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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to annemarie@southernfoodways.org.


2004 Deviled Egg Recipe Competition – Deviled Eggs: The Basics


Lucy Mae, as my mother was known to her friends, was raised on a farm and married a farmer in North Central Florida. In early spring she would order a hundred “straight run” biddies from Sears Roebuck catalog or from a hatchery in Cullman, Alabama. The biddies would arrive by U.S. mail in a large cardboard box that was sectioned off into four spaces. We would bring the chicks home and they were placed into a chicken coop that was heated by an electric light bulb and “croka” sacks were hung around the wire coop to keep the heat inside the coop. After the birds had grown to fryer size Mama began to butcher the roosters and saved the pullets for laying hens. By summer the hens from last year had finished their molting and had begun to lay eggs at a much faster rate than we could eat or sell. Many times we would come home from school and Mama would have a big plate of deviled eggs prepared. If they had been freshly prepared they would still be on the kitchen table and were always the best eaten before they were refrigerated. There is nothing better than a fresh made deviled egg. Many times at covered dish dinners at church or for family reunions Mama would always bring some deviled eggs in addition to the Chicken Pilau (Chicken and Rice) or Chicken and Dumplings and pots of crowder peas or mustard greens. The folks were always looking for my mother’s signature Big Pots.

Her recipe for deviled eggs is simple: The yolks were carefully removed from hard boiled eggs and mashed with the back of a dinner fork then mixed with mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish, a tad of dry mustard, perhaps a little black pepper and the salt adjusted depending on the saltiness of the mayonnaise. The golden yellow mixture was spooned back into the halves of egg whites which had been reserved.

The only way to eat a deviled egg was to take the whole thing in one bite and enjoy the smoothness of the egg offset by the little spiciness of mustard, relish and mayonnaise.

Another story about deviled eggs: I went on a Mission trip to Paris with a group of church folks from Georgia who were renovating an old theater into a church. I went along to cook for the group. The hostel we were staying at provided a sack breakfast and sack lunch for each person each day. Each sack always contained a hard boiled egg, a baguette of french bread, butter, a little cheese, and a piece of fruit. You can only imagine what a fit those men from South Georgia threw after a couple days of this food.

To make a long story short I collected the food in the sacks and created meals with it. The hard boiled eggs became deviled eggs though not without some ingenuity. The French do not really have sweet pickle relish so I had to improvise. I bought sour dill cornichons and chopped them up with a little sugar for sweetening and they made some real fine sweet relish for our deviled eggs. I even found ground corn grits among the African vendors in the farmers markets and made our workers proper Southern breakfasts.


Are deviled eggs a southern thing? I don’t know. A lot of reading would be involved trying to answer that – but I suspect they might be French. My mother is from the north and she made deviled eggs. True, I was raised in the south; but it was many years before that culture had any influence over my mother… or her cooking. I think deviled eggs might be French because one of Julia Child’s early shows featured a version of them –which inspired me and my recipe. And which later another Julia – Julia Reed – declared “the-best-stuffed-eggs-I’ve-ever-had-and-you-have-to-give-me-the-recipe-for-an-article-I’m-writing-for-the-New-York-Times.” Stuffed or deviled, butter is the answer.

    • 1 dozen medium eggs
    • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
    • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
    • 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
    • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • Salt and freshly ground white pepper
    • Paprika

Place eggs in a large pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, cover, turn off the heat and let sit 15 minutes. Drain the eggs and run them under cold water until completely cool.

Peel eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks rub through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Add the mayonnaise, mustard and butter; mix until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice and cayenne. Season to taste with the salt and pepper; be a little bold here as the flavors dull slightly when the eggs are chilled. Place mixture in a pastry bag — a Ziploc bag with a corner snipped off works too. Fill the egg whites, sprinkle with paprika and chill until ready to serve.

Ernest L. Lewis

My mother grew up in rural Missouri and I grew up on a farm in Fresno County, California. I don’t know where she got her method for producing deviled eggs, but they were always part of what she took to family picnics, reunions, church suppers and newly bereaved families. I think the appeal was the constant availability of fresh eggs from her chickens and the ease of preparation on the spur of the moment. She always delivered the eggs in a cut down cardboard box which would accommodate the eggs and a layer of wax paper over the top. I grew up knowing that to “squash the top” of this container was to court her wrath.

