When I started researching how to hard-boil eggs, I was surprised by how many different ways there are to do this seemingly simple task.
I soon discovered that it’s not so simple to find a method that works consistently for everyone.
I don’t want uncertainty – I want perfect hard-boiled eggs every time – and I bet you do too.
So I bought dozens of eggs and set to work trying every recipe I could find, using a stopwatch, taking notes, keeping what works and discarding what doesn’t.
After all that, I’ve developed my go-to method for cooking and peeling perfect hard-boiled eggs every time.
What You’ll Need
- Slotted Spoon
- Screw-top Jam Jar
- Large Eggs
- Put room-temperature eggs in a saucepan and cover them with an inch of cold water.
- Bring to the boil over high heat.
- Take off heat immediately, cover the saucepan, and start an 11 min timer.
- After 11 mins, remove eggs to bowl and run under cold water for 3 mins
- Allow to sit in the bowl of cold water for 12 more mins
Result: A perfect hard-boiled egg. Firm white, well-cooked solid yolk, no grey ring around the yolk.
- Place a hard-boiled egg in a clean jam jar and put on the lid
- Shake vigorously for about 15 seconds
- Remove the egg from the jar. The shell will be broken into tiny pieces and will peel off the egg very easily. It may even fall off on its own!
NB. This method only works for eggs that are hard-boiled for at least 10 minutes. If you try this with a soft-boiled 8-minute egg it will fall apart as you shake it. Guess how I know…
This method gives me perfect hard-boiled eggs every time – so it should work for you too. But what if it doesn’t?
I discovered through my research that no single recipe or method seems to work perfectly for everyone.
Although the recipe is very simple – the cooking time and temperature are critical to getting the right result.
If you’re baking a pie, a couple of minutes more or less, or a few degrees difference in temperature won’t make much difference.
But with a hard-boiled egg, small differences can lead to very undercooked or overcooked eggs.
And there are a lot of variables that can affect the results you get:
- Hob: Gas, Electric or Induction – how long does water take to boil?
- Altitude: If you live at altitude water boils at a lower temperature and eggs will take slightly longer to hard-boil.
- Saucepan: Size, material – affects how quickly the boiling water will cool.
- Room temperature – affects how quickly the water will cool and the initial temperature of the eggs.
- Eggs – number, size, freshness, room temperature or refrigerated.
The best solution is to run a test: Follow the recipe above, and note the results you get. You can then adjust the time you leave the eggs in the hot water to get them exactly the way you want them.
Just remember to keep as many things as possible the same each time, and you should get perfect hard-boiled eggs every time.
If your hard-boiled eggs don’t turn out exactly the way you want them, these troubleshooting tips should help you out:
Eggs are too Soft: Add a minute or two to the time the eggs sit in the hot water.
Grey Ring Around the Yolk: This is caused by a chemical reaction between the sulphur in the egg white and the iron in the yolk. It’s harmless, but not attractive. Reduce the time the eggs sit in the hot water to get rid of this discoloration. Also, make sure you cool the eggs quickly when they’re done, otherwise, they will continue to cook in their shells!
Eggs are Difficult to Peel: Very fresh eggs can sometimes be difficult to peel as the egg white sticks to the membrane inside the shell. An older egg has a looser grip on the membrane, so if possible use 1-2 week old eggs for hard-boiling – they’ll be much easier to peel.
How to Check Eggs for Freshness
You can check eggs for freshness before you cook them by placing them in a glass of water.
Fresh eggs sink and lie flat on the bottom of the glass.
Eggs that are a little older will have one end that floats slightly, or they may even stand on end. These are usually ok to eat and will be easier to peel when hard-boiled.
Eggs that float have gone bad. Discard them.
You can check for any eggs that have gone bad when you first put them into the pan.
Q. Why do you recommend putting eggs into cold water and heating it, rather than putting them straight into boiling water?
A. When I tested putting eggs straight into boiling water, many of them cracked, allowing the white to escape. I tested various tips to stop this from happening, including dipping the eggs into the hot water several times before adding them, and putting salt in the water, but I still got cracked eggs.
Q. Does half a teaspoon of salt help prevent eggs cracking?
A. In my tests, eggs seemed just as likely to crack whether there was salt in the water or not. Mind you – that was when I was testing putting eggs straight into boiling water. I had no cracked eggs when heating them from cold, which is why I prefer this method.
Q. I live at altitude – do I need to change anything to get perfect hard-boiled eggs?
A. Yes, you’ll need to extend the time that you leave the eggs in the boiling water. This is because water boils at a lower temperature at altitude, so the eggs take a little longer to cook. Adding 1 or 2 minutes should do the job.
Now you know how to hard-boil eggs and get perfect results every time, check out our other articles that will help you save time in the kitchen.