Boiling the Perfect Egg


It’s the simplest, yet most vexing everyday challenges of the typical household. Not just that, nearly every basic cookbook offers contradicting methods on how it should be done. Some say you should gently lower it into a boiling water, you should start the egg in cold water, add vinegar to the water to lower its pH, add baking soda to raise it, don’t cover the pot, cover the pot, settle for new eggs, use old eggs, and so on and so forth. Although, have you ever wondered why there aren’t any explanations why these techniques should work? Apparently, boiling the perfect egg is not an “eggs-act” science.

Usual Factors When Boiling Eggs

First and foremost, let’s clarify some of the most common beliefs when it comes to boiling the perfect eggs.

Age of Eggs

“Fresh eggs are for frying, while old eggs as for boiling,” is an old wives’ tale, although it could be factual to a certain degree.

To those who had fresh-from hen eggs, they would tell you that it does fry up beautifully (tall yolks and tight egg whites). However, boiled fresh eggs would be difficult to peel as the inner membrane of the shell often sticks to the white, resulting in a pockmarked appearance. Nevertheless, the eggs in the supermarket could be a month old before they even hit the shelf, so this point isn’t really valid. Unless you own chickens and you use their eggs, forget about this myth.

pH of the Water

Acidic liquid could dissolve the shell of an egg over time, while alkaline liquid could make eggs easier to peel and enhance the “rotten egg” aroma. However, the short period that an eggs boil, pH has nothing to do with how the eggs cook. No need to bother adding baking soda nor vinegar; using tap water would be better.

Lid Off, or On?

It doesn’t matter! The only effect it has is the heat retention and the boiling point of the water. Eggs are usually cooked below a boil, that’s why it’s suggested to remove the lid. Apparently, the only factors that would really affect the eggs are temperature and time.

Boiling The Perfect Soft Boiled Eggs

  1. Use 12 cups of water for 1-6 large eggs.
  2. For soft boiled eggs, begin by simmering water in a medium-sized pot. The heat should be reduced until the water is just barely quivering. Then, gently lower your eggs into the water using a strainer, or a slotted spoon. NEVER drop the eggs into the water or it’ll crack.
  3. Cooking should be done for 6 minutes. Remove the eggs with a strainer and serve.
  4. For best results, you should heat water to 180 degrees F (use an instant thermometer for this). After totting up the eggs, gradually adjust the heat to maintain the 180 degrees F temperature while cooking. In case you don’t have a thermometer, just keep the water at the earliest simmer stage (tiny bubbles just cracking the surface).

Boiling The Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs

  1. Use 6 cups of cool water for 1-6 large eggs.
  2. Place eggs and water in a sauce pot or casserole.
  3. This should be placed over high heat, and bring to a bare simmer. A “bare simmer” is 180-190 degrees F at sea level. For optimum results, use an instant-read thermometer. However, if you don’t own one, just bring the water to a stage where the tiny bubbles are breaking the surface constantly, then shut it off.
  4. Then, immediately turn the heat to the lowest setting. Cover and wait for at least 10 minutes.

Boiling The Perfect Eggs Using A Rice Cooker

It’s possible to boil an egg using a rice cooker. It’s the unorthodox method, but could be quite handy to those who are forever busy and can’t keep an eye on their boiling eggs.

  1. Just add enough tap water to cover the eggs and turn on the rice cooker.
  2. The heat of the rice cooker, as well as the water will steam the eggs. By the time the rice cooker cycle is done, you’ll be greeted by perfect hard boiled eggs.

Additional Tip

In case that you’re going to consume your eggs right away, crack them gently and put them in an ice bath first. This will make the peeling easier.