Her recipe never varied: The eggs were hard boiled and the yolks removed. She then mashed the yolks with a fork and added enough home made mayonnaise (she rarely bought mayonnaise), salt, pepper, and very finely chopped little sweet pickles. After spooning this mixture back into the whites, she dusted the top with paprika and put a sprig of watercress, if it was available, or parsley when it was not. The result was not only delicious, but attractive and looked special.

Linda Weiss

Although, a holiday has never passed without deviled eggs in our household, my most memorable times are picnicking on the Tombigbee River in South Central Alabama during the hot, hot summers. Every Sunday back in the 50’s and early 60’s my mother, father, sister and I would “go to the river” skiing, and boating. My mother always packed a very southern picnic of fried chicken, ham sandwiches with pineapple, potato salad, pimento and cheese, and of course, deviled eggs. I can still smell the food along with the clean sweet smell of Tombigbee River water, and the gas and oil mixed together for daddy’s Mercury engine on our boat.

We did not have a farm, nor did we live on one, so our eggs were purchased at the Piggly Wiggly store in Linden, AL. Mother would boil the eggs, mix the yolks with pickle relish, and add cracker crumbs. Yes, just plain old cracker crumbs, and then she added enough mayonnaise to bind, and enough salt to season. If we had known then, as much as we know now about cholesterol, my sister and I would have eaten the eggs anyway, because they were the best thing on the menu. I don’t know how many eggs mother made for out picnic, but we ate as many as she made. It would not have been a picnic without them.

Although, the recipe used was very common, I doubt if I have tasted deviled eggs as good as my mother’s in all the years since. I believe that mother may have used her mother’s recipe, because their deviled eggs tasted very much the same, but my grandmother sprinkle her finished eggs with a little paprika for color.

So, every time I make deviled eggs or hear about them, the door to the house of good memories and comfort foods opens once again. Not only can I see the food we had, but I can smell the water AND, the gas and oil.

My mother’s recipe then and today:

    • As many eggs as you like, boiled gently, and cooled.
    • Remove the yolks and mash them
    • Add 3-5 crushed saltines for every 6 yolks
    • Add Sweet pickle relish and juice to taste
    • Stir in mayonnaise to bind
    • Salt to taste

Stuff the eggs with a spoon or use a piping bag to make them more elaborate.
Sprinkle lightly with paprika and serve on lettuce leaves.

My recipe today:
Same as above but I use diced Wickles. This is a wicked pickle or in other words a pickle with a slight kick. Wickles are made in Dadeville, AL.

Andy Lyons

I was one of six children growing up in the little town of Westminster, South Carolina. By today’s standards we were poor but this was the 1950’s and most people were just like us.

My mother could cook! She would get up and fry 2 chickens before Mass on Sunday’s before we even got out of bed and her meals were always wonderful.

We also enjoyed picnics. We didn’t have money to eat out and even if we had been financially able, resturants were few and far between and usually awful. Our standard picnic fare was fried chicken, deviled eggs, pimento cheese sandwiches and iced tea. We usually drove to a local State Park or to the mountains to a picnic area and played games, pitched baseball or enjoyed other activities.

Mama didn’t write down her recipes but the amounts below are close. My ex-wife never could understand this. She thought my mother didn’t think enough of her to share them. But that was not true. My mother cooked by tasting and adjusting to her taste.

Mama’s Deviled Eggs

    • 1 dozen boiled eggs
    • About 3/4 to 1 cup mayonnaise (Mama always used Duke’s)
    • About 1/4 cup mustard (Mama always used French’s)
    • Kosher Dill Pickles finely chopped
    • Paprika
    • Sliced Olives with Pimentos
    • Salt to taste

Chop up egg yolks and add mayonnaise, mustard, pickles. Mix and stuff into
egg whites. Mama used a tablespoon and her thumb. Dust with paprika
and place a sliced olive on each deviled egg. Serve on a platter with
parsley garnish.

Winston Hoy

I didn’t enter the first “and probably the last” cole slaw contest. I entered the pimento cheese contest, but didn’t win a prize. I really did enjoy entering the pimento cheese contest because it brought back a lot of memories of my childhood – most of them were good memories. The deviled egg contest has rung my culinary bell. It has also rekindled the old memory furnace.

Now, for what you would like to know. My theory is that deviled eggs are so popular in the South because they are made with mayonnaise, our moms fixed them for us in a special way and they were so good and we aren’t afraid of cholesterol. The portability theory probably has merit. Rural Southerners had a lot of chickens and eggs and both were very important to us all. I have no idea how the rise of the broiler industry impacted our love for deviled eggs. My theory is that the origin of the deviled egg can be traced to Western Europe, probably France, and was brought to our country by folks leaving France for whatever reason folks leave France for.

