How to cook hard-boiled eggs properly

How to cook hard-boiled eggs properly
A hard-boiled egg is properly cooked when: shell is not broken, white and yolk are firm, yolk is only yellow with no traces of green around it. Here are some tips to make this easy.
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Last modified on: November 4th 2013

Keywords for this recipe:CookingEggHard-boiledTipsHow to
For 4 eggs, you will need:
  • 0 egg 4 eggs
  • Total weight: 200 grams

Change these quantities to make: 2 eggs 4 eggs 8 eggs 12 eggs
How long does it take?
Time required for this recipe:
PreparationRestingCookingStart to finish
8 min.1 hour 10 min.10 min.1 hour 28 min.
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Step by step recipe

Stage 1 - 1 hour
How to cook hard-boiled eggs properly  : Photo of step #1
First problem: how to prevent shell from breaking (as in this photo) and white spilling out into the water while cooking?

Egg shells break during cooking for two reasons:

1) Temperature difference, if they go straight from the fridge to boiling water, the shell always (or nearly always) breaks.

Solution: remove your eggs from the fridge at least one hour before cooking.

Note : Eggs don't need to be kept in the fridge.

Stage 2
How to cook hard-boiled eggs properly  : Photo of step #2
2) Because in the bottom part of the egg, the broader end, there is an air pocket (in red on the diagram), and when cooking this air expands and eventually breaks the shell.

You will notice that the older the egg is, the bigger the air pocket, so the risk of the shell breaking is greater with an old egg than a fresh one.

Stage 3 - 1 min.
How to cook hard-boiled eggs properly  : Photo of step #3
Solution: You need to pierce the air pocket so that the air can escape during cooking.

To do this you can use big needle or a small nail (as in the photo), push in it a few millimetres.

Stage 4
How to cook hard-boiled eggs properly  : Photo of step #4
The aim is to just pierce the air pocket and to make a very small hole.

Stage 5 - 10 min.
How to cook hard-boiled eggs properly  : Photo of step #5
Boil a pan of water, and lower in your pierced eggs gently, using a tablespoon.

Leave to cook 10 minutes, no more.

Stage 6
How to cook hard-boiled eggs properly  : Photo of step #6
If eggs cook longer, yolks will became yellow-green (as in this photo), and develop a sulphurous taste and smell, and white will become rubbery.

Stage 7
How to cook hard-boiled eggs properly  : Photo of step #7
To demonstrate the effect of piercing: on left a pierced egg (shell intact), on right an un-pierced egg (shell broken).

Stage 8 - 10 min.
How to cook hard-boiled eggs properly  : Photo of step #8
Cool eggs immediately by putting them into cold water.

Stage 9
How to cook hard-boiled eggs properly  : Photo of step #9
To remove the shell, tap the bottom of the egg on your work surface to break it.

Stage 10
How to cook hard-boiled eggs properly  : Photo of step #10
Do the same with the top of the egg.

Stage 11
How to cook hard-boiled eggs properly  : Photo of step #11
Roll the egg round with your hand to break all the shell.

Stage 12 - 5 min.
How to cook hard-boiled eggs properly  : Photo of step #12
Then remove the shell, as if peeling the egg.

Stage 13 - 2 min.
How to cook hard-boiled eggs properly  : Photo of step #13
Wash the egg to remove any small pieces of shell, and leave in cold water, or covered in the fridge, until using.

Stage 14
How to cook hard-boiled eggs properly  : Photo of step #14
Another way to cook, probably priceless: Fill the pan with cold water to submerge the eggs (drilled) and bring to boil.

When boiling is reached, cover, remove from heat and let stay for 10 minutes.
Gaston Lenôtre, in his books, say that boiling water for eggs should be salted and vinegared. Probably because egg shells are porous, and so that salted water can salt the egg when cooking?

I've tried it, but I don't taste a real difference. What about you?
A few days in the fridge, in a closed jar.
Nutritional information
Whole recipe
Energetic valueProteins CarbohydratesFats
292 Kcal or 1,223 Kj25 gr1 gr21 gr
15 %10 %<1 %3 %
Per 100 g
Energetic valueProteins CarbohydratesFats
146 Kcal or 611 Kj13 gr< 1 gr11 gr
7 %5 %<1 %2 %
Per eggs
Energetic valueProteins CarbohydratesFats
73 Kcal or 306 Kj6 gr< 1 gr5 gr
4 %2 %<1 %1 %
% are calculated relative to a Recommended Dietary Intake or RDI of 2000 k-calories or 8400 k-joules by day for a woman (change to a man).
How much will it cost?
  • For 4 eggs : 0.58 €
  • Per eggs : 0.15 €

Change currency:

Note : These prices are only approximate.

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Your 6 comments or questions on this recipe
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  • I've only put eggs from fridge to cold water, then put on heat slowly until soft boil. After 10 min. or so I put cold water & ice to stop the cooking! Shells fair,but I can't seem to use fresh only at least 10 or older. Next time I'll
    pierce the eggs. Maybe they will shell easier.
    Posted by dick sr december 18th 2015 at 02:07 (n° 3)
  • "Eggs don't need to be kept in the fridge"

    This is true in countries that do not wash eggs but in countries that do eggs must be kept refrigerated.

    The washing process strips away the natural protection of the egg.
    Posted by Larkspeed october 30th 2015 at 23:54 (n° 2)
  • If you live in the USA, eggs should be refrigerated. Because in the USA and some other countries eggs are washed with soap, which removes a protective layer that is required when eggs are not refrigerated.
    Posted by mvdmolen may 27th 2015 at 19:01 (n° 1)
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