How To Boil Eggs Perfectly Every Time

updated Aug 9, 2022
How To Hard-Boil Eggs

A perfect, foolproof way to make boiled eggs perfectly every single time, with timing and methods for both hard boiled and soft boiled eggs.

Makes6 eggs

Cook8 minutes to 20 minutes

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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell

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 and 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. This basic recipe let’s you choose the egg you want from softly boiled to hard-set and everywhere in between. It is the best way to make perfect boiled eggs every single time. 

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell; Design: The Kitchn

How Long Does It Take to Hard-Boil an Egg?

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. Stop at 3 minutes for soft-boiled eggs, a classic breakfast served with buttered toast or to add atop a veggie and grain bowl. Keep the eggs in the water for up to 15 minutes for creamy hard-boiled eggs for deviled eggs and cobb salads.

The Best Way to Cool Boiled Eggs

Every minute counts when hard-boiling eggs to a specific degree of doneness. Evacuate eggs from hot water when the timer rings, but they will continue to cook unless you take steps to cook the eggs quickly.

As the water heats to a boil, take time to prepare the ice bath. Simply fill a bowl halfway with ice cubes and add water to cover. Once the eggs are done, transfer them to the super chilled water. Leave them in the ice bath for at least one minute to cool the eggs and stop the cooking. 

How to Easily Peel Hard-Boiled Eggs

There are few kitchen tasks more frustrating than trying to peel the shell of an egg chip by chip (plucking thyme leaves tops the list for me). Far too often, the shell crumbles in a million pieces and the whites cling tenaciously, giving us a stubbled, unsightly egg. Make this job easier with three simple tips.

  1. Choose older 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. 
  2. Crack the eggs before chilling. Remove the eggs from the water and tap on the counter a few times before shocking in ice water. This loosens the membrane layer between the shell and egg white. It’s not always a guarantee, especially if your eggs are still fairly fresh, but it helps. Skip this step if preparing candy colored Easter eggs or soft-boiled eggs.
  3. Cool the eggs completely. Chill eggs in the ice bath for at least one minute, but it’s best to cool them completely — about 15 minutes — before peeling. The temperature shock forces the egg white to contract, separating it from the shell. Quick cooling also firms the egg white making the eggs easier to peel.

How To Hard-Boil Eggs

A perfect, foolproof way to make boiled eggs perfectly every single time, with timing and methods for both hard boiled and soft boiled eggs.

Cook time 8 minutes to 20 minutes

Makes6 eggs

Nutritional Info


  • 6

    large eggs

  • Cold water

  • Ice


  • Medium saucepan

  • Timer

  • Slotted spoon

  • Bowl


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  1. Put the eggs in a saucepan of cold water. Place 6 cold large eggs in a medium saucepan and fill with cold water, covering the eggs by an inch.

  2. Bring the water to a rolling boil. Place the pan over high heat and bring the water to a full, rolling boil uncovered. Meanwhile, prepare an ice water bath.

  3. Prepare an ice bath. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice and add water to cover.

  4. 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 overcook!

  5. 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

  6. Crack 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.

  7. Place the eggs in a bowl of ice water. Transfer the eggs to the bowl of ice water and leave them there for at least 1 minute.

  8. Peel and eat! When ready to eat, peel the eggs 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.

Credit: Image: Joe Lingeman, Design: The Kitchn

How We’ve Re-tested This Recipe

In September 2019, we tested seven internet-famous methods for hard-boiling eggs in an epic hard-boiled egg showdown. The winner of that battle was a boil-then-simmer technique from Kenji Lopez-Alt at Serious Eats. The result: consistently easy-to-peel eggs with tender whites and firm yolks. 

Since Kitchn’s hard-boiled egg technique differed from the showdown’s contenders, we decided to test our tried-and-true recipe against the winner to see how it compared. Would we need to update Kitchn’s Cooking Lesson or would the cold-water start still reign supreme? I spent an afternoon boiling a few dozen eggs (the same brand purchased at a single store with all the same lay dates) to determine the best method for hard-boiling eggs.

After further testing, and despite awarding the battle crown to the Serious Eats, we’ve decided to keep Kitchn’s Cooking Lesson as is. The versatility of this recipe is what tipped the scales in its favor. In this step-by-step recipe, we provide instructions for cooking hard-boiled eggs, but advise on when to pull them from the water at every stage from softly set to the coveted jammy yolk all the way to hard-boiled. 

Patty, August 2020

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