- The simplest and best way to cook boiled eggs is in a pot of boiling water on the stove.
- Hard-boiled eggs take about 10 minutes to cook using this method and another 10 minutes to cool.
- Store unpeeled boiled eggs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
- Visit Insider’s Home & Kitchen Reference library for more stories.
Search “how to boil an egg” and you’ll get a dizzying amount of results. There are a surprising number of ways to accomplish this seemingly simple culinary task, and everyone has their own tips and tricks for perfectly cooked, easy-to-peel boiled eggs.
“The best method is the one that gives you consistency and yields eggs to your personal taste,” explains Matt O’Hayer, founder and executive chairman of Vital Farms, a company that specializes in pasture-raised eggs.
Whether you like your eggs hard, medium, or soft cooked, follow these expert steps for the perfect boiled eggs every time.
How to boil eggs
Lower eggs into boiling water using a spoon to prevent splashing or cracked shells.
While some recipes suggest starting with the eggs already in a pot of cool water, O’Hayer prefers to boil the water first since it allows for more precise timing and yields more dependable results. Follow these steps closely for perfectly cooked eggs:
- Prep an ice bath. Add a couple of handfuls of ice cubes and cold water to a bowl big enough to hold the eggs, ice, and water. You’ll want this ready to go before the eggs are done cooking.
- Boil the water. Bring a pot of water to boil — big enough to hold however many eggs you’re cooking in a single layer. You’ll want enough water to completely submerge the eggs once they’re added to the pot.
- Add the eggs. Once the water is boiling rapidly, carefully add the eggs. O’Hayer suggests using a slotted spoon so you can lower the eggs into the water without risking cracking the shells.
- Start a timer. Immediately after adding the eggs, start a timer: 10 to 12 minutes for a hard-boiled egg (depending on how hard-boiled you like it), 8 to 9 minutes for a medium yolk, and 6 to 7 for a soft-boiled egg. “I don’t like boiling for more than 12 minutes because you risk overcooking the egg and the yolk can have a greenish halo around it,” notes O’Hayer.
- Adjust the heat. Once the eggs are added, the water should be gently simmering rather than vigorously boiling and knocking the eggs around. This helps prevent broken shells.
- Cool down. As soon as the timer goes off, use your slotted spoon to quickly and carefully transfer the eggs to your ice bath. Let them sit for at least 10 minutes.
- Peel. Tap a cooled egg on the counter several times as you rotate the egg to break up the shell. Peel and repeat with the remaining eggs.
Quick tip: Rotten eggs float! If you have a suspicion your eggs have gone bad, put one in a glass of water before you cook it. If it floats, toss it.
How long does it take to boil eggs?
The cook time for boiled eggs depends on your cooking method and how you like your yolks. This chart shows the cook times using the boiling method above. Make sure to set the timer as soon as the eggs enter the water and transfer them to the ice bath immediately after the cook time is up. The timing can also vary a bit depending on their size. Once you find a time that works for you, stick with it.
Quick Tip: If your boiled eggs have a green halo around the yolk, that doesn’t mean they’re bad. The unfortunate hue means the eggs were over-cooked. While they are safe to eat, O’Hayer notes “this will give the yolks a chalkier taste and consistency.”
Alternative method: Starting with cold water
Another popular method for boiling eggs calls for starting them in cold water. It’s a bit trickier to get the timing right, but it does prevent you from having to drop fragile eggs into a pot of boiling water.
You may find you prefer this method. This video walks you through it step-by-step:
Tips for easy egg peeling
Wait until your boiled eggs are fully cooled to peel them.
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Attempting to peel a stubborn hard-boiled egg can make even the most poised home cook lose their head. Avoid the headache with a few simple tricks for picture-perfect eggs.
- Don’t use fresh eggs. “The fresher the eggs, the harder they are to peel. If you boil fresh eggs you can end up with mangled whites no matter how delicately you pull the shell away,” explains O’Hayer. Use eggs that are at least two weeks old for the easiest peeling.
- Let the eggs cool. Eggs peel much easier when they are completely cooled. Let your boiled eggs sit in the ice bath for at least 10 minutes before peeling or stash in the fridge until you’re ready to peel.
- Peel underwater. O’Hayer also recommends peeling boiled eggs under a running tap or submerged in a bowl of clean water. This can help the shell separate from the egg more cleanly.
- Try baking soda or vinegar. While O’Hayer hasn’t had much luck with these methods, some home cooks swear that adding baking soda or vinegar to the boiling water helps make the eggs easier to peel. Try adding a ½ teaspoon of baking soda or 1 tablespoon of vinegar per quart of water.
How to store hard-boiled eggs
O’Hayer notes that eggs already come with a built-in container: their shell. To store cooled, boiled eggs, leave them unpeeled and stash them in an airtight container. They should keep in your fridge for about a week.
If you’ve already peeled the eggs, use them within a day or two.
How to use boiled eggs
Soft-boiled eggs add a silky richness to brothy ramen.
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Use medium and hard-boiled eggs for everything from deviled eggs to egg salad to simply serving with salt and pepper as a snack. Slice them in half or quarters and add to salads.
“Soft-boiled eggs are best for dishes like an umami-rich ramen where the yolk adds another depth of flavor to the broth,” explains O’Hayer. Or serve with buttered toast for a simple breakfast.
While there are plenty of methods for cooking eggs, this simple boiling technique is sure to deliver every time. Adjust the timing to get the yolk exactly how you like it. For easy peeling, use eggs that are on the older side and let them cool completely.
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