Guest Chef America’s Test Kitchen recommends the following method. We followed their instructions on how to boil eggs in a step-by-step guide.
How to hard-cook eggs
1. Add Eggs First
Place eggs and medium saucepan in a single layer and cover with 1 inch of tap water.
Why? With each egg resting on the bottom of the pan, they will cook evenly. If you’re cooking more than 6 eggs, you may want to switch to a Dutch oven. The timing will be the same as long as the eggs are kept in a single layer.
2. Bring to boil
Turn heat to high and bring water to boil.
Why? Since this recipe relies on residual heat to cook the eggs, it’s important that the water comes to a boil. Look for large rolling bubbles on the surface.
3. Take the pot off the heat.
Once water is boiling, remove the pot from heat cover with a lid, and set timer at 10 minutes.
Why? A tight-fitting lid traps heat and ensures that the water doesn’t cool off too quickly. If you want slightly undercooked eggs with creamy yolks (perfect for egg salad) then set the timer for 8 minutes.
4. Make an ice bath
While eggs cook off heat, fill a large bowl with 4 cups cold water and 4 cups ice cubes.
Why? The ice bath will stop the eggs from cooking further. If you skip this step, residual heat trapped inside the egg would turn a perfectly cooked egg into an overcooked egg.
5. Pour out the water, crack the eggs
When the timer goes off, immediately pour off the water from the saucepan and gently shake the pan back and forth to crack the eggshells.
Why? The perfectly cooked boiled egg, is it much good if you can’t remove the shell. Cracking the shells at this point allows water in the ice bath to get under the shells, and this helps loosen them. The cracked egg also cools off more quickly.
6. Transfer boiled eggs to the water bath
Use a slotted spoon to transfer eggs to an ice bath and let sit for 5 minutes.
Why? Once the shells are cracked, get them into the ice bath to cool. The draining, cracking and transferring process should take less than 1 minute.
7. Peel in one strip
Starting at wider end of each boiled egg, peel away shell in one strip.
Why? If you try to remove the shell bit by bit, you’ll end up sticking your fingernail into the white and making unattractive gouges. The wider end of the egg actually contains an air pocket, so you can tear this part of the shell away without harming the white. With some of the shell in your hand, the rest you come up quite easily.
8. Rinse off stray bits
If necessary, dunk egg back into the ice bath to remove any remaining bits of shell.
Why? It’s easy to shake loose tiny bits of the shell when the peeled egg is submerged; this way you don’t risk any gouges.
The eggs did not peel for us the way the instructions said they should, we tested this twice and came back with the same problem that the eggs did not peel very nicely. In fact, the egg white was stuck to the shell and the egg just fell apart. However, the eggs did cook correctly.
Items we used to test these instructions
How To Boil An Egg by America’s Test Kitchen
- Pair of Tongs
- 6 each eggs
- 2 cups water
- 6 cubes ice
- Add Eggs First. Place eggs and medium saucepan in a single layer and cover with 1 inch of tap water.
- Bring to boil. Turn heat to high and bring water to boil
- Take the pot off the heat. Once water is boiling, remove the pot from heat cover with a lid, and set timer at 10 minutes
- Make an ice bath. While eggs cook off heat, fill a large bowl with 4 cups cold water and 4 cups ice cubes.
- Pour out the water, crack eggs. When the timer goes off, immediately pour off the water from the saucepan and gently shake the pan back and forth to crack the eggshells.
- Transfer eggs to the water bath. Use a slotted spoon to transfer eggs to an ice bath and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Peel in one strip. Starting at wider end of each egg, peel away shell in one strip.
- Rinse off stray bits. If necessary, dunk egg back into the ice bath to remove any remaining bits of shell.
Tried and tested
Hard-cooked eggs can be eaten on their own or used in a myriad of recipes, from egg salad to deviled eggs.
You might think it’s the easiest way to cook an egg, but all too often boiling produces eggs with a greenish colored yolk and a sulfurous odor.
The boiling is the problem, which is why we think the process is best called “hard-cooking” rather than “hard-boiling”.
The classic method – cooking the eggs in a pot of boiling water for a precise period of time – doesn’t account for variations in heat output from stoves or conductivity of pans. And because the water is boiling, the margin for error is quite small. Since you could tell when the eggs are done, this method is unreliable.
After countless tests, we found that we got the best result when we covered the eggs with an inch of water, bought it to a boil, covered the pan, removed it from the heat.
After 10 minutes, we drained the eggs and cooled them in ice water. The residual heat perfectly cooked the eggs, and since the pot is off the heat, there’s no chance of overcooking.
America’s Test Kitchen offers advice on egg questions
Troubleshooting hard-cooked eggs
I want perfectly centered yokes
For attractive deviled eggs, it helps if the yolks are perfectly centered. (If they are not, you can tear the white when removing the yolk.) Fresh eggs are the best choice of this kind of recipe. (If you’re dicing eggs for egg salad it doesn’t matter). That’s because the cordlike strands that center to the yolk weaken with age.
