how long do you cook for a soft boiled egg

How long to hard boil eggs · Soft boiled: cook 4 minutes · Slightly soft eggs: cook 6 minutes · For firm yet slightly soft: cook 8 minutes · For very firm: cook 10. How Long Do You Cook Soft-Boiled Eggs? · How long do you boil an egg for a soft yolk? On average, you have to boil eggs for 6 minutes to get a. Also, the general rule of thumb with soft-boiled eggs is to boil them for 5 minutes if you want the yolks to be super-runny, or 7 minutes if.

How long do you cook for a soft boiled egg -

How to Make Perfect Hard or Soft Boiled Eggs

How to Boil Perfect Eggs 

The simple and classic boiled egg
 – full of nature’s most perfect form of protein.  At one time people were concerned about eating eggs because of the amount of cholesterol in the yolks.  Today, research has found that eggs also raise the good cholesterol that our bodies need.

Boiling an egg is really very simple!   I have read many different opinions about the best method for making perfect hard-cooked (boiled) eggs and have discovered, through my own personal testing, the following method which gives perfect results.



The method of coddling eggs will not toughen the whites as boiling does.  Coddling also makes an egg easier to peel. The cold water finish creates steam between the egg white and the shell which makes the shell easier to remove.

According to the American Egg Board, the terms “hard-boiled” and “soft-boiled” eggs are really misnomers, because boiling eggs makes them tough and rubbery. Instead, these eggs should be “hard-” or “soft-cooked” in hot (still) water.  


Reference Chart For Perfect Boiled Eggs: 

The following quick reference chart contains cooking times to use as a guide for the desired firmness for the yolk of a large egg size.  The timing begins once the pot of eggs is removed from the heat source.  Timing is everything in cooking perfect boiled eggs.

How to Boil Perfect EggsSoft-cooked (boiled) eggs – 5 minutes

The perfect soft boiled egg has firmly set whites, but a soft runny yolk.  Serve in an egg cup by placing the egg in the cup with the small end down. Slice off large the end of egg with knife, egg scissors or egg topper and eat from the shell with a spoon.  Egg toppers can be found in most kitchen stores.  They are very quick and practical to use.  I finally purchased one, and now my eggs look beautiful when I top them!




How to Boil Perfect Eggs Medium-cooked (boiled) eggs – 7 to 8 minutes

A medium-cooked egg has a firm white and a slightly firm yolk.  Medium-boiled eggs look exactly like hard-boiled egg from the outside – the whites are tender, yet cooked and hold their shape.  Inside the egg, you see creamy golden yolks which are neither liquid nor completely solid.




How to Boil Perfect EggsHard-cooked (boiled) eggs – 19 minutes

A hard-cooked egg has both a firm white and a firm yolk.  Hard-cooked eggs should never be boiled – always simmer them in water.  If you cook them for too long, the protein toughens (becomes rubbery) and a greenish or purplish ring forms around the yolk.

Extremely fresh eggs are not recommended when making hard-boiled eggs, as they are very difficult to peel.  Refrigeration is necessary for hard cooked eggs if the eggs are not to be consumed within a few hours.  You can refrigerate Hard-cooked eggs in the shell up to one week.


How to Boil Perfect Eggs in 6 Steps


1.  For perfect cooking, start with eggs that do not have any visible cracks:

There are two problems you will want to avoid: cracked shells and the ugly green layer that can form around the yolk.

Do not add salt to water.  The salt will raise the boiling point of the water making the egg whites rubbery.


2.  The best eggs for boiling are NOT the freshest eggs – use eggs that are at least 3 to 5 days:

Eggs that are too fresh are difficult to peel.  The fresher the eggs, the harder it will be to peel them because the white membrane is just not mature enough.  Hard boiling farm fresh eggs will invariably lead to eggs that are difficult to peel.  Eggs need to be at least three (3) days old to peel well.

First, figure out if your eggs are fresh, because looking at the date on the carton is not always the best indicator of freshness, as eggs within the same carton with the same sell-by-date could have been laid on different days.  Check out Sell Date of Eggs.

