How to cook hard boiled eggs perfectly every time

Breakfast, courtesy of Duane:

I love it when the kids want boiled eggs in the morning.  Much more nutritious than a Pop Tart.  But not exactly the speediest thing to cook on a school day.  Here are my tricks for the best eggs every time:

Use a small pot, less water will cover more egg. The more water you use, the longer it takes to boil.  You don't even have to use enough to cover the eggs, since they will roll around.  

Boil first, then put eggs in.  How can you accurately time them otherwise? 

More than one egg?  Leave eggs in pot, on heat, until you've peeled one to determine how done they are. 

Run hot fingers under cold water instead of hot eggs. Run the cold faucet in the kitchen sink.  Remove egg from boiling water with a big plastic spoon or whatever you have [Adrienne uses a spaghetti server. — Ed.], then run it under the cold water so you can hold it with your fingers.  As it heats back up, run your *fingers* under the water.  Keeps your egg from getting slippery and slimy. 

Find the thin skin between the egg white and the shell, and use that to slide the shell off the egg. Trickier than it sounds, and you'll have to play at it to get it, but when you do it right the entire shell comes off and you're not there picking at it while the kids are waiting for you. Give egg a quick rinse to get any little shell bits off before serving.

You can tell from the moment you crack your egg whether you got it the consistency you wanted.  If you've got more than one person wanting an egg, give this one to the more tolerant.   The ones still in the pot will be a little more cooked.  You can't cook them less.  If you find yourself overcooking the eggs, turn the timer down a bit. 

Related: Pantry dinner that brings back memories: Indian hard boiled egg curry


  1. Phil says

    I use a completely different cooking technique which is much less complicated. Put the eggs into the cold water (just enough to cover the eggs) and cover tightly. Put the pot on the stove on high. When the water comes to a rolling boil then turn off the stove but leave the pot on the hot burner with the lid on and leave it for five minutes. The eggs will come out perfect.

  2. says

    We like to steam our hard “boiled” eggs. Basically, you steam however many eggs you want for 12 minutes then remove them to a ice water bath.

    Once they’re cool enough, you roll the egg around on a hard surface until the shell is cracked all over. Then you put the egg in a bowl of water and peel the shell off.

    This is something we learned from reading Alton Brown’s book.

  3. Parent Hacks Editor says

    Phil: Just tried your method — awesome! They were a little moist in the middle, so I’d add a minute, but the taste was lovely. I’ve been overcooking hard boiled eggs all along.

  4. says

    We also steam our eggs, in our electric veggie steamer. 35 minutes from start to finish (per the instruction booklet that came with it), no messing around with boiling water, and the results are consistently perfect.

  5. Michael says

    It’s criminal that this site prominently promotes Alton Brown’s books but failed to cite his methods for hard-cooking eggs.

    350 degree oven
    Just put the eggs right on the rack, put them in cold water when their done, and peel.

    Electric kettle
    Fill it with water
    Drop in the eggs
    Fire it up and let it boil
    Once it boils, shut off and let it sit for 10min

    Boiling water on the stove is for the birds.

  6. Parent Hacks Editor says

    Criminal! You know what’s criminal? I’d never heard of Alton Brown before you people pointed me at him.

  7. Shauna says

    I will have to try the baking method – but as far as having them for breakfast – I do several and keep them in a clearly marked empty egg carton and then when the kiddos want one (sometimes even for bed time snack) It’s right in the fridge and ready to go.

  8. says

    Oy, this one got a little stale, eh Asha? The original comment I sent in had to do specifically with trying to cook eggs *quickly* during *weekdays* when everybody’s rushing out the door (pssst! It even says “school days” in the intro!) and you still want to get something more nutritious than a poptart into them.

    So for everybody steaming theirs for 35 minutes or waiting for the oven to preheat itself to 350, there’s my defense. I was going for speed, not perfection.

  9. mountainbunny says

    We live more than 6000 feet above sea level, and water boils at a lower temperature here, so eggs take longer & I can never seem to use anyone else’s methods. I bought this little thing from Amazon called a Norpro Egg Rite Egg Timer (since then, I’ve seen them in stores). It is the size and shape of half an egg & turns dark as it heats up in the pan with the eggs. It was less than $5.00, and works over and over. The eggs are always perfect, and if we want softer eggs, we just cook them less according to the color on the device. I am not big on kitchen gadgets, but this works perfectly every time.
    Also – when we make iced tea, we throw the used tea bags in the freezer, then add them to eggs as the water heats. The tea bags stain the cooked eggs and we always know which ones are cooked. It doesn’t add any flavor to the eggs.

  10. Phil says

    Parent Hacks Editor,

    I find it hilarious that your comment shows up on my screen immediately next to the ad for Alton’s book. :P

    Your mileage may vary. Add/subtract a minute as needed. Five works for me on my stove with my pot with my amount of water….