If in doubt, place the carton of eggs on its side in the refrigerator, the day before the eggs are to be cooked. This moves the yolk away from the large end of the egg – which is where the yolk generally settles after packaging – and towards the center.
I want hard-cooked eggs in advance
Hard-cooked eggs can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. If they have been shelled, make sure to store them in an airtight container so they didn’t pick up the odors in your fridge. You can also refrigerate the eggs without peeling them, but if you do, skip the cracking step and simply transfer the cooked eggs to the ice bath. It will be more difficult to peel the eggs once they have been refrigerated for a few days.
How to buy eggs
Egg cartons are marked by both a sell-by date and pack date. The pack date is the date the eggs are graded and packed, which is generally a week within being laid but, legally, may be within as much as 30 days.
The pack date is printed on egg cartons as a three-digit code just below the sell-by date, and it runs consecutively from 001 January one to 365.
The sell-by date, which is the legal limit set by the USDA, is within 30 days of the pack date. In short, a carton of eggs may be up to two months old by the end of the sell-by date. Even so, according to the US department of agriculture (USDA) eggs are still fit for consumption for an additional three to five weeks past sell-by date.
In the Test Kitchen, we tasted two and three-month old eggs and found them perfectly palatable. At 4 months, the white was very loose and the yolk tasted faintly of the refrigerator, though it was still edible. Our advice is to use your discretion. If the eggs smell odd or display discoloration pitch them. Older eggs also lack the structure-lending properties of fresh eggs, so beware when baking.
The shells hue depends on the breed of the chicken. The run-of-the-mill leghorn chicken produces the typical white egg. Brown-feathered birds such as Rhode Island Reds, produce ecru to coffee-color eggs. Despite marketing hype extolling the ventures of non-white eggs, our tests prove that shell color has no effect on flavor.
Farm-fresh and organic
In our taste tests, farm fresh eggs were standouts. The large yolks were shockingly orange and set very high above the comparatively small whites, and the flavor of these eggs was exceptionally rich and complex. The organic eggs followed in second place, with eggs from hens raised on a vegetarian diet in third, and the standard supermarket eggs last. Differences were easily detected in egg-based dishes like an omelet or a frittata but not in cakes or cookies.
Eggs and omega-3
Several companies on marketing eggs with a high level of Omega-3 fatty acids, the healthful unsaturated fats also found in some fish. We set up a blind tasting of eggs containing various levels of omega-3.
Our findings: More omega-3’s translates into a richer flavor and a deeper yolk color.
Why? Commercially raised chickens usually pick on corn and soy, while chickens on an omega-3 and rich diet have supplements of greens, flaxseed and algae which also adds flavor complexity and color. When shopping for a good egg, buyer beware: Brands may claim a high level of omega-3’s, but the fine print sometimes reveals that the number refers to the level present in two eggs, not one. Look for brands that guarantee at least 200 milligrams per egg.
Eggs vary in size, which will make a difference in recipes, especially those that call for several eggs. We use large eggs in our recipes. If you do the math, you can substitute one size for another. For instance, four jumbo eggs or equivalent to five large eggs (both weigh 10 oz).
approximate height of egg sizes:
- medium 1.75 oz
- large 2 oz
- extra large 2.25 oz
- jumbo 2.50 oz
Eggs suffer more from improper storage than age. If your refrigerator has an egg tray in the door, don’t use it – egg should be stored on the shelf, where the temperature is below 40 degrees (average refrigerator door temperature in our kitchen is closer to 45 degrees). Eggs are best stored in their cardboard carton, which protects them from absorbing flavors from other foods. The carton also helps maintain humidity, which slows down the evaporation of eggs contents.
Extra whites can be frozen for later use, but we have found the rising properties compromised (Angel food cake didn’t quite rise as well). Frozen whites are best in recipes that call for small amounts (an egg wash) or don’t depend on whipping (an omelet). Yolks can’t be frozen as is, but adding sugar syrup (2 parts sugar 1 part water) to the yolks allows them to be frozen. Stir a scant ¼ teaspoon sugar syrup per yolk before freezing. Defrosted yokes treated this way will behave just like fresh yolks in custards and other recipes.
The Egg Safety Center estimates that one in 20,000 eggs is contaminated by salmonella bacteria. Salmonella, if present, can be on the outside of the eggshell or inside the egg if the hen that laid it was infected.
Salmonella is destroyed at 160 degrees. Eggs that have just barely set or are still runny will not reach this temperature. Eggs that are fully set and dry, as they are when hard-cooked or used in a frittata, will reach this temperature.
Pasteurized eggs have been put through a washing process that kills bacteria. For the most part, we found they perform on par with standard eggs in applications (such as mayonnaise) in which pasteurized eggs might be beneficial; we had less success using them in cakes and cookies.
Other Ways To Boil Eggs
Steamed Eggs is another boil egg method that produces a perfect hard boiled egg and it is easy to peel. Visit our page below on how to perfectly steam eggs.