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Best Way To Hard Boil Eggs

Updated on August 24, 2017

Learn How To Hardboil Eggs The Right Way

While it may seem so simple, it is easy to under or over-boil an egg. You would be surprised how many people ask how to hardboil eggs. In this article I discuss what I believe to be the best way to do it.

Eggs are an amazing food. Most people know so little about them. For example, did you know that you can actually keep eggs for up to 7 months in the fridge? Some countries, and even many farmers here in the U.S., don't store them in the fridge at all. At MotherEarthNews they actually conducted a test of 30 dozen store bought and 30 dozen farm fresh (unwashed) eggs, and both were readily edible after 7 months of refrigerator storage. They suggest that farm fresh, unwashed eggs will last the longest. I'll explain later.

But back to the topic today, the best way to hard boil eggs (or HBE's). While there are varying opinions, to some degree, the art of boiling cackleberries perfectly is simple and there isn't a whole lot that can go wrong. Below you'll find the simple step by step instructions to ensure that your eggs are always perfect, every time. And we'll also discuss the best way to peel hard boiled eggs, or rather to cook eggs that peel easily.

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To start, let's say that the only real variable in boiling eggs is how you like to eat them. Or, if you're making them for deviled eggs, then of course you want them completely cooked.

How to know when hard boiled eggs are done? In the old days people used sand timers, like the one shown here, which had different grains of sand in them representing the different lengths of boiling time. These days you can still get an egg timer to help you keep track of how long they've been on heat. But in general if you're looking to make simple, basic hard boiled cackleberries (I just love writing that!) then you'll simply give them a few minutes of boil time and remove from heat, which I'll cover in a minute.

Before we start cooking let me mention that "fresh" eggs can be safely stored a long time, as I mentioned earlier. If they're farm fresh (i.e. straight from the source without washing) they will last even longer because eggs are dropped with a protective coating called the "bloom." That sealant serves a valuable purpose, to keep the eggs airtight and prevent oxidation, which destroys everything. Washing eggs removes that coating which is why its best to refrigerate store eggs, but farm eggs are often stored elsewhere. However, when hard boiled they should be kept for only 3 days, refrigerated, and then discarded.

Ready to learn how to hardboil eggs? Here we go with traditional hard boiled (see soft boiled below):

Step 1: Prepare a pan that will allow you to place the eggs into it and have 1 inch of water over the top of the eggs. In my method, you first boil the water and THEN place the eggs into it. So bring the water to a boil over medium heat and carefully (using a ladle) set your eggs into the pan.

Step 2: Start your timer and boil for 8 minutes, and then immediately remove from heat.

Step 3: Quickly drain the pan and immediately rinse the eggs with cold water. To ensure that the shells peel easily and without sticking to the eggs (and causing damage to the white inners), start peeling them immediately after rinsing with cold water for about a minute. You can even rough them up while you're rinsing, causing large cracks. The egg shells will peel right off.

As you can see, there isn't much to it. However there are other ways to boil eggs, from country style to softies.

Image via Creative Commons by wwarby

I've already stated that there isn't much to cooking HBE's, but that doesn't mean that you can't mess them up. The eggs shown here were obviously forgotten and burned. Which brings up the question: "how long to hardboil eggs?" How to know when they're done?

First, if you're cooking soft boiled eggs the process is essentially the same, only the time differs. It also matters which method you use. Think about it... if you start with the eggs in the water, they cook from the time the water gets hot until it boils, too, which is several minutes. If you set them carefully into already boiling water, then you can more accurately measure the time.

Second, as it relates to time, if you follow the steps I outlined earlier then you'll be fine. But if you're looking to make a softer egg then you'll want to use a timer. And of course the length of cooking time depends on your goal. I know some people who like 3 minute eggs... that's right, in Europe its quite common. And for this there IS NO recipe. You need to test it out. If you want a runny yolk then try a 3 minute egg, then a 4 minute egg, and so on until you find the texture and consistency that you like. From then on you'll know exactly how long to make eggs perfectly for you, and it only cost you a few minutes and a couple of eggs.

People who eat 2 or 3 minute eggs use an egg holder like the one shown below, and then crack the top of the shell with the spoon and peel away the top of their egg. Then they scoop out the soft flesh (and juicy yolk) with a spoon. Think about eating eggs over-easy, with the runny yolk; its very similar.

The truth of the matter, though, is that in most homes I suspect that people simply place some eggs in water and make sure they're covered an inch or so, and then boil the eggs for 8 - 10 minutes, rinse them off and peel. Unless you're serving guests and are worried about the appearance it's not a huge issue.

With that being said, there is a difference between the quick, no fuss method and the "right" way I first outlined. Namely its in how well the shells come off, or don't. So what's the best way to peel hard boiled eggs? Below are eggs from two batches to make the point. The first were boiled via the steps listed above, and the second was a quick throw 'em in water, boil, rinse and peel method. Both are quite edible, for sure, but for making deviled eggs to serve guests, you really want the nicer appearance. So getting the good peeling shells requires that you use the first 3 step method I talked about.

They peel like this when they're cooked the right way.

If you're wanting to learn more about the fancy ways of cooking eggs, I would suggest two sites. The first is the Wikipedia boiled egg page, and the other is The Food Lab's Perfect Boiled Eggs. In the end I hope at the very least that this lens gave you some insights into cooking cackleberries (one last time, sorry!) and that you enjoyed the visit.

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Burnt eggs image via Creative Commons by justgrimes

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What Is YOUR Best Way To Hard Boil Eggs?

If you search for boiling eggs you'll find a plethora of ideas and opinions. For something so simple you wouldn't think so.

Do you worry about time or do you simply boil and go?

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