The Perfect Soft-Boiled Egg

updated Sep 11, 2020
The Perfect Soft-Boiled Egg
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In case you haven’t noticed, it’s Egg Week here at The Kitchn. There are plenty of egg projects I’d love to share with you — scrambling an ostrich egg, making my beloved rye sours with leftover egg whites — but instead I want to talk about the perfection of an egg.

I’ll take eggs in most forms, but to me it’s a soft boiled egg — six minutes — that makes the best breakfast. My perfect egg has no runny whites and a yolk that is on the brink of setting, but hasn’t yet. A pinch of flakey sea salt, a few cranks of the pepper mill, a small silver spoon, and a chipped porcelain egg cup. That’s all I need.

I’ve been eating them this way all my life. I grew up having a soft boiled egg scooped out over torn-up wheat toast almost every morning before school. In college, I learned to make them in my dorm room, carefully navigating an electric gadget meant only for tea and Top Ramen noodles, boiling the egg in a cramped mug right there in the middle of my open books and scrawled notes.

In England I discovered the more composed version of my childhood breakfast called Egg and Soldiers; the top of the egg surgically removed with a special instrument and served with razor-straight strips of crust-less white toast for dipping — pinky lifted as if to sip tea — into the waiting yolk. Voyaging through Southeast Asia I found soft boiled eggs served boldly alongside soups and noodles, and I fell in love with the way these dishes made breakfast crash violently into lunch and dinner, decorated with chili flakes, fish sauce, and fried slices of garlic.

My girl starts kindergarten on Monday, and so does the ritual and tradition of sending her off with what’s now her favorite breakfast, her “yolky egg,” and I will join her.

Tell us about your perfect egg.

The Perfect Soft-Boiled Egg

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    large organic egg

  • Salt

  • Pepper


  1. Have a timer set for six minutes but do not start it. Fill a small but deep-sided saucepan with about four inches of water. Bring it to a boil then lower the heat so that the water simmers gently. Lower in the egg. Start the timer. After six minutes remove the egg and run it under a cold tap for 15 seconds. Place in an egg cup and slice off the top third. Season with salt and pepper.