How to Boil Eggs
Not many kitchen skills are as essential as knowing how to boil eggs. Yet, as basic as boiled eggs sound, even seasoned professionals fail to get them perfect every time. Are eggs playing tricks on us?
The basic process could hardly be any simpler:
- Place the eggs in boiling water.
- Turn on your kitchen time.
- Wait for the recommended length of time.
- Remove the eggs from the water
Well, what if we told you that the process is actually far more involved, with many variables to keep track of? If you’re not scared of a proper culinary challenge and are ready to learn the best way to boil eggs, keep reading this article because you’re about to become an eggspert.
Hard-Boiled Versus Soft-Boiled Eggs
There are many ways how to cook eggs: you can bake them, place them in a streamer, scramble them on a pan, mix them with cheeses, meats, or vegetables and turn them into a delicious omelet or frittata, or just fry them until the edges brown and then either serve them the sunny side up or flip them to turn them into over easy eggs. But despite a large number of different methods how to cook eggs, there are two that dominate above all others: hard boiled and soft boiled eggs.
Hard-boiled eggs are cooked in boiling water with their shells unbroken. The goal is to cook the eggs so that both the egg white and egg yolk solidify without becoming overcooked, at which point the sulfur in the whites rapidly reacts with the iron in the yolks and creates ferrous sulfide, which tinges the yolks.
Just like hard boiled eggs, soft-boiled eggs are also cooked in boiling water with their shells unbroken. The goal here is to cut the cooking time so much that the egg yolk is runny but the egg white is cooked and definitely not slimy. Soft boiled eggs range from very runny to almost solid, and getting the consistency consistently right is a mark of a true eggspert (okay, enough with this pun already).
How to Hard Boil Eggs
Most beginners will find it easier to start with learning how to hard boil eggs before transitioning to learning how to soft boil eggs. Why? Because hard-boiled eggs are cooked longer than soft boiled eggs, so there’s more time to grab a smartphone and ask Google for advice.
Step 1: Prepare a pot of water and bring the water to a boil. At this point, you might be tempted to lower your eggs straight from the fridge into the pot filled with still cold water. Resist this temptation! While there are reasonable arguments for starting with cold water (more time for the eggs to cook evenly, for example), you would inevitably end up with eggs that can’t be peeled without taking big chunks of the white with eggs shells. Placing eggs into already-boiling water ensures effortless peeling and neat looking eggs.
Step 2: Cook the eggs for 11 minutes in a covered pot at the lowest setting. If you remove the eggs right on time, you SHOULD end up with picture-perfect hard boiled eggs. Why the margin of error? Because determining how long to boil eggs depends on several factors, some of which are difficult to account for. The most obvious factor is the size of the eggs. The larger the eggs are, the longer they need to achieve the same consistency. Another factor that influences the cooking time is whether you start with eggs that had enough time to reach room temperature or with refrigerated eggs. And if you live at high altitude, you might actually need to let the eggs cook for slightly longer. The trick is to get rid of as many variables as you can by always boiling the same eggs, the same way, and at the same heat setting. After a few test runs, you will know with confidence which boil eggs time is the best.
Step 3: The last step is to remove the eggs from the boiling water and either drain them and serve warm or shock them in ice water to serve them cold. Besides wanting to serve the eggs cold, there’s another good reason to give them a good shock. When eggs are shocked in ice water, they tend to come out full-figured and smooth. You can easily test this yourself. Simply cook four eggs, shock two of them, and compare the results. Unless you are exceptionally lucky, the naturally cooled eggs will likely have dimples.
Peeling tip: If you hate serving eggs that resemble the surface of the Moon, make sure to chill them completely before peeling. As eggs become colder, their structure tightens, and the egg white becomes less likely to break off during peeling.
How to Soft-Boil Eggs
You now have all the information you need to make perfect hard-boiled eggs. But how long do you boil eggs to make Instagram-worthy soft boiled eggs? The answer to that question depends on how runny you want your soft boiled eggs to be:
- 5 minutes: If you remove the eggs from the water after 5 minutes of cooking, you should end up with very dippy eggs that can be served with toast soldiers.
- 6 minutes: If you remove the eggs from the water after 6 minutes of cooking, you should end up with slightly less oozy eggs, which is exactly what you want if you ache for a bowl of steamy ramen.
- 7 minutes: If you remove the eggs from the water after 7 minutes of cooking, expect them to be more sticky than runny.
- 8 minutes: After 8 minutes of cooking, you start to enter the hard-boiled egg territory.
Keep in mind that the eggs will continue to cook further after you remove them from water unless you scoop them out into cold water. Many people forget about this and wonder why they never achieve consistent results.
How to Boil Eggs in Microwave
Believe it or not, but you can easily make tasty hard-boiled eggs in the microwave! Mastering the dark arts of microwave egg preparation allows you to enjoy freshly boiled eggs at work or in your college dorm.
Step 1: Grab a microwave-safe bowl, place your eggs in the bottom of the bowl, and fill it with enough water to entirely cover your eggs. Don’t stack eggs on top of each other because they could crack if they shuffle and hit the bottom of the bowl. You can greatly speed up the cooking process by filling the bowl with very warm water.
Step 2: Add one tablespoon of salt to prevent the eggs from exploding during cooking. You may also want to poke a tiny hole in the eggshell to really ensure that the eggs won’t explode on you and make a huge mess inside your microwave.
Step 3: Cook the eggs on medium power for 10 to 12 minutes depending on the starting temperature of the water. Since every microwave is slightly different and considering that this is the first time you’re preparing eggs in the microwave, we highly recommend you remove one egg after 10 minutes of cooking, another one after 11 minutes of cooking, and so on. This way, you can figure out the perfect cooking time without ruining more eggs than absolutely necessary.
Step 4: Let the eggs cool down in a bowl of ice water to shock them for better constancy and easier peeling. You could let the eggs cool down naturally, but you need to take into consideration the additional cooking that naturally happens as very hot eggs cool down.
And that’s it! You’ve just (hopefully) prepared your first hard-boiled eggs in the microwave. Apart from hard-boiled eggs, you can also use the microwave to make scrambled eggs in a cup, which is a true life-saver for those who are too lazy to make scrambled eggs the traditional way.
Go Makes Some Eggs
If all this egg talk is starting to make you hungry for some delicious hard or soft boiled eggs but you are mindful of your cholesterol, stop worrying and go make yourself some eggs. The entire claim that eggs raise blood cholesterol levels and increase the risk for cardiovascular disease is a myth. We now know that dietary cholesterol (i.e. the cholesterol you get from food) doesn’t raise the cholesterol level in blood, which is a proven risk factor for cardiovascular disease. In fact, eggs are an important source of high-quality protein, various antioxidants, as well as 13 vitamins and minerals. And since you now know several different ways how to make delicious eggs, there is nothing stopping you from enjoying them any time of the day.