In a fresh egg, the yolk stands tall and the white is thick and cloudy.  In an older egg, the yolk looks flatter and breaks easily, and the white is thin and watery.  The best eggs for boiling are the ones on their way to standing up because that extra air makes peeling easier.  That is why you should buy eggs for hard-cooking at least a week ahead of time.

How To Test Freshness of Eggs:A simple test in water will answer the freshness question for you.  Place the egg in a bowl of water; if it lies on its side, it is very fresh.  As it ages, the air pocket inside the egg grows, which buoys the egg up so it stands on one end.  If the egg floats to the top, it is ready for the trash.

Making Deviled Eggs:  When making deviled eggs, place the carton of eggs on its side for a day.  The yolk will then center itself so you have it directly in the middle of the white.  No more off centered deviled eggs.


3.  Bring your eggs to room temperature before cooking:

If the egg has been stored in the refrigerator, it can be warmed gently under a flowing hot tap water or sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.

By bringing the eggs to room temperature, they are much less likely to crack in the hot water.  Also the temperature of the egg at the start of the cooking process will affect the cooking time.  An egg that is at room temperature at the start of the cooking process will require about 1 minute less cooking time than eggs taken directly from the refrigerator.


4.  Technique for hard-cooking (boiled) eggs:

Choose the right size pot to cook your eggs in. The eggs must not be stacked but be in one (1) layer only.  Gently place in the cooking pot.

Place the eggs in a single layer in a pan with enough cold water to cover eggs completely (approximately by 1 inch of water over the top of the eggs).

Using too much water will take too long for the water to get boiling, which can throw off the timing and give you overcooked eggs.  Too little water causes parts of the eggs to be exposed and end up under cooked.

If you have 2 or 3 layers of eggs stacked up in a small pot, they may cook unevenly.  Use a large pan and limit cooking to two (2) dozen eggs at a time only.


5. Over high heat, bring water JUST to a rapid boil.

As soon as the water reaches a rapid boil, remove pan from heat and cover egg pan tightly with a lid.

After 17 or 20 minutes (depending on size of your eggs), remove lid and drain off water from the eggs.

Watch the time when cooking the eggs carefully.  Overcooking causes a green layer to form around the yolk.  This layer is caused by a reaction between the iron in the yolk and the sulfur in the white.  Heat speeds up this reaction, so the longer your eggs cook, the greater the chance of discoloration.


6. IMPORTANT – Stop the cooking process – Residual Heat or “Carry Over Heat.”

After the eggs are removed from the heat source, some cooking will continue, particularly the yolk of the egg.  This is due to residual heat called “carry over cooking.”  For this reason, transfer the eggs to the bowl of ice cubes and/or cold water after the cooking time is over.  While the eggs are in the cold water, a layer of steam develops between the shell and the egg white. The steam helps make peeling an egg much easier.

Let eggs cool at least 10 minutes in cold water, then drain.  Either store in refrigerator or peel the eggs (see below for How To Peel Hard-Cooked Eggs Easily).

A quick test to ensure that your eggs are hardboiled:  When eggs have cooled, spin them on a hard surface (just like you would spin a top).  If the eggs spins quickly without taking off or flying off in one direction, the egg is hard boiled and finished.  Undercooked eggs (or uncooked eggs) will have a wobbly and unsteady spin.

Storing of Hard-Cooked (Boiled) Eggs:

Refrigeration is necessary for hard boiled eggs if the eggs are not to be consumed within a few hours.

It is preferable not to peel your eggs until you are ready to eat or use in your recipe.  Hard-cooked eggs in the shell can be refrigerated up to one week.  Peeled hard boiled eggs can be stored in the refrigerator in a bowl of cold water to cover for about 1 week (change the water daily) – or in a sealed container without water (cover the eggs with damp paper towels) for the same length of time.

SAFETY NOTE:  It is not safe to leave hard boiled eggs (including those in their shells) out at room temperature for long.  If they have been taken to a picnic, or served on a buffet, keep them cool while they are being served, and discard any leftovers.


