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how to hard-boil an egg

[Updated] There are about as many techniques for hard-boiling eggs as there are eggs out there, but until 2017, I used the method my mother taught me because it never fails: Submerge a large egg in enough cold water to cover it and bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it begins to boil, set a timer for 10 minutes. Plunge the egg into cold water to get it to stop cooking. Plus, cold eggs are much easier to peel.

However, the trickiest part was always knowing when the water starts to boil. How would you if you weren’t standing over watching it, and we all know how that goes. In 2017, I realized that I could gently lower an egg into already boiling water and do almost exactly what’s written above — cook it for 10 minutes then plunge it into cold water, except now I use ice water and let it rest in there until it’s completely cold through, about 15 minutes — and it not only perfectly boils and egg, no pot-watching required, but it seemed to peel even more easily. I wondered if there was any science to it and whoa, there is.

Both my mom’s method and this new one work splendidly, and I promise will work for you, but I’m now fully converted to the newer method, because it’s easier and easier to peel.

hard-boiled eggseasy to peel

Hard-Boiled Eggs

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You’ll need to make cooking time adjustments if your eggs are extra-large or jumbo (more time) or at room temperature (less time).

  1. Bring a pot of water deep enough to cover large eggs, cold from the fridge, to a boil.
  2. Gently lower egg(s) into it. Definitely use a spoon and don’t assume you can gently drop it with your fingers. Trust me, this leads to burnt fingers and cracked eggs.
  3. Cook for 10 minutes, or, if you’re me, only 9 because you want eggs that look like the top picture here, a little darker in the center. You can lower the heat to a simmer if you wish, but I find it has no effect on the final egg.
  4. Plunge them in ice water until they’re fully cold, about 15 minutes. If the ice melts, add more to ensure the water stays very cold.
  5. Eggs should peel easily but if they gives you any resistance, peel them under running water.

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37 comments on how to hard-boil an egg

  1. Mila

    Does the required time change depending on the number of eggs you are hard boiling?? I did it yesterday with 4 and they came out perfect (….thank you!). Now I am doing 10 or more, but wasn’t sure. Thanks!

  2. Travis

    My wife insists that putting the lid on the pot has no effect on the time it takes to boil water. She won’t change her ways unless you say otherwise. So, who’s right?

  3. Gyrf

    1- Is this recipe for eggs just taken out of the fridge or do they need to come to room temp?
    2- Is the water at a real boil the entire 9 minutes or just a simmer?

  4. Li-hsia

    Actually, once you bring the fully-submerging water to a boil from tap temp you can turn off the stove and wait 12 min to put the egg in ice water–a tender fully-cooked egg.

  5. KD

    Deb, I don’t know if you will ever try this, but if you do, I know it will change how you boil eggs AGAIN. This method basically steams the eggs, uses way less water, and also results in eggs that peel very easily.
    1) Add about 1 inch to a pot and bring to a boil
    2) Add eggs (as little or as many as you want) and cover lid. Don’t adjust the heat
    3) After 8-11 mins (depending on how cold your eggs were and how you like your eggs) turn off the heat and remove the eggs from the water. You DON’T have to put them in a water bath.

    That’s it!! I really hope you give it a shot!

  6. Michelle

    I got this from Rachel Ray: the easiet, best way ever to hard boil an egg is to STEAM THEM. Bring water to boil in a pot with a steamer basket in it. When it starts to boil, place your eggs in the basket and cover and let steam for 12 minutes. Run cold water into the pot when done. You will NEVER have a problem peeling these eggs. The shells practically slip right off. Try it!

    1. Barbara Levine

      Tried this method yesterday. Perfect results. No cracked shells which always happened when I cooked the eggs in boiling water.

  7. Kim

    Try this- use the trivet in the instant pot. One cup of water.

    Then..:.5,5&5. 5 mins on high pressure, 5 mins natural release, 5 mins in an ice bath. Hard boiled egg peeling perfection!!!!!! 🎉🎉❤️

  8. When I submerge my eggs in the icy bath, I let them crack a little bit, on the notion that the differential temperature will suck in a thin layer of water between the egg and the shell, which renders them almost self-peeling.

  9. wowmom23

    I agree that this is THE best way! I do often get a cracked egg or two but they’re still usable. Super easy to peel and perfect every Time!

