How to Boil Eggs

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.

Print Recipe
How to Boil Eggs
  • 6 large eggs
  1. Use a medium sized pot (I use this 4-quart pan from All-Clad )
  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

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.

Time Egg Size Doneness
3 minutes large soft boiled
5 minutes large runny medium boiled
13 minutes large creamy hard boiled
15 minutes large very 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.


  1. Kim says

    Thank you for this! I don’t eat eggs, but my husband loves them. I thought it was kinda sad I had to google “how to boil eggs”, but am very thankful to find your site! One egg cracked when I put it in the water. Is there any way to avoid this in the future? Thanks, again!

  2. Cyndi says

    I can’t believe it worked so well! The shells practically slipped right off the eggs. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Pamela Bruno says

    I’ve tried every method known to man with sad results! I haven’t had a decently peeled hard boiled egg in years!! I figured I’d give your method a try! Glad I did! They were perfect!! I couldn’t believe it!! I’m never going back!! Thank you!!

  4. Ginger says


    The instructions were perfect, the method was easy and the eggs are perfect. I have tried my mom’s way, Julia Child’s way and approximately 5 other methods. These were PERFECT, thank you!


  5. Terri says

    Friends and family consider me a darn good cook. Who can’t boil and egg?…..umm, this girl right here. But not anymore! I’ve used your directions twice now and perfection both times! Thanks so much!

      • Reen says

        we have many chickens and have fresh eggs everyday- when they are that fresh we found steaming the eggs – then dropping into water with some ice cubes works the best- I make 12 eggs this way every 3 days- to peel- roll the egg and shell comes right off

  6. Jack McMillan says

    I tried your method exactly as outlined and the results were perfect.

    I’m sold.

    Thanks for the information.

  7. Tami says

    Elana, This is EXACTLY how we make our eggs, and they always peel perfectly- especially if you immediately dunk the boiled eggs in ice cold water (complete with ice cubes). I raise chickens here in Washington- my girls are all organic, raised on pasture and garden scraps, and only fed corn/soy free non-GMO feed, which results in the very best eggs produced. We make sure our eggs don’t go to waste sticking to the shells!

  8. Stacy says

    I “warm” up my eggs first in a bowl of warm water while the cooking water comes to a boil. When the water is boiled I add the eggs. By the time they are cooked, I return the eggs to the “warming” water which is now room temperature. I find that eggs rarely crack upon immersion when I do this.

  9. Danielle says

    THANK YOU for doing all of the experimentation work on this so that I don’t have to! The method I’ve been using makes the eggs yummy, but so much of the white stays stuck to the shell and the eggs look horrid when peeled. How long do the eggs stay fresh in the fridge once they’re peeled? I usually leave the peel on until I’m ready to eat them, which may be part of my peeling problem.

  10. John says

    I have a roommate that can’t boil eggs
    So I decided to look it up. I came to your site and gave it a shot….. Totally awesome
    Every egg was perfect so I copied this web and sent it to him lol
    Now we can enjoy eggs that don’t look like the dogs chewed on them first lol
    And our girls were impressed as well since they like when we cook for them

  11. Melanie says

    FInally, a perfect hard boiled egg!!! Love that they don’t have that ugly green ring and so easy to peel! Thanks so much for all your research!

  12. Niki says

    I tried this last week and it worked perfectly! Thank you so much for posting this. My husband loves deviled eggs, and I really love cooking, but for some reason every method I tried for boiling eggs made the shells difficult to remove and/or way overcooked. I even YouTubed methods (which felt silly for hardboiled eggs). The struggle is over after trying your last and final method :) haha

  13. Crannaford says

    I use an old (Australian) Sunbeam egg cooker, it steams them in a few minutes and they’re perfect every time. It’s at least 30 years old. If you’re lucky, you might pick one up at a shed sale :)

  14. Amy says

    I’m sorry if you mentioned this, and I overlooked it. (And I realize this is purely a U.S. problem, and doesn’t concern folks who raise their own chickens…) Do you take your eggs directly out of the refrigerator and place them directly into the boiling water, or do you allow the eggs to come to room temperature first?

  15. Kate says

    I find it hilarious that that most of the comments are to give you an even ‘better method’, even after you have written that you went through many trials and dozens of eggs! Well, I’m off to try your method and the steaming method. So I can make up my own mind! ;)

  16. John Ashe says

    My method is diffferent. I put eggs in a small pot with enough water to cover them. I bring the water to a boil and then turn off the stove. The hard-boiled eggs are perfectly cooked after about 10 minutes in the hot water.

