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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114 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?

      1. Charise

        In the U.S. commercial eggs should always be kept in the fridge, because producers wash off the protective cuticle. If you have backyard chickens or live somewhere this isn’t done, then you can keep them at room temp. However, it isn’t safe to do so with commercial eggs here in the U.S.

  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.

    1. Andrea Davis

      I steam my eggs, then follow that with an ice bath when they’ve steamed for 9 mins (for a slightly jammy yolk), with the same excellent results. You can time them perfectly, and they peel like magic. And I never suffer that moment of anxiety when I lower the egg slowly into boiling water… because sometimes… sometimes they will crack.

  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.

      1. carol

        Julia Child recommended cold eggs (prick the big end with a pushpin), put in cold water, then bring to a boil and turn off the heat. 18′ for well done HB eggs. Then plunge into ice bath for 2′, then back in hot water for 10 seconds. I always did less time, like 14′. Does not work great on really fresh eggs though for ease of peeling. Someone really should do a side by side test of different methods with the same eggs.

  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.

        1. Ursula Harcia

          We use this method with one adjustment: eggs cold out of the fridge tend to crack very easily when they hit the boiling water, so we put ours in a bowl of warm tap water while the pot comes up to the boil, just to warm them up a little first. For firm yolks we only do 7-8 minutes, so it’s a little faster too.

  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.

  19. Joe B.

    I’ve always used a similar method:
    1. Place as many eggs as you want in a pot.
    2. Add cold tap water till all are eggs about 1/2”-1” covered.
    3. Put lid on pot and bring to a rolling boil
    4. Turn of the pot, leave covered:
    2 min for soft boiled (aka 2 min egg)
    6 min for medium boiled (aka ramen egg)
    10 min for hard boiled
    5. Submerge in ice water till cold
    6. Peel when needed

    Works every time

  20. Gloria mansfieldv

    You can add a table spoon of salt or so to the pot of water and if the eggs happen to crack the egg won’t leak out of the shell. Tip from my grandmother. Always works.

  21. Lori Taylor

    Hard boiled eggs, the bane of my existence. As directed, I gently dropped the cold eggs into boiling water, cooked 10 minutes, plunged in an ice bath for 15 and voila…perfectly easy to peel hard boiled eggs! I am so happy, finally, a method that works…thank you Deb!

    1. Debbie

      A friend told me about the Dash electric egg cooker and this is all I use now! I still put them in an ice bath when done.

      1. Chris S

        We eat a lot of HB eggs, so we bought a Cuisinart egg cooker a few years ago. The eggs are pierced and basically steamed and put in an ice bath. So easy to peel. Works great.

  22. Cati

    The last time I hard boiled eggs I was sitting in the kitchen waiting for the water to boil and suddenly my dog barked at the boiling water. Guard dogs aren’t just for home intruders!

  23. Leslie

    Does keeping them in the ice water after boiling prevent that ‘grey ick’ I was always taught was prevented by starting in cold water? And why on earth if you are boiling water would it matter if you started with ‘fridge cold’ water?

  24. ErinCHG

    I disagree with your Oct 13, 2018 comment that hot hard boiled eggs are gross! Maybe if they are very hard boiled, but just-past-medium boiled hot eggs are delicious. Like a poached egg i can eat with one hand. With that in mind, here’s my method (which is only easy to peel when using old eggs):
    Put 2-3 eggs cold from fridge in small pot. Cover with cold tap water. Put on med-high heat.
    Take shower (~15 min from walking away to stove to returning to stove).
    Turn off stove but leave eggs on stove in hot water.
    Get dressed.
    Drain eggs and run under cold water for a minute while you put shoes on.
    Peel under cold water.
    shake off, sprinkle of seasonal salt, put in a container, and walk out the door. Eat on commute.
    Perfect (hot) hard boiled eggs, to go! Timing may need adjustment if getting ready with children. lol

  25. Amy

    Something to note: If you live at elevation like I do (5000 ft), water boils at a lower temperature than sea level (say NYC). I use this method, but following the timing exactly often yields slightly undercooked eggs, sometimes with runny whites (no thanks). I haven’t totally dialed the timing yet, but generally i leave them in the boiling water for a minute or so, before moving to cold water. Or in one version of this method, you leave them in the hot water (off heat) for 5 minutes before moving to ice bath and so sometimes I’ll do that but leave them a bit longer than 5 minutes. Point is, if you live at elevation you will need a bit more cooking time.

  26. Cyndi

    I love this method! It’s foolproof and works like a charm every time. However, I always lower the heat to a simmer once the eggs are gently lowered into the boiling water. I find if I don’t, they all crack, big time.

