How to boil an egg perfectly

Learn how long to boil an egg for to achieve the perfect consistency, starting from soft to hard-boiled, then check out our ideas for super soldiers.

We used large hens' eggs dropped into boiling water. When done, scoop them out and into cold water (if you’re not eating them straight away) to prevent them cooking any further. 

How long to boil an egg: 

  • 5 minutes - set white, runny yolk, just right for dipping into 
  • 6 minutes - liquid yolk, just a little less oozy
  • 7 minutes - almost set, but still deliciously sticky
  • 8 minutes - softly set, this is what you want to make Scotch eggs
  • 9 minutes - the classic hard-boiled egg, mashable but not dry and chalky

Now that you've got beautifully boiled eggs, put them to good use with 10 sensational soldiers, or whip up one of our favourite recipes:

Scotch eggs
Winter tuna Niçoise
Ramen with chicken bone broth, pork shoulder, soft-boiled egg & greens
Salmon & egg wraps with mustard mayo
Curried egg mayo sandwich topper

Are you a dippy egg devotee, or a hard-boiled believer? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below...

Comments, questions and tips

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rambler241
9th Nov, 2016
I've been researching ways to boil eggs to perfection. I can already do that, but found a method involving large eggs, similar to this one, which gave cooking time for a soft-boiled egg as 2 1/2 minutes. That's impossible, I know, hence the research. One of the first hits was this page. A little further down is this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/techniques/how_to_boil_eggs where timing for a large, initially room-temperature egg is given as 4 minutes, some 1 1/2 minutes less than the advice here. Still too long, but at least it mentions that eggs straight from the fridge are likely to crack (though not how to prevent that). It also points out that eggs continue to cook after removal from the water, and should be plunged (wonderfully dramatic!) into cold water to prevent internal heat over-cooking the eggs. This page mentions neither, though both are vital for soft-boiled eggs. I simply drain the pan, top up with cold water, and drain after 20 seconds or so. I also know, as it's simple physics, that cooking time depends on the size of the pan, the depth of water over the eggs, and most important, how many eggs in the pan. If the ratio of water to eggs is too low, heat transfer will be lower, and the eggs will take longer to cook. However too much room in the pan and/or too vigorous a boil not just can, will crack eggs. Jamie Olivers page "How to boil perfect eggs" is a perfect contradiction. The handy graphic at the top of the page showing cooking times for soft to hard-boiled eggs (with cracking illustrations below the times) differs from the instructions in the text below by a full minute. Boiling eggs isn't a technique, it's a science in its own right. Oh - almost forgot - my time for a single large room-temperature egg in a small pan? 3 1/2 minutes. BTW never search for the best ways to cook rice - you'll need more than counselling afterwards. Been there, done that, worn the straightjacket.
jimatalveston
28th Dec, 2015
How to boil an egg without a timer by David Brown Here is an easy way to check if an egg is boiled to your satisfaction if you do not have a timer or you have not checked the start time. 1. Place the egg in the saucepan and bring to boil. 2. Roughly estimate the boiling time eg .three minutes and using a spoon, remove the egg from the saucepan. 3. Count the seconds it takes for the water on the surface of the egg to dry. ( One second is the time it takes to say one thousand ) 4. Using the table below ,check if your egg is ready. Drying time 2 seconds - hard boiled ". ". 3. ". - soft boiled. ". ". 4. ". - uncooked With practise the above the above works for all sizes of eggs including ducks. NB. If the egg is not drying quickly enough,put it back in pan for a little longer and repeat the drying time test.
catie74
25th Sep, 2015
I add eggs to cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 90 seconds. - perfect runny, yolk 9 minutes for a hard boiled egg? Yikes no thank you, way over cooked
Miss Tee
24th Sep, 2015
Are these timings for room temperature eggs or straight-from-the-fridge eggs?
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goodfoodteam
21st Mar, 2016
The timings are for eggs straight from the fridge. Take 30 seconds off the timings if using ones at room temperature.
tueb
19th Apr, 2015
What size eggs is this for? For duck eggs I'd add 1min to all those times, far richer yolks for a perfect 6min dipper. Shake your eggs first to centre the yolk.
Irene Romano
15th Aug, 2015
When I drop eggs into boiling water they invariably crack, even when at room temperature. What can I do to alleviate this?
goodfoodteam's picture
goodfoodteam
21st Mar, 2016
The reason eggs crack is because the rounded end of the egg contains a small bubble of air which expands as it heats up and puts pressure on the shell causing it to crack. So adding fridge cold eggs to boiling water is likely to crack them. You can stop it happening by making a small hole in the rounded end with an egg pricker which you can buy at a cook shop or online. Alternatively put the eggs in a pan of cold water then gently bring to the boil. Once boiling remove from the heat, cover the pan and leave for 5 mins for soft boiled, 7 mins for medium and 12 mins for hard boiled. These are timings for large eggs from the fridge. 
Piedpiper
8th Jan, 2016
To boil an egg, whether soft or hard boiled, you only need about 1 cm of water in the pan. No need to cover the egg with water, provided you use saucepan with lid. Let the steam do the work, and save energy and time. Try it and see!
jimatalveston
28th Dec, 2015
How to boil an egg without a timer by David Brown Here is an easy way to check if an egg is boiled to your satisfaction if you do not have a timer or you have not checked the start time. 1. Place the egg in the saucepan and bring to boil. 2. Roughly estimate the boiling time eg .three minutes and using a spoon, remove the egg from the saucepan. 3. Count the seconds it takes for the water on the surface of the egg to dry. ( One second is the time it takes to say one thousand ) 4. Using the table below ,check if your egg is ready. Drying time 2 seconds - hard boiled ". ". 3. ". - soft boiled. ". ". 4. ". - uncooked With practise the above the above works for all sizes of eggs including ducks. NB. If the egg is not drying quickly enough,put it back in pan for a little longer and repeat the drying time test.
judyc13
8th Oct, 2015
Of course, these times are only for those who live below 5,000ft. Here in Colorado at >8,000ft, I've found that my perfectly boiled egg (set white, runny yolk) takes 7 minutes, and a good hard-boiled egg takes 13. Eggs in any form are my favourite quick meal.
jean594
4th May, 2015
I have a boiled egg for breakfast every day , bring water to boiling point , prick egg to prevent it cracking , wider end air sac end otherwise white will leak out ! Timer on for 6 mins , take egg out if starts to dry immediately it is perfect for dippy yolk , with larger eggs I tend to cook for 7 minutes .