How to Make Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

I love hard boiled eggs. They’re great for deviled eggs, egg salad, or just eating plain with a sprinkle of salt.

Used to be that people were scared of eating eggs because of the cholesterol in the egg yolks. Not only has research found that eggs also raise the good cholesterol that bodies need, but the latest Federal dietary guidelines no longer warn against dietary cholesterol which made people limit the eggs in their diet in the first place.

When it comes to boiling eggs, the biggest problem is that people can easily over-cook them, leading to a dark green color around the yolk, and a somewhat sulphuric taste. Here’s my method for how to cook hard boiled eggs so that they don’t get over-cooked.

Updated March 2015. First posted 2007.

How to Make Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs

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  • Cook time: 12 minutes

Did you know? Older eggs are easier to peel than fresh eggs. If you are planning to make hard boiled eggs for Easter and want to make sure that the eggs are easy to peel, buy your eggs at least a week ahead of time (two weeks even better, they'll keep).

If you need easy-to-peel eggs and you have fresh eggs, you might want to try steaming the eggs for 15 minutes. Pour an inch of water into a pot and insert a steamer basket.Bring to a boil. Place the eggs in the steamer basket, cover and steam for 15 minutes (more or less, check!).  (Or if you don't have a steamer basket, steam the eggs in a half inch of water.) The steam penetrates the shell a bit making the eggs easier to peel.

If you've boiled a batch of eggs that  you are now finding difficult to peel, try cracking the shells all around without peeling them and soaking the eggs in water for a while. The water often seems to seep in enough under the shell to make the egg easier to peel.

If you live at high altitude, let the eggs sit in the hot water longer or lower the heat and maintain a low simmer for 10 to 12 minutes.

Method

1. Place the eggs in a single layer at the bottom of a saucepan. Cover with at least an inch or two of cold water. The more eggs that are crowding the pan the more water you should have over the eggs.

2. Heat the pot on high heat and bring the water to a full rolling boil.

Adding a teaspoon of vinegar to the water may help keep egg whites from running out if an egg does crack while cooking. Also some people find adding 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the water helps prevent cracking as well as making the eggs easier to peel.

3. Turn off the heat, keep the pan on the hot burner, cover, and let sit for 10-12 minutes.

If you have the type of stove burner that doesn't retain any heat when turned off, you might want to lower the temp to low, simmer for a minute, and then turn it off.

Depending on how cooked you like your hard boiled eggs, the eggs should be done perfectly in 10-12 minutes. That said, depending on your altitude, the shape of the pan, the size of the eggs, the ratio of water to eggs, it can take a few minutes more. Or if you like your eggs not fully hard cooked, it can take a few minutes less. When you find a time that works for you, given your preferences, the types of eggs you buy, your pots, stove, and cooking environment, stick with it.

If I'm cooking a large batch of eggs, after 10 minutes I'll sacrifice one to check for doneness, by removing it with a spoon, running it under cold water, and cutting it open. If it's not done enough for my taste, I'll cook the other eggs a minute or two longer.

I also find that it is very hard to overcook eggs using this method. I can let the eggs sit, covered, for up to 15-18 minutes without the eggs getting overcooked.

4. Strain the water from the pan and run cold water over the eggs to cool them quickly and stop them from cooking further. Or, if you are cooking a large batch of eggs, remove them with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice water.

I find it easiest to peel the eggs under a bit of running water.

The best way to store hard boiled eggs is in a covered container in the refrigerator. Eggs can release odors in the fridge which is why it helps to keep them covered.

They should be eaten within 5 days.

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The good thing about this method is that even if you forget and the eggs sit in the water a few minutes longer than you had planned, they'll still be fine.

Some people like their eggs less or more hard cooked than others. If you want your eggs still a little translucent in the center, let them seep in the hot water for only 6 minutes or so.

Hard Boiled Eggs

Showing 4 of 323 Comments

  • PJ Mohney

    Use several week old egglands best, followed instructions, even added a little salt & vinegar. WORST peel ever! Lost more egg than remained on the yolk. Maybe I shouldnt have thrown away the one that floated it was probably the only one old enough to boil. Maybe this is reflective of how old the eggs in the store really are?

  • William

    I believe that temperature shocking the egg eliminates a difficult peeling boiled egg by preventing the bonding of the egg membrane to its inner shell which gradual warming seems to promote. Bring water in a 3 quart saucepan to a vigorous boil. Then add eggs that have been allowed to chill overnight in a 34 degree refrigerator by carefully ladling them into the boiling water one at a time. Using more boiling water helps to keep it from cooling too quickly. After all the eggs have been added to the water, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle rolling boil. Do not layer the eggs. Set a timer at 15 minutes for large or jumbo size eggs. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and let the eggs remain in the hot water another 5 minutes. Drain the hot water and place the pot under a sink faucet running cold water for several minutes until the water remains cold. Allow the eggs to remain in the cold water bath for about a half hour, then remove to a drying rack. Egg shells will peel easily in large sections. This works for me every single time, whether very fresh eggs have been in the fridge just over night or allowed to age for a couple of weeks.

    I am forever through using trays of ice to cool the eggs and I never use salt or vinegar added to the pot of water.

  • Elizabeth

    This method worked like a charm. Thank you for sharing ;)

  • Don

    I have always had trouble boiling eggs.
    Tried the steaming method a few months ago and will never go back. They are now always perfect.

  • Scruffy

    I’m sorry, but this technique is terrible – specifically adding the eggs to cold or room temperature water is a guarantee that the shells will stick to the eggs and become a nightmare to peel. Adding the eggs to already boiling water is much more effective as the shells come right off. I won’t be trying this method again.

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