  17. Ruth Flanagan says

    For years I have cooked my eggs by bringing the eggs and water to a boil then turning off the heat and letting them “cook” for 20 minutes., dousing them in cold water a couple of time to cool them off and putting them in the fridge. However, I have been very frustrated when they were so difficult to peel sometimes. I tried Elana’s directions and am so delighted at how my eggs turned out. The peels come off easily every time.

    Thanks for sharing your ideas and for creating such easy (and easy to follow) recipes for all types of diets. I’m currently following the Paleo diet, though I’m not real strict about it. Have found your Paleo Cooking book quite helpful, especially for desserts and breads/muffins.

  18. says

    For all of the different methods mentioned, it would really help if Elana and the rest of you would say whether you use cold or room temperature eggs. That seems to be a major factor not addressed.

  19. Dianne says

    I tried Elana’s method and didn’t like that 5 out of 10 eggs popped/cracked open as I gently lowered them into the boiling water. I only eat the whites and there was quit a bit floating around in the boiling water. I’ll try steaming the next batch for sure. Thanks for the great tips.

  20. Shaina says

    I know it has been repeated above… I have to say, I completely agree; steam your eggs!!! I have 4 boys (including my husband) who love HB eggs, and egg salad made with my 3 minute homemade (citrus and soy free) mayo… Steaming is the way to go! Place as many eggs as your steaming basket will allow above 1-2″ of water, cover set to high on my gas stove, start timer for 16 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of cold ice water when the timer goes off, VOILA, perfectly hard cooked eggs. These are definitely easy to peel, no matter if they are brown, white, farm fresh, or old. It works; no green and smooth whites. This method is perfect for making deviled eggs too!

    • Kate says

      Where do you get a steam basket that sits above 1 to 2 ” of water? My steam baskets ‘legs’ are only an inch long so my eggs will be sitting in the water.

      • truefeather77 says

        Get a pan with a steamer insert — they’re far more convenient for someone who steams things regularly, They always leave a space between the boiling water and the basket. Some sets come with a double boiler insert, too — check Amazon, they have a few different brands.

  21. says

    I’m going to the kitchen right now to steam some eggs! Having never done this, I can only hope it will work, but if our Paleo lady says it does, then I am sure it will! Here’s to a better peeling egg!

  22. DocSavage says

    The fresher the egg the harder it is to peel after cooking. I’ll have to try some of the tips here to see if they help.

  23. Susan says

    Thanks for tackling this, Elana! As you can see, there are quite a few of us that have been struggling with this. We have an egg cooker that works pretty well, but “she” usually doesn’t travel with us! We will try this, and the steam method, too.
    How did we survive without the internet?! I love learning something new every day.

  24. yummychickenrecipes says

    I remember reading someplace that when big chefs hire new cooks, they often ask them to make scrambled eggs – as this is the best test of a cook’s skills. I would hazard that making hard boiled eggs correctly is also one of those basic skills that one must master. Thank you for this – will try your method – my hard boiled eggs are often quite impossible to peel.

  25. says

    Thanks! This worked perfectly. I’m also in North Texas. My eggs peeled so easily. I think one thing you left out was that eggs need to be the right age to peel easily. I read somewhere else that you need to wait at least 2-3 days after you buy them before boiling. Fresh eggs have a tighter seal on the shell.

  26. says

    Unfortunately, I just tried Elana’s recipe at a fairly low elevation (north Texas), followed it to the T, and it didn’t work for me. Apparently, the elevation does matter. I’m going to try steaming next time!

  27. Carol says

    Pressure cooking my eggs is my preferred method. Place them in a steamer basket in a pressure cooker. Cook them for five minutes using LOW pressure. Turn off the heat and let them release naturally – about another 2-3 minutes. They are perfect every time and are super easy to peel. Not to mention, the white is more tender than any other way I’ve cooked them.

  28. damselflydiary says

    There is a video out that shows you how to peel an egg in seconds, perfectly. Google: how to peel an egg in seconds. I saw it on the news a month or so ago. I haven’t tried it yet.

    I was having problems peeling eggs until I figured out that if you put them in water and let it come to a boil they won’t peel. You have to put cold eggs in boiling water.

    Also, Elana, I know you are at elevation so I wonder if cook times might be less than 15 minutes closer to sea level.

    Funny how much commentary there is about something as simple as eggs!

  29. heidi says

    Actually, I recently tried a new approach to HB eggs and it’s head and shoulders above any water method. Bake eggs in a 325 degree oven (ideally in a silicone muffin pan* with NO water in the cups) for 30-35 minutes. Then straight into an ice bath and voila, perfectly done, smooth and creamy yolks with no green edges. My hubby said he had amazing eggs for breakfast in Greece 25 years ago and when he tasted these HB (hard-baked) eggs he said “Yes, these are the eggs!” (*We only have a silicone bunt pan so I lay 8 eggs in the 8 grooves and they turn out perfect.)

