By Maggie Helseth
The first week of March, as I was researching and preparing this post, the world around me felt relatively normal. On Tuesday, March 10th, I was poring over egg bite recipes on the internet and taking notes. Wednesday morning found me in a relatively quiet grocery store purchasing cottage cheese, green onions, and other items I needed for my recipes. “Maybe I’ll grab a couple extra things, just in case.” Yes, COVID-19 was on our minds, but school was still in session. Life was still going on as usual. We held our Egg Bite challenge (which I’ll detail below) like it was any other day.
The very next morning, we were called to pick our kids up from school at 9:30am. Schools across the country began shutting down. Then restaurants, social gatherings, etc. And, now, I’m already looking back on our light-hearted Egg Bite Challenge with fondness. I’m glad we had that time together! One day, in the not-too-distant future, when the time is right, we’ll all be together again, doing ridiculous things. Like Egg Bite Challenges. But now, we have lots of time to write (and read!) long posts about ridiculous things. Like Egg Bite Challenges.
Why Egg Bites:
To my mind (and taste buds), egg bites are perfect little protein pillows ♥ and thanks to Starbucks they’ve become wildly popular.
Confession: I went through a months’ long period of time last year when I was popping by Starbucks and buying them almost every day for lunch. If you haven’t tried one, you simply must! They are luscious, rich bites of ooey gooey deliciousness.
I LOVE eggs! Eggs are a great source of complete protein with lots of nutrients and benefits which you can eat as a fast-healthy meal or snack all day long.
I think egg bites are also an easy grab and go option, especially when cooked and stored in a Mason jar. Add a spillproof lid in either stainless steel or plastic (just use the silicone liner in the microwave) and a silicone sleeve for easy reheating wherever you take them.
Also these little bites can be packed with delicious flavors from spicy to savory!
I have backyard chickens! Honestly, my number one reason for wanting to try my hand at these is that I have a flock of laying hens who give me the most delicious eggs. So very many eggs, with the exception of their winter break. With my lovely egg laying ladies in the backyard of the Heselth Homestead back in production (thank you, Spring!), I’m blessed again with an abundance of fresh eggs. Pictured to the left are the lovely ladies of which I speak.
Did you enjoy that more than you would have anticipated? Most people do. Colorful eggs are simple and beautiful, and we could all use more of those things these days.
Curious about who laid which eggs? Jet lays those gorgeous dark brown numbers. Sean delivers the blue beauties. Those small white ones come from Juicy Fruit (formerly known as Goldilocks). The green hued orbs of deliciousness are thanks to Super Chick. My other girls lay various shades of creams and browns, and when it comes to those, I love and appreciate them all, even though I’m never sure who to thank.
Now you’ve met my hens. You’ve been introduced to my semi-comedic stylings that seem to come out in even fuller force when I’ve been hunkered down with no outside human contact for several days. Now let’s get to the reason you’re probably here: the Challenge and the recipes!
The Egg Bite Challenge:
As I entered the warehouse that Wednesday, the team had no idea that I was about to spring a competition on them (insert evil laugh here)!
But, as expected, the team rose to the challenge and immediately started researching the best techniques and recipes for their assignments.
You might not know this, but we’re a little bit competitive…
So on March 11th, Ryan, Mary, and I entered the MJL kitchen arena and spent almost the entire work day testing out our Mason jar egg bite recipes to see who would be the champion.
Most people don’t have a sous vide machine at home. Some people have Instant Pots as they’re increasingly popular. Pretty much everyone has a stove top and a stock pot. Hopefully one of these methods is at your disposal so you can test out our recipes too!
So we began our contest, complete with a blind taste test – the whole shebang!
It was a great day at MJL! We laughed, we joked, we ate. And we ate some more. The Egg Bite Challenge was one for the books!
Want to make your own delicious, affordable, and healthful egg bites at home? Grab yourself a dozen eggs (if you can find them – quarantine 2020 and all), a container of cottage cheese, and whatever other mix-ins you enjoy (ideas below) and follow along!
For the challenge, we decided to make one base recipe and then three recipes with various add-in ingredients. We then each put one jar of each flavor in our assigned cooking device.
I’m going to start with the basic recipe and then go over the optional cooking methods (as well as our staff opinions on each). So, no matter how you decide to cook your egg bites (sous vide, Instant Pot, or stovetop), here is the recipe:
- 12 eggs
- 1 c. cottage cheese
- 1 tsp. salt (a little more or less, depending on your personal tastes)
Lightly oil the insides of 12 4oz Mason jars
Crack eggs one at a time into a Mason jar.
