This is the biggest mistake people make when they crack eggs

There are endless ways to enjoy an egg, from hearty scrambles to keto-friendly egg muffins.

But before even considering the cooking method, most variants of an egg dish involve cracking its thin shell … that is, unless you’re boiling it of course.

Though the concept seems simple – just crack and enjoy, right? — there are plenty of people who have gotten shells in their scramble to prove that’s not always so straightforward.

TODAY Food spoke with an eggs-cellent eggs-pert to nail down the best technique for cracking an egg and how to any pesky shell pieces.

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Bacon and Egg Breakfast Pizza by Kitchen Daily Editors

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Roasted Red Pepper and Kale Frittata by Martha Stewart

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Soft Scrambled Eggs with Smoky Seasonings & Chives by Home Skillet | Jenn & Seth Kendall

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Bacon & Egg Rolls with Almond & Chili Pesto by Simply Delicious | Alida Ryder

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Baked Eggs in a Basket by An Edible Mosaic | Faith Gorsky

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Brunch Time Asparagus Spaghetti with Baked Egg by Bacon Egg & Cheese{cake} | Shelley Liu

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Shirred Eggs with Ham and Tomato by Kitchen Daily Editors

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Poached Eggs Parmesan by Michael Symon’s 5 in 5 | Michael Symon

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Mini Egg, Rice and Spinach Frittata Muffins by Belleicious Kids | Jessica Maher

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Mini Quail Eggs in Prosciutto Nests by Martha Stewart

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Chicken Sausage and Egg Breakfast Cups by Organize Yourself Skinny | Tammy Kresge

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Cheesy Kale Prosciutto Brunch Melts with Eggs by The Woks of Life 

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Avocado, Tomato and Feta Toast with Poached Eggs by The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen | Susan Palmer

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Potato Coins with Fried Eggs by Taking On Magazines | Christiane B. Potts

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Raw Asparagus Salad with Tomatoes and Hard-Boiled Eggs by Food & Wine

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Cheesy English Muffins with Smoky Balsamic Red Pepper Compote and Fried Eggs by An Edible Mosaic

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Easy Frittata with Greens and Cheese by Eating Made Easy | Amelia Winslow

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Churrasco (Ecuadorian Steak) and Eggs with Green Chili Sauce
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Cold Soba and Cucumber Noodles with Soft-Boiled Eggs by Brooklyn Vegetarian | Amy Jennings

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Grilled Cheese Egg in the Hole Sandwich by I Bake He Shoots | Mondo Fowler

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Butternut Squash and Apple Frittata with Bacon and Cheese by The Usual Bliss | Amber Howe 

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Egg in a Basket with Smoked Turkey and Asparagus by Weeknight Wonders | Ellie Krieger

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Leftover Baked Eggs and Chili Eggs by Bacon Egg & Cheese{cake} | Shelley Liu

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Grilled Asparagus with Pecorino and Meyer Lemon-Poached Eggs by Food & Wine

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Charred Tomatoes with Fried Eggs on Garlic Toast by Martha Stewart

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Frittata with Pea Shoots and Bacon by Jelly Toast

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Fried Egg-and-Bacon Puff Pastry Squares by Martha Stewart

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Egg-and-Tomato Breakfast Sandwich to Go by Martha Stewart

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Mascarpone Scrambled Eggs with Garlic Toasts by Taking On Magazines | Christiane B. Potts

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Crustless Asparagus Quiche by Chez Us | Denise Woodward and Lenny Ferreira

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Potato and Egg Tacos by Campbell’s Kitchen

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Taylor Pork Roll, Egg and Cheese on an English Muffin by Grilling 24×7 | John Thomas

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Mushroom and Scallion Frittata by Martha Stewart

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Truffled Garlic Egg Brioches by Eatori | Tori Haschka

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North Indian-Style Scrambled Eggs by A Brown Table | Nik Sharma

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Sriracha-and-Wasabi Deviled Eggs by Food & Wine

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Where should you crack an egg?

The counter or the edge of some other surface? That is the question many home cooks debate when choosing the best hard surface to give their egg a gentle whack. “This edge can be the side of a bowl or [the] defined edge of another container or utensil,” Nick Korbee, executive chef of Egg Shop NYC, told TODAY via email. “This method is for speed and I use it all the time when making mass quantities of scrambled eggs.”

However, he said the sharp edge method isn’t always the best idea for neatness. This is especially true if the home cook isn’t very experienced with eggs. “This [method] tends to leave shell fragments and broken yolks from time to time, which is why I would recommend straining eggs cracked this way with a mesh strainer before using,” said Korbee.

Strain your eggs? Who has time for that?

If you need to keep whites and yolks separated for a recipe, or your cracking technique isn’t always foolproof, it’s best not to use a bowl. For less mess and fuss, Korbee advises cracking eggs against a the flat surface or countertop. This egg-cracking technique is best for making sure the yolk stays intact, and your shell is less likely to break off into the egg itself.

“I use this technique when making sunny up eggs or when separating egg whites,” said Korbee.

One hand or two?

Cracking an egg with one hand certainly looks fancy, but is it necessary?

“There is no earthly reason to force home cooks to crack eggs with one hand,” said Korbee. While this is a technique more common among chefs because it is helpful when making large quantities of egg orders at once, it takes a lot of practice and it’s unlikely that a home cook will need to fire off dozens of egg orders within minutes.

But there’s always room to learn a new skill! Said Korbee, “If you wish to build this skill, practice holding the egg between your thumb and forefinger, tap to crack the shell and pull your thumb back gently to separate the shell and release the egg into the wild!”

Separating the yolk

Whether you’re making an egg white frittata or just separating the egg whites from yolks for baking (a simple souffle, perhaps?), separating eggs is a culinary skill that can lead to some mishaps for many.

“I find the hand separating method to be best for separating eggs at home,” advised Korbee. “With this method you crack an egg into your clean, cupped hand and allow the whites to fall between your fingers.”

Then, you “gently bounce your hand up and down” hovering above a mixing bowl to let the whites fall down. This technique is very gentle, said the chef, plus it makes it easy to quickly discard the yolk into a second bowl if it starts to break apart in your hand since it hasn’t come into contact with the whites yet.

Get rid of sneaky shells

Whether you need to separate eggs or just crack them quickly, it’s likely that a piece of shell has ended up in your egg mixture at some point in your life.

It happens to everyone, said Korbee, bit it is no reason to panic. To prevent shells from ending up in your final dish (if you’re making a cake or dough, for example), never crack eggs right into the other ingredients and always use a separate bowl first, that way you’ll easily be able to fish out any deviant shell pieces.

If some shell does wind in the egg, don’t toss out all your eggs.

Moisten your fingers (make sure your hands are totally clean first) and fish out the piece of egg. Egg whites tend stick to dry fingers so it will be easy to remove the shell if nothing else is sticking to you.

If you’re working with just egg whites, “you can always strain them through a mesh strainer,” said Korbee.

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Peanut Butter and Banana Toast with Granola and Honey by Well Plated by Erin | Erin Clarke

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Chai Spiced Doughnut Muffins by Jelly Toast | Emily Caruso

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Apple Butter French Toast Sandwiches by Martha Stewart    

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Rum Raisin Waffled French Toast by Dessert for Two | Christina Lane

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Oat Pancakes with Honeyed Roasted Figs by PDXfoodlove | Rebekah Hubbard

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Poached Eggs Parmesan by Michael Symon’s 5 in 5 | Michael Symon

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