How to Make a Hard-Boiled Egg
Words Heather Ramsdell
How to cook eggs precisely how you like them once and for all.
It is so satisfying to cook a dish you have learned by heart. A little know-how saves time, reduces stress, and frees you to be more creative. Whether you love to cook or just need to solve the dinner problem, this repertoire of how-tos gives you confidence to add personal style and hopefully makes life more tasty.
There are so many ways to prepare the same dish. These are recipes for dishes and drinks you’ll make again and again, pared down to the essential ingredients and steps. They include tips to take out guesswork, choose the best tools, answer the most common questions we hear, and amp up the qualities that make us love each food in this series: to make crispier, faster chicken; creamier, tastier beans; fearless squash, more pro-looking layer cake; cocktails you can memorize; and eggs, precisely how you like them, every time.
Let’s get cooking.
How to Make a Hard-Boiled Egg
Enjoying an egg with a cup of coffee is a nice thing to do before anything else in a day. And already knowing how to cook the egg makes the transition from sleep to humanity more seamless. Cooking eggs is easy: Put them in boiling water straight from the refrigerator and gently cook them for the right amount of time.
What’s the right amount of time? First, know the size of your egg, then decide how you want it cooked. When I’m eating one on its own, I prefer a jammy egg with tender white and the bright, translucent yolk set at the edge with a liquid center, but when eating it with toast, the yolk should be softer so it can be a sauce. When I am making deviled eggs, it needs to be properly hard-boiled for a tender white, dry yolk filling that’s fluffy, not gummy. None of these eggs should have the weird green ring around the yolk because no one likes those.
If you buy a dozen eggs and cook one every morning until they are gone, you’ll attain a skill that will be yours forever. Here are some tips to help you refine your morning egg game even more:
Use Cold Eggs
You are already storing eggs in the refrigerator. If the eggs are cold enough, you can be precise with timing, and the temperature difference might help with peeling. For 6 eggs, use 4 quarts of water; for a dozen, use 6 quarts — that way the temperature of the cooking water doesn’t plunge when the cold eggs are added.
Easier to Peel
Even food scientist J. Kenji López-Alt admits that peeling an egg is not always easy, but there are ways to increase your chances: Don’t use eggs that have just been laid. Most store-bought eggs are old enough, but if you keep hens or buy farmers market eggs, don’t boil them right away. Plunging cold eggs into hot water or steaming them in a pot or a pressure cooker, aids easy peeling. Peel them about 10 minutes after cooking — that seems to be the optimal time for easy shell removal.
Make an Ice Bath
Putting eggs into a big bath of ice water the moment they are done cooking will stop the cooking, and that’s why we do it. It’s not strictly necessary if you are eating the egg right away.
Use a Timer
As soon as it rings (for a large egg: 6 minutes for soft, 9 minutes for jammy, 11 minutes for hard), plunge each egg into a bowl of ice and water to stop the cooking. There are so few variables left (egg size, water temperature, and water amount) that you can get pretty precise and consistent results.
Egg Size Counts
Eggs are sold by size. I like large eggs. Medium eggs are about two-thirds the size of jumbos, enough to make a difference in baking and boiling, because it takes a certain amount of time for the heat to penetrate the volume of an egg.
You may want to poke a little hole in the end of an egg to reduce its chances of it cracking when you put it in the boiling water.
Here is what the USDA says: “To be safe, eggs must be safely handled, promptly refrigerated, and thoroughly cooked.”
Do you have any surefire egg tips? Share them with us!
Hard-Boiled EggsRecipe courtesy of Heather Ramsdell: Makes 6 eggs
6-12 large eggs straight from the refrigerator
- Bring 4 to 6 quarts water to a boil and lower 6 to 12 eggs into it (keep water boiling throughout). Time 6 minutes for soft-boiled eggs with a liquid yolk, 9 minutes for medium eggs with a jammy yolk or 12 minutes for hard-boiled eggs. We’re using our Punctual Egg Timer with Piercer, but if you don’t have a timer use your phone or kitchen timer.
- When the timer rings, transfer eggs from the boiling water to a bowl of water with ice cubes, and chill until cool enough to handle about 3 minutes. Crack eggs all over and peel starting at the big end. Eat or chill another 10 minutes in the ice bath. Store refrigerated, until ready to eat.