  27. Pam

    Hi, I’ve always been one of those “just boil the s%$* out of them and then they are done :). I will follow this! Any idea if adjustments would need to be made for higher altitudes? 3,000 ft or a bit more?

  28. Barry

    Sounds just like my method, although I do 8 minutes to get a softer yolk.

    Also, a key thing I learned from a Julia Child book is to poke a single hole in the egg shell with a pushpin. Helps the peeling process to separate the egg from the shell. Works like a charm!

  29. Carol

    i think the peelability (did i just make that word up?) of the egg depends more on the age of the eggs (older eggs are easier to peel), but an ice water bath definitely helps to shrink the egg away from the shell. i have used Julia Child’s (and the Georgia Egg Board’s) method in her book, The Way to Cook, for making hard cooked eggs (they’re not boiled at all. put them in cold water. turn the gas off when they start to boil, remove from heat, cover and let sit for 17′, then plunge into an ice bath for 2′, then back in the hot water for 10 seconds, then back in the ice bath for however long you want) for a long time, and if i use eggs just bought from the store, they don’t peel super easily even if i follow the directions to a t. but i will try this method with new eggs and see what happens because that other method is tedious. i did it mainly to avoid the dreaded green ring, which i’d read came from boiling the eggs. maybe not?

  30. Florrie

    I always start with the eggs in cold water then bring up to a boil, but I thought I’d give this method a try. 2 of the 10 eggs cracked severely and the white leaked out into the water – which reminded me why I quit boiling eggs this way years ago. Did you not have this problem?

  31. Claire

    I used this method and half the eggs popped (cracked) upon touching the water because the temperature differential is too great. Not a reliable method. Do not recommend.

  32. Patti O’Dorisio

    This method worked perfectly! Thank you so much. My guests RAVED that their eggs were always rubbery or with a weird texture. But not these babies! This method produced excellent results. So simple, but so necessary in the life of us that love hard boiled eggs! Grazi!

  33. Shayna

    Bravo!! Best result every hard boiling eggs. I cooked 8 eggs and they all peeled like a dream!! I like eggs done the way you do, Deb, but since I live in Colorado at altitude, I boiled for 10 minutes instead of 8 (since EVERYTHING seems to take longer to cook at 5380 feet of altitude than it did on the east coast) and results were perfect with center cooked like the picture you posted. THANK YOU for this life changing recipe!!

  34. Suzanne Meyer

    Deb, my husband says you’re a national treasure. He’s not wrong. None of your recipes have failed me. Seriously, my eggs just peeled easily. Hallelujah! Thanks for the blog and cookbooks!

  35. Shari

    Hi Deb,
    I don’t suppose you know the cook time for quail eggs? I’m looking to make small devilled eggs for a cocktail party and am not sure how many minutes they’d take compared to chicken eggs.

  36. Nancy

    I put the eggs in a steamer basket over enough water to just touch the bottom of the basket. Cover and immediately set the timer for 21 minutes. As soon as the time goes off I plunge the eggs into an ice bath until cooled down. They come out perfectly every time. One small issue is that sometimes the vibration makes an egg crack during steaming. To prevent that I put a couple of them in those little silicon poaching shells and make a buffer around them.

  37. Kimberly Usry

    Have you tested this with super fresh eggs, like right out of the coop? I haven’t found a successful way yet to get the shells off of my fresh eggs. Look forward to giving this a try!

  38. Adrienne

    I always bring my eggs to room temperature before putting them in boiling water (ice cold eggs + boiling water = cracks) If I start them in cold water, I find them impossible to peel.

  39. Sandy Dykes

    I discovered this method myself this past year… I eat a lot of eggs, so this has been a life changer. Like you, I always used to start them in cold water thinking that plunging them into boiling water would cause a disaster. Thanks for spreading the word!

  40. Mike Fratto

    One thing I do is put a steaming basket on the pot. It keeps the eggs off the bottom and allows water to circulate. I find the eggs are more consistent.

  41. Marlene

    This was my mother’s method as well. I’ve read many other various steps such as using room temperature eggs, baking soda in the water, etc. and they have never made a noticeable difference. However, the fail proof step to easy peeling is always using “older” eggs.
    I have put all that aside now that I have a instant pot. It is my new best friend when it comes to hard boiled eggs. They come out beautifully.

  42. SassyJanester

    Thank you!! I was allergic to chicken and eggs from 12 to 48 and now in my mid-50s I’m allowed to eat them again. Every time I try to make egg salad sandwich from my childhood or put a hard boiled egg in gazpacho, the shell does not come off easily. You are my cooking guru!

