There is nothing quite like a classic egg salad. The eggs are flawlessly firm, and the dressing is rich. Its charming pale-yellow color proves it has the ideal balance of creamy components and eggy goodness. In its most simple form, people create egg salad with hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, and spices. Chopped vegetables and herbs can also enhance the dish’s quality. Although it’s a summertime favorite because it’s light and refreshing, the salad is made with ingredients that the grocery store stocks year-round, so there’s no concern about seasonal ingredients restricting you from making it in the colder months.

However, even though it is a relatively straightforward dish, there are several ways to botch it. If you’re not attentive, its consistency can go from hearty to soupy in no time. More so, cooking and peeling the eggs can be tricky, especially for beginner cooks. Then, there’s the challenge of finding the perfect harmony when you season it. Fortunately, once you know the major slip-ups to avoid, you’ll no longer have to deal with them. The dish suddenly becomes a whole lot easier when you know the ins and outs of making egg salad, so let’s get into the gist of it.

1. You chop the eggs too small

If you have ever dug into a mushy egg salad, it was likely because the eggs were over-pulverized. When you break them down into tiny pieces, they blend in with the dressing so much that it all becomes indiscernible and gloopy. There are various ways to chop the hard-boiled eggs for the dish; some use a chef’s knife to rough chop the eggs, while others use a nifty egg slicer or potato masher to get the job done. If you use an egg slicer, it doesn’t need to go through it more than twice. On the other hand, when you chop them manually, resist cutting them so small that they’re minced. You want it to be somewhat chunky because the firm texture of the eggs is much more satisfying when it’s distinguishable from the dressing.

There is also a hands-on method that guarantees the perfect egg salad and prevents the dish from turning gluey. Simply use your hands to crush the eggs. This gives you control over how meaty the egg white pieces are. If you have food prep gloves, it’s time to break them out; otherwise, wash your hands before you do this. Egg salad is already perishable, so you don’t want to introduce unwanted bacteria. Ultimately, the overall mouthfeel is much more delightful when you leave the egg pieces chunkier than the other ingredients like chopped veggies.

2. You add too much mayonnaise

If you have a problem with your egg salad being too runny, the mayonnaise could be why, as the amount you add directly affects the egg salad’s texture. It’s best to separately create the dressing and then incorporate it in increments to avoid this problem. Many folks place the chopped eggs in a bowl and pour all the other ingredients on top before they mix it all together. While this saves you from having extra dirty dishes to clean, it’s also a gamble. Fortunately, there is an impromptu solution for when you’ve already done the damage and the salad is a watery mess.

According to The Oregonian, you can sprinkle a small number of breadcrumbs into the mixture and fold them in. We’re not talking Panko or breadcrumbs with large granules, rather the crumbs should be as fine as sand so that you can’t feel them in the salad when you eat it. The bread soaks up some of the extra fluid, which rescues the egg salad. Of course, this is a last-ditch effort, and you should be cautious with how much mayo you put from the start, so you don’t have to resort to this.

3. You under season it

Don’t make the error of creating a bland egg salad. Specifically, one of the most straightforward yet crucial practices you shouldn’t neglect is the use of salt. No matter how much your recipe calls for, always use your best judgment. If you’ve added the necessary amount and the salad still lacks salt, don’t be afraid to add a pinch more at a time. Aside from salt, numerous other seasonings taste heavenly in egg salad. Some cooking spices that do it justice include black pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. If you want the dish to have a subtle kick, mix in a small pinch of red chili flakes, cayenne pepper, or chili powder.

And let’s not forget about the herbs essential in providing a sense of liveliness to the dish. Herbs like parsley, chives, dill, and tarragon are all terrific candidates. If you fancy bolder flavors, then cilantro or mint might be the right choice for you. Fresh herbs are unparalleled because of their taste. They also provide a pop of color to the dish. Nevertheless, dried herbs work, too, if that’s all you have on hand. For instance, use an herb blend like Herbes de Provence to make French-style egg salad. It won’t disappoint.

4. You don’t experiment with mix-ins

Classic egg salad is the perfect foundation by which you can expand upon and enhance. You certainly miss out if you only stick to the essential ingredients and don’t make the dish your own. When you blend in additional components, they provide texture, flavor, and color contrast, so the presentation improves. Jazz it up with ingredients like sriracha and fresh garlic and turn it into a sriracha egg salad sandwich. Or broaden your horizons and create a Tex-Mex egg salad with lemon juice, cilantro, and salsa in the dressing base. Diced bell peppers are also a wonderful addition on their own.