Peeling an eggHow To Peel Hard-Cooked Eggs Easily: 

This is what I do:

I leave the hard-cooked eggs in the pan they were cooked in and add cold water.

I then crack the eggs under water (this seems to help loosen the membrane under the shell).

Start peeling at the larger end, (the flat side) where the air pocket is, and remove the shell under running water to make the shelling easier.  You must get a hold of the membrane under the shell when you remove the shell.

Very fresh eggs are harder to peel.  The fresher the eggs, the more the shell membranes cling tenaciously to the shells.


Additional Egg Cooking Techniques: 

Baked or Shirred Eggs
In France, this basic methods of baked eggs is called oeufs en cocotte.  People love this dish. Baked eggs are both comforting and sophisticated.  The eggs come out looking beautiful in their individual ramekins and are easy to serve.

Coddled Eggs
Coddled eggs are made by very briefly immersing an egg in the shell in boiling water (to cook in water just below the boiling point) to slightly cook or coddle them.

Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs have their roots in ancient Roman recipes.  In the 17th century, this was a common way to prepare eggs.  They were not called “deviled” until the 18th Century, in England.

Fried Eggs – Perfect Fried Eggs
Here are the absolute best fried eggs.  This method is adapted from the ultra-meticulous French chef Fernand Point (1897-1955).  This technique makes one spectacular fried egg and demonstrates that simplicity and purity often yield the best dishes of all.

Microwave Eggs
How to microwave poached eggs, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, and boiled eggs.

Poached Eggs
The best eggs for poaching are the freshest eggs you can find.  If eggs are more than a week old, the whites thin out.  Whites of fresh eggs will gather compactly around the yolk, making a rounder, neater shape.

Scrambled Eggs and Omelettes
Scrambled eggs make a delicious and quick meal, but there is a little science to getting them just right. The secret to successfully scrambling eggs is slow cooking.



Comments from readers:

I always wondered what caused the shell on some hard boiled eggs to stick to that membrane?  Sometimes it was only two out of the same dozen.  An old cooks tale said that they were “old” eggs.  Thanks for your answer, I will test it out on the next batch, seems more likely your right, because eggs don’t stay in my house more than a couple of days!

I would like to pass on another trick with hard boiled eggs, the automatic hard boiled peeler machine (maybe you have already done this?).  I use the same pot that I boil the eggs in, empty the hot water, add cold water, rinse well to cool down, drain, put the lid on the pot, and gently shake the pot back and forth for about 20 to 30 seconds (as you would for popcorn).

If you get good at it, all the eggs are peeled!  I was a fireman for almost 30 years, of which most of those years I did spend cooking for a crew of a 10-man station, among all the “other duties” required of the job.– Dennis Anderson (10/12/09)



Source:  Photos of the different types of boiled eggs is courtesy of Hormel Foods.

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The Gousto Blog

Cooking perfect boiled eggs isn’t a dark art, nor does it need to be a hit and miss process. There really is no trick to boiling eggs! Just follow our “eggstructions” below to learn how long to cook soft-boiled eggs and hard-boiled eggs for.

We’ve also included the surprising secret to peeling hard-boiled eggs after you’ve cooked them – because everyone knows that’s the hardest part! After reading our secret tip, you should be able to peel eggs without sticking issues with the shell for once!

Getting started

boiling an egg in water

  1. Place your eggs into a saucepan: you can add as many as can fit in one layer with enough space to move about – for a standard size saucepan this is usually about 6
  2. Fill the saucepan with cold water: using cold water allows the eggs to cook evenly and makes them less likely to crack
  3. Put the pan over a high heat: bring the water to the boil, and once fully boiling completely remove from the heat and cover

How long to cook soft-boiled eggs

cutting into a soft boiled egg

  • 4 minutes: once the water is boiling and you’ve removed the saucepan from the heat, leave the egg in boiling water for 4 minutes for a delicious soft-boiled egg with very runny yolk.
  • 5-6 minutes: leave in the boiled water for 5-6 minutes for a soft-boiled egg with a slightly less runny (but still soft!) yolk.

