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Added: September 10, 2019
We Tried 7 Ways to Hard-Boil Eggs and Found a Clear Winner
Hard-boiled eggs are one of those kitchen staples I always have in the fridge. They’re great for out-of-hand snacking, they instantly add a protein boost to salads, they form the basis of a super-speedy breakfast, and — with just a little extra effort — they become deviled eggs, the perfect cocktail snack.
If you go online to find the best way to hard-boil eggs, you’ll find umpteen different methods, all purporting to be the best (many of which don’t even involve boiling). Some claim to produce tender whites and moist yolks. Others allege that they make the eggs easier to peel. To see which methods work and which ones don’t, I set about testing seven of the most well-known techniques from popular websites against each other — tasting and peeling them side by side.
(Image Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman, Design: Kitchn)
A Few Notes About Methodology
Eggs: For consistency, I made sure to perform all the tests with the same brand of egg (Vital Farms), all purchased together and all with the same expiration date. They were pretty fresh, which I knew would make peeling trickier from the start (older eggs are easier to peel). I tested each batch with a half-dozen large eggs.
Temperature: Some of the cooking methods did not specify what temperature the eggs should be at when you begin cooking, but a few said to use eggs straight from the fridge. So I went with refrigerator-cold eggs with every method.
Peeling method: For all but one test (which gave different instructions), I approached peeling the eggs the same way: I cracked each egg all over, and rolled it on the counter while applying gentle pressure with my palm. Then, I started peeling from the fat end, where the air pocket is, and worked toward the slightly pointy end. For the one test that gave instructions for peeling, I followed those instead.
Time: The time indicated is for everything from start to finish — bringing water to a boil, preheating the oven, cooling eggs in an ice water bath, and peeling.
I was delighted to find that most methods worked quite well. A couple gave less-than-stellar results, and some received higher ratings from me because they produced great eggs with less effort.
I rated each method on a scale of 10, with one being the worst, and 10 being the best. While a few scored very well, only one method scored a 10 out of 10. Here are the results of my testing.(Image Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn)
Method: Bake in a Muffin Tin
Total Time: 52 minutes
About This Method: I used the instructions offered on Food Network’s The Kitchen (ahem, no relation). The claim is that this way of making hard-”boiled” eggs is good for large batches and doesn’t require much attention. (We also reviewed this technique a few years ago.) You simply place one whole egg in each cup of a muffin tin and bake in a preheated oven at 325°F for 30 minutes, then cool in an ice water bath and peel. (Image Credit: Ann Taylor Pittman)
In terms of peeling, I had mixed results. Some eggs peeled easily, while the shell seemed glued on to others. None peeled completely cleanly. As I peeled, I noticed that on some, the air pocket had shifted from where it usually is (the fatter “bottom” part of the egg) to the side, which made it hard to know where to start peeling. Once the eggs were peeled, I saw that each had one or two small scorch marks, most likely from where the shell touched the pan. This did not affect the flavor but was unsightly. As for the texture, the yolks were well-cooked without being dry. The whites, however, were very firm, even a little rubbery.
My Takeaways: This method took the longest from start to finish than any other, and the results were undesirable—the whites were overcooked, and the eggs didn’t peel cleanly. As for the idea that this method is good for large batches of eggs, that’s only if you have plenty of muffin tins lying around. I wouldn’t use this method again.
Rating: 5/10(Image Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn)
Method: Bring to a Boil, Then Remove from Heat
About This Method: This is the method I learned when I first started cooking, and it’s one we’ve touted here: Start eggs in cold water, bring to a boil, then cover and remove from heat for 11 to 12 minutes (I went 11 minutes) before placing in an ice bath and peeling. For testing purposes, I used the straightforward instructions from Martha Stewart.
Total Time: 26 minutes(Image Credit: Ann Taylor Pittman)
The eggs were nicely cooked. The yolks were firm and floury (good for deviled eggs) and the whites tender but firm. However, the shells stuck pretty badly on all of the eggs. I could only chip away a little at a time, often taking good chunks of egg white with the shell. Needless to say, the peeled eggs were not beautiful.
My Takeaways: Although this technique was pretty quick and yielded nicely cooked eggs, I would not use it again because the eggs were so difficult to peel.
Rating: 6/10(Image Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn)
About This Method: I used the technique (and helpful accompanying video) fromFine Cooking for this test. Here, as in the previous method, the eggs start in cold water. The water is brought to just a “brisk simmer” (the video clarified what this looks like), and the heat is adjusted to maintain that brisk simmer for eight minutes. Instead of going into an ice water bath, the eggs are rinsed under cool water for a few minutes.
