Ask any egg lover how to boil eggs, and they might start by telling you something you didn’t expect to hear: start with old eggs instead of fresh eggs.
As strange as it sounds, this is good advice. Older eggs are easier to peel when they are hard. So if you’re craving stuffed eggs, egg salad, or a spicy egg curry, buy your eggs a week in advance. When it’s time to peel them, your fingers will thank you.
So, do you have your old eggs ready? Awesome. Here’s how to make hard-boiled eggs that come out perfectly every time.
1. Boil the water in a large pot
The first step is to boil a large pot of water on your stove. (By the way, you only need water. Some recipes call for salting the water or adding baking soda, but adding either is completely optional and, honestly, useless.)
Make sure to add enough water to completely cover all of your eggs. Eggs that are not completely submerged will cook unevenly.
A note on hot versus cold water: You may have heard that you should start eggs at room temperature or cold water and then boil them. This is a myth. According to our tests, starting with hot water results in the eggs being easier to peel. So always start by boiling your water.
2. Gently lower the eggs into the water
Once the water is boiling, use a large spoon to dip the eggs into the boiling water. (If you drop the eggs at random, they can hit the bottom of the pan and crack, leaving you with egg whites floating in the water.) Oh, and start with cold eggs from the fridge if you do. can – this makes the finished eggs easier to peel.
Also Read: Can You Freeze Raw Eggs?
3. Slightly lower the heat and boil for 8 to 14 minutes.
If the water is still at a full boil, lower the heat to a simmer so that the eggs do not jump in the pot. Then set a timer and let the eggs cook until the desired doneness. Soft-boiled eggs can be ready to eat in as little as 4 minutes, but by then they will be soft-boiled (the type you cook with a spoonful). After 8 minutes they will be hard, but those who like drier hard boiled eggs can continue for up to 14 minutes. Refer to the cooking times chart below and experiment to find your ideal cooking level.
How long to boil an egg
- 4 minutes: soft boiled eggs with ramen
- 5 minutes: firm white eggs with runny yolk
- 6 minutes: firm white eggs with a sticky yolk
- 8 minutes: firm white eggs with a fully set yolk, but still a little sticky and golden brown
- 10 minutes: firm white eggs with a firmer pale yolk, with just a little sweetness in the middle
- 12 minutes: firm white eggs with an almost completely hard yolk
- 14 minutes: firm white eggs with a completely hard pale yolk – crumbly and dry
4. Transfer the eggs to an ice water bath.
When the timer goes off, use a slotted spoon to transfer the eggs from the boiling water to a large bowl filled with ice water. Not only will the ice bath prevent the egg from overcooking (making sure it looks exactly the way you want it to), it will also make the eggs easier to peel.
5. Peel the eggs
When your eggs are cold enough to handle, peel them under cold running water. The water will pass under the shell of the egg, which will help you lift it cleanly. (This also ensures that any small shell stains left on the eggs are washed away.)
Alternatively, you can peel the eggs directly from the bowl. After a few minutes of cooling, you can spin the eggs with a spoon. Let them shake and let their shells crack a bit (starting the peeling process for you). The shells don’t rinse like they would under running water, but you use less water this way. This is the preferred method of our former editor-in-chief Rhoda Boone (so she can peel a dozen eggs in less than two minutes!)
Hard-boiled eggs, whether shelled or unshelled, can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Store them in an airtight container.
Now that your eggs are ready, eat them! You can enjoy them on their own, of course, or use them in sandwiches, salads, pasta, casseroles and cereal bowls. Need more inspiration? Check out our best hard-boiled egg recipes – if these ideas don’t inspire you to learn how to perfectly boil eggs, nothing will.