TIP: If cooking multiple soft-boiled eggs at once, increase this length of time slightly for additional eggs

How long to cook hard-boiled eggs

  • 9 minutes: leaving your egg in boiling water for ages to make sure it’s properly hard-boiled is a really common mistake. If you leave your egg for too long, the yolk sometimes takes on a greyish tint and the white gets unpleasantly rubbery

TIP: If you want to make absolutely sure your egg is hard-boiled, leave for up to 15 minutes, but no longer!

When your egg is cooked

boiled egg placed in cold water

  • Pop your egg into a bowl of cold (preferably ice) water: doing this will stop the egg from cooking any further than desired
  • Leave the egg to cool: this will take at least a minute and will allow you to peel the egg without having to treat it like a hot potato!

The secret to peeling hard-boiled eggs

The moment you’ve been waiting for…what’s the secret to peeling hard-boiled eggs, you ask? Use older eggs! Eggs will gradually lose moisture through the tiny pores in their shell. Leaving fresh eggs for a couple of weeks before hard-boiling them will make the whites a little firmer and easier to separate from the shell. Don’t leave them to go off though – no-one wants to eat (or smell for that matter!) an egg that’s gone bad.


What do you think of our egg boiling skills? Is there a different trick to boiling eggs perfectly that you prefer? Let us know in the comments!

Take a look at our cookbook for some “eggcelent” dishes to make use  of your egg boiling skills!


Perfect Soft-boiled Eggs

Learn all the tips and tricks to make perfect soft-boiled eggs EVERY SINGLE TIME! 

Light yet packed with protein, cheap, super easy and speedy - You can't help but love perfectly-done eggs. They are also naturally gluten-free & dairy-free, which is an added bonus.

The perfect runny egg should have a creamy but firm white and a melt-in-your-mouth creamy yolk.

soft-boiled egg on an egg holder plate, teaspoon on the left side side, top of the egg shell on the right side


It takes less than 5 minutes to make your eggs just right for scooping them gracefully from their shell with a spoon, or directly with warm toasted bread.

Best of all, all you need to make one of the easiest meals ever invented is: eggs, one pot, and some water.

It really doesn't get easier than this!

what you need for soft-boiled eggs: a small pot, water, egg

  • Place one or more eggs into a pot of lightly boiling water.
  • Let it gently simmer for a few minutes.
  • Remove them with a slotted spoon, and place them in cold water to cool them down, and BAAM, you're done!

The consistency is similar to poached eggs, with firm but soft egg whites and gooey yolk.

Serve with toasted bread or a colourful salad for a quick, nutritious meal that you can enjoy any time of the day.

Cooking time

I know from experience it can take a lot of wrong-guessing to reach the perfect result.

And that's why I decided to write these tips, so they can hopefully help you next time you want to give it a try.

So, the hunting question is, how long do you need to cook soft boiled eggs? Well, it's rather quick - the perfect soft boiled egg time is just 4 minutes. 

If you're looking for boiled eggs instead, 7 minutes is the perfect time in my opinion.

You can go for 8 minutes, but I wouldn't suggest more than that.

Tips for Perfect Eggs

eggs in a wood bowl covered with a white napkin

  • Choose super fresh eggs, with a similar size to ensure they're cooked evenly. I personally like to go for the organic free-range ones whenever possible.
  • Use them at room temperature. If you store them in the fridge, take them out one hour before cooking.
  •  If you want to make sure they're cooked to perfection, use a timer instead of a clock. Because ultimately it's all about timing.
  • Poke a hole in the top of the eggs with a needle or egg-puncher before you start. This prevents them from cracking, but if you lower the heat to a light simmer when the water boils they shouldn't crack either.
  • Fill a pot with cold water and place it over high heat. Make sure you add enough water. I cover the eggs with enough water so that there is about 1 cm of water above them.
  • Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat slightly, plunge the eggs into it with a spoon and allow 4 minutes of cooking before taking them out of the hot water.
  • Add a dash of vinegar or lemon juice to prevent any spillage if by any chance the shell cracks.
  • If you prepare more than 2 eggs at once, allow a few more seconds of cooking time.
  • If you wish to prepare them ahead to enjoy later, keep them in a water bath at 60°C.

