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how to boil an egg

How to Cook Perfect Boiled Eggs

Cooking perfect boiled eggs isn’t a dark art, nor does it need to be a hit and miss process. There really is no trick to boiling eggs! Just follow our “eggstructions” below to learn how long to cook soft-boiled eggs and hard-boiled eggs for.

We’ve also included the surprising secret to peeling hard-boiled eggs after you’ve cooked them – because everyone knows that’s the hardest part! After reading our secret tip, you should be able to peel eggs without sticking issues with the shell for once!

Getting started

boiling an egg in water

  • Place your eggs into a saucepan: you can add as many as can fit in one layer with enough space to move about – for a standard size saucepan this is usually about 6
  • Fill the saucepan with cold water: using cold water allows the eggs to cook evenly and makes them less likely to crack
  • Put the pan over a high heat: bring the water to the boil, and once fully boiling completely remove from the heat and cover

How long to cook soft-boiled eggs

cutting into a soft boiled egg

  • 4 minutes: once the water is boiling and you’ve removed the saucepan from the heat, leave the egg in boiling water for 4 minutes for a delicious soft-boiled egg with very runny yolk
  • 5-6 minutes: leave in the boiled water for 5-6 minutes for a soft-boiled egg with a slightly less runny (but still soft!) yolk

TIP: If cooking multiple soft-boiled eggs at once, increase this length of time slightly for additional eggs

How long to cook hard-boiled eggs

  • 9 minutes: leaving your egg in boiling water for ages to make sure it’s properly hard-boiled is a really common mistake. If you leave your egg for too long, the yolk sometimes takes on a greyish tint and the white gets unpleasantly rubbery

TIP: If you want to make absolutely sure your egg is hard-boiled, leave for up to 15 minutes, but no longer! 

When your egg is cooked

boiled egg placed in cold water

  • Pop your egg into a bowl of cold (preferably ice) water: doing this will stop the egg from cooking any further than desired
  • Leave the egg to cool: this will take at least a minute and will allow you to peel the egg without having to treat it like a hot potato!

The secret to peeling hard-boiled eggs

The moment you’ve been waiting for…what’s the secret to peeling hard-boiled eggs, you ask? Use older eggs! Eggs will gradually lose moisture through the tiny pores in their shell. Leaving fresh eggs for a couple of weeks before hard-boiling them will make the whites a little firmer and easier to separate from the shell. Don’t leave them to go off though – no-one wants to eat (or smell for that matter!) an egg that’s gone bad. 


What do you think of our egg boiling skills? Is there a different trick to boiling eggs perfectly that you prefer? Let us know in the comments!

Take a look at our how to make perfect poached eggs video for an “eggstra” egg cooking skill!