  30. says

    The longer eggs are exposed to high heat, the more damage will be caused to the healthful omega-3 fatty acids eggs will contain (if free range, organic). Your eggs will be perfectly hard boiled if you place them in a medium-sized pot (All Clad is great), cover with water (room temp is fine), bring to a boil and then let boil for just 3 minutes. Then turn off the heat, cover the pot and let the eggs sit in the hot water bath for 10-15 minutes. They will still be cooking, but not at such a high, and fatty acid-damaging, temperature. Drain off the water, transfer the eggs to a bowl and put them in the refrigerator until completely cooled and well chilled. This will cause the egg to shrink away from the shell for easy peeling. Tap the large end of the egg to crack the shell and begin peeling. If any of the interior membrane (which is immediately inside the egg shell and should be sticking to it rather than your egg) is still attached to the egg, run the egg under cool water while peeling to loosen the membrane and gently slide it off the area in which it is sticking.

    • Patty says

      This is the same way I boil eggs, it always works great. I don’t peel my eggs until I need them. They always peel easy when their warm. I like to use them as I need them.

  31. Sharon Slocum says

    I have had the worst time peeling eggs lately and can’t wait to try these tips. I usually put them into cold water with one of those “timer eggs’ that tells you when the eggs are ready but maybe it is getting worn out, as I have been getting dark rings around the yolks, which I always thought happened when using a pot made from aluminum. Thank you Elana.

      • Beth says

        This really is the ultimate way to peel the eggs no mater what temp they are at or how long it has been since they were cooked! I also add a small amount of water to the jar. There is a bit of a learning curve with how hard/long to shake the egg in the canning jar (totally destroyed the first one I ever attempted) but you catch on quick! Absolutely my favorite way to peel eggs!

  32. says

    I use to have a hard time peeling farm fresh eggs. Tried the baking soda, it worked okay. Then I started boiling the water first. Resolved everything. No longer had to add anything and cook time is consistent. 11 minutes will give you a nice hard boiled egg with a yoke that is moist and slightly darker in color toward the center. Once in a while an egg will crack due to the temperature change, but that’s not a deal-breaker for me.

    • Janna says

      If your eggs are room temperature they won’t crack. Instead of having them sit on the counter, though, I just let them sit in a bowl of warm water for a couple of minutes.

  33. Anne Kahlbaugh says

    I really appreciate this post as we use fresh organic eggs from a local farmer and uses non-GMO feed to supplement their nutritional needs. Our experience was when the eggs were really fresh, they would not peel well at all–small little shell fragments bit by bit! Thanks for the work Elana in giving us this great tip! I like this schedule of the various times and outcomes and appreciate Elana’s time and effort in figuring all of this out! Kuddos!

    P.S. The pin hole pricked in the bottom of an egg does work and even adding a teaspoon of baking soda to the water assisted in an easier way to peel an egg too.

  34. Robyn says

    If you use a thumb tack to poke a hole in the large and of the egg before putting the egg into the water, you will have no problem, whatsoever, peeling the egg after the cooling off period.

  35. says

    I just laughed out loud at this post because of my mishaps with boiling eggs. One of two things seem to happen 1.) I boiling them to death and they come out gross 2.) I don’t go long enough and end up with a runny mess. And peeling the shell is always such a mess for me! Trying this again. Thanks for the tips.

  36. JenniferR says

    STEAM your eggs, don’t boil them, for the easiest peeling ever. I tell everyone this but rarely does someone truly believe me or want to try it. A friend with 5 kids, 3 of them triplets, taught me this tricks years ago because she went through 2 dozen eggs a day and had to figure out the easiest method.

    Put the eggs in steamer basket over a pot of water and turn the heat to high. Immediately set the time for 16 minutes for creamy hard eggs. When the timer goes off, dump the eggs in cold water and peel. I PROMISE this is the easiest way to peel them.

    • Teresa says

      I learned of steaming eggs and was amazed that even fresh farm eggs peel perfectly. I have even peeled them before the eggs cooled off. Best tip ever!

    • Beverly says

      Yes, steam them. Really, I have tried all kinds of ways and steaming them always works. Fresh farm eggs peel easily every time. Steaming them keeps the eggs at a constant temperature and some other scientific facts.

    • Kim says

      So I have only steamed eggs in an electric egg cooker. I want to try this out and am wondering if you put a lid on the pot and do you turn the heat down?

  37. Sherron says

    I don’t know why I never thought about the size of the egg determining the time- I assume that most guidelines are for large eggs and I almost always have extra-large eggs. This might explain why my eggs always seem to be slightly under cooked!

    I’m going to try the counter top cooling method this week!

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