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Soft boiled eggs served with soldiers

Soft-boiled eggs

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  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Cook: -
  • Easy
  • Serves 1

Struggle to make perfect soft-boiled eggs with a runny centre? Just follow our foolproof recipe, then serve with toast soldiers or in a salad niçoise

  • Gluten-free
  • Vegetarian
Nutrition: Per serving
NutrientUnit
kcal191
fat13g
saturates4g
carbs0g
sugars0g
fibre0g
protein19g
salt0.5g
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Ingredients

  • 2 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
  • toast to serve

Method

  • STEP 1

    Fill a medium sized saucepan with water and bring to a rolling boil.

  • STEP 2

    Make sure your eggs aren't fridge cold. By having the eggs at room temperature, it will be less of a shock for the egg reaching the hot water and therefore less likely to crack. You can also use an egg pricker to make a very small hole in each egg before boiling, which will also reduce the chances of it cracking in the heat. Slowly lower the eggs into the water using a spoon.

  • STEP 3

    Set your timer for 4-5 mins for runny/dippy eggs to serve with soldiers, or 6-7 mins for soft-boiled eggs for a salad. If serving in a salad, plunge the eggs into a bowl of cold water as soon as the timer goes off – this will stop them cooking and cool the shells quickly for peeling.

How long does it take to boil an egg?

How long an egg takes to boil depends entirely on how runny you'd like the yolk and white to be. Eggs used to be boiled until they were completely cooked for use in sandwiches and salads, but now they are often cooked until the white is just set and yolk is ‘jammy’. This means the yolk is still slightly soft and hasn’t turned hard and chalky. Eggs with this kind of centre are also prized for the centres of scotch eggs.

Should you start with cold or boiling water?

There is no absolute foolproof way to perfectly boil an egg as, each time, the size and temperature of the egg may vary. You can also start by cooking in cold water or add the eggs to boiling water. 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.

How to boil an egg

To boil an egg accurately, make sure it is not fridge-cold and use a timing suitable for the size. The timings below are for large eggs – cook for 30 seconds less for a medium egg and 30 seconds more for an extra-large egg.

To cook from boiling:

Make sure your eggs aren’t fridge-cold (if your eggs are fridge-cold, add 30 seconds to each timing below) – eggs at room temperature will have less of a shock when put into hot water and will therefore be 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 reduce the chance of it cracking in the heat. Slowly lower the eggs into the water using a spoon – don’t just drop them.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and lower in the eggs in a single layer. Reduce the heat to a simmer and use the following timings for large eggs:

  • 5 minutes: just-set (not solid) white and runny yolk – ideal for dipping
  • 6 minutes: liquid yolk and a slightly wobbly white
  • 7 minutes: almost set – deliciously sticky yolk
  • 8 minutes: softly set and ‘jammy’ – this is what you want to make scotch eggs
  • 10 minutes: a classic hard-boiled egg – mashable, but not dry

When done, scoop the eggs out of the pan using a slotted spoon and put them into a bowl of very cold water to prevent them cooking any further.

Cooking from cold and leaving to rest

Put the eggs in a single layer in a pan and cover them with room-temperature water so it comes about 1cm above the eggs. Cover and bring it to the boil. When the water is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and start timing.

  • 5 minutes: an almost-set white and soft, sticky yolk
  • 6 minutes: softly set and ‘jammy’
  • 7 minutes: cooked all the way through

For fully hard-boiled eggs, you can also turn the heat off as soon as the water boils and leave the eggs in the water for 12 mins.

When done, scoop the eggs out of the pan using a slotted spoon and put them into a bowl of very cold water to prevent them cooking any further.

Tips for peeling boiled eggs

  • 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.
  • Using either method, scoop the cooked 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 needed in order to keep it cold. If you don’t cool them down fast enough, they might form dark rings between the yolk and white as they continue to cook.
  • To peel the eggs, crack the shells all over on a hard surface. You can roll them while pressing down with your hand – the shells should then slip off in large pieces (starting from the wide end) attached to the membrane. You can do this in a bowl if you prefer. Rinse off any chips of shell.

Using a gas hob?

If you’re using a gas hob, you may find that your eggs cook a little quicker as the heat can be fierce, so cook the eggs for 4 minutes for a runny egg or 6 minutes for soft-boiled. For induction hobs, the eggs can take about 1 minute more, so 5 minutes for runny and 7 minutes for soft-boiled.

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A star rating of 3.5 out of 5.18 ratings
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