It doesn’t stop there, though, in a cooking thread on Reddit, many users contributed ideas of unconventional egg salad mix-ins to try. Some delicious concepts incorporate bacon, pickled eggs, canned tuna, capers, onions, and green olives. One specific comment is unique, with the Redditor suggesting to add cashews and mango chutney to any plain egg salad formula. They also noted to include seasonings such as black pepper and curry powder, which further improve the dish’s flavor. Ultimately, it’s up to you for how bold you want to get with the mix-ins, but once you try new variations, you’ll never go back to boring egg salad again.

5. You exclude crunchy ingredients from the recipe

Something that causes your egg salad to fall short is when you make it with only soft ingredients. As it stands, you might not realize how much impact crunchy elements have on the dish. The tender eggs and smooth dressing are indeed delicious, but, still, it needs something to balance its softness. This is especially true for recipes like avocado egg salad that include several silky ingredients in the mixture. Some folks prefer to whip up the salad quickly, so they’re not fond of taking the time to chop additional components, however, the outcome is undoubtedly worth it. For those who enjoy zesty flavors, add diced radish to boost the egg salad.

Alternatively, if you want to include something that won’t dramatically change the dish’s flavor, opt for chopped celery. It has a mild taste that complements the eggs and isn’t overpowering. Another fantastic idea is to make something like cucumber and dill egg salad, where the cucumber provides texture and also functions as a bright garnish. For optimal results, chop the crisp components into small diced pieces. After all, you don’t want them to be so large that they distract from the eggs. When you add one or two different ingredients with a nice bite, it instantly transforms the salad.

6. You cook the eggs incorrectly

It’s easy to mess up hard-boiled eggs if you’re unfamiliar with how to cook them properly. For example, you might add cold eggs to boiling water. While it’s a standard practice to cook other foods this way, eggs must gradually come up to temperature with the water. Another error you might make is that you don’t transfer them to an ice bath; it is crucial to do so immediately after you remove them from the stove to avoid carryover cooking.

Most importantly, you want to cook hard-boiled eggs perfectly every time, so their firmness and appearance are suitable for the salad. Overdone hard-boiled eggs often have a gray or green discoloration around the yolk that isn’t appetizing. Not to mention, you actually prevent runny egg salad when you cook the eggs for the correct amount of time. Because surprisingly, the eggs don’t become dried up when overdone, rather they become soggy. As a rule of thumb, don’t have large eggs submerged in boiling water for over 12 minutes.

7. You neglect to reserve yolks for the dressing

Did you know that when you don’t include some egg yolks in the dressing, it makes it less rich? It is undoubtedly tasty to have some yolk pieces intact, but you should also mash some up. Use a fork to crush the cooked yolks and create a powder-like consistency. Not only does this improve the sauce’s creaminess, but it also adds vibrance, helping give the salad a lovely yellow color. If you want, go all out and make a deviled egg salad that uses the entirety of the yolks in the dressing. The deviled version is a deep golden color with hints of Dijon mustard, paprika, and relish.

Another advantage to putting yolks in the dressing is that the protein in the eggs help stabilize the sauce. As reported by Oxford at Iron Horse, egg yolks stiffen both hot and cold sauces. The yolks need to be cooked to be effective and safe, but since you boil the yolks for egg salad, you don’t need to worry about that. In the end, mashed hard-boiled yolks are beneficial in providing structure, whether you want to include just a few or all of them.

8. You don’t give enough time for the eggs to cool

So, you’re in charge of making the egg salad for a gathering, and you hold off until the last minute. Now, you must rush and hope the refrigerator will quickly chill the salad you prepared moments ago. The best thing you can do to avoid this scenario is to plan ahead. If you scramble to make the salad and stick a massive bowl of it in the fridge, it takes the dish quite a while to reach the desired temperature.

Luckily, there is a better route to take. Boil the eggs a couple hours ahead of time and place them in the fridge after they’ve come to room-temperature in the ice bath. Or, cook them a day in advance and refrigerate them overnight. This way, once you whip up the salad, it will already be cold because most of its elements will come from the refrigerator. When you use this method, it’s ready for you to dish it out on the spot.

9. You only use mayo instead of other creamy ingredients

Some folks are mayonnaise enthusiasts, and by all means, that is fine, but why not break new ground and use other components for a change? Surprisingly, many other ingredients give the dressing a velvety consistency, while adding more flavor than mayonnaise. For instance, aioli is one of the fantastic ways to upgrade your egg salad. Garlic aioli is the most traditional version, but other kinds work in egg salad, too, like chipotle aioli, jalapeño aioli, and herb aioli. To make a healthy egg salad, entirely omit the mayonnaise and give Greek yogurt a chance to stand in for it. The Greek yogurt has a subtle yet pleasantly bitter undertone, just like Crème Fraîche , which you can also use.

