Get perfect hard boiled eggs with soft whites and creamy smooth yolks in 7 easy steps. They peel flawlessly every time.
How many times have you cooked hard boiled eggs only to find that the whites are hard and rubbery and the yolk isn’t completely cooked? Or maybe the yolk is dry and crumbly and has a strange green tint.
Maybe your biggest problem is getting the shells off the eggs. You want to make deviled eggs, but so much of the egg white comes off with the peel that the eggs look terrible.
I have been there. Perfect hard boiled eggs are tricky. It doesn’t seem like they should be that hard to cook. But they can be.
This is Why You Struggle to Get Hard Boiled Eggs Right
Eggs cook from the outside in. The egg white and the egg yolk are finished cooking at different temperatures.
An egg white is finished cooking at 180° Fahrenheit. If it gets any hotter, the egg white will get dry and rubbery.
On the other hand, the egg yolk is finished cooking between 158° and 170° Fahrenheit. At this temperature it will be creamy and soft.
Egg yolks above 170° Fahrenheit are crumbly, dry and the outside yolk will get that greenish ferrous sulfide tinge.
This is all good information, but the problem is, you can’t measure the temperature of an egg inside of its shell as it cooks.
In addition, the bigger the temperature difference between the egg and the water it is cooked in, the more uneven the cooking will be.
With this knowledge and after reading the varied and sometimes opposite opinions of experienced chefs, it was time to experiment.
The Goal: Perfect hard boiled eggs with a set and soft egg white and smooth moist yolks. They had to be easy to peel. And it had to be time efficient. No hovering over these eggs. A simple timer, a pot with a lid, water, eggs and ice are all that are needed.
The result of the experiment is 5 Steps to get perfect hard boiled eggs that are easy to peel every time.
Step 1: Bring the Egg to Room Temperature
Eggs cook more evenly when they are closer to the temperature of the water they will be cooked in. Cold eggs from the refrigerator placed in boiling water cook more unevenly.
Experiment: Room temperature egg vs. cold egg
Results: My experiment showed that an egg brought to room temperature cooked more evenly than an egg straight from refrigerator to boiling water.
To bring an egg to room temperature quickly, soak it in a bowl of warm water for 3-5 minutes.
Step 2: Add Egg to Boiling Water Not Cold Water
Experiment: Starting an egg in cold water and bringing it to a boil vs. boiling the water and then adding the eggs
Some chefs suggest placing the eggs in cold water and then bringing the water to a boil.
At first glance this makes sense. Wouldn’t an egg cook more evenly if it heated as the water heated?
Maybe, but the problem with this method is that it fuses the egg shell to the egg white, making it very difficult to peel.
Results: The winner is boiling the water and then adding the eggs. This resulted in eggs that peeled much easier.
In addition, boiling the water before adding the eggs meant less babysitting the pot of water. When my eggs started in cold water, I had to stay close and check it several times to see exactly when it started boiling so I could start the cooking countdown.
If you don’t watch your boiling water closely enough, you may end up overcooking the egg.
Step 3: Boil Egg Over Heat
Chef J. Kenji Lopez-Alt noted that since the white and yolk are finished cooking at different temperatures, the best way to hard boil an egg is to cook it over heat for a short time, (cooking the egg white quickly) and then remove it from the heat to lower the temperature and slow down the rest of the cooking.¹
I played with his timing and method, but this is the stove top method most effective at getting the whole egg cooked just right.
Experiment: Cooking in the boiling water for 30 seconds vs. 1 minute before cooking off heat
Results: The right balance of cooking the egg on heat was one minute.
If your pot of water maintains a rolling boil with the lid off, keep it off as the egg cooks on heat for one minute. However, if the water stops boiling with the lid off when the eggs are added, keep the lid on the pot for the on-heat cooking minute.
Step 4: Cook Egg Off Heat
After cooking the egg over heat for one minute, remove the pot from the heat. Keep the lid on and cook the egg off the heat until it is done.¹
Experiment: Cooking off heat for 9, 10, 11 and 12 minutes
Results: I preferred eggs cooked off heat for 11 or 12 minutes to get my eggs hard boiled with a more solid yolk.
This is a matter of preference though. The yolks were hard boiled after even 9 minutes.
Step 5: Cool in Ice Water for 5 Minutes
Chefs have different opinions on cooling the hard boiled eggs. I found that cooling eggs in ice water was the most effective way to cool them to get them ready for an easy peel.
When the eggs are cooled quickly, they constrict slightly, pulling away from the shell just a bit.²
Experiment: Cooling cooked eggs in ice water for 3 minutes vs. 5 minutes vs. 10 minutes
Results: The eggs peeled better when they had soaked for 5 and 10 minutes.
If you won’t be eating the eggs right away, store them unpeeled in the refrigerator for up to a week. Peeling cold eggs from the refrigerator was more difficult than peeling fresh eggs.
Step 6: Crack Eggs on the Chubby Bottom
There is an air pocket on the chubby end of the egg. Cracking it on that end helps you get a good grip to peel the shell off.³
Experiment: Cracking the egg on its side vs. on the chubby bottom
Result: Cracking the egg on its side made more cracks and was harder to peel. The bottom larger end usually has an air pocket, useful when peeling.
Treat the egg gently to peel it smoothly.
Step 7: Roll Egg Gently Between Palms
Experiment: Rolling in palms to peel vs. picking the pieces off
Result: If the eggs are rolled gently, it is more effective at loosening and removing the shells.
I never have a problem achieving perfect hard boiled eggs anymore. These steps solve all the problems I ever had with the eggs. You can always use this method with consistent results.
And that is The Tasty Tip of the day! Give it a try and you’ll love the results.
What is your worst hard boiled egg experience? Comment below and let me know.
- 1 to 6 eggs
- 2 quarts water
- Ice water (for cooling)
- BRING egg to room temperature. Set the egg on the counter for 30 to 60 minutes, depending on how warm the kitchen it. To speed up the process, place eggs in a bowl of warm water for 5 to 10 minutes.
- BOIL 2 quarts of water on the stove top in a 4 quart pan with a lid. If cooking more than 6 eggs, use more water and a larger pan. There should be enough water that the eggs are completely covered when you add them to the pan.
- COOK OVER HEAT. When the water starts boiling, add the eggs to the pan. Use a slotted spoon, taking care not to crack the shells when lowering them into the water. Keep the lid on the pan to keep the water boiling. Cook the eggs over heat for one minute.
- REMOVE PAN FROM HEAT. Take the pan off the burner. Leave the lid on and continue to cook the eggs off the heat for 9 to 11 minutes, depending on how well done you like your yolks.
- COOL IN ICE BATH. Fill bowl with ice water. Remove the eggs from the pan with a slotted spoon and place them in the ice water. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
- CRACK THE CHUBBY BOTTOM. Gently, but firmly tap the chubby bottom of the egg on the kitchen counter. Peel the shell off the egg. Sometimes it helps to gently roll the egg in the palms of your hand to loosen the shell.
- EAT RIGHT AWAY seasoned with salt and pepper. Or cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before using in a recipe.
If you will not be eating the egg for more than a day, do not peel the eggs. Instead, store the unpeeled eggs for up to 1 week. Crack and peel before using. Please note: Unpeeled hard boiled eggs stored in the refrigerator are sometimes harder to peel than freshly cooked and cooled eggs.
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Serving Size1 egg
Amount Per Serving Calories 72 Total Fat 5g Saturated Fat 2g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 3g Cholesterol 186mg Sodium 85mg Carbohydrates 0g Fiber 0g Sugar 0g Protein 6g