The Real Reason Deviled Eggs Are Called Deviled Eggs

We've all heard of foods that are said to be "sinful" — a word that's been used to describe sugary treats like Nutella, fatty indulgences such as bacon, or even the ever-tempting (but carb-laden) restaurant bread basket. There are a few foods, however, whose seemingly sinful nature is actually part of their name. 

While deviled eggs could possibly fit into the indulgent category since they tend to be high in fat as well as being super tasty, their name actually doesn't come from the "devil made me do it" excuse. In fact, the term "deviled" refers to the spicy seasonings such as mustard and pepper with which these eggs were sometimes prepared. Although "deviled" as a descriptor first entered the culinary lexicon in 1786, the idea of spiced, stuffed eggs is actually far older than that.

The origins of deviled eggs

A dish made of spiced, boiled eggs was known to the ancient Romans, and the notion of mashing the yolks and stuffing them back into the whites began to gain traction in the Middle Ages. The U.S. was a bit slower to catch on to the stuffed egg craze, but they were a cookbook staple by the 19th century. Fannie Farmer was the first to suggest using mayonnaise — now an integral part of most deviled egg recipes — but mayo really didn't catch on until the 1940s. 

While the classic deviled egg recipe as we know it today, which consists of hard-boiled eggs, mayo, mustard, and paprika, may not be all that "devilishly" spicy, modern cooks are putting the devil back into the eggs by adding out-of-the-carton ingredients such as kimchi, sriracha, and wasabi. Other folks are finding that adding secret ingredients to deviled eggs, such as butter, actually make them far creamier and taste way better. 

A deviled egg by any other name

Call them what you will, deviled eggs are an ever-popular appetizer and buffet side dish, but there are a number of people who can't enjoy them without first rechristening them, so they can disassociate themselves from any whiff of brimstone (the Satanic, not the rotten egg kind). Other names they sometimes go by are "stuffed eggs", "dressed eggs", "salad eggs," or "mimosa eggs" (no relation to the popular brunch cocktail), but the cutest variant is one evidently favored by Katy Perry's mom — "angeled eggs".