Other foods that effortlessly replace traditional mayo include Miracle Whip, tzatziki, and Kewpie mayonnaise. Although it sounds odd, you should try adding tzatziki to your egg salad because it benefits it in more than one way. Yes, it makes the dressing light, but it also contains cucumber bits. As a result, it saves you the step of chopping cucumbers to give your salad that much-needed crisp ingredient. It also has impeccable taste since it is pre-seasoned, so you won’t need to spend much time tweaking spices. Whichever ingredient you choose, remember that some of these components are slightly thinner or thicker than plain mayonnaise and might require more or less than the mayo amount you usually use.

10. You don’t serve it in creative ways

There is no denying egg salad is a standout side dish, but it’s also much more than that. If you only serve it on its own or between two pieces of white bread, this is one of the mistakes you’re making. Provided that you hold egg salad sandwiches near and dear to your heart, no worries; there are numerous ways to make the sandwich more exciting. For example, use a different type of bread, like making egg salad sliders on Hawaiian rolls or freshly baked croissants. Alternatively, serve the sandwich open-faced on toast and top it with garnishes. Or, add it to other sandwiches like a BLT.

As another idea, you can turn it into a wrap and add greens like lettuce, spinach, sprouts, or arugula. Lettuce wraps are a solid option, too. Finally, let’s not forget that egg salad is so versatile that it works as an appetizer or snack. Pile the salad onto assorted crackers, use it as a dip, or stuff peppers with it. There are plenty of new ways to think about egg salad.

11. You peel the eggs inefficiently

Don’t waste your time peeling the eggshells off one tiny piece at a time; we’ve got your back when it comes to egg-peeling hacks. There are a few different ways to go about how to peel a hard-boiled egg. First, do some prep and make it easier on yourself by adding a splash of vinegar to the water when you boil the eggs, Doing so breaks down chemical compounds in the shell, which makes them weaker and, thus, easier to remove. Now, to peel the eggs effortlessly, grab a bowl of water, then take an individual egg and apply pressure. From there, roll it on a hard surface to create breaks in the shell. Finally, transfer it to the bowl and peel it under water. Repeat the process for all the eggs.

Another wise option is to gently shake the cooked eggs in a container or bowl to break the shells up. For eggs that are still hot, do this with the empty pot you just cooked them in. For already chilled eggs, place some cold water in a container before you shake it. Or try the trick in which you utilize a spoon to peel the shell off in a similar fashion that some folks remove the skin from kiwis. First, crack the end of the egg and nuzzle a spoon between the white and the shell. Then, turn the utensil around the egg’s circumference and separate the two. All of these options are time-saving methods regarding peeling eggs.

12. You only stick to one type of mustard

Are you guilty of only using yellow mustard for egg salad? When you step up your mustard game, you’ll see how strongly it influences the dish’s overall taste. Understandably, not everyone carries multiple types of mustard in their refrigerator. However, if you have the means to test out different styles, you won’t regret it.

There is an array of different types of mustard, which range from powders to whole grain to saucy variations. To start, both spicy brown and Dijon mustard are superior choices for egg salad. Predictably, spicy brown mustard is quite tangy and has a darker tone. This ingredient might alter the color of the egg salad but not drastically. A little goes a long way, and it doesn’t take much for this product’s taste to shine through. It also has additional seasonings, which help give it a deeper flavor profile.

Dijon mustard also carries more spice in comparison to yellow mustard, which balances the creamy mayo in the dish. Additionally, English mustard is another solid fill-in for plain yellow mustard. It comes in liquid or powder forms and has a more robust flavor than its American equivalent. So, although yellow mustard is suitable for basic recipes, more pungent mustard immediately boosts the dish’s quality.

13. You store it incorrectly

Whether you realize it or not, how you store the egg salad significantly impacts how fresh it tastes. For instance, it only lasts 24 to 48 hours if you wrap it loosely or place it in the refrigerator completely unwrapped. The container you choose to store it in should be securely closed shut, preferably with a lid instead of just plastic wrap.

The salad also shouldn’t reside with other foods. Refrain from assembling egg salad sandwiches ahead of time if possible. Although it is convenient to make sandwiches as meal prep, the food will taste much better if you wait to construct it before you enjoy it. Of course, if you have to, you can leave a sandwich in the fridge overnight; it is not as detrimental as if you leave it there for a few days.

In addition, you might want to think twice before you freeze your egg salad. This is because it’s simply not the same once you freeze and thaw it. Because of its composition, the salad’s consistency will be off-putting and likely unappealing. Whichever way you decide to stash it, you should know how to tell when your egg salad has gone bad. Since it is a perishable food, food-borne illness is a cause for concern. If it is more than five days old, has a funky smell, or has an abnormal tinge, toss it, and don’t look back.