How to Crack an Egg One-Handed

You’ve probably seen people on television cooking shows, cracking an egg using only one hand, and wondered how they do it. Nobody really teaches you this nifty skill. When I was younger I practically begged my older family members to teach me, but they seemed to enjoy keeping it secret from me. Several years (and many messy countertops) later into my teens, I figured it out for myself, but at the cost of many a ruined meal. “Why would you want to learn such a frivolous stunt?” they would ask me.

Well, for one, it frees up your other hand for other tasks, such as holding additional ingredients or utensils. Two, it keeps the non-egg hand from getting messy. And three…I guess it just looks cool. You feel like a professional chef when you can do it. Like a drummer spinning the sticks in his or her fingers, it might not add much to the final flavor or sound, but that added twist automatically racks up several points for style.

First, a quick review on two-handed egg-cracking:

1) You pick up an egg with your dominant hand. Wrap your fingers softly around the equator of the egg, without letting your fingertips meet.

2) Where your fingertips should be meeting is the point where you tap the egg gently on the edge of the frying pan or bowl.

3) Tap firmly enough to make a dent in the egg, but not too deeply that too much of the yolk and egg-white start dribbling out. Ideally, you tap a few times (read: about three) to create the beginnings of a line across the egg. You can’t be too gentle–but you can take too long making breakfast.

4) Reach towards the egg with your non-dominant (other) hand, fingertips under the egg, also near the line. Your thumbs should be meeting on top where you can see them. Position the whole assembly over the middle of the bowl. Start to press your fingertips into the line.

5) Keeping your thumbs together, use them as a hinge as you draw the two halves of the eggshell apart. Egg white and egg-yolk should drop into the bowl without too much incident.

Now for my one-handed method:

1) Take a deep breath. Pick up an egg with your dominant hand. Your thumb and fingers should again be partially wrapped around the equator of the egg.

2) The critical exception is your index (that’s “pointy” finger to the cuter readers) finger is hooked over the smaller end of the egg. Why the smaller end? It’s a little easier to get a grip on it than the large end. The middle finger is near the index finger, not stuck alongside of it, but rather forming a relaxed “V” shape. It should almost remind you of a baseball grip, or an eagle claw. Exhale slowly.

3) Now for the tapping. This is slightly different because I believe it should be done more firmly than the two-handed way, and that some positioning should be done. Point the smaller end of the egg slightly downwards. This should help direct the liquid contents to the right direction (i.e. dropping straight into the bowl, as opposed to running down your elbow!)Tap the equator of the egg (around the thumb) smartly on the edge of the bowl. The edge should “bite” into the egg almost a whole centimeter (nearly half an inch) deep before lifting the egg away. This should create the necessary crack-line. Sometimes a second tap might be needed.

4) Quickly position the egg over the center of the bowl. This helps pull the thick fluid together, if it has already started dripping out. It counteracts drippage on the outside of the bowl taking more egg-white to the countertop.

5) Finally, open the egg by lifting your “V” fingers, but keeping all your fingers bent. This time, the “hinge” is not at the thumbtips, but near the base of the “V”. Think Pac-Man, but in reverse.

Tips (When things go wrong):

-When your first attempt is not successful, next time you can try tapping the inside of the bowl instead of the lip. Even if you hit this area too strongly, you cannot possibly spill any egg outside of the bowl.

-With an imperfect crack-line (i.e. it looks llike a miniature wrecking ball went through the egg), go ahead and dig your fingers into the break and open, so as to get as much of the egg out as possible.

-While I like to use jumbo size eggs, perhaps smaller eggs may be easier for some to confidently wrap their fingers around.

-If you are breaking eggs into a hot pan, make sure to have a fork ready in case any stray bits of eggshell fall into the mix. Pick those suckers out right away before they get cooked in.

-And have a cloth or paper towel handy for any cleanups that suddenly need doing.

Soon you will be one-handed, egg-cracking like a pro. Watch as your guests’ eyebrows go up, impressed with your technique as you do a no-looker into the pan. Make sure to act nonchalantly and keep cooking, almost as if you didn’t notice how cool it looked. Again, it might not make your cooking taste better, but it certainly adds to the entertainment value of the meal. And that certainly counts for something.

Finally, when you are cooking and someone notices you breaking eggs one-handed, and asks, “Wow! How did you learn to do that?” , promise me you won’t act secretive, and try to wave them off with a smug little wink. Instead, I’m sure that person (very likely a youngster that looks up to you) would really appreciate it if you told them, “It’s easy. Here, let me show you how.”

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