Alright, stop laughing. It might not be rocket science but there actually is a science to how to boil an egg. Whether your preference is hard boiled eggs or soft boiled eggs, the method and the timing are imperative to get a tender egg white (read not rubbery) and a beautiful creamy yolk without that ugly greenish blackish ring that can appear around the yolk. And let’s talk about peeling an overcooked hard-boiled egg, almost impossible! Steamed hard-boiled eggs come out perfect every time. Read on for more than you ever wanted to know about hard-boiled eggs.
There are so many different ways to “boil” an egg:
- Steamed hard-boiled eggs is the preferred method
- Using cold water to hard-boil eggs is the second preference
- Boiling eggs is third and is actually the only method that involves actual boiling of the eggs
- Hard-boiled eggs in the oven, not a preferred method
- Microwave hard-boiled eggs – don’t do it unless you want an egg explosion to clean up
How To Make Easy To Peel Hard-Boiled And Soft-Boiled Eggs
It’s sooooo frustrating to try to peel an overcooked egg. The shell sticks to the egg white making the white come off in chunks. Not nice looking and even more frustrating. But there is a simple answer for easy to peel eggs.
Starting with a hot method versus cold method of cooking your eggs will make a difference in how easy the eggs are to peel. Hot method can be steaming or boiling. Steamed hard-boiled eggs are my favorite way to cook them because it’s the most fool proof way.
Pillsbury and The Incredible Egg use cold water to cook hard-boiled or soft-boiled eggs and it is a really great method too. But you need to keep an eye on the water so that you remove the pot at the right time. It takes more babysitting and the eggs are a little harder to peel. I’m famous for multi-tasking while cooking and will forget to watch the pot boil. I’m the same way with putting garlic bread in the broiler. I’ll put garlic bread under the broiler, go off to make a salad, only to turn around when the kitchen is full of smoke and my beautiful garlic bread has taken on a lovely black char. Well, we can’t all be perfect.
Are older eggs easier to peel? Well yes and no. If you are buying your eggs straight from a farm or raising hens in your backyard, then you will want to wait a couple of weeks before you hard boil them to make peeling the egg easier. These kinds of fresh eggs are perfect fried or poached eggs. But let’s face it, most of us just buy our eggs at the grocery store. Those eggs are typically a couple of weeks old by the time they get to the grocery so it really is negligible to “age” the eggs any more.
Hard-boiled eggs are a cinch to peel after they have spent time in the refrigerator overnight. They are hardest to peel just after cooking, a little easier once resting in an ice bath and even easier the next day.
Start by tapping the wider end of the egg to crack the shell, then start peeling the steamed hard-boiled eggs at the large end. This is because often times there is an air pocket at that end where the egg white separates from the shell. This makes a good place to start since the white is not touching the shell.
If you are going to peel and use the hard-boiled eggs right away, then gently tap the wide end of the eggs on the counter to make a crackle finish, then place in the ice water bath. This will make the eggs easier to peel. If you are going to store them in the refrigerator for later use then do not “crackle” to prevent bacteria.
Why Put Hard Boiled Eggs in Ice Water?
With any of the methods here you will want to plunge the cooked eggs into an ice bath to shock the eggs and stop the cooking. For easy to peel eggs you’ll want to let them sit in the ice bath for at least 15 minutes. Remove from the ice bath and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
The ice water bath also enhances easier peeling and helps set the egg to keep its shape.
You will want to fill a bowl full of ice and water before you even start cooking the eggs, that way the water is really cold when you plunge the eggs into the water.
How to Steam Hard-Boiled Eggs
I like steamed hard-boiled eggs because it’s by far the easiest way to cook the eggs and allows you to multi-task while cooking them. Why you ask? Because if you boil the eggs in water you need to be watching the water and making sure that the it stays at an even simmer. Not too hard but with the steaming method you don’t need to be hovering over the pot or the hot stove.
