How Not to Boil Eggs

October 07, 2020

Alright this is kind of a jokey post, but also it’s straight facts, real stuff. Pay attention.

Sometimes you’ll see recipes for hard or softboiled eggs online that tell you to save time by putting the eggs in the pot of water while it’s still room temperature. Then you put the pot on the heat. You remove the eggs after some amount of time. The idea is that this saves time because the eggs are cooking while the water heats up.

This method is error-prone. It might work, but it would only be either accidentally, or in a narrow band of variables.

First: The recipes don’t specify how much water is in the pot, so there’s no way to know how long it will take to reach boiling.

Same goes for the heat capacity of the boiling vessel. Heavy cast iron or thin aluminum will certainly have an effect on how long it takes the water to get to boiling.

The recipe author also can’t possibly account for how hot your burner is. Consumer electric ranges get hotter than gas ones (generally), but take longer to get up to temperature.

If you spend some time dialing in the right timing for your burner and pot and amount of water and temperature of your tap water (which will vary seasonally), then sure maybe you’ll save a couple of minutes. That might be worth it to you, but not for me.

The most consistent way I know to get consistent eggs is to boil the water, then put the eggs in. Leave them in for 6 minutes for jammy eggs, which is my favorite way to eat boiled eggs.

This method doesn’t account for egg size or altitude, which could effect cooking time and the boiling point, respectively. But it’s a simple baseline with far fewer variables to account for.