We'll show you how to boil eggs so they turn out just the way you want them, whether you like them hard boiled or soft boiled.

By Vanessa Greaves and Allrecipes Editors
Updated January 21, 2021
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What's a perfect boiled egg? The whites are firm but not rubbery and the yolks are cooked but still creamy. We'll share a fool-proof method to boil eggs on the stovetop, including how long to boil eggs so the yolks are cooked the way you like. Stick around and we'll show you a couple more ways to cook eggs in the shell: in the oven and in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot.

Related: All About Eggs

Note: Very fresh eggs are delicious fried or scrambled, but older eggs are actually easier to peel. Your best bet for hard-boiled eggs that are easy to peel is to choose eggs you've had in the refrigerator for a week or two.

How to Boil Eggs on the Stovetop

There are two egg-related questions that come up all the time:

  1. What came first, the chicken or the egg?
  2. Do you start with boiling water or do you start with cold water when you boil eggs?

We recommend a 4-step method that starts with cold water. Why? Because this prevents overcooking the eggs. You'll never have to deal with dry, chalky, overcooked eggs with weirdly greenish yolks again. Nothing but beautiful bright yellow yolks and amazing texture for you! So good, you'll want to eat them with just a sprinkle of salt.

Four Steps to Perfect Hard Boiled or Soft Boiled Eggs:

1. Place eggs in a saucepan or pot and cover with cold water.

Eggs first, then water. Why? Because if you put the eggs in afterward, they might crack as they fall to the bottom of the pan. It's no fun to learn this the hard way.

2. Put pan over high heat and bring water to a rolling boil. Remove pan from heat and cover.

How long does it take to boil an egg? Well, actually, you want the water to come just to a boil but not stay there. Eggs exposed to high heat for a long time go through a chemical reaction that turns the yolks green. So the answer to "How long do you boil hard boiled eggs?" is: pretty much not at all. Because the eggs cook in water that's not actually boiling, some people use the term "hard-cooked" instead of "hard-boiled" eggs.

3. Let the eggs stand in the hot water for 4 to 12 minutes, depending on how firm or set you want the yolks to be.

Why the time range? The longer the eggs sit in hot water the more cooked the yolk will be: figure less time for soft boiled eggs and longer time for hard boiled eggs. Use these time guidelines for large eggs:

boiled eggs at different cook times from 2 minutes to 15 minutes
Credit: 13-smile/Getty Images
  • 2 to 4 minutes for very soft, runny yolks. Whites might be slightly soft or runny, too.
  • 6 to 8 minutes for soft but set yolks. Whites will be firm.
  • 10 to 15 minutes for fully set, evenly cooked yolks and whites.

Smaller eggs will need less time and extra-large or jumbo eggs will need more time.

4. Drain eggs immediately and put in a bowl filled with water and ice cubes.

Why ice water? It cools the eggs down and prevents the green yolk problem. (Chilled water isn't cold enough — you want cold water with lots of ice cubes floating in it.) If you're planning to peel the eggs, crack them slightly before putting them in the ice water and let them sit for an hour for maximum ease of peeling.

How to Hard Cook Eggs in the Oven

This method is just a bit unorthodox. It requires zero water — which, technically makes this method more hard-baking than hard-boiling. But stay with us here. Oven-baked "hard-boiled" eggs are just eggs heated up in a hot, dry oven. It's a smart move when you're making loads of eggs or stovetop space is at a premium. Tip: Use a muffin tin to keep the eggs from rolling about in the oven. Here's the technique in action:

How to Cook Hard Boiled Eggs in the Pressure Cooker

Here's the best way to hard boil fresh eggs. Fresh eggs are notoriously hard to peel. But this pressure cooker method makes it easy. Allrecipes home cook Gremolata, who submitted the recipes, says: "If you happen to raise your own chickens or have access to really fresh eggs, a pressure cooker is the best way to make hard-cooked eggs. It doesn't really save time (the pressure cooker's usual claim to fame), but it actually makes fresh eggs easy to peel!"

Ways to Use Boiled Eggs

And here's a cheat sheet full of tasty tricks for enjoying hard-boiled eggs sliced into soups, layered into sandwiches, blended into salad dressing, paired up with potatoes, and perfectly pickled!

5 ways to use hard boiled eggs

Store any remaining hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator in a covered container — the lid prevents odors from getting out into the fridge.

How to Store Hard Boiled Eggs

Store hard boiled eggs in their shell in the fridge for up to one week. The shell will help prevent the cooked white from absorbing fridge smells.

If you've already peeled the hard boiled eggs, you can store them in an air-tight container with a damp paper towel for up to one week. Refresh the damp towel daily.

How Long Do Hard Boiled Eggs Last in the Fridge?

Stored properly in the refrigerator, you can keep hard boiled eggs for one week — 7 days. For best results, keep your boiled eggs in their shells until you're ready to eat them.

Discover more egg info, including nutrition and safety tips, additional cooking methods, egg recipes, and more.