How to boil an egg

Looking for tips on how to boil an egg? It's the simplest recipe there is – but there are a few tricks you need to know to get the perfect result

how to boil an egg
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How to boil an egg – simply by putting an egg into a pan of boiling water, right? Well, yes, but there are a couple of tips for boiling eggs that will ensure you achieve the perfect result, whether you like your eggs runny or hard-boiled. 

First, though, you need to make sure your eggs are fresh. If they've been out for a good while and/or are past the use by date on the carton, you can easily test them for freshness by submerging them in cold water. Any egg that floats has gone off and should be discarded. 

For all our egg recipes, don't miss our dedicated page. For more great recipes, check out our food hub page. 

How to boil an egg: soft-boiled

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If you love your eggs soft-boiled, with a runny centre, boil them for five to five and a half minutes maximum. Make sure that the water is boiling before you put them in, and that the eggs are fully submerged in the water, or they won't cook evenly. After they're done boiling, put them in cold water for half a minute to make them easier to handle.

How to boil an egg: hard-boiled

Boiled eggs

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Hard-boiled eggs will take between eight and 11 minutes to boil, depending on just how hard boiled you like them. We don't recommend boiling the for longer than 11 minutes, as the yolk will go too dry. Again, make sure your eggs are fully covered with water to prevent uneven cooking. 

Should I salt the water for eggs?

Yes – always add a pinch of salt to your boiling water just before adding the eggs. Salted water is hotter (fact) and even prevents the eggs from cracking. 

Delia Smith on how to boil an egg

Obviously there are only so many ways to soft- and hard-boil an egg, but you may find Delia Smith's recipe interesting. Let's see what she has to say...

Delia's first tip is to ensure you're using the right sized pan. She says that your eggs should sit comfortably, without crashing into one another. If you don't have the luxury of a larger pan, she also suggests pricking the round end of your egg with a pin as this will reduce pressure and prevent cracking. Oooh, that's a new one on us.

In terms of how much water to use, Delia suggests that you ensure there's enough to cover your eggs by around 1cm, so keep an eye out for this when filling the pan.

When it comes to timings, Delia's advice is pretty similar to ours. Set a time for six minutes if you like a soft(ish) centre, or seven for an egg that's completely cooked through.

Delia's ultimate trick is what you do with your eggs once they're boiled. Rather than leaving them on the side to cool, or attempting to crack them while they're still warm, she suggests running your eggs under cold water, straight away. This will prevent a dark ring from forming around the yolk.

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