Here is how my mom deviled eggs.

    • About six eggs. (You may use more or less depending on what you are trying to accomplish, just adjust the other ingredients. They should be old eggs. My mom said they peeled better than fresh eggs. How old is up to you.)
    • Mayonnaise, preferably Duke’s – about a tablespoon
    • Yellow mustard, preferably French’s – about a teaspoon
    • Salt, pepper, vinegar, sweet salad cubes, cayenne, curry powder

Hard boil the eggs. To do this put the eggs, brought to room temperature, in a pan of cold water. Cover and bring to a rolling boil. Turn off the fire and let the eggs sit covered for twenty minutes or so. Pour off the hot water and add cold water. When the eggs are cool enough to handle, peel them, cut them in half, put the white part in one of those old deviled egg plates your mom had and put the yokes in a ceramic mixing bowl.

Mix the ingredients. Mash the six yokes with a fork. Add the mayonnaise, the mustard, a dash of salt, a few grinds of black pepper, about a half teaspoon of curry powder, about one forth teaspoon of cider vinegar, about one tablespoon of sweet salad cubes (Mt. Olive from North Carolina) and a shake or two of cayenne. Mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Now, add enough of the sweet salad cube juice to get the egg mixture just the way you like it. It should not be too runny nor should it be too stiff either. Somewhere in between. Taste it one more time.

Spoon the egg mixture into the egg whites that have been patiently waiting in your mom’s old deviled egg plate. Top with one or more of your favorite garnishes. This could include paprika, parsley, sliced black or green olives, sliced pimento, fish roe, anchovies, chives and on and on. Chill them and eat them and try to recall the first one you ever ate.

Lucinda Hougland

Goodness gracious, shame on you! No true southerner ever dubbed our most sumptuous tasty golden tradition as deviled eggs! (Only our northern neighbors spoke in these terms). At MY old Kentucky home and its environs, these delicacies were only known as “dressed eggs.” They were prepared with loving hands and served at all the lavish Kentucky derby parties as well as the most pedestrian picnics. (They are considered a must at EVERY wake).

My grandmother always dressed the eggs (as well as the Sunday dinner hen). She claimed week old eggs peeled better, but day old tasted better. Your choice. Gran also put the carton on its side the night before boiling so the yolks would be centered. I have always followed her famous recipe (only adding modern seasonings) with fabulous results. Those days have passed.

And now, MY grandson, Reece Miller, is a sophomore at Ole Miss. Although he would likely eat a fishing worm rather than a “dressed egg,” my other loved ones say my eggs are to die for!!!!

    • 12 eggs
    • 2 T soft butter
    • 1/4 C sour cream
    • 1/3 C Dukes Mayo(or even better homemade)
    • 1T Dijon mustard
    • 1T sweet pickle juice
    • 1 tsp lemon juice
    • Season with salt, pepper, Morton’s nature’s season, onion and garlic powder, and paprika and just a little sugar

Hard boil eggs. Cool and peel immediately. Rinse and spray whites with butter flavored Pam and set aside. Place remaining ingredients in ziploc bag. Mash up real well. Cut a corner off bag and gently squeeze contents into whites. ( A thin sliver of white can be removed to make eggs lie flat on plate)

Suggested toppings: olive slice, capers, caviar, parsley, paprika .etc… (Forget that cholesterol can swath your arteries and remember eggs provide essential vitamins and minerals and give you lustrous shiny hair and nails..) ENJOY

Catherine Lambrecht

My mom grew up on the North side of Chicago in an Irish immigrant household. The deviled egg recipe is loosely based on my grandmother’s with the extra kick provided by my mother. The introduction of hot sauce and Pico de Gallo are like many great inspirations: a mistake!

Some years ago, my mother was racing to finish off the deviled eggs, she asked my sister to sprinkle paprika to finish the eggs. My sister only knew it was a red spice. She grabbed the first spice jar with red contents then liberally sprinkled it on the eggs. These innocent looking eggs at first bite had an explosive effect to cause a genuine conjuring of the devil himself!

Mother’s Deviled Eggs were popular before but these highly spiced eggs are even more admired. Once my family could wait for these eggs to arrive to the dining room now, they now hover around the refrigerator like groupies. The hot sauce inclusion was a suggestion of my cousin, who felt there was a need to balance the spicy decorative touch.

