How to Cook (and Peel) Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

Hard-boiled eggs with green onion garnish

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga 

  • Total: 15 mins
  • Prep: 0 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
87 Calories
6g Fat
0g Carbs
8g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 87
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 7%
Saturated Fat 2g 9%
Cholesterol 226mg 75%
Sodium 86mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Protein 8g
Calcium 34mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Have you ever cut open a hard-boiled egg and encountered a green halo around the outside of the yolk? Or smelled a funky, sulfury odor?

Those are the telltale signs of overcooked eggs. Eggs contain a sulfur-based compound that when heated too long or at too high a temperature will turn your egg yolks green and funky-smelling.

However, if you cook your eggs properly, this won't happen. You'll have nice, perfectly golden-yellow yolks and no funky smell.

Easy to Peel Hard-Boiled Eggs

But before we get to the technique, let's talk about peeling the eggs. There's a common misconception that one cooking technique or another will make it easier or harder to peel the egg. This just isn't the case.

The main thing that makes an egg easy or hard to peel is how fresh the egg is. It's as simple as that. Fresher eggs are harder to peel, which is why those eggs you bought from the farmers market may not be the best candidates for hard-boiling.

There's a thin membrane underneath the eggshell, and it forms a little air pocket at the bottom of the egg. As the egg ages, that pocket expands, which helps the shell separate from the cooked egg more easily.

So if you want to make the peeling experience easier, try using eggs that have been in your fridge for a week or so.

How Long Should I Boil the Eggs?

The technique described below is a basic template, but there are variables. Different stovetops will produce more heat (and thus boil water faster) than others, and not all pots are the same size or hold the same amount of water. We use 15 minutes as a baseline, but your cooking time might vary.

For this hard-boiled egg recipe, you'll need a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. You really do need the lid because if heat escapes through the top of the pot, it will slow down the cooking.

Getting the eggs to your liking may require a little bit of a trial and error of pulling one egg out a few minutes before the 15-minute mark to check its doneness. Once you determine the exact timing that works for you, stick with it. What matters most is the technique of letting the eggs stand in the covered pot, off the heat—you're basically steaming the eggs.

You can eat them right away once they're cooked, or you can refrigerate them. Hard-boiled eggs are great on their own straight from the fridge with salt and freshly cracked pepper.

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Hard-boiled eggs on a tea towel
    The Spruce
  2. Place the eggs in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cover them with cold water. Make sure the tops of the eggs are covered by at least an inch of water. How much water will depend on the size of the pot, but in general, a bigger pot is better. Crowding the eggs risks cracking them.

    Hard-boiled eggs placed in a pot of water
    The Spruce
  3. Bring the water to a full boil, uncovered. You'll see the water simmering, but as soon as you see a few big bubbles, remove the pot from the heat and cover it. Let the pot stand untouched for 15 minutes.

  4. Remove the boiled eggs from the water and transfer them to a bowl of cold water for 15 minutes to stop the cooking process.

    Hard-boiled eggs transferred to cold water for cooling
    The Spruce
  5. Then either peel and serve or refrigerate.

    Finished hard-boiled eggs in a wooden bowl
    The Spruce
  6. Enjoy.

How to Store Hard-Boiled Eggs

  • Hard-boiled eggs should be stored in the fridge, peeled or unpeeled, and will be good for up to a week.

Other Ways to Hard-Boil Eggs

  • Put cold eggs in boiling water. Gently lower 6 to 12 large eggs, cold from the fridge, into 6 to 8 cups boiling water. Lower heat and simmer 11 minutes, then plunge into an ice bath. Simmer one minute less for medium eggs and one minute more for jumbo eggs.
  • Use the pressure cooker. The whole process takes 15 minutes, and it's the best method for eggs of any age and for deviled eggs.

How Can You Tell a Raw vs. Hard-Boiled Egg?

If you hard-boil eggs and they happen to go back into the fridge, only to commingle with uncooked eggs, you may wonder how to figure out the raw vs. the cooked. The easiest way? Spin the egg on its side on a countertop or other flat surface. As it spins, grab it ever so quickly and release it. If it stops spinning, it's cooked. If it keeps going, it's still raw.