Last updated on March 30th, 2023
Deviled eggs are a mainstay at any Southern soiree. Learn how to make classic Southern deviled eggs with relish for your next family picnic or church potluck.
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Here in the South, we love a good deviled egg. They are an invited guest at nearly every function, from bridal teas to church picnics.
The Origin of Deviled Eggs
Though we Southerners like to claim deviled eggs as our own creation, we can’t take credit for inventing them. One variation or another have been around for centuries. Even the Ancient Romans liked to snack on seasoned stuffed eggs during a meal.
Here in the United States, deviled eggs gained popularity after WWII. It’s a tradition that’s still going strong here in the South. You would be hard pressed to find a picnic or potluck without them. Even among my husband’s family, someone is always assigned to bring deviled eggs to a family gathering.
How did deviled eggs get their name?
I never gave much thought to the origin of the name deviled eggs until my youngest overheard me discussing this recipe with The Husband.
“Devil eggs?” he asked in horror. “Will you get in trouble if you eat them?”
I assured my anxious child that the devil had nothing to do with the name, thought I couldn’t tell him how they earned that particular moniker. In the 1800’s, the term deviled was used to describe particularly spicy food. Early egg recipes were seasoned with cayenne and spicy mustard, earning them the label deviled eggs.
Three ingredients every Southern deviled egg recipe should include
Deviled eggs recipes are only as varied as your imagination. They can range from traditional to extraordinary with fillings ranging savory to sweet. But if you really want to learn the nitty gritty of what makes a classic Southern deviled egg, you need three main ingredients:
- Duke’s mayonnaise. Southerners are fiercely loyal to traditions. Duke’s mayonnaise originated in the South and as far as we’re concerned, there is no other brand of mayo.
- Sweet pickle relish. I couldn’t find any information on why we put pickle relish in our eggs. But just about ever recipe you come across has it.
- Paprika. Paprika adds a pretty pop of color. But if you’re feeling spicy, try subbing the paprika with a sprinkling of cayenne pepper instead.
In addition, I also like to add:
- Dijon mustard
- Garlic powder
- Salt and pepper, to taste
How to Make Southern Deviled Eggs
First, start with six peeled hard-boiled eggs. Check out my technique and tips for making easy peel hard boiled eggs.
Carefully slice the eggs in half lengthwise. Using a small teaspoon remove the yolks from the whites and place them in a medium mixing bowl. Set the hollowed-out egg whites aside.
Use a fork to mash up the egg yolks. Then add ¼ cup of mayonnaise, 2 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder and one tablespoon sweet pickle relish. Continue to whisk everything together until the mixture is smooth. You could make short work of this by mixing everything together in a blender or food processor. Season with salt an pepper to taste.
Spoon equal amounts of the egg mixture back into each of the hollow egg yolks. If you want to get fancy, you can even pipe the filling using a pastry bag or a plastic bag with a tip snipped off. I just recently picked up this 5-Piece Wilton Cake Decorating Kit and I love it! It comes with five different tips and a big plastic syringe with a thumb trigger that makes it super easy to pipe icing, or in this case, deviled egg filling.
Garnish the filled eggs with a little paprika or cayenne pepper for extra heat. Deviled eggs can be eaten immediately, but I like to let them chill in the fridge for a few hours to set up.
How to store deviled eggs
Deviled eggs can be made up to two days in advance. Store deviled eggs in a covered dish to prevent them from drying out or getting smushed. Deviled eggs should be eaten within two-to-three days.
Do not freeze deviled eggs. Freezing and thawing will affect the texture and result in runny, rubbery eggs.
Southern Deviled Eggs with Relish
- 6 hardboiled eggs peeled and shells discarded
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 2 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Paprika or cayenne pepper optional
- Carefully slice the eggs in half lengthwise.
- Using a small teaspoon remove the yolks from the whites and place them in a medium mixing bowl. Set the hollowed-out egg whites aside.
- Use a fork to mash up the egg yolks.
- Add the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, garlic powder and sweet pickle relish. Continue to whisk everything together until the mixture is smooth.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon equal amounts of the egg mixture back into each of the hollow egg yolks. If you want to get fancy, you can even pipe the filling using a pastry bag or a plastic bag with a tip snipped off.
- Garnish the filled eggs with a little paprika or cayenned pepper for extra heat.