Mrs. Lambrecht’s Deviled Eggs

    • 1 dozen large eggs
    • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
    • 4 tablespoons yellow mustard (or spicy brown)
    • 1 tablespoon pickle relish
    • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
    • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
    • Mexican Pico de Gallo (a chili-based spice mixture used for elotes in Chicago)

In a large saucepan, cover the eggs with water by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil. Cover, remove from the heat and let stand 20 minutes. Run under cold water to cool for easier peeling. Peel the eggs and cut them in half, removing the yolks to a bowl.

With a fork, mash the yolks with the mayonnaise, mustard, relish, vinegar and hot sauce. Adjust seasonings to taste with salt and pepper.

Fill each egg-white halves with approximately 2 teaspoon of the yolk mixture then pile on a bit more. Sprinkle with paprika and top each with an olive slice. Store covered and refrigerated (toothpicks will help keep plastic wrap off the eggs).

Tara Leigh Hayes

Let me begin by saying I love the South. Secondly, I love eggs. Combine those two things together and what you have is a match made in heaven! I was born and raised in South Mississippi, and deviled eggs have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My most vivid memories of these delicacies are the deviled eggs always being a staple at my grandmother’s house on Easter. It was just a rule. Today, being as blessed as I am, she has delegated this honor to me, and I am the deviled egg queen of the family. So much so, that my cousin says she cannot so much as see an egg plate without thinking of me. Let me conclude by saying that I know there are a lot of fancy nouveau recipes for deviled eggs out there, and don’t get me wrong, I have tried them all. However, there is nothing better than the basics. As I am sure some handsome, God-fearing Southern gentleman once said, “If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it.”

    • 6 boiled eggs
    • 1/4 cup Miracle Whip (My Great Aunt’s secret ingredient)
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons sweet relish
    • 1 teaspoon mustard
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • Fresh ground pepper to taste
    • 6 shots of Tabasco (or 1 shot per egg)
    • Paprika
    • 6 pimento stuffed olives, halved

Boil eggs and peel. Slice eggs in half lengthwise and remove yolks. Mash yolks and Miracle Whip with a fork. Stir in relish and next four (4) ingredients. Spoon mixture in egg halves or, even better, put mixture in a Ziploc bag and snip corner and squeeze into egg halves – much cleaner, prettier and more sanitary. Sprinkle with paprika. Top with olive halves.

Margaret Hohman

I have deviled sixteen eggs every Wednesday night for over thirty years. The event is Immanuel Baptist Church Fellowship Supper. This has been a work of love.

I begin with two Tupperware deviled egg containers. Boil sixteen eggs for 12-15 minutes. When the timer goes off, cool eggs in ice water. Remove shells. Cut eggs in half long ways. Put egg yolks in a bowl, mash with a dough cutter. Add to the yolks; a pinch of salt and pepper, two tablespoons of sugar, two squirts of prepared mustard, a splash of vinegar, about three tablespoons of Miracle Whip salad dressing. Whip the mixture with a wire whisk until the mixture is smooth. Fill egg whites with yolk mixture using a teaspoon. Place the egg halves in the Tupperware containers, keeping them in the refrigerator until time to go to church.

I have never brought home left over deviled eggs. Evidently Frankfort, Kentucky Immanuel Baptists love my deviled eggs.

When I had open heart surgery and was not there for four Wednesdays, one of the nine year olds sent me a get well card which said, “Dear Miss Margaret, I miss you at church but I miss your eggs more. Love, Rachel.”

Martha Neal

Watching a 3-year-old attack a bowl of perfectly hard-boiled yellow egg yolks with both hands and eager eyes is a test of a reunion.

Each summer we gathered two families of four at a Kentucky State Park (covering most of the state in 12 years). Much of the fun and conversation always centered on food. Deviled eggs from my mother’s Nuckols Restaurant of the 1950’s in Glasgow, Kentucky were a staple.

In the early 80’s our 3-year-old, Elizabeth decided that her contribution would be to mix the eggs, mayo, pickle juice, chopped pickles, dry mustard, salt, and pepper. She plunged her hands up to the elbows into the bowl, squeezing the yolks and mayo between those tiny fingers, smiling and licking her lips. Never has something deviled been so sweet.

