How to Cook Perfectly Boiled Eggs
Eggs. They’re nutritious, delicious, and so beautiful when dyed and decorated for Easter. Cooking them properly any time of the year is quite simple, provided you know a few secrets.
A perfectly boiled egg has a yolk that is set all the way to the center and it is a clean, beautiful yellow color with no hint of ugly green where the yolk and white meet. A perfectly boiled egg slides smoothly away from the cracked shell.
Because this is a tedious process, the maximum number of eggs that should be boiled at one time is twelve. Place eggs in a large pot. Cover with cold water. Bring pot to boil over high heat. Immediately cover the pot and lower the burner to Simmer, which produces small bubbles and a very slight movement among the eggs. Allow to simmer for exactly 12 minutes for hard-boiled eggs.
Some cooks prefer to coddle eggs rather than simmer because the results are more reliable.
Place the chilled eggs in a pot of cold water (6-7 cups for 1-4 eggs and an additional cup for each additional egg). Bring the water to a full rolling boil, remove from heat and cover it. Set the time for exactly 17 minutes (or 18 for jumbo or extra-large eggs).
Instant Pot method
If you have an Instant Pot, rejoice! You have exactly what you need to make perfect boiled, easy-peel eggs super fast, every time (only one of the many cooking miracles Instant Pot offers).
- Place the trivet that came with your Instant Pot in the bottom of the inner pot.
- Pour in 1 cup hot tap water.
- Place eggs (any number from one to all that will fit in a single layer) on the trivet.
- Apply lid, set vent to “Sealing.”
- Pressure cook on HIGH for 5 minutes, then release as follows:
- Soft boiled: Quick release immediately
- Medium boiled:* Natural release for 2 minutes, then quick release
- Hard boiled: Natural release for 7 minutes, then quick release
- If you have a steamer basket, place it in a saucepan filled with as much water as needed to reach the bottom of the steamer basket (about 1 inch or so). If you are not using a steamer basket, fill the bottom of a saucepan with 1/2 inch of water.
- Heat the water on high heat until it is boiling and producing steam.
- Turn off the heat and gently place the eggs at the bottom of the steamer basket or the bottom of the pan.
- Turn the heat on again to medium-high, and cover the pot. Note: This method works best if the eggs are in a single layer, but you can double them up as well, you’ll just need to add more time to the steaming time.
- Set a timer for 6 minutes for soft boiled, 10 minutes for hard-boiled with a still translucent and bright yolk, or 12-15 minutes for cooked-through hard-boiled.
- Remove eggs with a spoon to a bowl of cold water or ice water, or run cold water directly into the pan to cover the eggs and quickly stop the cooking action.
If you have doubled up the eggs in the pan and they are not in a single layer, you may need to add a couple of minutes or so to the cooking time for hard-boiled.
Note that many things will influence the steaming time, including altitude and the size of eggs.
- MORE: Incredibly Edible Eggs
More Boiled Egg Tips
Dye Easter eggs
Mix 1/2 cup boiling water, 1 teaspoon white vinegar, and 10 to 20 drops of food coloring in a cup to achieve desired colors. Repeat for each color. Dip hard-cooked eggs in the dye for about 5 minutes. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to add and remove eggs from the dye.
Wait until just before coloring to hard-boil eggs. Good Housekeeping recommends boiling eggs for 11 minutes for a hard boil. Do not chill the eggs afterward; warm eggs absorb color more effectively for more vivid results.
Prick the shell
Use a push-pin or needle, push it right into the large end of the uncooked egg, in about 1/4 inch, and into the egg itself. This will pierce the tiny air bubble (present in every egg) that in an un-pricked egg expands as the egg is heated and cracks the shell. This tiny hole allows an escape route for the air.
Peel hard-cooked eggs
Tap the egg gently to break the shell in many places around the egg. Start peeling the egg by first placing it under a small stream of cold water and begin removing the shell from the large bottom side.
If the shell is resistant and wants to take part of the white with it, simply drop three eggs at a time into boiling water, wait 10 seconds and immediately transfer them to ice water.
This will expand and contract the shell quickly and will release the shell easily.
Note: The fresher the egg, the more difficult it will be to peel. Laid yesterday? The peel is definitely going to stick. Better: Wait a week before hard-boiling very fresh eggs.
No more ugly green ring
This change of color occurs when eggs are allowed to remain warm beyond proper cooking. A chemical reaction between the yolk and the white occurs, causing this discoloration.
The way to prevent this is to chill the eggs as quickly as possible. Once the eggs have completed cooking, quickly pour off the hot water and add a tray of ice into the pan, quickly filling with cold water so they are completely covered.
Store cooked eggs properly
If you’ve cooked eggs with a week’s worth of lunches in mind, leave them in the shell. The shell is the best form of protection a hard-cooked egg has, according to the American Egg Board.
Stored dry and refrigerated, the eggs will keep for about one week. Once peeled, they should be used immediately.
Here are links to resources mentioned in this post:
Instant Pot 6-Quart
Available in a variety of models and sizes, the Instant Pot Duo 6-Quart continues to be the best value with its 9 functions—electric pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, saute, yogurt maker, warmer, and more
This OXO steamer basket is ideal as it easily fits a variety of saucepan sizes, has feet to hold up above the water very well, and a non-metal extendable handle to lift it out of the pan without getting burned. This steamer fits perfectly into a 6-quart Instant Pot
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Cover with cold water, lid on, bring to boil,
Shut off covered for 11 min. I do the same with pasta, timing different according to type of pasta. No need to simmer. Tap top of egg and blow, peel comes right off
Thank you, Mary. I enjoy EVERY post. I have learned so much from you! Even though I’m a an old dog, I am learning new tricks!
I wanted to wish YOU a Happy Easter. You are a blessing to many.
I “hard boil” eggs in my air fryer. 260° for 18 minutes. Then put in cold ice water for 10 mins. They turn out well!
I’ve just started using my Air Fryer for making hard boiled eggs. They come out perfect every time and I don’t have to deal with pans, water and timers.
I use the Dash deluxe Rapid Egg Cooker. Perfect eggs every time. The guide gives you the times for soft, medium or hard boiled. I put eggs in ice water after cooking, wait 3 minutes and peel. I have a friend that swears by her Air Fryer for the perfect egg.
The SECRET to perfect hard-boiled EASY to PEEL eggs is to sprinkle BAKING SODA in the water before boiling. Cover eggs, as many as you want, with cold water. Sprinkle over eggs, a tablespoon or so of baking soda. Bring to a boil In a covered pot for 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat. Let set untrained for 20 minutes. Rinse with cold water. Refrigerate. Easy peeling with bright yellow yolks.