What's a perfect boiled egg? The whites are firm but not rubbery and the yolks are cooked but still creamy. We'll share a fool-proof method to boil eggs on the stovetop, including how long to boil eggs so the yolks are cooked the way you like. Stick around and we'll show you a couple more ways to cook eggs in the shell: in the oven and in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot.
Note: Very fresh eggs are delicious fried or scrambled, but older eggs are actually easier to peel. Your best bet for hard-boiled eggs that are easy to peel is to choose eggs you've had in the refrigerator for a week or two.
How to Boil Eggs on the Stovetop
There are two egg-related questions that come up all the time:
- What came first, the chicken or the egg?
- Do you start with boiling water or do you start with cold water when you boil eggs?
We recommend a 4-step method that starts with cold water. Why? Because this prevents overcooking the eggs. You'll never have to deal with dry, chalky, overcooked eggs with weirdly greenish yolks again. Nothing but beautiful bright yellow yolks and amazing texture for you! So good, you'll want to eat them with just a sprinkle of salt.
Four Steps to Perfect Hard Boiled or Soft Boiled Eggs:
1. Place eggs in a saucepan or pot and cover with cold water.
Eggs first, then water. Why? Because if you put the eggs in afterward, they might crack as they fall to the bottom of the pan. It's no fun to learn this the hard way.
2. Put pan over high heat and bring water to a rolling boil. Remove pan from heat and cover.
How long does it take to boil an egg? Well, actually, you want the water to come just to a boil but not stay there. Eggs exposed to high heat for a long time go through a chemical reaction that turns the yolks green. So the answer to "How long do you boil hard boiled eggs?" is: pretty much not at all. Because the eggs cook in water that's not actually boiling, some people use the term "hard-cooked" instead of "hard-boiled" eggs.
3. Let the eggs stand in the hot water for 4 to 12 minutes, depending on how firm or set you want the yolks to be.
Why the time range? The longer the eggs sit in hot water the more cooked the yolk will be: figure less time for soft boiled eggs and longer time for hard boiled eggs. Use these time guidelines for large eggs:
- 2 to 4 minutes for very soft, runny yolks. Whites might be slightly soft or runny, too.
- 6 to 8 minutes for soft but set yolks. Whites will be firm.
- 10 to 15 minutes for fully set, evenly cooked yolks and whites.
Smaller eggs will need less time and extra-large or jumbo eggs will need more time.
4. Drain eggs immediately and put in a bowl filled with water and ice cubes.
Why ice water? It cools the eggs down and prevents the green yolk problem. (Chilled water isn't cold enough — you want cold water with lots of ice cubes floating in it.) If you're planning to peel the eggs, crack them slightly before putting them in the ice water and let them sit for an hour for maximum ease of peeling.
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