How to Hard-boil Eggs Perfectly Every Time
Versatile and delicious, hard-boiled eggs are an easy staple food that can be eaten for breakfast or lunch, as a snack or even with dinner. They’re packed with filling protein, can be seasoned to perfection with your favorite salt or spice blend, and of course take a starring role in beloved recipes like deviled eggs. But while they’re easy to make at home, it can sometimes be challenging to get the timing right. If you’re walking on eggshells when it comes to hard-boiled eggs, read on to learn exactly how to make exquisite hard-boiled eggs every single time.
How Long Should You Boil Eggs?
Cooking times for hard-boiled eggs can vary from 6-12 minutes, and how long you should cook your eggs depends on your personal preference and whether you’re making hard-boiled eggs for a specific use or recipe. Generally, it’s best to cook eggs for at least 10-12 minutes if they’ll be used in a recipe that calls for the yolks and whites to be used separately, like in deviled eggs or egg salad. This is because the yolks need to be fully set for those recipes.
However, if you’re making eggs to eat alone as a snack or for topping other dishes, you can make them to taste. Boiling for 6-8 minutes will result in a jammy yolk that’s just beginning to set or is only set on the outside. If you like your egg yolks on the runnier side, feel free to use a shorter cooking time.
Tips & Tricks for Peeling Eggs
Peeling hard-boiled eggs is arguably the most difficult part of the process, and there are lots of little ways to make this step easier. Here are a few of our favorite tips.
- Start with older eggs. When making hard-boiled eggs, you’ll get the best results with eggs closer to their use-by date. This is because older eggs have a higher pH level, making the membrane less likely to stick to the shell.
- Cool the eggs in an ice bath after cooking. The ice bath helps in a few ways: It stops the cooking process to prevent overcooked eggs, and the cold water can help separate the membrane from the eggshell, again making for easier peeling.
- Peel the eggs under cool running water. This is an easy way to make peeling eggs a breeze. Once you’ve started cracking the egg, the running water gets between the shell and the egg white, helping the shell to peel away easily.
- Roll, roll, roll. Gently roll the egg on a countertop or hard surface to crack the shell. The rolling motion can help slide the shell right off, leaving the egg white intact.
- Try the spoon trick. Start by cracking one end of the egg on a hard surface. Peel away a small section and insert a spoon so that it cups the side of the egg. Skim the spoon between the shell and egg until the shell is fully separated.
The Easiest Boiling Method
This conventional way to make hard-boiled eggs is very simple, and only requires a little attention to timing. Plus, implementing a few tricks like starting with cold water and using an ice water bath after cooking make this method nearly foolproof.
- First, place your eggs in the bottom of a large pot in a single layer. Fill the pot with cold water until the eggs are submerged by at least 1”. If you’re cooking a larger batch of eggs (up to a whole dozen), you may want to cover them by at least 2”.
It may be tempting to use hot water here to speed up the process, but it’s actually very important to start with cold water. This is because hot water can cook the whites of the eggs before the heat reaches the yolk, which can result in rubbery and overdone whites. So, stick with cold water to ensure the eggs cook as evenly as possible.
- Next, place your pot on the burner and bring it to a rolling boil. Once the water is boiling, cover the pot and turn off the heat. The eggs will cook in the hot water bath while the heated stovetop and pot keeps everything warm. For fully cooked eggs, let the eggs sit in the hot water bath for 10-12 minutes.
Note: If your stovetop doesn’t retain heat well, you can leave the burner on the lowest setting for this part of the cooking process. It may be helpful to experiment with 1 egg at a time to find out what works best for your equipment.
- Once the time is up, carefully transfer the eggs to a bowl filled with ice and cold water. Let the eggs rest in the cold water for about 10-15 minutes.
- Now that the eggs are finished cooking and have cooled, you can either peel them using the tips above or store them unpeeled. Peeled or unpeeled eggs will keep in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
The Steaming Method
This method isn’t as well known as the boiling method, but it’s a much quicker way to cook eggs because only about 1” of water needs to come to a boil. It can also be safer for the eggs because they rest in a steamer basket for the duration of cooking. This way, they won’t be disturbed by boiling water, making them less likely to crack.
Another benefit of this method is that steamed eggs can be easier to peel than conventional hard-boiled eggs. This is because steam and air permeate the eggshell during the cooking process, separating the membrane from the shell and making the eggs easier to peel once cooked.
- For this method, you’ll need a steamer basket that fits into a pot with a lid. First, fill your pot with water until the water just touches the bottom of the steamer basket. This will probably be about 1”, but you may need more for a larger pot. Add the eggs to the steamer basket in a single layer and cover the pot with a lid.
Note: Unlike the previous method, the steaming method does not require you to start with cold water. This is because the water won’t touch the eggs, so the egg whites won’t start to cook too soon. If you want to speed up this method, you can use warm or hot water from the tap, or even pre-boiled water from an electric kettle.
- Set the burner to high heat and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, the pot will begin to fill with steam and the eggs will start cooking. For fully cooked eggs, set a timer for 12 minutes.
- After 12 minutes, turn off the burner and carefully remove the pot from the heat. Be very cautious of any remaining steam – it will be hot. Transfer the eggs to an ice bath and let them cool for at least 10-15 minutes.
- Once the eggs have cooled they’ll be ready to peel or store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
How Long Are Hard-Boiled Eggs Good For?
Once you’ve experimented with these methods and tips, you’ll have plenty of hard-boiled eggs on hand to use in recipes and for snacks. Hard-boiled eggs are good for about 7 days in the fridge peeled or unpeeled, so you’ll want to eat or use them within a week.
Check out the recipes below for some of our favorite ways to enjoy hard-boiled eggs, and shop online to get all the eggs and ingredients you need.
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