More Egg Recipes To Try:


Please let me know how you liked it! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #thepetitecook! Looking at your pictures always makes me smile *and super hungry*!

*Post originally published in November 2015 and updated with more info!*


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.

Goes well with


The Secret to the Perfect Soft-Boiled Egg

A perfect soft-boiled egg is a thing of beauty: a yolk with the texture of sweet condensed milk surrounded by a white that is tender but not runny. But for generations, great cooks have differed on how to achieve this state of perfection reliably.

Some authorities say you should drop a whole egg into boiling water for about three minutes — a bit longer if the egg is extra-large — and then gently peel away the shell. That can leave the yolk too runny, however. And when the egg is peeled, it’s all too easy to tear the tender white into a mess.

Trad8_Egg on Black_WY2F5836

The legendary Julia Child advocated a six-minute boil (for large eggs starting at room temperature, or a minute longer if chilled), followed by a rinse with cold water before and also during peeling. That certainly works for the white, but often overcooks the center.

The French food scientist Hervé This argued some years ago that temperature, not time, is all that matters to the egg—cook it to 65 °C / 149 °F, and the result will be heavenly no matter how long it sits in the water. Or so it was thought. For a while, the “65°C egg” was all the rage at high-end restaurants.

But more recent research by the food chemist Cesar Vega , an editor and coauthor of the 2012 book The Kitchen as Laboratory, conclusively showed that both time and temperature matter. Moreover, the white and the yolk contain different blends of proteins, so the white gels at a higher temperature and a different rate than the yolk does. Vega’s rigorous experiments have armed scientifically inclined chefs with the information they need to cook eggs to whatever texture they like.

When the chefs in our research kitchen make soft-boiled eggs, they use a four step process that involves a blowtorch or liquid nitrogen. Here is a simpler version better suited to the home kitchen. You’ll need a pot of boiling water, a bowl of ice water, a temperature-controlled water bath, and, if you plan on peeling the eggs, a toaster oven.

The first step is to set the egg whites quickly by submerging them completely in a pot of rapidly boiling water for three minutes and 30 seconds, 15-30 seconds less if you like the whites quite loose, as our research chefs do, or 15—30 seconds longer if you prefer the whites fully set. When the time is up, plunge the eggs into the ice water to cool them completely.

Next, cook the yolks to a syrup-like thickness by submerging the eggs in a 64 °C / 147 °F water bath for 35 minutes; it’s important that the water temperature doesn’t change more than a degree or two during cooking. Dry the eggs thoroughly with paper towels. They are now ready to place in egg holders, top, and eat with a spoon. (If you have a Dremel or similar handheld rotary tool, use a thin grinder bit to top the eggs like a pro.)

Alternatively, you can make the eggs easier to peel by drying the shells in a toaster oven. Use a medium-dark toaster setting, and let the eggs heat for two to three minutes to make the shell hot and brittle. It will then readily flake away to reveal a flawless white beneath. Remember to remove the thin skin around the white if it doesn’t come off with the shell.

You can make these eggs in advance and later reheat them in a 60 °C / 140 °F bath for 30 minutes.

By adjusting the temperature of the cooking bath or the time the eggs are in it, you can achieve all kinds of delicious results and reproduce them flawlessly time after time. Prefer a yolk that is more like honey? Let the egg sit in a 65 °C bath for 45 minutes. For a runnier center, try our recipe for Liquid Center Eggs.

Or try cooking them in a 72 °C / 162 °F bath for 35 minutes (you can skip the boiling step). The yolk will then set just firmly enough that you can peel away the white to obtain a perfect yellow sphere, which makes a striking garnish or dumpling-like addition to a soup.

It’s remarkable how advances in science and precision cooking have given new life to this versatile food.

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