How to Make Hard Boiled Eggs: Two Ways

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Learn how to make perfect hard-boiled eggs that yield creamy centers and easy to peel shells. Stovetop boiling and steaming techniques ensure reliable results. A quick protein-packed breakfast or snack, serve with salads, soups or sandwiches.

Hard boiled eggs on a white plate with one sliced open showing the yellow center

Learning how to hard boil eggs should be a simple task, but there’s a lot of science that goes into the method. Every step influences the end product, from the egg age, the water temperature, cook time, and how quickly the eggs chill.

After some intense testing and lots of research, I found two reliable techniques that have firm whites and creamy yellow centers.

How to make hard boiled eggs

Boil an egg, –no problem, right? Wrong! Unfortunately, I’ve had many frustrating hard boiled egg blunders in the past because I didn’t have the proper techniques figured out.

After some egg-citing (hehe) testing I have two foolproof methods to share with you that will prevent clinging eggshells on the surface, and a center that’s not undercooked or with an unattractive olive green ring (what’s that all about?).

Open carton of brown eggs

Egg selection

Size: I always use large eggs in my cooking, so all of the testing and recipes are for that size. If cooking smaller or larger eggs, the cook time will need to be slightly adjusted.

Age: Typically fresh eggs, directly from a farmers market or a backyard chicken coup, are prone to more of the shell sticking to the surface after cooking. You’ll want to age fresh eggs a few weeks. The problem is due to the alkaline nature of the egg white which over time increases and helps the egg proteins bond together instead of with the shell membrane.

The eggs you buy in the grocery store have usually been in transit for a few weeks before the consumer picks them up, so no need to age store-bought eggs.

Temperature tips

  1. Use cold eggs straight from the refrigerator,
  2. Cook them in high heat by either boiling, steaming or pressure cooking.
  3. Chill the eggs right away before peeling.

Cold vs. hot water

I admit I used to cook hard boiled eggs in a cold pot of water to start, and now I understand why those eggs were always hard to peel. The solution is to start with boiling water to encourage the outer egg white proteins to cook quickly, shrinking as they bond together, so there is less chance for the proteins to bond with the shell membrane.

This technique also helps to reduce the chances of craters when peeling. You want the yellow yolk for deviled eggs to look gorgeous and smooth!

The boiling method

  1. Add enough water to a pot so that when the eggs are added, they’ll be submerged with 1-inch of water above them.
  2. Bring the water to a low boil at about 200ºF (93ºC), and then add the chilled eggs.
  3. Keep the water boiling for 30 seconds so it can get back up to temperature, and set the whites of the eggs to prevent sticking later.
  4. Place a lid on top and turn the heat down to low. Allow simmering for 12 minutes.
  5. Removing from the heat, immediately submerge the eggs in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes to cool.

Four brown eggs in a pot of boiling water

Metal tongs removing a brown egg from a boiling pot of water

The steaming method

  1. Add 1-inch of water to a pot, place steam basket insert on top. Cover with lid and bring water to a boil.
  2. Once steamed has been generated, add in the eggs.
  3. Cover and cook for 13 minutes.
  4. Immediately add the steamed eggs to an ice water bath for 15 minutes.

Four brown eggs on a red silicone steamer basket

Condensation build up on a glass cover of a pot steaming eggs

Cool immediately after cooking

Wooden spoon holding a brown egg about to be placed in an ice bath

Chilling the eggs, no matter what method used is critical for halting the cooking process happening inside the egg. I recommend preparing 1-part ice to 1-part cold water bath as the eggs are cooking.

I use 4 cups ice with 4 cups water, for every 6 eggs. If making a larger batch increase the water bath size so it stays cold. Allow the eggs to chill until thoroughly cooled. The longer it chills, even overnight, the easier it will be to peel.

Peeling eggs

Hands peeling a hard boiled egg over a white plate

Once the eggs have cooled, tap on a hard surface to gently crack the more substantial bottom part and then around the rest of the surface before peeling. You can also peel the eggs under running water to help remove the shell pieces and clean them as you go.

Now that you’ve learned how to hard boil eggs –give both methods a try! You may have to adjust a minute before or after for cook time, but experiment and see what works best for your set up.

hard boiled eggs sliced open showing the yellow yolks

Will it always have blemish-free surfaces? Most likely not, but the chances for success are much higher with these hot-start methods. Egg salad sandwiches are still a tasty backup plan if the surfaces are less than perfect!

More egg recipes

Why a hot start and chilling is crucial

A hot start when cooking eggs allows the proteins in the white part to denature (cook), bond together, and shrink, preventing sticking to the membrane connected to the shell. However, cooling the eggs right away in ice water stops the cooking process, preventing overcooking, and firms the egg white structure so it’s easier to peel.

