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LOCATION: Recipes >> Deviled Egg Recipes
The origin of deviled eggs can't be attributed to one specific person,
company, date or town. It is a culinary amalgam of history and taste. The
concept of deviled eggs begins with Ancient Rome. Spicy stuffed eggs were known
in 13th century Andalusia. The name is an 18th century invention.
Not long after the Ancient Greeks and Romans domesticated fowl, egg dishes of
all kinds figured prominently in cookery texts. Eggs were eaten on their own
(omelets, scrambled) and employed as congealing agents (custard, flan, souffles).
The ancestor of deviled eggs? Ancient Roman recipes for boiled (to various
degrees) eggs served with spices poured on top:
 "Boiled eggs. Are seasoned with broth, oil, pure wine, or are served
with broth, pepper and laser."
--Apicius: Cooking and Dining in Imperial Rome, edited and translated
by Joseph Dommers Vehling [Dover:New York] 1977 (p. 180)
"Soft-boiled eggs," The Classical Cookbook, Andrew Dalby and Sally
Grainger [J.Paul Getty Museum:Los Angeles] 1996 (p. 177)
---features pine kernels, lovage, celery leaf, fish sauce, honey, white wine
vinegar, and black pepper
"Pine nut sauce for medium-boiled eggs," A Taste of Ancient Rome,
Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa, translated by Anna Herklotz [University of
Chicago:Chicago] 1992 (p. 47)
---features medium boiled eggs, pine nuts, vinegar, honey, pepper & lovage
The first recipes for stuffed, hard-boiled were printed in medieval European
texts. These cooks stuffed their eggs with raisins, cheese and sweet spices.
De Honesta Voluptate [15th century Italian text] instructs cooks thusly:
"28. Stuffed eggs
Make fresh eggs hard by cooking for a long time. Then, when the shells are
removed, cut the eggs through the middle so that the white is not damaged.
When the yolks are removed, pound part with raisins and good cheese, some
fresh and some aged. Reserve part to color the mixture, and also add a little
finely cut parsley, marjoram, and mint. Some put in two or more egg whites
withspices. When the whites of the eggs have been stuffed with this mixture
and closed, fry them over slow fire in oil. When they have been fried, add a
sauce made from the rest of the egg yolks pounded with raisins and moistened
with verjuice and must. Put in ginger, cloves, and cinnamon and heat them a
little while with the eggs themselves. This has more harm than good in it."
---Platina: on the Right Pleasure and Good Health, Critical edition and
translation of De Honesta Voluptate et Valetudine, Mary Ella Milham [Medival
& Renaissance Texts & Studies:Tempe AZ] 1998
The Making of Stuffed Eggs, An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook of the 13th
Century, translated by Charles Perry
The practice of hard boiling eggs was popular in Tudor England: "By the later
sixteenth century the boiling of eggs in their shells in water had become a
common practice. Prepared thus they were more digestible that roasted eggs; but
less so than poached eggs, which always earned the highest praise form the
---Food and Drink in Britain, C. Anne Wilson [Academy Chicago
Publishers:Chicago] 1991 (p. 144)
According to historic cookbooks, the practice of boiling eggs, extracting the
yolks and combining them with savory spices (mustard, cayenne pepper) and
refilling the eggs with the mixture was common in latter years of the 16th
century and was the "norm" by the 17th.
"To Farce Eggs
Take eight or ten eggs and boil them hard. Peel off the shells and cut every
egg in the middle; then out the yolks. Make your farcing stuff as you do for
flesh, saving only you must put butter into it instead of suet, and that a
little. So done, fill your eggs where the yolks were, and then bring them and
seethe them a little. And so serve them to the table."
---The Good Housewife's Jewel, Thomas Dawson, with an introduction by
Maggie Black [London 1596] (p. 86)
"The Second Way
Fry some parsley, some minced leeks, and young onions, when you have fried
them pour them into a dish season them with salt and pepper, and put to them
hard eggs cut in halves, put some mustard to them, and dish the eggs, mix the
sauce well together, and pour it hot on the eggs."
---The Accomplisht Cook, Robert May [London, 5th edition 1685] (p. 435)
[NOTE: Robert May's text lists six ways "To dress hard eggs divers ways."
Though none of these recipes are specifically called "deviled" they are
strikingly similar to the deviled eggs we are served today.
"Eggs in Mustard Sauce
Sodde Egges: Seeth your Egges almost harde, then peele them and cut them in
quarters, then take a little Butter in a frying panne and melt it a little
broune, then put to it in to the panne, a little Vinegar, Mustarde, Pepper and
Salte, and then put it into a platter upon your Egges."
---A Taste of History: 10,000 Years of Food in Britain, Tudor Britain,
Peter Brears [British Museum Press:London] 1997 (p.162)
Where the devil?
According to the food historians the practice of "devilling" food
"officially" began sometime during the 18th century in England. Why? Because
that was when the term "deviled," as it relates to food, first shows up in
print. The earliest use of this culinary term was typically associated with
kidneys & other meats, not stuffed eggs:
"Devil...A name for various highly-seasoned broiled or fried dishes, also for
hot ingredients. 1786, Craig "Lounger NO. 86 'Make punch, brew negus, and season
---Oxford English Dictionary (the 1786 reference is the first use of this
word in print. Words are often part of the oral language long before they appear
"Devil--a culinary term which...first appeared as a noun in the 18th century,
and then in the early 19th century as a verb meaning to cook something with
fiery hot spices or condiments...The term was presumably adopted because of the
connection between the devil and the excessive heat in Hell...Boswell, Dr
Johnson's biographer, frequently refers to partaking of a dish of "devilled
bones" for supper, which suggests an earlier use."
---The Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University
Press:Oxford] 1999 (pages 247-248).
[James Boswell lived from 1740-1795, Dr. Johnson's biography was published in
"Deviled...Any variety of dishes prepared with hot seasonings, such as
cayenne or mustard. The word derives from the association with the demon who
dwells in hell. In culinary context the word first appears in print in 1786; by
1820 Washington Irving has used the word in his Sketchbook to describe a
highly seasoned dish similar to a curry. Deviled dishes were very popular
throughout the nineteenth and into the twentieth centuries, especially for
seafood preparations and some appetizers." ---The Encyclopedia of American
Food & Drink, John Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (pages 110-111)
"Around 1868, Underwood's sons began experimenting with a new product created
from ground ham blended with special seasonings. The process they dubbed
"deviling," for cooking and preparing the ham, was new. But best of all, the
taste was unique. Soon thereafter, the "Underwood devil" was born."
History of the