Food Preparation: How To Boil An Egg

A guide to four fool proof methods for how to prepare a perfect soft or hard boiled egg for breakfast or a snack.

You wouldn't think that the fairly easy question of how to boil an egg could yield so many different answers. When I began querying cooks for this article, however, it soon became apparent that everyone has their own "fool proof" recipes that have been handed down through the generations. Accordingly, I have given four of the most popular methods equal space and invite you to experiment until you find the one which works best for you. It should be noted that there are only two variables which will impact the cooking time of the eggs. Specifically, (1) smaller eggs cook faster than large eggs and (2) higher elevations (5000+ miles above sea level) call for double the amount of cooking time involved.

Method No. 1

Fill a medium sized saucepan with cold water and submerge the eggs so that they are an inch below the surface. Turn on the heat until the water in the pan comes to a full boil. Reduce the heat to your stove's lowest setting and allow the eggs to simmer. If you are making soft boiled eggs for your breakfast, this will only take 3 minutes. If you are making hard-boiled eggs, they should simmer for 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggs to a bowl and allow them to cool naturally. If you need to rush things, pour cold water over them.

Method No. 2

Start boiling a saucepan of water. Using a pin, prick a tiny hole in the rounded part of each egg that you are going to cook. This mini-ventilation strategy will keep the egg from cracking and the egg whites from oozing out once it goes into the water. This is especially important if your eggs are coming out of a cold refrigerator as opposed to being room temperature. The water should be boiling by now. Using a large spoon, gently lower each egg into the water so that it is completely covered. Never drop them in as they could easily break upon impact. The actual timing for soft or hard cooked eggs will commence after the water returns to a full boil. Remove them from the heat, cover, and let them stand for 5-20 minutes depending on how soft or hard you want your eggs to be.

Method No. 3

Peel off the dry, outer skin of a yellow onion and place it in the bottom of the saucepan. Nestle the eggs on top of the onion skin. Fill the pan with cold water. Make sure that none of the eggs are touching sides in the pan. Bring the water to a full boil. As soon as it is boiling, remove the saucepan from the heat, cover it with a tight fitting lid, and set it aside for a minimum of 30 minutes. At that time, the water can then be drained and the eggs eaten immediately or you can put them in the refrigerator for later use. The rational of the onion skin is that it lightly tints the cooked eggs a pleasant yellow, enabling you to differentiate the hard-boiled ones from those which are uncooked.

Method No. 4

Set out the number of eggs that you plan to use and allow them to reach room temperature prior to preparation. Fill a saucepan with cold water plus one tablespoon of household salt. Submerge each of the eggs in water (make sure they are completely covered) and allow them to cook for 20 minutes over medium heat. If you are doing soft-cooked eggs, remove them after 3-5 minutes and immediately serve. If you are doing hard-boiled eggs, transfer the eggs into a bowl of cold water to which you have also added a handful of ice cubes.

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