Help! How Long Do I Boil My Eggs?

Nail the timing.

January 27, 2022
Photo by Rocky Luten

It’s 7 a.m. I’m half-asleep and my hair is in total disarray. I turn on the lights in my kitchen to the softest setting possible because I wish I was still sleeping. I brew a pot of coffee, pour it into my mug, add three sugars, and take a long, slow sip while Hoda Kotb begins to tell me about the latest headlines. After consuming enough coffee and gloomy news, I begin to think about what to cook for breakfast, which, like many Americans, is eggs. But when the sun has barely come up, the last thing I want to think about is how long to boil the eggs for my breakfast sandwich. To save you (and me) some early morning mental math, I created what I think is a pretty handy guide for everything from soft-boiled eggs to perfect hard-boiled eggs.

How to Boil Eggs

Regardless of how soft or runny you like your eggs to be, we prescribe the same method for cooking eggs: Fill a small pot with cold water and bring it to a boil. As soon as it’s boiling, gently add the eggs and cover the pot. Immediately turn off the heat and set a timer for the allotted amount of time (we’ll get to that in a bit). As soon as the timer goes off, shake yourself awake (because if you’re like me, you probably already fell back asleep on the couch) and, using a slotted spoon, remove the eggs from the pot and transfer them to a bowl of ice water. Did I forget to mention that? Sorry, I fell asleep. Yes, you need a bowl of ice water too. This trick will not only immediately stop the cooking process, but will also make it easier to peel the eggs. Who wants to burn their fingers on hot eggshells before Al Roker has even uttered the words, “here’s what’s happening in your neck of the woods?"

Soft Boiled Egg

Runny yolk lovers, this one’s for you. When you want a jammy egg to top a grain bowl or English muffin with slices of thick-cut bacon, this is for you. Follow our previous instructions for boiling eggs and cook them for 3 to 4 minutes.

Medium-Hard Egg

This is the goldilocks of eggs—not too runny, not too hard. A medium-hard egg has a yolk that is generally pretty solid around the edges with a center that is still a little runny. If this is the type of egg that you want to eat during the morning weather report, cook them for 6 to 7 minutes before transferring to a bowl of ice water.

Hard-Boiled Egg

This is the classic boiled egg. This is the egg you’ll make for a quick protein-packed snack, for the base of egg salad, or the type of egg you need to make creamy deviled eggs. For true hard-boiled eggs, cook fresh eggs for 10 to 12 minutes.

Which type of boiled egg do you prefer? Share your cooking tips in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Susanna
  • Karen Henley
    Karen Henley
  • Key
  • Jenny A
    Jenny A
  • Melanie Askew
    Melanie Askew
Former Food52 Staff Editor


Susanna February 3, 2022
Wow. My experience has been very different from this. Even though I don’t turn off the water after adding the eggs, I find that I need to cook at least five minutes for a soft-boiled egg. A jammy egg that’s still a bit runny takes 7. I don’t make hard-boiled as often so I can’t comment on that.
Karen H. February 3, 2022
I also live at over 7.000 feet and I find that I cook hard boiled eggs this method, but go to 13 minutes then off heat for another 1 minute, then into the ice bath. High altitude definitely requires longer cooking (I also find with rice and pasta - a few extra minutes).
Key February 3, 2022
Once I started steaming eggs I never looked back. Always perfect, never a green ring around the yolk.
Jenny A. February 3, 2022
Great link!
Jenny A. February 3, 2022
Starting with cold water makes the shells stick. I couldn’t figure out why, with ice water and all, the eggs wouldn’t peel well, and especially since Cook’s Illustrated recommended that method 10 years ago along with other chefs. I read that steaming eggs is best because it’s constant heat and the high heat results in the whites not sticking to the shells. 13 minutes of steaming, then ice water and it’s the perfect egg. Yes, buy a steamer insert for your pan, it’s worth it.
Melanie A. January 30, 2022
I live at over 7,000 foot elevation and I think my times are much different than this. 3 minutes where I am is basically a raw egg.
ghainskom January 28, 2022
Any difference if the eggs are coming out of the fridge?