Six Steps for the Perfect Hard (Soft & Medium) Boiled Egg

It has recently been brought to my attention that there seems to be a strong quest on the Internets to establish how to correctly cook a hard-boiled egg.  This might be my shortest blog post ever.

6 Steps for perfect hard-boiled eggs

  1. Step 1: put eggs in a pot, big enough to hold them with at least 2″ to spare.  Neither the quantity of eggs nor the diameter of the pot are of issue, as long as the above stipulations are met.
  2. Step 2: fill pot with water to cover eggs — by how much is not an issue, as long as they are completely submerged.
  3. Step 3: add salt. It doesn’t matter what kind.  probably around a teaspoon for every quart, but it really doesn’t matter.  as long as you can taste some salt in the water, but it’s not salty enough to make someone vomit if they drank it, you’re fine.
  4. Step 4: put the pot on heat. preferably high heat.  the rate at which the water is heated really doesn’t matter here.  what does matter is…
  5. Step 5: once water reaches a boil, remove the pot from heat, cover it, and set a timer for fifteen minutes.
  6. Step 6: after fifteen minutes, remove the eggs and place them in an ice bath (this is a simple mixture of, you guessed it, water and ice).   Once cooled completely, you’ll have perfectly hard-boiled eggs.

So, this 6-step process is the fastest way to make perfectly hard boiled eggs.  However, getting them out of the shell requires some commentary.

Removing the eggs from the shell

First, you could get super intense with it and go the Julia Child method (which is never going to lead you astray — ever) and bring a pot of water to a boil, drop your cold, cooked eggs in that pot for thirty seconds, and then remove them once more into an ice bath.  In theory, the second exposure to boiling water expands the egg inside the shell, and then the second shocking (aka: submerging in cold water) contracts it away from the membrane, making it easier to peel.

Second option (if you don’t feel like making French Laundry HB eggs): while they’re in the first (and only) ice water bath , just crack the shells on each egg.  The quickest and most effective way to do this I’ve found is to grab an egg and firmly tap it on the counter and quickly rotate the egg and repeat until the majority of the egg is covered in a spider web of cracks.  This process should take no longer than five seconds per egg.  If it takes longer, you’re over-thinking it.  relax.  It’s just an egg.

Return the egg to the ice water.  What you’ve done here, is you’ve permeated the membrane between the shell and egg, so that water can pass between the egg and the membrane.  If you wait one minute (no length of time beyond a minute will hurt it one bit), there should be a thin layer of water between your egg and all the things you no longer wish to coat it, and the spider web pattern of cracks should permit you to peel the entire shell off with ease.

The only place where you can really deviate from this instruction (with equaled ease and consistency, I might add), is in the done-ness of the egg.  Many people are of the belief that “hard” is the only “temperature” to which one may boil an egg.  While the hard-boiled egg is the most popular, it is worth exploring soft and medium boiled eggs.  For the aforementioned, literally do everything as written in the steps above with these exceptions:

Once the water in which your eggs are heating, reaches a boil…

  • set your timer for five minutes if you desire soft-boiled eggs
  • or ten minutes if you desire medium boiled

That’s it.  Everything else is exactly the same and equally fool-proof.

I’d wish you good luck, but really, the appropriate tiding is to please continue embracing how simple good cooking really is. Enjoy!

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