Total Time: 30 minutes(Image Credit: Ann Taylor Pittman)
The eggs were a little hard to peel. I took some good chunks of white out as I worked to remove the shells. But they were nicely cooked, with firm whites that offered a little snap, but were not rubbery. The yolks were firm and very moist.
My Takeaways: Maintaining that brisk simmer was very tricky. I kept having to adjust the heat up or down, so this method involved a lot of babysitting. Although the eggs had a nice texture, they did not peel cleanly.
Rating: 7/10(Image Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn)
Method: Pressure Cook
About This Method: I went with Alton Brown’s technique for this method, for two reasons. First, I liked that he gave detailed instructions for using either a stovetop pressure cooker or an electric one (I went with my Instant Pot). Second, I was intrigued by his statement that this method made for “the easiest peeling [he’s] ever experienced.” The instructions are straightforward: You simply place the eggs on the steamer rack in the pot, add a cup of water, close the lid, and set to cook on low pressure for six minutes. You then immediately release pressure and chill the eggs in an ice bath for five to 20 minutes (I went for 15) before peeling.
Total Time: 32 minutes(Image Credit: Ann Taylor PIttman)
The eggs were indeed a breeze to peel; the shells slipped off with little effort, and the peeled eggs were lovely. The yolks were firm but moist, and the whites were firm with a little bit of snap.
My Takeaways: This is an easy, hands-off method — at least until it’s time to release pressure. If you cook in your Instant Pot a lot, you should definitely make this part of your weekend warrior routine. The eggs were wonderful, and if I hadn’t tasted the spectacular results of the eggs in the last three methods, I would have thought they were perfect. They’re very close!
Rating: 8/10(Image Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn)
About This Method: Following Bon Appetit’s method, you lower eggs into a large saucepan of boiling water, then adjust the heat to maintain a gentle boil for 10 minutes for an “ever-so-soft center to the yolk” (aka the jammy egg). The eggs then go briefly into an ice water bath before they’re peeled.
Total Time: 22 minutes(Image Credit: Ann Taylor Pittman)
The eggs were quite easy to peel, and the shelled eggs looked lovely, with no nicks or gouges. The whites cooked to a firm yet tender texture, and the yolks did indeed have that famous, deliciously jammy yolk — which I love for salads and snacking but might not be ideal for deviled eggs, where a drier yolk works better. (They mention that for completely firm yolks, you can just cook an additional minute.)
My Takeaways: This was the quickest method of all and one I would definitely use again. I loved the texture of these eggs, but maintaining that gentle boil requires constant supervision at the stove.
Rating: 9/10(Image Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn)
About This Method: America’s Test Kitchen claims that with this method, you can have “eggs so easy to peel that the shells practically fall off.” You start by boiling one inch of water in a large saucepan, then lowering in a steamer basket containing the eggs. You cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low, and steam for 13 minutes. Then you place the eggs in an ice water bath in a food storage container for 15 minutes. And this method contains its own peeling instructions: You then drain out half the water, close the lid, and shake the container vigorously 40 times before peeling the eggs.
Total Time: 38 minutes(Image Credit: Ann Taylor Pittman)
Between the steaming and those slightly odd (and very specific) instructions about shaking the container, the eggs were, as advertised, extremely easy to peel. With almost every egg, I was able to remove a perfect whole, intact spiral of shell. This was beyond satisfying. As for the texture, the whites were pleasantly firm and so were the yolks — somehow both crumbly and moist.
My Takeaways: I would absolutely use this method again and again — especially for deviled eggs, where I want both ease of peeling and a crumbly, easy-to-remove yolk.
Rating: 9/10(Image Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn)
Method: Boil Then Simmer
About This Method: In this Food Lab–tested approach from J. Kenji López-Alt, you bring a large pot (about three quarts) of water to a boil, lower in up to six eggs (I used six), boil for 30 seconds, and then cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 11 minutes. The eggs then go into an ice water bath for 15 minutes before peeling. The claim is that starting the eggs in hot water helps prevent the whites from sticking to the shell, thus making peeling easier.
Total Time: 35 minutes(Image Credit: Ann Taylor Pittman)
The eggs were definitely easy to peel. Starting at the fat end, I was able to pick away at the shell and by the time I got to the “nose” of each egg, the shell typically came off in one big, rounded piece. The yolks were firm and very slightly jammy. And the whites — oh my, the whites — were so tender that their texture was almost indistinguishable from the yolks.
My Takeaways: I was a little dubious about using 3 quarts of water for just 6 eggs, but López-Alt explains that this volume ensures that the timing and temperature are spot-on. And I’ll tell you,