1 dozen eggs – boiled (Cover eggs with cold water; turn on burner – from start to finish 20 minutes)
Real mayonnaise – 1/2 cup
Sweet pickles – 1/4 cup
1 T pickle juice
Salt – to taste
Pepper – to taste
Dry mustard – to taste
Paprika – to sprinkle

Elizabeth Karmel

Deviled Eggs…I grew up eating deviled eggs all summer long at picnics with fried chicken and hand-churned ice cream, or during long car trips. The car-trip eggs were my favorite…they were wrapped in individual pieces of waxed paper and would come out of the ice chest with droplets of water sticking to them from the ice packs that kept them from spoiling. The deviled eggs would always be the first thing that we would eat—about 15 minutes after we left our driveway! My mother and her mother made them very simply, running the yolks through a sieve and adding mayonnaise, mustard (either Coleman’s dry or later prepared mustard) and a few chopped bread and butter pickles. Spooned into half a white with a teaspoon, they were finished with a sprinkle of paprika. Since I’ve been old enough to make them myself, I’ve created a slightly richer, more “devilish” version of deviled eggs that I call Straight-Up Deviled Eggs even though they are much fancier than the version I grew up with. But even the old timers in my family prefer this recipe and make it as their standard deviled egg recipe.

    • 1 dozen large eggs
    • 1/3 Cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise
    • 1/4 Cup strong Dijon mustard
    • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
    • Zest of 1/2 lemon
    • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
    • Pinch of garlic powder
    • 2-4 shakes Tabasco
    • Sea salt to taste
    • Smoked Paprika or minced fresh chives for garnish

Place the eggs in a large stockpot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, cover and turn off the heat. Let sit 20 minutes. Drain and run under cold water until eggs are cool to the touch. Let sit another ten minutes.

Peel eggs carefully, keeping whites intact. Cut in half lengthwise and remove yolks. Set whites aside on a platter or egg plate. Break yolks up and mash with a fork until all large pieces are broken up and smooth.

Add mayonnaise, mustard, butter, lemon zest and juice, garlic powder and Tabasco. Stir well. Taste and season with sea salt. Place in a pastry bag or use a small spoon to fill egg white “boats” with “deviled” egg yolk mixture. Sprinkle with smoked paprika for classic eggs, chives for a fancier-looking version.

Sherry Mason Owen

My grandfather, Stanley Taylor, born 1888, (Cohoes, NY) made the following recipe for deviled eggs that he loved to share. He loved to cook & taught my mother, Margaret Taylor Mason, 1915, many wonderful recipes which she handed down to me. I, in turn, hand them down to my children: Janet ,1975; Ellen, 1977 & David, 1979.

Deviled eggs are always a must for family gatherings. My family all say that no one can make them like I do. Ellen won’t even eat deviled eggs unless they are mine. She says, “Why eat the calories since I know that they won’t be as good as yours?” David, when he was younger, had been to a friend’s house for a picnic. When he came home he asked, “Don’t people know how to cook?” They had served deviled eggs which didn’t measure up. He thought that everyone cooked the same as I did.

My grandfather’s recipe may not be the best in the world but it is my family’s favorite.

    • 6 hard cooked eggs (large)
    • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
    • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
    • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, I use Coleman’s
    • Cayenne pepper, a few shakes…more if you want them spicier…not too much though
    • Salt & pepper to taste
    • Paprika
    • Mayonnaise

Shell eggs. Cut in half lengthwise. Remove the yolk from the eggs & mash with fork or spoon until as smooth as you can get it. Mix all ingredients, except paprika, with the egg yolks until well blended. Add mayo a little at a time until you get the consistency that you want. Fill the egg whites with the mixture. Sprinkle with paprika if desired.


At the beginning of the Appalachian Mountains, in Fleming County, Kentucky, where we live, deviled eggs are often referred to as dressed eggs. It has been several years ago now since this story happened. Our middle son who is twenty now was about four at the time. It was just a few days past Easter Sunday; the time of year when there is an abundance of eggs so there were lots of dressed eggs. I was preparing supper when I asked Joey to look in the refrigerator to see if we had any dressed eggs leftover that we might have with our evening meal. He opened the refrigerator door, stuck in his little head, and then firmly shut it and stated, “No, but there are plenty of naked ones.”

I live in eastern Kentucky where I teach K-8 arts and humanities and my husband works at the Toyota Plant in Georgetown. We have two sons and a daughter. I hope you like our story. It has been a family joke for several years now.