Pour the eggs individually into a blender pitcher. (This way, if you get a bad egg or bit of shell, you won’t ruin the entire batch.)
Add 1 c. cottage cheese to the blender pitcher. Add salt. Blend until smooth.
If you are not using any add-ins, divide the mixture between 12 4oz Mason jars.
If you are using add-ins (variations listed below), pour your base recipe into a mixing bowl and stir in the add-in ingredients.
Once your chosen variation is mixed, divide between 12 4oz Mason jars. Fill only up to the bead that goes around the jar underneath the threading. If you are making a variation with add-ins, you may end up with an extra egg bite or two – yippee!
1) Bacon & Cheddar
- 1/4 c. chopped cooked bacon
- 2 tbs. chopped scallions (optional)
- 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
2) Green Chile & Jack Cheese
- 2 tbs. green chiles
- 1 c. shredded jack cheese
3) Broccoli & Cheddar
- 1/4 c. chopped roasted broccoli
- 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
Sous Vide Method
Set sous vide machine to 167 degrees.
Once water is heated to temperature, gently place your jars in the machine. Be sure the water goes over the tops of the jars.
If making only the base recipe without ad-ins, cook for 35 mins.
If making a variation with ad-ins, cook for 45 mins.
After the set amount of time, open and remove egg bites.
Instant Pot Method
Pour one cup of water in your pressure cooker. Place wire steam rack in bottom (we used stainless steel bands since we didn’t have the rack), and gently set your jars on top. We used versatile, silicone lid liners and they worked perfectly!
Secure the lid on the pressure cooker and set regulator to “sealing” position. Using the “pressure cook” or “manual” program, set time to 8 minutes at low pressure.
It takes about 10 minutes to come up to full pressure, at which point cooking begins.
When the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 5-10 minutes, then do a quick pressure release by moving the pressure release knob from “sealing” to “venting.” This should take a minute or two. Open and remove egg bites.
Note: You will only be able to fit 4-5 jars in your pressure cooker, so these will need to be cooked in batches. To me, this is a major disadvantage if you’re wanting to make a larger number at once.
Set jars in bottom of stock pot (or any fairly tall pot). Pour water in so that it goes just over the tops of the jars.
Bring water just to a very low simmer, not to a boil.
Once it’s reached a simmer, set timer for 35 minutes. Make sure water remains at very low simmer throughout duration of cooking.
Allow to rattle around annoyingly…
After 35 minutes, remove jars from water.
Notes: For the sous vide and stove top methods, be sure to seal the lids on the jars “finger tight.” Do not over-tighten. You want air bubbles to release. For the Instant Pot, don’t seal the tops – we set silicone lid liners over ours instead of using foil.
Again, depending on the size of your pot, you may be limited in the number of egg bits you can cook at once, so you may need to cook in batches.
So, which method was best?!
We set up a blind taste test for all five of the lucky Mason Jar Lifestyle team members who were in that day. We discussed each flavor and cooking method in depth.
Full disclosure, the egg bites cooked in the sous vide machine, with the exception of the base recipe, were a bit undercooked. That’s because I cooked them all for 35 minutes. The base recipe egg bites (containing just eggs and cottage cheese) were cooked perfectly, but the others were best described as gooey – I guess this is because the add-ins cooked at a slower rate than the eggs. That’s why in the final recipes (above), we added 10 minutes to the cooking time for the variations with add-ins when made in the sous vide.
Looking at just the base recipe with no ad-ins, three of the five of us preferred the sous vide method. We found it to have a rich and creamy taste. (I describe it as decadent.) The other two preferred the stovetop method, because it had more of a classic, fluffy egg taste. They thought the sous vide method was too creamy (almost custardy). So, when you’re looking for the method that’s right for you, it’s really about personal preference.
When it came to the recipes with the add-ins, the stovetop method won, hands down. It was the most consistent across the board. The egg bites made this way were soft, somewhat creamy, and retained a classic, fluffy egg taste and texture that people expected. The Instant Pot egg bites tended to be a little too spongy – though on a couple of occasions, the taste testers appreciated this more cooked, denser quality. And the sous vide egg bites were too gooey – one person actually described the green chili/jack variation as tasting like queso (again, this is likely because they needed to be cooked longer, which is reflected in our final recipe).
The stovetop method was declared the big winner in our book! It’s easy, requires no special equipment, and is relatively foolproof compared to the others. Congrats, Mary, on your win! Her prize? Hanging her title of Egg Bite Challenge champion over our heads until the end of time. Of course, each method had its pluses, so you can judge for yourself! Share your experiences in the comments below!