How To Boil Eggs Perfectly Every Time

Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn

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One bad hard-boiled egg can ruin you for life. At least, that's what I believed until I learned how to cook soft-boiled and hard-boiled eggs precisely how I wanted to eat them. The perfect hard-boiled egg has no green ring around the yolk; the innards are creamy and mellow; and if you're in the mood, you can stop short of the hard-boil and make a gooey soft-boiled egg instead.

Do you know how to make perfect boiled eggs every single time? Let us show you — it's so easy.

Top to bottom: Hard-boiled egg, soft-boiled egg, runny soft-boiled egg.
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Same Method for Soft- or Hard-Boiled Eggs

Our tried-and-true method for cooking eggs involves covering them with cold water, bringing the water to a boil, and then taking the pan off the heat to let the eggs finish cooking. This is how we hard-boil eggs for Easter or when we're making deviled eggs for a party, but you can also pull the eggs from the hot water earlier if you'd like a softer yolk.

There are some suggested cooking times in the recipe below. You may need to tweak them slightly to get your very own "perfect egg" but these times are a good place to start.

How To Peel Boiled Eggs

Peeling eggs is always the tricky step, isn't it? Far too often, the shell crumbles in a million pieces and the whites cling tenaciously, giving us a stubbled, unsightly egg.

If your aim is beautiful, pristine hard-boiled eggs for deviled eggs or a similar dish, the only sure-fire trick we know is to use old eggs. As eggs age, they gradually lose moisture through the pores in their shell and the air pocket at the tip expands. The pH of the whites also changes, going from a low pH to a relatively high pH, which makes them adhere less strongly to the shell. Farm-fresh eggs will always be tricky to age. Ideally, buy your eggs a week or two before you plan to boil them and let them age in the fridge.

We have also found that cracking the eggs (gently!) just after boiling and then submerging them in ice water also helps make them easier to peel. It's not always a guarantee, especially if your eggs are still fairly fresh, but it helps. Of course, if you're planning to dye your eggs for Easter, skip the cracking step!

How To Boil Eggs Perfectly Every Time

Makes 6 eggs

What You Need

Ingredients
6 large eggs, cold from the fridge
Cold water
Ice

Equipment
Saucepan
Timer
Slotted spoon
Bowl

Instructions

  1. Put the eggs in a pan of cold water: Place 6 cold eggs in a saucepan and fill with cold water, covering the eggs by an inch.
  2. Bring the water to a rolling boil: Set the pan over high heat and bring the water to a boil, uncovered. The water should come to a full, rolling boil.
  3. Turn off the heat and cover the pan. As soon as the water comes to a boil, remove the pan from heat and cover the pan. Don't forget about the pan on the stove and let the eggs boil for too long or they will over cook!
  4. Set your timer for the desired time: Leave the eggs in the covered pan for the right amount of time. How long? Depends on whether you want soft-boiled or hard-boiled eggs. Here's how long each will take:

    • For runny soft-boiled eggs (barely set whites): 3 minutes

    • For slightly runny soft-boiled eggs: 4 minutes

    • For custardy yet firm soft-boiled eggs: 6 minutes

    • For firm yet still creamy hard-boiled eggs: 10 minutes

    For very firm hard-boiled eggs: 15 minutes

  5. Tap the cooked eggs gently. After your selected time is up, remove the cooked eggs from the pan with a slotted spoon and tap each gently on the countertop to crack the shell in a few places. Skip this step if your eggs are very soft-boiled with runny yolks or if you're planning to dye your eggs for Easter.
  6. Place the eggs in a bowl of ice water. Fill a bowl with ice water. Transfer the eggs to the bowl and leave them there for at least 1 minute.
  7. Peel and eat! When ready to eat, peel the egg and enjoy.

Recipe Notes

  • Quantity: You can of course do fewer eggs (or more!), but we like to do 6 at once.
  • Storage: Refrigerate any unused eggs, still in their shells, within 2 hours. They can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week.
  • The black plate in these photos is a clay platter by La Chamba from Toque Blanche.
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(Image credits: Leela Cyd)