    1. Caryl

      I steam the eggs and the shells come off perfectly. Just google how to do it, as there are different times for the number of eggs. I have one of those foldable steamer baskets which works for me.

  43. Wynnepeg

    It worked perfectly! Just as you promised, and I’ve tried all kinds of recommendations from famous cooks. But yours was the best!

  44. I do exactly as you do, Deb, but I always bring my eggs to room temperature before putting them in the water. I find that eggs—especially organic ones—are more likely to crack if cold eggs are plunged into boiling water. At room temp, fewer eggs crack when submerged.
    Just a thought…

  45. Dawn Bradbury

    I follow your mom’s technique basically but do you keep the water boiling for that 10 minutes? I bring to a boil then turn off the heat, cover and let the pan sit for 10 minutes.

  46. Margot

    I see others have mentioned this method–it works like magic! Put a steamer in a pot and fill with water to just below the steamer bottom. Heat to boil. Off-stove, or if gas, turn off heat, and gently add eggs (I use a serving spoon) to steamer basket (6 or so). Turn heat back on to low boil/simmer, cover, and cook eggs 12-15 minutes for hard-boiled, 10 for jammy yolks, and about 6 minutes for soft-boiled. Put eggs in a bowl of cold water or run cold water into the drained pot. They don’t have to be completely cold to peel. Steam penetrates the shell and makes it easy.

  47. Athina Levesque

    I keep chickens, so I always have an abundance of fresh eggs. I’ve tried all methods. Your method(s) for hard-boiling do NOT work with farm fresh eggs. The shells adhere to the eggs, and the anticipated attractive deviled eggs are now rendered into egg salad. Pricking a hole on the end of the egg and steaming them makes for fool proof hard boiled eggs. Every time.

  48. DFrank

    There is NO way that is easier than the Instant Pot, which is interestingly similar to yours :) The ‘Pot’ even has it’s own built in timer. 5-5-5 method for lg. size eggs: Five min. under pressure, 5 min. natural release and 5 min. ice bath. Look, Mom, no hands! The peel practically falls off.

  49. Heidi Berger

    I do it slightly differently and don’t find I need the ice so that’s one less step and good when you’ve run out of ice which seems to happen often(…no ice machine in my fridge). I also start them out with boiling water but add a little white vinegar to the water…1-2 tbsp depending on how big your pot and how much water you have. The vinegar helps to break down the membrane and makes them super easy to peel. Once boiling I add the eggs for 5 mins and cook uncovered. Then turn the heat off and leave on the burner with a cover for another 15 mins. Then I drain the water and shake the pot a little to start cracking the shells. Run them under cold water until they are cool enough to handle and watch the shells peel right off!

  50. Susan F. Epstein

    This isn’t a new method, it’s the old method I was taught (I’m 70 years old). I’ve tried multiple newer methods ( to me, putting eggs in cold water, bringing to a boil and turning off the heat is a newer, though not strictly new method) and all have been a disaster). I do just what you describe and it works perfectly.

  51. Elizabeth Johnson

    I steam them — it lets me control exactly when & for how long they cook, whether soft- or hard-cooked. Then straight into ice water, and when they’ve cooled they peel like a dream.

  52. Andrea Daniel

    If you really want a treat, peel the eggs right away (no matter how you cook them) and make a hot egg salad and bacon sandwich.

  53. Colette

    I wonder why no one mentions the best reason of all to switch to this technique? My grandmother taught me to make hard boiled eggs the very same way your mom taught you, Deb, and it worked perfectly well for me. That is until I tried this new method a couple of years ago. I’m never going back, not only because it eliminates the problem of judging when exactly to start the clock, but THE EGGS ARE REMARKABLY TENDER! Never rubbery! There must be some scientific explanation, but let me just say to anyone who hasn’t given this a try – if you like hard boiled eggs, you’ll love these!


    I crack the eggs, after halfway through the cooking process, on the big end making sure to go thru the membrane that makes them hard to peel. This insures that the hot water gets under that membrane an the shell comes off very easily even with fresh eggs.

  55. diane

    My technique is similar to yours, except the cooling/peeling part.

    I take my finished eggs off the heat and dump out the water, then refill with cold running water under the faucet until the pot is cold. Then I dump out all the water, holding the eggs back with my hand.

    I then shake, rattle and roll the eggs hard around the pot so the shell breaks and peels itself away from the eggs. Another rinse gets rid of any tiny shell fragments and when I remove the peeled eggs, they’re still very warm, even hot.

    So I can then use them hot or put them in the fridge to chill. And I never have to do any of that nasty peeling!

    1. diane

      p.s.: this works for soft-boiled eggs too, but I’m just less aggressive when banging them around in the empty pot before peeling.