Cook guide

The Smart Cook’s Guide to Hard Boiling Eggs, Including the Never Skip Step

boiled eggs on wooden board

Bryan Gardner


  1. On this page

    • The best eggs to use

    • The secret of success

    • cooking tips

    • Peeling tips

The perfect hard-boiled egg is endlessly adaptable and always delicious, whether it’s used as a quick breakfast, high-protein snack, or home-cooked egg salad base. And while there’s no shortage of ways to serve hard-boiled eggs, you must first Craft their.

So, what is the best technique to cook them? We share age-old tips that will take your hard-boiled eggs from average to great.

Related: How to store eggs, including why they should always be refrigerated

Don’t use the freshest eggs

Cooler is generally better, but not for hard-boiled eggs (or deviled eggs, for that matter). “Older eggs, or eggs that aren’t as fresh, peel better,” says Thomas Joseph, host of our Kitchen Conundrums video series and culinary director of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

If you’re like our founder, maybe you’re using farm-fresh eggs. If so, add a drop of white vinegar to the boiling water while the eggs cook to create an easy-to-release shell.

Always bring eggs to room temperature first

Our go-to method starts with eggs at room temperature. This simple and essential step (don’t skip it!) makes all the difference and is why you should always bring any type of protein, whether it’s steak, salmon or eggs, to room temperature before the cooking.

The reason? When you add a very cold protein to a very hot pot, or in this case a pot of boiling water, the protein goes into shock and can become tough or rubbery. Bringing the eggs to room temperature before fully cooking them will ensure that the whites stay tender. Plus, sticking to this step makes your final product easier to peel.

If you’re short on time and can’t wait the 30 minutes it takes for the eggs to come to room temperature after taking them out of the fridge, you can quickly soak them in a bowl of warm water for five to 10 minutes. minutes before cooking.

How to cook hard boiled eggs

Once your eggs are at room temperature, they are ready to be boiled.

  1. Carefully place the eggs in a large saucepan and cover them with cold water – there should be about an inch of water on the eggs. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat.

  2. Then work to maintain the water temperature. “The real kitchen nerd way is to keep the water at precisely 170℉,” says Martin Bucknavage, senior food safety associate in the Department of Food Science at Penn State University. “As soon as the water boils, turn off the heat, cover the pan and set a timer for 12 minutes – it does whether you’re cooking a large egg or a full dozen.”

  3. If you are cooking jumbo eggs, add another 2 minutes for the eggs to be in the hot water.

If you get a crack in the egg during the cooking process, eat that egg as soon as possible, Bucknavage says.

Sweet and semi-boiled

For soft-boiled and soft-boiled eggs, reduce the cooking time. Jammy eggs only need two to four minutes to cook. As for half-cooked eggs, six to eight minutes will be enough.

Be gentle when peeling soft-boiled and soft-boiled eggs, as they are (you guessed it!) softer and therefore a bit more fragile than their hard-boiled counterparts.

How to peel hard-boiled eggs

Cooking hard-boiled eggs is the easy part. For many cooks, the biggest challenge is cracking and removing the shells.

Tap and Roll

The technique we turn to again and again is to soak the eggs in an ice water bath for five minutes and then peel them. And when it comes to peeling, there’s a method that works well: just tap the top and bottom of the egg on a board or counter, then gently roll the egg with your palm. hand to start cracking the shell. Don’t use too much force, though, or you risk crushing the cooked egg.

Warm peel under cold water

Award-winning chef and food writer Kenji Lopez-Alt prefers another technique: He recommends peeling hot eggs under cold running water, explaining that when eggs are hot, the connection between the membrane and the egg white is weaker, which facilitates the removal of the shell. Also, cold water makes touching hot eggshells less painful.