One of our all-time favourite ingredients, the humble egg can take so many delicious forms. Learn how to make scrambled eggs, or read on to find out how to master the perfect hard-boiled egg.
Hard-boiled eggs should have completely set whites but the yolks can have different degrees of softness; they should never be chalky and crumbly or have a green tinge where the yolk meets the white – these are the signs that it’s overcooked.
How to make hard-boiled eggs
There are many ways to hard-boil eggs and there are groups of people who swear by each, but there is some science behind the methods that work best for controlling the texture of your yolk (see below).
It can be harder to peel eggs that are started in cold water as they sometimes fuse to the shell. If you’ve always found this to be the case, try a boiling water start instead. You can also cook eggs in a pressure cooker or a specialist egg cooker, and there are egg timers available that you put in the water with your eggs which change colour to show how far your eggs are cooked.
There is no absolute foolproof way to perfectly boil an egg as, each time, the size and temperature of the egg, and the temperature of the water (when cooking from cold) may vary. Because eggs cook from the outside in, the whites are liable to overcooking. However, with a bit of trial and error you can find the method that suits you.
Whichever method you choose, there are a few rules that apply.
Top tips for hard-boiled eggs
- Make sure your eggs aren’t fridge cold. Eggs at room temperature will have less of a shock being put into hot water and therefore less likely to crack. You can also use an egg pricker or pin to make a very small hole in each egg before boiling, which will also reduce the chance of it cracking in the heat.
- Slowly lower the eggs into the water using a spoon and don’t just drop them.
- When done, scoop the eggs out of the pan and put them into a bowl of very cold water to prevent them cooking any further. Replace the water if you need to in order to keep it cold. If you don’t cool them down fast enough they might get dark rings forming between the yolk and white as they will keep cooking.
- To peel them, crack the shells all over on a hard surface. You can roll them while pressing down with your hand once and the shells should then slip off in large pieces (starting from the wide end) attached to the membrane. You can do this under water in a bowl if you prefer. Rinse off any chips of shell.
- If your eggs are small, or very large, shorten or extend cooking times by 30 seconds.
Method one: continuous boiling
Bring a large pan of water to the boil and lower in the eggs in a single layer, turn down to a simmer and use the following timing for large eggs. If your eggs are fridge cold, add 30 seconds to each time.
- 6 minutes: liquid yolk but not completely runny
- 7 minutes: almost set – deliciously sticky
- 8 minutes: softly set – this is what you want to make scotch eggs
10 minutes: the classic hard-boiled egg – mashable but not dry and chalky
Method two: from cold and leaving to rest
- Put the eggs in a single layer in a pan and cover them with room temperature water, about 4cm above the eggs. Cover the pan and bring it to the boil, turn the heat off and leave for 12 minutes.
- When done, scoop the eggs out of the pan and put them into a bowl of very cold water to prevent them cooking any further.
Top 5 recipes using hard-boiled eggs
1. Healthy salad niçoise
With a few clever tweaks, our healthy salad niçoise makes an excellent nutritious midweek meal. This French bistro classic uses extra lettuce, plenty of veg and a simple low-fat dressing to make a filling lunch that’ll do you good.
2. Egg mayo & watercress rolls
The key to any good teatime spread, our egg & watercress rolls are sure to go down a treat.
3. Caesar salad burgers
Pile chargrilled chicken, hard-boiled eggs and an irresistible creamy dressing onto toasted burger buns for a twist on a traditional summer burger. Our Caesar salad burgers are an easy, delicious dinner the whole family will love.
4. Japanese ramen noodle soup
Top your bowl of noodles with a perfectly cooked boiled egg as the final flourish. Our Japanese ramen noodle soup is sure to satisfy comfort food cravings, yet it’s light enough to not leave you in a food coma. This versatile dish is also great for using up leftover veg.
5. Kale & salmon kedgeree
Our colourful kale & salmon kedgeree is packed full of curry spices and fabulous textures. Salmon and eggs are a well-known match made in heaven. You can enjoy this dish for brunch, lunch or even a filling supper.
More essential cooking tips…
What’s your favourite way to serve hard-boiled eggs? Leave a comment below…