How to Hard Boil an Egg
Despite their place in nearly every American kitchen and weekend brunch, cooking hard boiled eggs can be a tedious, temperamental process. Undercooking hard boiled eggs leads to a runny, sloppy mess and overcooking can mean a strong odor, discoloration, and sour taste. Because hard boiled eggs are a key ingredient in so many delicious recipes, from deviled eggs to egg salad sandwiches, it’s important to cook them exactly right. We researched and test every method to find the best way to boil hard boiled eggs. Our favorite version resulted in tender whites with no hint of a rubbery texture and evenly cooked yolks—aka the very best hard boiled eggs.
Hard Boiled Egg Recipe
There are dozens of methods for cooking hard boiled eggs that are based on old wives’ tales, fancy equipment, and complicated timing. We boiled down these methods (pun intended) to some of the most popular in order to determine the best way to cook hard boiled eggs. The recipe for hard boiled eggs is as follows: Fill a small saucepan about ⅔ full with cold water (for easy peeling, see below). Add the egg(s) and then turn on the stove to high heat. Once the water is rapidly bubbling, immediately turn off the heat and cover the saucepan with a lid. Depending on how you like your hard boiled eggs cooked, they will take an additional 3 to 10 minutes to cook. Set a timer once you turn the heat off, based on the outline below. Once the eggs have spent the desired amount of time cooking, immediately remove them from the water and transfer them to an ice bath. Chill until cool enough to handle, but at least 5 minutes before peeling.
How Long to Cook Hard Boiled Eggs
With a variety of cooking methods and egg sizes, it can be difficult to know exactly how long to cook hard boiled eggs. Based on our method for the best hard boiled eggs, these are the ideal cook times for soft boiled, medium boiled, and hard-boiled eggs. We tested with large eggs, so you may want to increase the time slightly if you’re cooking extra-large eggs. For a fun gadget that will help you cook easy hard boiled eggs every time, try this $6 egg timer.
- Soft Boiled Egg: For a soft boiled egg that has a very runny yolk similar to a poached egg, set aside, covered in the hot water for exactly 3 minutes before transferring to the ice bath. Cook for 4 minutes if you prefer a slightly firmer yolk and runny center (see this chart for more soft boiled egg cooking advice). Try soft boiled eggs on toast with asparagus or English muffin egg pizzas.
- Medium Boiled Egg: For ramen-ready eggs with a firm, slightly undercooked yolk, set aside, covered in the hot water for exactly 6 minutes before transferring to the ice bath.
- Hard Boiled Egg: To cook the perfect hard boiled egg, set aside, covered in the hot water for exactly 10 minutes before transferring to the ice bath. This is the ideal amount of time to cook a yolk that will be firm in texture, pale yellow in color, with no runniness. Use them in creative deviled eggs or clever mini quiches.
Easy to Peel Hard Boiled Eggs
Fresh eggs, week old eggs, baking soda, salt, peeling under cold tap water, gadgets galore—there are dozens of internet hacks for easy hard boiled egg peeling. I tried every trick I could find to make peeling hard boiled eggs easier— cooking the eggs in plain water, salted water, soaking the eggs in ice water, adding baking soda to the water, placing a towel in the pot with the eggs, and cooling them in the refrigerator. None of these worked well, especially when compared to the magic that happened when I added vinegar to my cooking water. Vinegar works because the acid breaks down the calcium carbonate in the eggshells, which make them softer and easier to peel. The eggshells peeled off in just a few large pieces, rather than dozens of tiny shards.
Try this technique at home by adding 1 tablespoon of distilled white vinegar to about 4 cups of water. Pour the liquid in a medium-sized pot, then cook your hard boiled eggs. After the hard boiled eggs finishing cooking, carefully transfer them to a bowl filled with ice water to chill for 5 minutes. The cold water will help to further soften the shell and make for even easier egg peeling.