Simply boil about an inch of water. Once boiling, lower a steamer insert filled with eggs in a single layer and top with a lid. Now steam for 6 minutes for the perfect soft-boiled egg and 12 minutes for the perfect steamed hard-boiled eggs. Immediately submerge in ice water.
Why this steaming method to cook eggs is probably the least known one is beyond me. I like steaming eggs because it’s a no think um guaranteed beautiful hard-boiled egg every time.
Use Cold Water to Boil an Egg
This method creates a great hard-boiled and soft-boiled egg but as I said earlier, it takes some babysitting. Put your eggs in a single layer in your pot and then add water until eggs are submerged with 1” of water above the eggs. Put over medium high heat until the water comes to a boil. See, this is where I mess up because I’m usually off doing something else and miss when the water starts to boil. Immediately remove the pot from the heat and cover. For soft-boiled eggs leave in water for 6 minutes, for hard-boiled leave in for 10 minutes. Immediately submerge in ice water.
Actually Boiling a Hard-Boiled Egg
The two “hot start” methods are steamed hard-boiled eggs and actually boiling the eggs. Some people like to plunge the eggs into already boiling water I like steamed hard-boiled eggs better because it’s not as fickle and pretty fool proof.
Serious Eats likes this method. He says to plunge the eggs into already boiling water, immediately lower to just simmering and cook 11 minutes for hard-boiled eggs.
Fine Cooking says to start with cold water with 1” of water over the eggs Cook over medium high heat, bring to a brisk simmer. Add eggs and simmer for 2 minutes for soft-boiled or 8 minutes for hard-boiled. You’ll need to keep an eye on the water to keep it at a gentle simmer. Once again, a babysitting method of cooking your eggs.
How Long Does it Take to Boil an Egg?
See different sections depending on what method you choose to use.
If you cook the eggs too long the whites will get rubbery, the yolks will get dry and they will take on a yucky green tinge.
How to Peel a Hard-Boiled Egg
After the egg has cooled in an ice bath, gently tap the egg on the counter, turning as you do so to create cracks fully around the egg. Then gently roll the egg with the palm of your hand. Now peel the steamed hard-boiled egg under cold running water. When tapping and rolling the egg I really do mean “gently” or the egg will crack in half.
A soft-boiled egg needs even more gentle handling. After taking the egg out of the ice bath, hold in one hand and with the other hand gently tap the top of the egg with a spoon until it crackles. Then peel completely. If you have an egg cup you can just take the top half of the shell off and eat the egg in its shell.
What’s the Difference Between Hard-Boiled and Soft-Boiled Eggs?
Hard-boiled are more common because you can cook them and store for up to 5-7 days. So simply they are more convenient. Hard-boiled eggs have a firm egg white and yolk.
Soft-boiled eggs are delicious but should to be eaten when they are cooked, however they will keep in the refrigerator up to 2 days. They also have a firm white but the yolk is creamy and a little runny. Great dunking material for toast.
Can I Freeze a Hard-Boiled or Soft-Boiled Egg?
Yes you can, but you won’t want to. The egg white becomes rubbery and gross, don’t do it.
How to Store Hard-Boiled Eggs
Whether you have steamed hard-boiled eggs or any other method, they will all be stored the same way. Keep the egg carton and put your hard-boiled eggs in the original container. Obviously the container is a great storage carton, but it is also designed to keep odors out as well. Unpeeled hard-boiled eggs will keep in the refrigerator for about 5 days. Peeled hard-boiled eggs should be eaten the same day.
Soft-boiled eggs are best eaten right away, but they are safe to store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
How to Use Steamed Hard-Boiled Eggs
Steam a dozen eggs on Sunday for a grab and go meal every day for the family.
- I like to have egg toast. First peel the egg, then with your fork cut the egg into quarters and then mash into pieces. Now toast pumpernickel bread and spread your egg on top.
- Simple, just peel, salt and eat away. Nature’s grab and go snack.
- Egg salad
- Deviled eggs
- Avocado toast