How to boil an egg, including how long 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 of us still struggle with how to make the perfect boiled egg. For example, a question our is often asked is: How long to boil an egg?

If you need a reminder, see our list of times:

How long to boil an egg

  • 3 minutes for really soft boiled yolk and set white
  • 4 minutes for slightly set yolk and set white
  • 5 minutes for a medium cooked firmer yolk and white
  • 6 minutes for hard boiled with lightly soft yolk
  • 8 minutes for firmly hard boiled

Whether you prefer soft or hard boiled, see below for our easy to follow instructions for getting great boiled eggs every time.

Ingredients

  • 2 large British Lion eggs

  • Water for boiling

  • Pinch of salt

  • Buttered toast cut into soldiers to serve (optional)

Method

  1. 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.
  2. When the water is almost boiling, gently stir the egg, and boil it for between 3 to 8 minutes, depending on the softness or hardness of egg you require. 
  3. Reduce heat slightly to keep water bubbling but not fast boiling and stir the egg once more.
  4. 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.

Cooks tips

To prevent egg cracking, make a small pin prick in the shell at the rounded end to allow the steam to escape.

Nutritional information, per serving:
Calories Carbs Protein Fat Saturates Salt
78 0.0g 7.5g 5.4g 1.5g 0.2g

Click on the stars to rate this recipe:

2.8 / 5 rating (10940 votes)

Egg timings infographic and more information about boiled eggs

Timing egg boiling accurately is important when making perfect soft boiled eggs for dipping soldiers or easy to peel hard boiled eggs. Download and print out our handy boiled egg timings infographic.

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).

Hot or cold water?

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!

Video: How to boil an egg

Watch our video to find out how to make the perfect boiled egg using British Lion eggs. There's a lot you can do with a boiled egg!

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.

Top tips:

  • 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.

See also

Download the boiled egg timings infographic (A4 size, PDF, 2.3 MB)

More boiled egg cooking tips

How long to poach an egg

Why you can trust this recipe

This recipe is brought to you by the .

Alongside recipe inspiration, the Service educates consumers on the benefits of eating eggs, working with a panel of nutritionists to provide answers to all of your egg-related questions.