How To Hard-Boil An Egg Perfectly Every Time

Hard boiling an egg isn't difficult in theory: just boil some water, add your eggs, let them boil, and take them out. So why are hard-boiled eggs often so overdone that the that the yolks are chalky, or so underdone that the whites are almost runny? The answer is all in the timing and the temperature. Here's how you can cook a hard-boiled egg perfectly, consistently, every time you want one.

Photo by Craig Dugas.

The Traditional Method

The only things you'll really need to hard boil an egg are the eggs, a pot, water, and a timer. Boiling an egg isn't terribly difficult, but it is the reason the egg timer was invented. You'll need the timer at least until you've done it so often that you can just tell when the eggs are ready.

Place the eggs in the pot, but only add as many as can fit in one layer on the bottom. You don't want them rattling around or bouncing on top of one another when the water comes to a boil. Then fill the pot with water, covering the eggs with about an inch or so of water. Don't add too much water: if you add too much, it'll take too long for the water to come to a boil, and you'll wind up cooking your eggs longer as a result. Just give them enough water to cover them up and put the eggs on the stove. Photo by Robert Couse-Baker.

Add a pinch of salt to the water, and turn your stove on to a medium heat. Let the water come to a rolling boil. When you've got a good rolling boil, set your egg timer for one minute, and let the eggs boil. When the timer goes off, turn off the heat and move the pot to a cold burner. Set your egg timer for 15 minutes and walk away. It's important to use medium heat — if you turn the heat up too high, you run the risk of cracking the eggs while you boil them, leaking egg white into the water while they cook. Keep the heat on medium and be patient.

This part is important: leave the eggs alone for the duration of the timer. They'll continue cooking in the hot water, and you don't need to continue to apply heat to let them cook through. If you've ever made hard boiled eggs and had them come out smelling sulphur-like, they're overcooked. Let the timer run out, and when it goes off, come back and test the water. If it's still warm but you can put your hand in it, the eggs are done and you can take them out.

Run the eggs under cold water for a minute or two before attempting to peel them. When you do, you should have a perfectly cooked hard boiled egg. When you peel the egg, the yolk should be evenly coloured (if it has a greenish skin or ring around it, it's overcooked) and should be dense but not chalky. The whites should be set and firm, but not rubbery. If you find they've overcooked, try turning the heat down a little bit, or removing them from the warm water sooner. Photo by Craig Dugas.

Bonus Tip: Boil Eggs in a Rice Cooker

This tip comes to us from reader TheFu, who noted that 25 minutes in the rice cooker with some water turned out perfectly hard boiled eggs each and every time for him. We looked into it, and sure enough it works. Just add enough tap water to cover the eggs (shouldn't be more than a tablespoon or two,) and turn in the rice cooker as though you're making rice.

The heat of the rice cooker and the wet paper towels will steam the eggs, and by the time the rice cooker cycle is complete, you'll have perfectly hard boiled eggs. You'll still want to run them under cold water to make them easier to peel. It's unorthodox, but it works and it's repeatable.

Cooking the perfect hard boiled egg is part art and part science. These steps will definitely work, but you may need to tweak them slightly based on the amount of heat your stove puts out at medium heat, or based on the size of the eggs you use. Even so, if you're looking for a delicious, hard boiled egg, this will get you there, and you can tweak the cooking times to get the consistency you prefer.

How do you cook your hard boiled eggs? Share your tips in the comments below.


Comments

    Pffft, Im not waiting 15 or 25 minutes for boiled eggs!Put the egss in the pot cover with water bring to boil , once water is boiling cook for 2.5 minutes then take off the heat wait about 1 minute then run under cold water, perfect runny yolk everytime.

      Well good for you on knowing how to make a soft boiled egg but that is not what the article is about.

    Ridiculously complicated. Why do you even need to add salt to the water? You're boiling eggs! How is it going to add any flavour to something inside a shell?

    Just put eggs in a pot, just covered with water, for 10-15 minutes on medium-ish heat. The water will begin to boil around the 7-9 minute mark and continue to cook the eggs until you turn it off.

    Also the supplement coooking eggs in rice cooker doesn't make any sense. A tablespoon or two of water is enough to cover the eggs? Where did the paper towels come from?

      salt lowers the boiling point of water.

        i just tried the method and it works well but looks like people just want their eggs faster lol.

        i usually crack the egg putting it in the pot. shits me

          reading on though what i said is wrong. i always thought salt lowered it. doesnt seem to do enough to worry about but the porous shell thing would.

    The added salt brings the water to boil quicker, from what I know.

    The above instructions work for eggs that you want to eat cold but not for eggs you want to be boiled perfectly but want to eat hot.

    What I have always done is throw the eggs in as above and allow them to stay in the boiling water for 3 minutes (which is the length of a standard egg timer I thought); then take out of water, allow to sit for 1 minute and then eat.. don't think I've ever used cold water..

      Adding an element to a mixture always raises the boiling point and lowers the freezing point. So adding the salt seems to be pointless, as tim said above.

      I normally bring the water to a boil, drop to low heat, add the eggs, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Done =) I got these steps from the "Joy of Cooking".

      Salt actually raises the boiling temp, so it comes to a boil more slowly. Since the temp is raised, however, things do COOK more quickly, once it's up to temperature. You need a considerable amount of salt to make much of a difference, however. (Science: http://itotd.com/articles/521/water-freezing-and-boiling-myths/)

    The salt does help the water boil faster, by about 1-2 seconds, the salt is there to add flavour. An egg shell is porous and through osmosis the salt will have it's flavour imparted though out the egg.

    Interesting reading on the science of salt in boiling water: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2007/04/12/1894612.htm

    After reading this article, something as simple as making boiled eggs seems very complicated now.

    Just to complicate it a bit further. Adding salt (or anything else) to water leads to boiling point elevation (and the opposite thing happens for freezing with freezing point depression). So the water actually boils at a higher temperature and therefore it should take longer to get to the boiling point.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boiling-point_elevation

    That was way too complicated.

    This is much simpler:

    1. Bring water to boil
    2. Reduce to simmer and add eggs
    3. Cook for 7 minutes

    Perfect every time.

    We just tried cooking eggs in a rice cooker and I can tell you from all my egg-boiling experiences that this method yields the most perfect boiled eggs! I was literally amazed at how perfect the eggs came out and how easily they were to peel. Tellin' you. Rice cooker is the way to go.

    About boiling eggs'your egg .Cooking will take longer if you take your eggs straight from the refrigerator. Salt or a shot of vinegar in the water is to prevent a cracked egg from bleeding its contents into the water.Do not boil your eggs but keep them at boiling point for 12 to 15 minutes.depending on their size.
    Bon Apptite

    i was always told salt made the shells peel easier
    and getting in a hurry doing any thing always screws it up..
    ds

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