Boil 1 dozen eggs, cool, peel, and slice in half length-wise. Place yolks in a separate bowl and add 2 rounded tablespoons of mayonnaise, 1 tsp of regular mustard and 1 tsp of Dijon mustard (I prefer the hearty country type), 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. (Of course I taste and determine if it needs a little more this or that, which is how my grandmother taught me to cook.) Fill the divided egg whites with the yolk mixture. If I am feeling fancy I use a cake decorating tube and tip. To decorate add a slice of olive to the top of each.

Virginia Cooper

Although we were born in Memphis, my young siblings and I spent many summers at “Mama” Cowart’s farm near Smithdale, Mississippi. It was a scary thing to sneak your fingers under her “laying hens” to retrieve those warm ovals—sometimes with downy feathers attached to them.

Her henhouse was out in the open, unsecured by fencing and her hens had shadowbox cubbies up high sheltered by a wooden awning around the outside walls. I can still see “Mama” strewing corn from her apron at feeding time. The most magical find was a double-yolker, which we saved for our deviled eggs.

Boil eggs; remove shells. Slice each egg in two. Scoop out yellow egg yolk into mixing bowl. For six eggs, add 1 tbsp. mayonnaise, 1 tbsp. sweet relish, 1 tbsp. pesto and dash of salt or to taste.Mix well and fill each egg half. Sprinkle with paprika, or garnish with parsley sprig or pimento.

Note: I use double-yolk eggs, and buy flats of 15 at the farmers’ market for my recipe.

Walter Levy

Bebe Meaders is a native of Marietta, Georgia, and the story she tells is rich with memory and the life of her hometown in the 1920s and 1930s.

At our home in Marietta, Cobb County, Georgia, there is a camp ground developed and owned by the Methodist Church – established in 1837 and used every year since. I remember most when I was about 7 to 11 or 12 years in 1929 – 1933, my mother and I would stay for several days with her dearest friend in the friend’s “tent.” We did not have the luxury of freezers, just ice boxes with blocks of ice. As I remember, at the campground, the ice blocks would be in the individual tents, covered with sawdust to keep them cool. The food would be what was grown in the home gardens or bought locally. The meats would be mostly chicken, fried or baked, and ham – cured at home. I don’t remember that casseroles had been invented, so chicken dishes were pretty much basic. Chicken and dumplings were popular then, but I honestly don’t remember them being served.

Vegetables were beans, green and butterbeans, squash, probably baked, sweet potato soufflé, potato salad, fried okra, lots of tomatoes, sliced and stewed, cantaloupe, and, of course, watermelon. The watermelon was usually cut and eaten in mid-afternoon. Oh, I forgot corn. My recollection is of corn-on-the-cob and cut off the cob and stewed. There was also corn pudding.

I completely forgot the backbone of cakes – pound cake. This, of course, was made with lots of butter and eggs. Just wonderful! There may have been chocolate cakes, certainly lemon cheese cakes, and, lemon, apple, and peach pies. I don’t remember pecan pies, but who is to question?

There is a saying that the Methodists think the way to heaven is through the stomach, and all women took great pride in baking their best for dinners-on-the grounds and camp meetings. On, again, I forgot biscuits. There was always a plateful on every table.

At camp meetings, a churn (crank freezer) was often made in the afternoons. For picnics, it was made at home, the water drained, repacked with ice and the whole thing wrapped in some sort of old blanket or spread and then transported. This way, hopefully, it would still be frozen when ready to eat. The flavors were usually plain vanilla, peach or whatever fruit was available.

I have questioned several friends on what they associated, foodwise, with picnics. The answers were all “fried chicken, potato salad and deviled eggs”. Guess we are stuck in a rut down here.

As for deviled eggs:

Cover 6 – 8 eggs with water, boil l5 minutes. Cool. Remove shells, cut in half. Remove yolks. Mash yolks, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Add a generous dash of Worcestershire sauce. Mix well. Spoon back into whites. Dust with paprika.

Fred Sauceman

Jan Williams is President Jimmy Carter’s favorite deviled egg maker. With a drill instructor’s directness and a Southern banker’s charm, she recites rules and regulations to some 12,000 visitors annually, who come from around the world for a Sunday school lesson by the former President at the Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia. While waiting for the doors to open, Jan even schools Northerners in the proper way to deal with gnats, which, she says, is blowing them away through the side of the mouth, not swatting with the hands.