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How To Make Hard Boiled Eggs: Two Ways

Learn how to make hard boiled eggs with two methods that yield creamy centers and easy to peel shells. Stovetop boiling and steaming techniques ensure reliable results. A quick protein packed breakfast or snack, serve with salads, soups or sandwiches.
Pin Print Review
4.5 from 8 votes
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time12 mins
Total Time32 mins
Servings 6 servings
Course Breakfast, Side
Cuisine American

Ingredients

Hard Boiled Eggs (Boiled)

  • 6 large eggs, cold
  • 4 cups ice cubes
  • 4 cups cold water

Hard Boiled Eggs (Steamed)

  • 6 large eggs, cold
  • 4 cups ice cubes
  • 4 cups water

Instructions 

Hard Boiled Eggs (Boiled)

  • Fill a large pot with enough to cover the eggs by 1-inch once added.
  • Bring water to a low boil around 200°F (93°C) and then carefully place eggs in the hot water.
  • Boil the eggs for 30 seconds, place the lid on the pot and reduce heat to low.
  • Cook eggs on a low simmer for 12 minutes.
  • In a medium-sized bowl add 4 cups ice and 4 cups water to make an ice bath.
  • Once the eggs are done cooking immediately transfer them to the ice bath to chill for 15 minutes.
  • Gently crack the sides and bottom of the egg shell and peel. Run under cool water to remove any excess shells.

Hard Boiled Eggs (Steamed)

  • In a large pot add 1-inch of water.
  • Place steamer inside the pot, place cover on, and bring water to a boil.
  • Once steam is formed, carefully use tongs to place the eggs in the steamer basket.
  • Cover the pot and steam eggs for 13 minutes.
  • In a medium-sized bowl add 4 cups ice and 4 cups water to make an ice bath.
  • Once the eggs are done cooking immediately add them to the ice bath and chill for 15 minutes.
  • Gently crack the sides and bottom of the egg shell and peel. Run under cool water to remove any excess shells.

Notes

  • Eggs can be left in their shell and refrigerated up to 5 days.
  • Peeled eggs can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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Nutrition Facts
How To Make Hard Boiled Eggs: Two Ways
Amount Per Serving
Calories 60 Calories from Fat 36
% Daily Value*
Fat 4g6%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 175mg58%
Sodium 68mg3%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 300IU6%
Calcium 20mg2%
Iron 0.7mg4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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16 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Theresa Maday says

    I’ve been frustrated by peeling off most of the egg white with the shell to the point of just scrambling them. This tutorial really worked!! Thank you.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yay!!! So happy to hear that you were able to peel the eggs, that can be so frustrating! Glad I could help 🙂

  2. Codi says

    I have tried several methods I have found on the internet and this boiling method has by far been the most successful for me!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Susan- I’ve experienced that too! Most often because the water is too hot and the change from cold to boiling shocks the eggshell. I heat it just below boiling, about 200ºdegrees F. Also I’ve noticed that whites eggs are most susceptible to cracking than brown eggs. They are a bit thinner so they are more fragile.

  3. BfloGal says

    I have tried many “foolproof” methods for hard cooking eggs, and your steaming method wins hands-down. Requiring just 1” of water, it saves energy and time. I load the eggs into the basket of my pasta pot and lower them in when the water boils. I can count on deviled egg-worthy results. Thank you!

  4. Michele Wulf says

    I’ve been trying the steaming method a few times with disappointing results. This may seem like a silly question but once the water boils and you put the eggs in the steamer do you keep the water boiling or do you turn it down to a simmer or somewhere in between?
    Thank you.

  5. Elizabeth Nusser says

    This recipe is life changing! I have been sharing it with my clients and followers! (giving you the full credit, of course! ha!) Thank you so much for sharing your secret!

  6. Mitch Jones says

    Yeah–fire, then ice! Works every time, but I find you have to chill them immediately. I’ve used steam at 14 minutes for three years and still get that giddy feeling when the shell slips in one piece. I crack them on the round end at the air cell, then gently knead under water so it works under the shell membrane. A gentle squeeze and the egg pops out dressed for the Prom.

  7. Dave says

    Nice article. I must try.

    I’ve been using the instant pot with the trivet, 2 cups water. Elevation: 2,000 feet. From room temperature: 4 minutes on high, natural release for 3 minutes, ice bath 15 minutes, peel. I’ve successfully done this with 18 eggs at once. No soft yolks, no green sulfur ring. Any longer and you’ll get the ring.

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