Knowing exactly how long to boil an egg is so important because just a few minutes means the difference between a soft- and hard-boiled egg. 

Knowing exactly how long to boil an egg is so important because just a few minutes means the difference between a soft- and hard-boiled egg. 

Whether you're a fan of a completely cooked yolk, a runny yolk, or something in between, you will likely find this interesting: I thought I would test cooking times to help you cook the perfect hard (or soft) boiled egg.

If you raise your own chickens, you know that fresh eggs don't peel well, but steaming them instead of boiling them will take care of that problem, and the cooking time is the same with either method. 

As an added bonus, steaming the eggs can prevent them from cracking as they cook. The steamer basket holds them above the simmering water, instead of banging into each other loose in a pot of boiling water.

For both methods, the water should be at a rolling boil, then the flame turned down a bit, the eggs added, the pot covered and the timer started. The different of just one minute will result in your eggs being cooked either too long or not long enough. 

As soon as the timer goes off, the eggs should be quickly removed from the water with a slotted spoon and plunged into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

Note: Smaller eggs will of course cook a bit faster, while larger eggs will take longer, so for more consistent results, try to choose similarly-sized medium eggs. 

Be sure to use a pot that leaves plenty of room around the eggs, because crowded eggs won't cook as quickly or evenly.

How to Cook Perfect Hard (or Soft) Boiled Eggs

4 Minute Eggs

The 4-minute egg will be just barely cooked. The white will still be a bit gelatinous, and the yolk will be virtually uncooked. You're going to want to serve this egg in an egg cup or on a piece of toast because the white won't have the structure or integrity to hold together.

Best for: Dippy eggs in egg cups or dropped eggs on toast

5 Minute Eggs

5-minute egg whites will be cooked through and the yolk will just be starting to cook, with the outer edges just beginning to firm up.

Best for: Those who prefer super soft-boiled eggs, can also be served in an egg cup

6 Minute Eggs

6-minutes eggs are my "jam" (pun intended!). The yolks are still wet, but just barely cooked, resulting in a wonderful "jammy" consistency.

Best for: peeled and eaten warm,  halved on a Nicoise salad or mashed on a piece of toast 

7 Minute Eggs

There's not a  lot of difference between a 6-minute egg and a 7-minute egg, but since I was cooking all these eggs, I wanted to show you the difference just one minute makes. 

If you're squarely in the soft-boiled egg camp, you'll have to experiment to see if you prefer closer to 6 minutes of cooking time or closer to 7 minutes.

Best for: peeled and eaten warm, for those who like a true soft-boiled egg

8 Minute Eggs

The yolk of an 8-minute egg will be almost nearly fully cooked, but not rock solid. I guess these would be considered "soft" hard boiled eggs. 

Best for: peeled and eaten warm or cold, or inside a Scotch egg

10 Minute Eggs

The 10-minute egg is definitely hard boiled with a fully cooked yolk and white.

Best for: Snacking, egg salad, pickled or deviled eggs or anyone who doesn't want any trace of runny-ness in their egg

12 Minute Eggs

If your eggs are a bit larger or you absolutely want to be sure they're fully cooked, you can let the eggs go for 12 minutes in the water. 

Best for: Snacking, egg salad, pickled or deviled eggs

20 Minute Eggs

If I'm cooking lots of eggs so they're more crowded in the pan, or cooking larger eggs like duck eggs, I will even let them go a full 20 minutes to be sure that they're completely cooked through. High altitudes might require a longer cooking time as well.

Best for: Larger eggs, or duck eggs, that need to be completely cooked for egg salad, pickled or deviled eggs

So no matter how you like your eggs cooked, now you know exactly how long to cook them for perfect hard (or soft) boiled eggs! 

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