June 13, 2022

Hard-Boiled Eggs

I have read many instructions for making hard-boiled eggs. Any method that works for you is fine, of course. Most importantly, your technique should produce eggs cooked perfectly. The eggs should be thoroughly cooked but not overcooked, which is usually indicated by a green ring around the yolk. An ideal procedure should be

  1. Easy
  2. Fast
  3. Effective
  4. Reproducible
  5. Scalable (works for one egg or many)
  6. Yields easily peeled eggs
  7. Offers easy cleanup

I’m not sure my technique checks off all these desiderata—it involves two pans and a cover—but it does the job well and predictably.

My procedure is as follows:

  1. Begin with eggs at room temperature. This is perhaps the least attractive step, as it requires some forethought.
  2. Boil water in a saucepan.
  3. Place the eggs in a steamer insert. Place the insert over the saucepan and cover.
  4. Maintain the water at a boil.
  5. Remove the steamer after exactly 13 minutes, and plunge it into cold water to stop cooking.

If you don’t have time to bring the eggs to room temperature, omit the first step and cook the eggs for about 14½ minutes. (This is a bit of a guess, as I haven’t determined the number experimentally.)

In general, my timings may depend somewhat on the equipment used and your elevation. At higher elevations, your cooking may need to be longer. The equipment I use is shown below.

Saucepan, steamer insert, and cover
Saucepan, steamer insert, and cover

I have always peeled hard-boiled eggs by first tapping the top and bottom of the egg on the counter to crack the shell. I then peel away the shell under running water. This works, though not especially well.

The other day, I accidentally discovered a better technique. I take a cold hard-boiled egg and place it on the counter. I then roll it back and forth under the palm of my hand. This results in the shell being cracked all over, after which it is easily removed from the egg. Be sure that no small fragments of shell remain on the egg.

This technique works really well. Give it a try.

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