How to boil an egg
- Serves: 2
- Prep: 0 mins
- Cook: 5 mins
Boiled eggs are a quick and easy way to bulk up any meal, particularly for vegetarians, but many still struggle with how to make the perfect boiled egg.
The big question: How long to boil an egg? The quick answer is: It takes four to five minutes to soft boil a large egg that's perfect for dipping toast soldiers into. However, egg cooking time depends on a number of factors – personal preference, whether the eggs are refrigerated, their size and even the type of pan used.
Whether you prefer soft or hard boiled, we have put together a list of easy to follow instructions for getting great boiled eggs every time. No matter how you like your eggs boiled, our recipe suits any type of meal.
This recipe is brought to you by the BEIS team.
- 2 large British Lion eggs
- Water for boiling
- Pinch of salt
- Buttered toast cut into soldiers to serve (optional)
- Place the large egg in a small pan. Cover with at least 2.5cm (1") of cold water, add a pinch of salt and place the pan on a high heat.
- When the water is almost boiling, gently stir the egg and set a kitchen timer for one of the timings below.
How long to boil an egg:
- 3 minutes for a really soft boiled egg yolk and almost set white.
- 4 minutes for a runny egg yolk and lightly set white.
- 5 minutes for a gooey egg yolk and firm white.
- 6 minutes for a softly set egg yolk and hard boiled white.
- 7 minutes for a hard boiled egg.
- 8 minutes for a firmly hard boiled egg.
- Reduce heat slightly to keep water bubbling but not fast boiling and stir the egg once more.
- Once cooking time is complete, remove the egg from the pan with slotted spoon, place into egg cup and serve immediately with hot buttered toast soldiers.
To prevent egg cracking, make a small pin prick in the shell at the rounded end to allow the steam to escape.
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How long to boil an egg?
It takes four to five minutes to soft boil a large egg.
We all know that boiling an egg isn’t rocket science – boil the water in a pot, put your egg in (gently!) and then take it out after a few minutes, right? Well, yes, but the time you take to boil the egg can drastically change the outcome, so we thought it would be a good idea to outline how long you should boil an egg depending on your preferences.
For perfect results you may also want to consider the size of the eggs to be boiled.
How long to soft boil eggs?
- 3 minutes for a medium sized egg
- 4 minutes for a large size egg
- 5 minutes for an extra-large sized egg
Soft cooked eggs have runny yolks, but the white is firm. Runny eggs are Ideal for dipping toast soldiers or put on top of other foods to let the yolk spread among the other ingredients once cut into.
Time for medium cooked?
- 4 minutes for a medium size egg
- 5 minutes for a large size egg
- 6 minutes for an extra-large sized egg
Medium-cooked eggs have a firmer, creamy golden yolk which is still a little bit runny, with the white remaining firm.
How long to hard boil eggs?
- 7 minutes for a medium size egg
- 8 minutes for a large size egg
- 9 minutes for an extra-large size egg
Hard-boiled eggs have firm yolks and whites. Avoid cooking them for too long otherwise the protein in the white toughens and becomes rubbery. When hard-cooking eggs, using fresh eggs isn’t recommended as they are difficult to peel so eggs that are coming close to their ‘best before’ date will peel most easily.
Should you start boiled eggs in hot or cold water?
So, do you put the eggs in the water once it’s already boiling, or do you put it in cold water, and then bring it to the boil? There’s a lot of debate about this, as some people tend to do it their way, but the consensus seems to point towards boiling the water first, instead of starting off cold. This may be down to the slowly warming water causing the membrane to stick to the shell, which makes peeling more difficult. One thing we will say, is when lowering the egg into the pot, be careful or the egg will crack!
How to peel a hard boiled egg
- Tap both ends of the egg until they crack, this releases pressure which will make peeling easier.
- There is a small air pocket between the shell and the egg itself, so peel from the bottom of the egg with the side of your thumb to make it easier to remove the egg and the thin membrane that surrounds it.
- Eggs that are within their best-before date but slightly older, are easier to peel.
- After boiling, submerge eggs in cold water, this will cause them to contract slightly, making it less likely that the egg will stick to the shell.
Boiled egg recipes
Boiled eggs can be a delicious addition to any meal; simple or adventurous. So why not try a quick and easy Crunchy seeded soldiers and soft boiled eggs for lunch? Or a Chicken and avocado cobb salad for a healthy meal in a hurry.
Boiling is just the beginning! Try out one of our many fantastic boiled egg recipes and create some dynamic and delicious dishes.
Time your eggs to perfection
Timing egg boiling accurately is important when making perfect soft boiled eggs for dipping soldiers or easy to peel hard boiled eggs.
There are many options for timing: smartphone clocks, digital kitchen clocks, mechanical and hourglass egg timers all allow you to tailor cooking time to your preferences – whether you like hard boiled eggs with a firm yolk or soft boiled eggs with a runny yolk.
Also, there are many online egg timers that can be used, for example: e.ggtimer.com (external website).