Boiling an egg seems like it would be the one thing even a cooking novice could do perfectly, since the process involves only two ingredients, and anyone can boil water. It's true that cooking an egg all the way through is easy enough, but avoiding rubbery whites, a cracked shell and that unappetizing green ring around the yolk is far harder. Even experienced cooks struggle with making the ideal boiled egg. The key to perfecting the process is to ignore the dish's name: in fact, the longer you boil the eggs, the tougher they'll be.
Things You'll Need
Saucepan with cover
Bring your eggs to room temperature. Let them sit out on the counter for an hour or so if they've been chilling in your refrigerator.
Place the eggs in a saucepan. Pick a small pan for one or two eggs, or a large one for three or more. The eggs must be in a single layer and should have enough room to move around in the pan without constantly hitting one another.
Cover the eggs with cold, not hot, water. Add just enough water to cover the eggs by 1 or 2 inches.
Heat the pan over high heat just until the water comes to a rolling boil. Pull the pan off the heat and cover it.
Set a timer depending on how cooked you want the eggs to be. Let the eggs cook in the hot water for two to three minutes for soft-boiled eggs, in which the yolks are runny and the whites soft. Adjust the time upward if you prefer the whites to be more cooked but still want soft yolks; seven to eight minutes will suffice. Let the eggs sit for a full 12 minutes in the covered pan if you want them completely hard-boiled.
Drain the water out of the pan and transfer the eggs to a bowl of cold water, which stops them from cooking any further and getting tough. Let them cool for a minute before handling them.
Tap both ends of each egg against the counter top to crack the shell. Hold the egg under cold water as you peel it. Try to slip your fingers under the thin membrane that separates the shell and egg white, since pulling this membrane away makes the task easier than pulling off small chunks of shell. Be as gentle as possible if you're peeling a soft-boiled egg, since the liquid yolk will ooze out if you cut the white open. Sprinkle the egg with salt and pepper and enjoy.
Eggs plucked directly from the chicken coop are hard to peel once they're boiled. If your eggs come from the supermarket, they're old enough to peel with no problem, regardless of whether they're a month or a week from their expiration date. If you're lucky enough to have access to freshly laid eggs, they're better used for frying rather than boiling.
Always check the expiration date on your box of eggs to ensure that they're still safe for eating.