Boiled eggs make wonderful additions to breakfast or lunch, and can be used in deviled eggs or all sorts of other snacks. Because a raw egg and a boiled egg look just the same, however, it can be difficult to know when an egg is finished cooking. If you're unsure, you can learn a few simple procedures to make sure you cook them properly each time, and how to quickly distinguish between a raw egg and a cooked egg. See Step 1 for more information.

Method 1
Method 1 of 2:
Boiling Eggs Properly

  1. 1
    Cover raw eggs with cold water. Take however many raw eggs you want to boil and put them in a heavy-bottomed pot. Gently, fill the pot with cold water, taking care not to jostle the delicate eggshells too much. Use enough to cover the eggs by about an inch. Put the pot, uncovered, over medium-high heat and bring it to a boil.[1]
    • Never add raw eggs to boiling water. Boiling the water first results in the most inconsistent cooking process, often ending with broken shells, leaky eggs, and greenish yolks. Bringing the eggs up to temperature slowly ensures even cooking.
  2. 2
    Turn off the heat as soon as the water boils. Depending on how you want your eggs cooked, you can remove the egg at different times in the process, but the easiest to remember and the most sure way to cook eggs, however, is to remove the pot from the heat just after it reaches a boil and leave the eggs in the water until the water cools. Boiled this way, you can be confident the eggs are hard-boiled and solid:[2]
    • Add eggs to cool water and heat to boiling over medium-high heat
    • Remove the water from the heat as soon as it boils
    • Cover the pot with a lid
    • Let the eggs sit for 15 minutes, or until the water becomes cool enough to dip a finger in
  3. 3
    Watch the clock for more specific yolks. If you want a softer-boiled egg, or you want to eat more quickly, you can remove the eggs from the simmering water after a variable amount of time has elapsed. If you want to do this, turn the heat down slightly, to about medium, when the water reaches a boil, and start watching the clock.[3]
    • For soft-boiled eggs, remove after 2 minutes. The whites should be cooked thoroughly, and the yolks should still be somewhat runny. Rinse immediately in cold water to stop the cooking process, or they'll become quickly over-done.
    • For medium-boiled eggs, remove after 4 1/2 minutes. The yolks of medium-eggs should be just about solid, but moist, more like a custard than a hard-cooked egg.
    • For hard-boiled eggs, remove after 8 minutes. The yolks of hard-boiled eggs are crumbly and bright yellow, completely solid, but with none of the grayish-green around the yolk that over-cooking yields.
  4. 4
    Consider adding salt or vinegar to the water. It's a common misconception that adding salt to water will raise the boiling point and result in a more uniform boil, or will make the egg easier to peel. It is true, however, that adding salt will season the water, affecting the flavor (even in hard boiled eggs), but you'd need to add an irrational amount of salt (about a half-cup) to raise the temperature even a few degrees.[4]
    • Adding about a teaspoon of vinegar, however, will help to keep the white intact, should the shell crack any during the boiling process, without affecting the flavor significantly. Consider adding a small amount to keep your eggs solid.
  5. 5
    Simmer, don't boil. Greenish or grayish rings around the yolk are a telltale sign that you've boiled the egg either at too-high a temperature, possibly by dropping it directly into boiling water, or that you cooked it for too long. To avoid this, don't cook eggs at a rolling boil, but turn it down to about medium temperature, cooking them at a quick simmer. There should still be bubbles, but not so many that the eggs jostle around and rattle the pot.[5]
    • The green-gray color results from iron in the egg yolk interacting with sulphur in the white, and only happens when they react at high temperature. You'll never reach that high temperature if you bring the eggs up gradually and remove them from the heat in time.[6]
  6. 6
    Use the slow cool-down if you lost track of time. If you added your eggs to boiling water, or haven't been watching the clock, don't fear. Make sure they've been in the water for at least 5 minutes, and them cover the pot and remove them from the heat. Wait 10 minutes and they'll be done every time.

