How to Boil Eggs

My boys love hard boiled eggs, and so do I. Since eggs are a healthy, high-protein, real food snack we're in luck. I've been teaching my boys basic cooking skills since they were in kindergarten. I think knowing how to boil eggs, i.e., how to make a hard boiled egg, or a soft boiled egg (same thing, less time), is a basic kitchen skill that is important to have. Although the boys have been preparing scrambled eggs perfectly for over a decade, I had not yet transmitted a superior process to them for making hard boiled eggs.

After much trial and tribulation, with dozens of batches of eggs, over several weeks, I can assure you that this tutorial will teach you how to make the perfect hard boiled egg. And now my boys have this knowledge as well.

How to Boil Eggs

6hard boiled eggs
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  1. Use a medium sized pot (I use this 4 quart pan )
  2. Add 3 inches of water to the pot and bring to a boil
  3. Gently lower eggs into boiling water with a spoon
  4. Reduce heat to medium, so that water is simmering
  5. Cook for 15 minutes for hard boiled eggs
  6. Remove eggs from water with a spoon, allow to cool on a plate for 5-10 minutes
  7. Crack shells on counter and peel eggs
This has been the best! Doing it this way, it was like the shell was evicting the egg!

The first method I tried was to place the eggs in the pot, add water, and then together bring the eggs and water to a boil, letting them simmer for the cooking time. Using this method, the cooking times were not very consistent or reliable, and the eggs were extremely difficult to get out of their shells. I also experimented with bringing the eggs to a boil in the water and then turning off the heat to allow the eggs to cook. Again, cooking times had too much variation and the eggs were quite a challenge to peel. There were other experiments too, though I won't go into each and every one. Suffice it to say that the method I landed on, i.e., bringing the water to a boil, adding the eggs to the pot, then simmering the eggs for 15 minutes, is a sure winner.

One other piece of the “how to boil eggs” puzzle that I studied is how to get the eggs in and out of the water. Many recipes for hard boiled eggs recommend using a slotted spoon for this. Truth be told, I don't own a slotted spoon. I use a regular ol' large spoon from my flatware set to get the eggs in and out of the hot water.

The next piece of the puzzle was finding the easiest way to remove the eggs from their shells. So, what is the best way to peel a hard boiled egg? Contrary to my initial thoughts, the winning method did not involve a cold water bath. Simply removing the eggs from the boiling water, and setting them on a plate to cool for five to ten minutes was the most fool proof method. This cooling time is literally to allow the eggs to come to a temperature where you can safely handle them without scorching your hands.

Just in case you have other ideas for ways in which to cook eggs, I have compiled the handy dandy chart below. You can make everything from three minute eggs (serve in a cup, eat with a spoon) to hard boiled eggs, and then some in between.

TimeEgg SizeDoneness
3 minuteslargesoft boiled
5 minuteslargerunny medium boiled
13 minuteslargecreamy hard boiled
15 minuteslargevery hard boiled

Finally, make sure to set a timer when you make hard boiled eggs so that you do not overcook them! When that happens, the yolk gets a nasty greenish grey ring around its outside, and the white becomes rubbery. No bueno. The best way to prevent over cooking your hard boiled eggs is to watch the timer, and remove the eggs from the hot water as soon as it goes off.

So now you know how to boil eggs! Hard boiled, soft boiled, there you go! What will you do with your hard boiled eggs? If you're looking for deviled egg recipes, try my Deviled Eggs, and stay tuned next week for my Guacamole Deviled Eggs! The boys are big fans of both and regularly devour batches after school.


100 responses to “How to Boil Eggs”

  1. if you want to have boiled eggs without any green tinge around the yolk… put the eggs in cold water, bring the pan top a boil, cover and leave for 10 to 12 minutes. It is very very simple, this is how professional chefs do it.

  2. Elana, I came here reading the title. First I was like laughing at “how to boil eggs”.. But to tell you, you have nailed it. All the information is worth reading. This time I will definitely try your way of boiling eggs and let you know how it goes. Thanks!

  3. In my experience the breed of chicken egg matters! Some of my eggs are from farmers with multiple heirloom breeds including Araucana which lay those gorgeous blue eggs. I’ve found that the blue egg shells are far more fragile than others and they often burst when lowered into boiling water. (I’ve even tried letting them come to room temp before boiling them, and they still burst (they often burst using any hard boiled method!)) But most of the more standard white, brown and cream colored eggs seem to hold up fine when lowered into boiling water. So now I save the blue ones for other cooking and baking methods :-)

  4. Dear Elana
    I avidly read your recipes and blog posts and have done for year but truly on this hard boiled egg recipe you are way over cooking them.
    Put eggs in a smallish pot, add water boil. When the boil is rolling turn them off put in a lid and set the timer for 7 minutes. You will have delicious creamy hard boiled eggs.

  5. I add about 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the water also as it seems to take out the stink that hard boiled eggs have after being boiled.

  6. Elana! I also adore eggs & Indian dish “Anda (egg) Curry” and the secret to easily peel any egg, no matter how new the eggs are is to add a heaping tablespoon to the pot, I let them “boil” 5 minutes and immediately put them into ice water, if you do this, there will be no green color around the yolk, which is bad cause it means it has oxygenated or what ever that word is, green is not good.
    Thank you for the travel tip about the Ziploc bag and freezer pack, I will use this in the future,
    My Dad always called eggs “hen fruit”, and he raised them to make money to go to business college. Thanks! Take care…

  7. Simply amazing! I’ve been using your recipe, weekly, for a year now, and I have never had a failure. The key, for me, is ease in removing the shell, and, following Elana’s instructions, closely, the shell peels of like a blanket. Thank you, Elana, for curing a very long time frustration!

    Are you really 50? You look amazing!!!!

    • I can’t wait to try your method. I have always had problems with my boiled eggs which was really frustrating when I needed to make deviled eggs! My only thought is that I have always feared that if I put refrigerated eggs into boiling water the shells would crack! No need to worry? I will try this soon for deviled egg salad for making toasted sandwiches which my husband loves!

  8. Finally, after almost 67 years of being on the planet, I have found the perfect method for cooking hard-boiled eggs. I cooked 6 as prescribed and cooked them as prescribed and they all peeled perfectly. This is the first time it’s ever happened and I just wanted to say thanks so much. You’ve made my life a lot better.

    • Jim, thanks for your wonderful comment!!! I’m so happy to hear that this is the perfect method for cooking hard boiled eggs :-)

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