigerator may warm up the other surrounding items and increase their risk of spoilage.
You also need to be very mindful about not leaving the hard-boiled eggs at room temperature for too long.
To minimize the time that it takes for them to cool down, you can place them in cold water or an ice bath for a few minutes. Once they have cooled down, you can put them in the refrigerator.
Storing Peeled Hard-Boiled Eggs
If you wish to peel your hard-boiled eggs before storing them, you can do so, but remember that peeled eggs don’t last as long as unpeeled ones.
Despite that, if you wish to peel them, be sure to store them in an airtight bag or container after peeling them.
Since they are peeled and do not have any protective coating on them, they need to be protected from exposure to air and any microorganisms that may affect their quality.
Peeled hard-boiled eggs are also susceptible to drying out, which is why it is recommended to place a damp paper towel inside the container before keeping it in the refrigerator.
Keep the container with the egg and damp paper towel on the middle shelf of the refrigerator as that is where the temperature is most stable.
Storing Unpeeled Hard-Boiled Eggs
Like peeled hard-boiled eggs, unpeeled ones should also be kept in an airtight bag or container on the middle shelf of your refrigerator.
Keeping them sealed prevents any unwanted odors from entering them and harmful bacteria from spoiling them.
Also, since the eggs have their shells on, you can skip adding the wet paper towel for moisture.
Can You Store Hard-Boiled Eggs In Vinegar?
If you have too many hard-boiled eggs that you know you won’t be able to eat within a week, there’s a simple solution for saving them from being tossed out – and that is pickling!
Keeping eggs submerged in vinegar in an airtight jar is a great method for preserving them.
Pickled hard-boiled eggs can last 3 to 4 months in the refrigerator and make a delicious snack as well.
Here’s how you can store hard-boiled eggs in vinegar:
- Use glass jars with a good hermetic seal to keep the eggs from being exposed to air, light, and microorganisms.
- Start by sterilizing the jars to prevent bacteria from forming.
- Wash them with warm water and dish soap, and rinse them well.
- Put them in the oven for about 30 minutes at the lowest setting. (Make sure the jars are oven-safe).
- Meanwhile, boil the eggs and let them cool in some cold water for about 15 minutes.
- To make it easier to peel them, you may pass them under cold running water.
- In a separate pot, prepare the brine using water, distilled vinegar, garlic, herbs, and spices for the marinade.
- Put the pot on a stove and let it come to a boil. Let it cool for about 10 minutes.
- When the jars are done, take them out of the oven and put the hard-boiled eggs in the sterilized jars.
- Add the brine on top of the eggs, making sure to fully submerge them.
- Close the lid tightly and refrigerate as soon as possible.
Signs That Tell A Hard-Boiled Egg Has Gone Bad
Hard-boiled eggs are perishable food items. They can go bad if they are left out for too long, left in the refrigerator for too long, or not kept in the right storage conditions.
Like all spoiled food items, when a hard-boiled egg goes bad, it becomes unsafe for consumption.
Eating bad hard-boiled eggs puts you at risk for various food-borne illnesses and results in symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.
Other than assessing the time frame of the stored eggs, there are a few other signs that indicate that the hard-boiled eggs have gone bad, the most obvious one being the egg’s aroma.
Spoiled eggs have a distinct smell that is enough to make any person gag.
When a hard-boiled egg goes bad, it gives off a strong sulfuric smell, which becomes more evident when it is removed from its shell.
Although there are other signs that tell the egg has expired such as its appearance and taste, the smell is usually something that most people notice first.
To properly check if the egg has gone bad, you will have to remove it from its shell if you haven’t already before storing it. If it smells bad, it is most definitely rotten and must be discarded immediately.
If it smells alright, you may cut open the peeled egg to check for any discoloration inside. If you see any unusual colors or the presence of mold, do not consume it and discard it immediately.
If both the aroma and appearance seem fine, you may take a small nibble to determine its taste.
However, if they’ve been left out for too long or have been in the refrigerator for over a week, do not put yourself at risk and discard them without taste-testing them. Better safe than sorry!
Now that you know that you can’t leave hard-boiled eggs out overnight and how unsafe it is to do so, here are a few additional questions we thought you might have:
Can you freeze hard-boiled eggs?
No, it is not recommended to freeze hard-boiled eggs. The whites will become tough and inedible. Although you can separate the eggs and freeze the yolks for later use.
How long does egg salad last?
Egg salad shouldn’t be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. If kept refrigerated and in an airtight container, it can last for 3 to 4 days.
The time may be shorter if it includes any ingredients that may spoil sooner or lose their quality, such as a dressing.