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Method 2
Method 2 of 2:
Testing the Eggs

  1. 1
    Spin the egg. The quickest way to distinguish between an uncooked egg and a solid boiled egg is to put it flat on the counter and spin it. A raw egg will wobble and spin slowly, because it's filled with liquid, while a boiled egg will spin very quickly and very easily.[7]
    • Try this now by getting out a raw egg and trying to spin it like a top, on the flat side of the shell. Compare that to an egg you know is done and you'll have an easy quick test to distinguish between them every time.
  2. 2
    Hold the egg up to the light. Another easy way to distinguish between uncooked eggs and solid eggs is to hold it up to the light. The thin shell of a raw egg should let some light through, and you'll be able to see the yolk on the inside. A boiled egg will be completely solid.
    • Use a flashlight on the other side of the egg and shine it toward you, holding the egg between the light and your eyes. Move it back and forth slightly while you look for the yolk.
  3. 3
    Drop the egg in warm water and look for bubbles. If an egg is raw, tiny air bubbles will rise from the shell as soon as its submerged in water. If it's in the warm boil, it'll be hard to tell because the water itself will be bubbling. But keeping an eye on the bubbles that rise from the egg itself is a good fast way to tell whether the egg is raw or cooked.
  4. 4
    Crack it open, if all else fails. If you're boiling multiple eggs and you're still not sure how to figure out whether or not they're done, take one out, run it under water, and crack it open quickly to check. Cut it in half and examine the yolk. If it's where you want it to be, take the rest of the eggs out. If not, leave them in for another few minutes. You'll only have sacrificed one and you won't be wondering.

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Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • Question
    What is the easiest way to remove the egg shells after boiling?
    Community Answer
    When the egg is still warm, pat or roll the egg on a countertop. Starting at one end, peel in a circular motion.
  • Question
    Why would an egg rise to top of pot while it is being boiled?
    Community Answer
    If an egg floats to the top at any point, it means the egg has gone bad and you should discard it.
  • Question
    One of the eggs I boiled was not done enough. Can I return it to the water with the others, so it can cook some more?
    Community Answer
    Yes. Cook it for another minute or two, and keep an eye on it.
  • Question
    My hard boiled eggs are firm but look like they should have cooked a bit longer. Can they be reboiled or are they safe to eat like they are?
    Community Answer
    As long as the white is firm, the egg can be eaten with a soft yolk. Eggs are specifically prepared with runny yolks for certain dishes, like Ramen noodles. You can re-boil them, but you risk turning your eggs rubbery.
  • Question
    If I wish to use hard-boiled eggs 12 hours after cooking, should they be shelled?
    Community Answer
    Yes. Boil the eggs, remove the shells, then refrigerate the eggs until you plan to eat them.
  • Question
    How do I know when eggs are done boiling?
    Stuart Riddle
    Community Answer
    It depends if you want hard or soft eggs. Hard boiled eggs take no more than 8 minutes from boiling, and soft take about 3.5 minutes. Mostly, practice makes perfect, as all eggs are different sizes.
  • Question
    What are different ways to remove an eggshell?
    Community Answer
    Use about 2 tablespoons of salt in the water when cooking them. The shells will come right off, even with fresh eggs.
  • Question
    How long can I keep my hard boiled eggs in the fridge?
    Community Answer
    I would say no more than 6 or 7 days in a tightly closed container, just for the freshness factor.
  • Question
    What is an easy way to make a good dinner with boiled eggs?
    Community Answer
    You can use them in salads. If you cut them into cubes, you can also make a great egg sandwich by adding mayonnaise and spices to taste.
  • Question
    Why do some eggshells peel off easy and some are impossible?
    Community Answer
    What I do is boil the eggs using cool tap water (adding a tablespoon of salt can help make shells easier to remove), turn to medium-high heat until it's a rolling boil, then let sit for 10 minutes. Put them into a bowl of ice water for 10 minutes, which makes the whole egg contract. Next, put them two at a time into the still-hot water for 1 minute to expand the shell, but not the egg inside; this allows easier removal of the shell, as the inside is smaller than the shell now. Keep adding cold eggs to the warm water two at a time as you peel them.
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      wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, 14 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time. This article has been viewed 495,677 times.
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      Updated: January 30, 2021
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      Article SummaryX

      To tell when an egg is boiled, try spinning it on a flat surface. If the egg wobbles and spins slowly, it means there's still liquid inside, but if it spins quickly and easily, it's most likely boiled. You can also hold the egg up to a light to see if it's boiled. If you're able to see the yolk inside, the egg is still raw, but if the egg looks completely solid, it's probably boiled. Or, you can put the egg in some warm water and see if tiny air bubbles rise from the shell, which is a sign that the egg is still raw. To learn how to boil an egg properly, keep reading!

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