How to Boil Eggs Perfectly (Every Time)
Updated Aug 20, 2023
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Learn how to boil eggs (both soft boiled and hard boiled) so they turn out perfectly every time. My approach is super easy and allows you to cook a variety of eggs for the entire family – all in one pot together!
The Cold Water Approach is Flawed
When it comes to boiling eggs there’s no shortage of tutorials online. And guess what? They’re all pretty similar (i.e. add eggs to a pot of cold water, bring it to a boil, turn off the heat and cook the eggs until they’re hard boiled).
But I find that there’s one big flaw with this method – the type of pot you use.
Aluminum, stainless steel and cast iron are well known for their different rates of bringing water to a boil and retaining heat. That means if your eggs are sitting in a pot of cold water in a cast iron pot and it takes two minutes longer to reach a boil than an aluminum pot (not to mention the water will cool at a much slower rate once removed from the heat), you’ve now inadvertently cooked your eggs a few minutes longer.
That may not be the end of the world for hard-boiled eggs, but it does increase the likelihood of a green tinge around your yolk and a more rubbery white. No thank you!
On the other hand, soft-boiled eggs require a more precise cook time. That’s why most tutorials have you cooking them in hot water.
So that begs the question – why cook them two different ways?
How to Boil Eggs in Hot Water
Given the reasoning above, I see no reason to cook hard-boiled eggs differently from soft-boiled eggs. Plus, the hot water method, which I’ve used my entire life (thanks mom), is pretty darn foolproof.
Just bring a pot of water to a boil with enough water to cover the eggs by about an inch. By boiling the water first, it also doesn’t matter which type of pot you use as the eggs only hit the water once it’s boiling: 212°F (100°C).
Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and use a skimmer to gently place the eggs in the water. By reducing the heat to low, you’ll prevent the eggs from bouncing around and cracking. Then, immediately turn the heat back up to a boil.
As soon as the eggs are in the water set a timer. And cook the eggs according to how soft or hard you’d like them.
How long to boil eggs
- 6 minutes: A liquidy yolk and soft white. This is perfect for eggs served in an egg cup.
- 6 1/2 minutes: A soft, jammy yolk. This is my favorite for eggs on toast or soft boiled eggs on a salad.
- 8 minutes: A medium yolk that’s slightly soft but firm enough to hold its own.
- 10 minutes: The early stages of a hard boiled egg, with just a smidge of softness in the middle.
- 12 minutes: A hard boiled egg with a lighter yolk.
- 14 minutes: Your traditional hard boiled egg with the lightest yolk and a firm white, but not overcooked.
Place the eggs in an ice-water bath. Once the eggs have reached your desired time, immediately place them in an ice water bath to stop them from cooking and maintain your perfect texture.
Peel the eggs. Tap them gently on the bottom thicker end first, as it’s easier to get under the membrane when you start peeling from the bottom. Then continue to peel the shell off.
How do you make eggs easier to peel? The million-dollar question! There are many theories on how to make hard-boiled eggs easier to peel such as using eggs that are at least 10 days old, adding baking soda or vinegar to the water, and placing the eggs in an ice water bath. After trying all those methods, the only thing that works time and again for me is placing the eggs in an ice-water bath!
Tips To Prevent Cracking
Your eggs shouldn’t crack when placing them in the hot water. If they do, here’s a few extra tips to ensure that won’t happen.
- Allow the eggs to warm up. As you’re waiting for water to boil, don’t forget to take the eggs out of the fridge to let them sit on the counter. This will allow them to come to room temperature.
- Reduce the heat to low. This is important. Reduce the heat to low while slowly placing the eggs in the hot water. The water should not be boiling or bubbling. Otherwise, the eggs will bounce around and likely crack.
- Don’t crowd the pot. You want to make sure your eggs have enough room in the pot, so that they’re not stacking or touching. Plus, a crowded pot can start to alter the cook time.
- Buy a different brand. Sometimes different brands have different thickness of shells. If you’ve done all of the above, switching brands might be the clincher.
How Long Can You Store Boiled Eggs
Whether you’re making hard-boiled eggs or soft-boiled eggs, this is how long you can store them in the fridge:
- Hard Boiled Eggs: up to 1 week
- Soft Boiled Eggs: up to 3 days
In the shell or peeled? You can store boiled eggs either in their shell or peeled. But if you want maximum freshness and the longest storage time possible in the fridge, store them in their shell.
Helpful Tip: It should also be noted that eggs should never be stored in the refrigerator door, due to frequent temperature changes. Always store your eggs in the main part of the fridge.
Favorite Recipes With Boiled Eggs
There’s so much you can make once you’ve mastered boiling eggs. Here are a few of my favorite recipes:
Let me know in the comments below what your favorite cook time is for boiled eggs! I’m quite partial to a 6 1/2-minute jammy egg.
How to Boil Eggs Perfectly
- 1 to 6 large eggs
- Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil. Ensure there's enough water in the pot to cover the eggs by about an inch. While you're waiting for the water to boil, remove the eggs from the fridge (set them on the counter).
- Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to low (so that there's no bubbles) and use skimmer to gently and slowly add the eggs to the water. Then, turn the heat back up to a boil.
- Set a timer and cook the eggs for 6 to 7 minutes for soft-boiled eggs and 12 to 14 minutes for hard-boiled eggs. See the cooking time notes above. While the eggs are cooking, prepare an ice-water bath.
- Once the eggs have cooked to your preferred time, use the skimmer to remove the eggs and immediately submerge them in the ice-water bath to stop their cooking.
- Peel the eggs, starting with the bottom end first as it's easier to get under the membrane.
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Recipe originally posted March 2018, but updated to include new information and photos.