Boiled Eggs: Soft to Hard

Boiled Eggs: Soft to Hard

You’d think that boiling an egg would be one of those kitchen tasks that you can’t fail, but I’m here to tell you that you can mess this up.  An overcooked hard boiled egg will have a rubbery white portion, and the normally bright yellow yolk will turn green.  Overcooked hard boiled eggs will also begin to have a sulfur smell to them.  Depending on what consistency you’re looking for, you can also end up under-cooking your eggs.

The method of cooking our eggs for this experiment was to place them into boiling water for a designated time, then remove and immediately place them into ice water to stop the cooking process as quickly as possible.  This process was selected to produce consistent, repeatable results in any environment.

I’ll often see instructions that start the eggs in cold water, or allowing the eggs to sit in the hot water after the heat has been turned off.  The issue with these methods is they don’t take into account the heat retention properties of the pot.   The speed at which an aluminum pot will reach a boiling point compared to the speed a heavy cast iron dutch oven will, using the same heat input, is very different.  On the flip side, the speed at which the heat dissipates from these vessels is also drastically different.  Our method was chosen to remove as many variables as possible, and to promote consistency.

Here are the visual results.


  • 14 minutes – The egg was cooked all the way through and the yolk didn’t show any signs of “wetness”.
  • 9 minutes – This was the first egg that crossed from having a shine to an actual wet center.
  • 6 minutes – We’re going classify this egg as the perfect soft boiled egg.  The yolk was fully runny, and the white was completely cooked.
  • 5 minutes – This egg was hard to peel and probably had some uncooked white mixed in.  This may have turned out alright if we didn’t send it right to the ice water.
  • 4 minutes – I think the visual evidence is enough here, plenty of uncooked egg white.  There was more cooked egg white, but it was thoroughly stuck to the shell and too much work to separate.
  • 3 minutes – after seeing the 4 minute egg, we didn’t bother peeling this one.

Drink Suggestions:

  • Ranch Dressing
  • Hot Sauce
  • Mayo

P.S. Please ignore the drink suggestions…