How-to Hard Boil an Egg

Some of my friends reading this are going to think, “HUH?” But not everyone knows how to hard boil an egg. For those of us who do know how, we think it’s elementary, but for those who don’t it’s like graduating from university whilst still wearing diapers. No one took the time to teach them how. I suspect that these same people never read an instruction manual either.

I know someone, I love her to bits, who thought that an egg needed to boil for 20-30 minutes before it’s cooked. When I suggested that it needed far less time than that, this person asked other people they knew how long they cooked a hard boiled egg. Everyone thought that a half hour was bit long. On average, most people said 8-12 minutes. If the edges of the egg’s yolk take on a greenish tint, then you’ve over-cooked the egg. A properly hard boiled egg won’t have any hint of green around the yolk.

To put this in perspective, an ostrich egg is soft boiled after cooking 60 minutes. And believe it or not, an ostrich egg is so big that it won’t even fit in a stock pot. One weighs between 4 and 5 pounds, and it’s equivalent to 2 dozen large chicken eggs. So as you can see, cooking a hen’s egg for 30-minutes when it’s 1/24th the size of an ostrich egg that requires 60-minutes … well, that over-kill. Fortunately for us, it’s a lot easier to pull an egg out from under a hen than it is an ostrich. If we only had ostriches as a source of eggs, we’d never eat an egg and the length of time to cook one would be so ‘who gives a flying fig, and what’s an egg anyway?’ …

So let’s boil an egg …

How to hard boil an egg:

Fill a saucepan with a couple of inches of cold water, gently set the egg(s) in the cold water and then pour in enough additional cold water to cover the eggs by 1 inch. Turn the heat up to high on the cooker (stove), but do not put the lid on the pan. You want to see when the water comes to a bubbling boil. When that happens, you have two options for proceeding.


Option #1. Turn the heat down to a simmer (still no lid!), and set a timer for 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, remove the eggs from the pan with a slotted spoon and place them in a bowl containing ice water (cold water with a few ice cubes in it) for 10 minutes. Remove the eggs from the ice water, and gently tap the shell on the work surface (countertop) and with a very light and tender touch, roll the egg under the palm of your hand on the work surface to further separate the shell from the inner membrane. Don’t crush the poor ol’ egg under hand! Now submerge the egg again in the ice water for 5 minutes. This process will make peeling the egg very easy, even if it’s freshly laid.

Option #2. When the water boils, turn off the heat on the stove completely, clap a tight fitting lid on the pan, and set the timer for 12 minutes. Walk away and forget it until the timer goes off. Then proceed as above with the ice water bath for 10-minutes, roll on the work surface, back into the ice water, etc..


10 minute egg (left) has a pale bright yellow yolk and the white is tender.


20 minute egg (right) has a green-tinted yolk, and the white is stiff and rubbery.


13 Comments Add yours

  1. Joanna says:

    went for option 2 tonight, used cold tap water as had no ice. my Clarence court eggs responded well to the in and out, roll around method. I’ll remember that tip 🙂 The eggs stay warm don’t they? eggs and Madeira herrings, garden salad and new potato salad, beetroot and onion, and a sourdough foccacio baked with zaatar having a cultural identity crisis.

    1. MiskMask says:

      They won’t stay warm if you submerge them in ice water. I keep a plastic bag of ice cubes in the freezer, and keep topping them up as we use them, so I usually have at least 5-6 ice cubes for this purpose. It does work brilliantly, and the eggs will be nice and cold.

      Your dinner sound luscious. We had minced steak patties, French-style carrot salad (recipe here), green salad with lots of seeds and nuts scattered on top, new potatoes with parsley, and a baby loaf of fresh bread.

      What did you have for afters?

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      Thank you so much for the linkie thingy or the sling-back ping-back or whatever they call that.

  2. bagnidilucca says:

    I’ve tried option 2 and it works very well. Prior to trying it this way I had always used option 1. Both work, but I think 2 is better.

    1. MiskMask says:

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

      I tend to agree with you that option 2 produces a better result. The yolk stays a truer colour, in my opinion.

  3. heidi says:

    I came to see your method and discovered it was MY method as well! 🙂
    What a good idea to write up a tutorial! I thought everyone knew this- are they all out there eating green eggs and ham?
    Ice water comes in quite handy for egg and pastry making- my mother used to say,” if I meant cold water, then I would have said cold water- ice water is something altogether different!”
    Any way- thanks for the post!

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      My pleasure, Heidi! I often find that I need to toss a few more ice cubes into the bowl after dropping the hot eggs in there. Those cubes melt very quickly. So which method is yours: the 12-minute sit-in-the-pan-after-boiling method?

      1. heidi says:

        Yes, I should have said that- option 2- I was taught to let them sit for 20 minutes, but I never have a full 20 minutes- so I have generally pulled them from the hot water in about 12-15 minutes. And I usually only boil eggs that have been sitting in the fridge for a little while- really fresh eggs are fried or scrambled, or used in a recipe.

        1. Misk Cooks says:

          Hi Heidi! I boiled a few eggs for our salad at lunchtime today, and tried it with a 20-minute wait after they’d come to a boil. Oddly, I discovered that there’s no difference between waiting 20, 12 or 15 minutes. The colour and texture are identical. I wonder what happens when the eggs are left for 8 minutes? I think I’ll try that next time just to see. 😀

  4. Misk, thank you for this! We have backyard laid eggs, which means they’re always really fresh and therefore a right pain to peel! I will try your method. The only other way I’ve found which makes them easy to peel is to steam the eggs for 20 minutes – works a treat, and good for when I have lots of eggs to make, but a bit of a palaver when I’m boiling just one for an egg sandwich!

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      It’s not fool-proof, Celia. Boiled up 3 very (very!) fresh eggs yesterday, and 2 out 3 peeled cleanly. That one little dickens just turned into a big mess, so I ate it in-situ. I’ve not heard of steaming eggs but I’m intrigued by it. I have a stacking steamer; would that work OK for the purpose?

  5. life hack says:

    Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your next post thank
    you once again.

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