“During Caring Wednesday at Maranatha, we bring covered dishes and sit down at the same table to talk about normal things, not war and peace but rather how many fish we caught that day or how many peanuts we shelled,” Jan says. “Mr. Carter likes my deviled eggs and always asks me which are mine. I tell him they’re on the green plate.”

Easy to remember for Carter, since green was the color he used in his political advertising. The plate, a wedding present Jan received in 1971, has the design of a rooster in the middle and the familiar oval indentations. When Carter was running for president the first time, Jan stuffed hundreds of eggs for a covered dish dinner out at the Pond House, near Plains, where Carter’s mother Miss Lillian loved to fish. At $5,000 for a plate of fried chicken, ham, roast beef, potato salad, and Jan’s eggs, the outdoor, covered dish feast raised $1 million for Carter’s campaign.

Pour cold water into a pan and add a dozen eggs. Then place the pan on the stove and bring the water to a boil. Boil 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the eggs sit 5-10 minutes. Then pour the hot water off and pour cold water on. Peel the eggs. Cut them in half. Put the yolks in a bowl and the whites in a green plate. Mash up the yolks with a fork. Add mayonnaise and mustard and cubed sweet pickles along with a little salt and black pepper. Mix well. If it’s not moist enough, add more mayonnaise or mustard. Spoon the stuffing with a teaspoon into the whites.

“I usually have some yellow left over,” she adds. “I enjoy eating that. And if any of the whites tear up, I eat those, too.”

Jan says her filling is a medium yellow, since she loves mustard and uses the plain, ballpark variety. And never would she consider even a dusting of paprika. “If I did that, people would accuse me of dressing up my eggs too much.”

Donna Gene Wald

Who would think that at the delicate young age of 50+, I, who have never mastered the art of cooking, would be known across the country for my devilled eggs? Well, the saga starts with my mother’s nanny (Rosie), who was from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and passed on scintillating voodoo tales. Rosie conjured up the mystical tale which simply stated that “if you made deviled eggs weekly, you would be keeping all negativity away from your home.” This tale became imbedded in my psyche, and therefore became a staple I mastered and shared at parties, picnics, and dinner parties. After all, we all could use a little bit of magic!

    • 6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled, cut in half and yolks mashed in bowl
    • 2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Hellmann’s or Best Food’s Mayonnaise
    • 2 Teaspoons Gulden’s spicy brown mustard
    • 2 Teaspoons sweet relish
    • Paprika for garnish

Combine mashed yolks, mayonnaise and mustard and stir well. Use a hand mixer to achieve a lighter whipped texture. Add relish and mix well. Fill the whites with above mixture and sprinkle with paprika. Chill 4 hours or overnight. Enjoy!

Virginia Willis

Throughout my life, picnics, family reunions, church suppers, and even simple summer suppers always involved Mama’s deviled eggs. Mama used French’s mustard, store-bought mayonnaise, and the obligatory sprinkling of paprika. I loved the creamy, fatty egg yolk paste and despised the whites. I now know the eggs were overcooked, but the yolks weren’t anything so awful a heaping helping of mayonnaise wouldn’t help. I would lick the yolk mixture out of the natural bowl of the whites and try to put the white back on the platter. Mama didn’t think that was a good idea.

I grew older and went to culinary school. I learned how not to overcook the eggs and to prevent the whites from turning into ovoid rubber balls. My chef taught me to add a little butter to the yolk mixture. It was the perfect marriage of fat. Now, I eat the white, too.

Deviled eggs are classic Southern fare at spring and summer picnics, family reunions, and church suppers. I made a platter or these once for a political fundraiser and watched the then governor of Georgia proceed to eat most of the plate! The sneaky secret is the butter. A little French twist on a Southern staple.

    • 6 large eggs
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, preferably
    • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
    • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped herbs such as chives, tarragon, or parsley
    • Pinch of cayenne pepper
    • Coarse salt and pepper

Place the eggs in a saucepan in a single layer, and add enough water to cover them by 1 inch. Bring water to a simmer over high heat. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 12 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water.

Peel hard-boiled eggs and cut them lengthwise. Carefully remove yolks and place in a bowl. Set whites aside. Mash yolks with a fork. Combine with butter, mayonnaise, mustard, herbs, and cayenne pepper. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into the reserved egg white halves, or pipe using a pastry bag and large star tip. Serve immediately.

