Boiled eggs are an inexpensive and delicious way to add high-quality protein and a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to your diet (1).

Eggs are as versatile as they are nutritious, and many home chefs consider knowing how to boil them an essential part of their skill set.

Whether your sights are set on a hard-boil or you prefer a soft, runny yolk, the secret to mastering the art of egg boiling is timing.

This article explains how long you should boil eggs for them to turn out perfectly every time.

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When it comes to boiling eggs, the optimal cooking time primarily depends on your taste preferences and what you’re planning to use them for.

For instance, a fully cooked, hard-boiled egg is ideal as an on-the-go snack or in egg salad. On the contrary, a boiled egg with a soft, jammy yolk is a perfect way to garnish a slice of toast, crunchy salad, or bowl of homemade ramen.

Regardless of your desired result, start by filling a large pot with enough water to cover the eggs completely. There’s no limit to how many eggs you can boil at once, as long as each one is fully submerged in water while cooking.

Next, bring the water to full boil, and then reduce the heat so the water is just simmering. Carefully place your eggs into the water and increase the heat to bring the water back to a slow, rolling boil.

Make sure the water doesn’t bubble too vigorously, as doing so will reduce the risk of the shells cracking.

Use the following guide to decide how long to boil your eggs:

  • 7 minutes. This length allows for a soft, runny yolk and firm white.
  • 8 minutes. The yolk is jammy and soft but not liquid.
  • 10 minutes. The eggs are mostly cooked through but slightly soft in the center.
  • 12–13 minutes. This amount of time will result in fully hard-boiled eggs that are not over-cooked.

Note that these suggested cooking times apply to standard, large eggs. Smaller ones will cook quicker while larger ones will need extra time.

After cooking, immediately transfer the eggs to an ice bath to halt the cooking process. Although an over-cooked egg isn’t dangerous to eat, it may have an undesirable rubbery and tough texture.

Summary

The boiling time depends on your desired outcome. Add eggs to boiling water and boil them for approximately 7–13 minutes. Choose a shorter cooking time for a softer yolk.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, you can achieve the same taste and quality of boiled eggs without boiling them at all.

Steaming

If you don’t like waiting for a pot of water to boil but still want to enjoy a hard-boiled egg, you’re in luck. Steaming whole eggs is a great way to achieve the same taste and quality of a boiled egg using much less water.

Simply fill a pot with 1–2 inches of water, then insert a steamer basket and heat the water until it boils. Carefully place your eggs in the basket, cover the pot, and steam them for 5–6 minutes for a soft-boiled egg and about 12 minutes for a hard-boiled one.

Similarly to when you boil eggs, promptly cool them under cold running water or place them in an ice bath to stop the cooking process once they’re ready.

Pressure-cooking

Part of the appeal of pressure cooking is how it simplifies some arduous culinary tasks — and boiling eggs is no exception.

Simply add 1 cup of water to your pressure cooker and insert a steamer basket. Place up to 12 eggs into the basket, depending on the size of your cooker, and secure the lid.

For soft-boiled eggs, cook on the low-pressure setting for 2–4 minutes, depending on how soft you like the yolk. For hard-boiled eggs, increase the cooking time to 7–8 minutes.

When your timer goes off, manually release the pressure valve on the lid and allow all the steam to escape. Carefully open the lid and place the eggs into an ice bath or cool them under cold running water.

Note that this method is intended for electric pressure cookers and might require some experimentation. The cooking time may need to be adjusted depending on the model of the pressure cooker and how many eggs you cook at one time.

Baking

Baking is another foolproof method for achieving a perfect boiled egg — and it requires no water at all.

First, preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Then, place one whole egg into each cup of a muffin pan.

For a soft, runny yolk, bake for about 22 minutes, and for a firm hard boil, bake for 30 minutes. Submerge the eggs in an ice bath promptly after baking to stop the cooking process.

Summary

You can achieve the result of a boiled egg by using various cooking methods, including steaming, pressure cooking, and baking.

Due to changes in atmospheric pressure, water boils at a lower temperature at higher altitudes than it does at sea level. This means that boiling eggs in a high-altitude region may require an increased cooking time (2).

A general rule of thumb is that if you live at or above 3,000 feet (915 meters), increase the cooking time by about 1 minute for each additional 1,000 feet (305 meters) in elevation (3).

For example, if you live at an altitude of 5,000 feet (1,525 meters) and want to make a soft-boiled egg, increase the boiling time from 7 minutes to 9 minutes.

Summary

Higher altitudes call for longer boiling times. If you live at or above 3,000 feet (915 meters), increase the cooking time by 1 minute for each additional 1,000-foot (305-meter) increase in elevation.

Boiled eggs are a tasty and nutritious staple to have on hand, but the boiling time varies depending on the desired outcome.

For a soft yolk, boil large eggs for about 7 minutes. For a classic hard-boil, cook them for up to 13 minutes. Keep in mind that smaller eggs cook faster and that you may need to cook for longer at higher altitudes due to changes in atmospheric pressure.

If boiling isn’t your preferred method of cooking, you can also try baking, steaming, or pressure cooking whole eggs for the same result.