    1. deb

      Oh no! I tend to use a small pot and they’re fairly packed in there. You can absolutely turn the heat down to a simmer; I haven’t found it makes any difference in cooking time or had any effect on the eggs in the end, positive or negative.

  10. Steam! I do them in an ancient double boiler with a handled steamer top. Bring water to boil, plop steamer top on, cover. Set time for 11 minutes. Remove top, dump hot water out from bottom, fill with water and ice, tip eggs in, chill.

  11. Rebecca

    I swear by this method. I do turn the water down so it’s not a rolling boil to avoid cracking. I also read that the age of the egg effects peeling.

  12. Maria

    I’ve been using the place eggs in boiling water then take off the heat and let them
    Sit in the pot of water for 15 mins. Perfectly cooked, not rubbery, over or undercooked. Zero egg smell. Good luck!

  13. Kathy Sandel

    My way: I only use Jumbo eggs. Put refrigerated eggs in a pot and fill with cold water. Place over a burner (gas) with flame at medium. Set timer for a shallow 20 minutes and leave well enough alone. (If you find the water is boiling too rapidly and making noise about half way thru, (Sometimes I think the dial creeps up,) then turn it down. Otherwise don’t do a thing until the timer goes off. Then pour out the boiling water and run a spray of cold water on the eggs in the sink, not in the pot, for a minute or two. Go about your business. They are easy to peel 97% of the time, hot or cold. And they are perfect, no grey rings around the yolks. The Brown shelled eggs are more beautiful in the shell but they have a tougher membrane which makes them HARD to peel.

  14. Dusty

    I use a 2-quart pot that works with a Countertop Induction Cooker unit. The pot holds 7 eggs very neatly. Important to use old eggs because the shells come off much easier than new eggs. Set the timer for 12 minutes; start with cold eggs from the fridge and cold tap water. Power high (10) until the water boils, usually less than 2 minutes. Turn power down to 3 or 2.5 for a bare simmer. Come back in a few hours, peel the (cool) eggs under running comfortable-temp tap water.

    Better: A steamer basket that is a pot with vent holes, sits on a support trivet in the Instant Pot cookpot. Fill the pot to the bottom of the steamer basket with water. Holds up to 12 eggs. Lid is a heavy dinner plate to hold in the steam and create a bare trace of pressure. Bring to boil on stovetop, reduce heat to barely make steam. Set cell phone timer for 30 or 40 minutes. Turn off heat when the cell phone reminds. Return in a few hours and peel the eggs under running tap water. These steamed eggs peel super easy.

    Gonna try using the Induction Unit with my iron plate “adapter” for pots that won’t othewise work on the Induction unit. Get the Instant Pot inner pot making steam, reduce power, set the Induction Unit timer for that 45 minutes and come back eventually.

    Would be simpler to learn to use the Instant Pot? Maybe someday.

    It’s easy to see I don’t get excited about hard-boiling eggs or worry about them when they are done. I am allergic to undercooked eggs and deliberately overcook them on purpose. I usually have some hard-boiled eggs in the fridge in a Zip-Lock.

    Quick meals. Cut cold hard-boiled egg in half lengthwise; a spoonful of: Sriracha if I am in the mood; Thousand Islands makes an instant almost-Deviled egg; a teaspoon of Lea & Perrins (Worcestershire Sauce), or Soy Sauce on the yolks for a nice ultra-quick snack or meal.

  15. Amy Cook

    I’m here to declare that this method is perfect– been using it since you first published it, Deb. And I’ve found that I can easily lower five eggs simultaneously into the boiling water with my spider tool.

  16. Alex S.

    We made Salade Nicoise on Saturday w/ grilled tuna, so we turned to Alice Waters for the egg (how did I know you would teach us the proper way to make a HB, excuse me, as Alice says, “hard-cooked” egg). ‘Room temperature lg eggs, bring a pot to boil. Turn down to simmer, gentle lower eggs into water w/ slotted spoon. Keep water just below a simmer for 9 min. Lift eggs out and plunge into ice water bath. When cool to touch, crack all over.’ I never liked HC eggs before these. Of course, my husband loves all.

  17. Marty

    It’s a miracle! I tried this method this morning and will always use it to prepare hard boiled eggs. You are indeed a cook to copy 😍

  18. Liz

    I poke a hole in the large end first. I do all the Deb steps. Then I crack them lightly in the ice bath so the water gets under the shells.