Timing Is Everything When You Make Hard-Boiled Eggs, Here's How Long to Cook Them For

They go from perfect to dry and overcooked fast.

hard-boiled eggs

A favorite food, a protein-packed snack, the base of your favorite deviled eggs...hard-boiled eggs are all this and so much more. Cooking hard-boiled eggs isn't difficult and doesn't require special equipment. What sets a perfect hard-boiled egg and a lackluster one apart comes down to timing—even an extra 30 seconds in hot water can cause the yolk to become dry and crumbly and the white to develop a rubbery texture. If you're wondering how long to cook hard-boiled eggs, here's what you need to know, courtesy of our favorite eggsperts!

How Long to Cook Hard-Boiled Eggs

You need to know what size of eggs you're using (medium, large, or jumbo) to work out how long you should cook them for. Most people cook large eggs, which require 10 to 12 minutes, says Lisa Steele, a 5th-generation chicken keeper and author of The Fresh Eggs Daily Cookbook. "A 12-minute egg is the maximum amount of time I'll do for a (large) hard-boiled egg," she says.

Steele shares this pro tip: when cooking a medium- or jumbo-sized egg, just decrease or increase the cook time by approximately 1 minute, depending on how firm or jammy you like your yolk to be. The timing here is for a fully-cooked yolk:

  • Medium eggs: 8 to 10 minutes
  • Large eggs: 10 to 12 minutes
  • Extra-large eggs: 12 to 14 minutes

Why Timing Is So Important

All hard-boiled eggs cook through a process called conductive heating, says Rosemary Trout, the program director and assistant clinical professor of Culinary Arts & Food Science at Drexel University. "The yolk has a lot of fat in it, whereas the white does not, which is one of the reasons why you have a slower coagulation point for yolks. The fat slows down the cooking process," she says. This is why there's not a huge difference between the whites in soft-boiled and hard-boiled egg whites, yet the runniness of the yolk changes minute to minute.

How to Cook Them

Now that you know how long to cook hard-boiled eggs, let's talk about the best cooking method: Place your eggs in a saucepan and cover them with about an inch of water. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat and as soon as the water reaches a boil, cover the pot and set a timer for 10 to 12 minutes.

Once the eggs are fully cooked, carefully transfer them to an ice bath to instantly stop the cooking process. If you want to warm them up for serving, place the eggs back in a pot with a little bit of warm water to serve with ramen or toast, says chef, cookbook author, and food personality David Rose.

Is It Safer to Eat Hard-Boiled Eggs?

Yes, hard-boiling eggs for 10 to 12 minutes creates the ideal texture, but it also fully kills off any and all bacteria. "From a food safety perspective, you should not consume eggs under 165℉ unless you're using pasteurized eggs," says Trout. Hard-boiled eggs are unequivocally safer to eat than soft- or even medium-boiled eggs (but that won't stop us from indulging in a runny yolk from time to time). Just like pork or beef, there is some risk associated with consuming undercooked eggs. To test the temperature of eggs, use a bimetallic stemmed thermometer, such as a classic Thermapen, which quickly checks the temperature and displays it on an easy-to-read digital screen.

Food scientists at the USDA recommend cooking hard-boiled eggs even longer to ensure that there are no lingering foodborne pathogens—"12 minutes for medium-size eggs, 15 minutes for large eggs, and 18 minutes for extra-large eggs." However, the longer the eggs sit in hot water, the drier they'll taste (even when tossed with mayonnaise, mustard, and vinegar for their devilish alter ego).

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