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The Kitchn: How to hard boil eggs perfectly every time

By Faith Durand, on

One bad hard-boiled egg can ruin you for life. At least, that’s what I believed until I learned how to cook soft-boiled and hard-boiled eggs precisely how I wanted to eat them. The perfect hard-boiled egg has no green ring around the yolk and the innards are creamy and mellow. And if you’re in the mood, you can stop short of the hard-boil and make a gooey soft-boiled egg instead. This basic recipe let’s you choose the egg you want from softly boiled to hard-set and everywhere in between. It is the best way to make perfect boiled eggs every single time.

How long does it take to hard-boil an egg?

Our tried-and-true method for cooking eggs involves covering them with cold water, bringing the water to a boil, and then taking the pan off the heat to let the eggs finish cooking. This is how we hard-boil eggs for Easter or when we’re making deviled eggs for a party, but you can also pull the eggs from the hot water earlier if you’d like a softer yolk.

There are some suggested cooking times in the recipe below. You may need to tweak them slightly to get your very own “perfect egg,” but these times are a good place to start. Stop at 3 minutes for soft boiled eggs, a classic breakfast served with buttered toast or to add atop a veggie and grain bowl. Keep the eggs in the water for up to 15 minutes for creamy hard-boiled eggs for deviled eggs and cobb salads.

The best way to cool boiled eggs

Every minute counts when hard-boiling eggs to a specific degree of doneness. Evacuate eggs from hot water when the timer rings, but they will continue to cook unless you take steps to cook the eggs quickly. As the water heats to a boil, take time to prepare the ice bath. Simply fill a bowl halfway with ice cubes and add water to cover. Once the eggs are done, transfer them to the super chilled water. Leave them in the ice bath for at least one minute to cool the eggs and stop the cooking.


How to easily peel hard-boiled eggs

There are few kitchen tasks more frustrating than trying to peel the shell of an egg chip by chip (plucking thyme leaves tops the list for me). Far too often, the shell crumbles in a million pieces and the whites cling tenaciously, giving us a stubbled, unsightly egg. Make this job easier with three simple tips.

1. Choose older eggs. As eggs age, they gradually lose moisture through the pores in their shell and the air pocket at the tip expands. The pH of the whites also changes, going from a low pH to a relatively high pH, which makes them adhere less strongly to the shell. Farm-fresh eggs will always be tricky to age. Ideally, buy your eggs a week or two before you plan to boil them and let them age in the fridge.

2. Crack the eggs before chilling. Remove the eggs from the water and tap on the counter a few times before shocking in ice water. This loosens the membrane layer between the shell and egg white. It’s not always a guarantee, especially if your eggs are still fairly fresh, but it helps. Skip this step if preparing candy colored Easter eggs or soft-boiled eggs.


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