Betty Culpepper

3 dozen hard-boiled eggs (because they are very popular and disappear
quickly) Peel and slice the eggs in half and put the whites on platters.
Put the yolks in a bowl and mash them or put them in a blender.
Add mayonnaise, sandwich spread, mustard, and relish (amount depends on
your taste but at least one tablespoonful of each). Also add salt and pepper (a teaspoonful or to taste). Mix well. Place the mixture in the egg half and sprinkle paprika over the eggs to add color.

Eloise Thornton Deviled Eggs

    • 6 hard boiled eggs
    • 1/8 tsp sugar
    • 2 tsp sweet relish
    • 2 tsp onion, chopped fine
    • 1 tsp yellow mustard
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Mayonnaise
    • Paprika

Peel hard boiled eggs, cut in half. Remove yolk and mash with fork, add sugar, relish, onion, prepared yellow mustard, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and add mayonnaise so mixture will be well blended. Put mixture into white part of eggs. Sprinkle with paprika.

Luci Lyler Anderson

My dear Mother, Leona Lyler Bolton, never allowed anyone to refer to her hard boiled stuffed eggs as Deviled Eggs, since she usually prepared them for church suppers or Sunday dinner.

I grew up in Whistler, Alabama, just down the street from Bethany Baptist Church – the social center of our community. We had a covered dish dinner every Wednesday evening before Prayer Meeting. I remember relishing the taste of these delicious stuffed eggs complementing baked ham and platters of fried chicken, fresh home grown tomatoes, and vegetables, topped off by homemade pies and cakes. The ladies of our church put on a delicious spread of down home southern fare on all holidays and every Wednesday night.

Looking back on these memories has made me realize that what really made those church dinners special was the number one ingredient in every dish – love. Old fashioned stuffed eggs like Mama made, makes every meal taste like a church supper or a southern Sunday dinner.

    • 12 eggs – boiled, peeled, halved lengthwise, yolks removed
    • 3 T mayonnaise
    • 1 T lemon juice
    • 2 green onions
    • 1 1/2 tsp mustard
    • 1 tsp salt and pepper
    • 2 tsp olive oil
    • 1 T onion
    • 2 tsp minced parsley
    • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
    • Few drops of Tabasco

Mash hot yolks with the remaining ingredients. Beat until fluffy. Refill egg whites. Garnish with paprika, a few capers, anchovy bits, pepperoni slices, stuffed olives, spicy boiled shrimp, or fried bacon. Chill.

Mary Jane Lauderdale

I am eighty one years old and still cooking. My four children and nine grandchildren still enjoy coming to dinner at my home. We have lots of family gatherings. Cooking, gardening, and sewing are my hobbies. My grandchildren enjoy cooking too.

    • 6 eggs, hard boiled
    • 1 tsp French’s yellow mustard
    • 4 T mayonnaise
    • Salt to taste
    • Pinch of pepper

Mix yolks with other ingredients. Stuff back into egg whites. Garnish with paprika and fresh parsley.

Ruth Gunter

It is 5 am in the morning and I am 65 years young. As long as I can remember, my mother served deviled eggs for picnics, Mardi Gras, family gatherings, Easter, birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Every year at our church, we have fifth Sunday picnics. I always prepare wonderful deviled egg food trays. Last Sunday I attended an 80th Birthday celebration for a church member and the wonderful deviled egg tray graced the table. Not a crumb was left. An additional treat is the egg salad leftovers – wonderful sandwiches for the entire family. It is definitely the best in the world.

    • 1 dozen medium boiled eggs
    • 1 cup sweet pickle cubes
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1/2 cup potted meat (optional)

Combine yolks with remaining ingredients. Stuff back into whites. Cover with an olive slice and paprika.

Mrs. C. E. (Opal) Graves

After living most of my 84 years in Southwest Mississippi, helping to raise and educate four children, retiring from work in an office after 25 years, I was ready to stop cooking so much. However, I found that every time we went to some church functions or shower or gathering, it was a covered dish. It became clear this was the easiest to prepare and also the most likely to be eaten. One of the ladies who worked for me several years began to call me the egg lady. What would we do without them, the egg, I mean?

    • 6 eggs
    • Salt and black pepper to taste
    • 2 T sweet pickle relish
    • 1/2 Cup of celery, chopped fine
    • 1 T mayonnaise
    • 2 T apple cider vinegar

Mix the yolks with the remaining ingredients and then stuff into egg white halves. Sprinkle with paprika. Put bread and butter pickles in the center of the plate and you have a delicious and pretty covered dish for a church event.

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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