A boiled egg is as easy to prepare as it is versatile in culinary use. Eggs often are boiled in bulk, especially when cooks are preparing to dye eggs for Easter or make deviled eggs for a party. Cooking times will vary, depending on how big the eggs are, as well as how firm their yolks need to be.
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Regardless of egg size and desired yolk firmness, there are a few uniform procedures to ensure the best outcome in an optimal amount of time. The eggs must be placed in a pot large enough for them to remain a single layer. Fill the pot with enough cold water to cover the eggs completely. Place eggs on a burner set to high heat. It will take about 10 minutes (depending on altitude and stove type) for the cold water to reach a boiling point. When the water begins to boil, remove the pot from the burner and cover with a lid. This begins the cooking process.
When cooking medium eggs, a soft yolk can be achieved if the eggs are left in hot water for approximately three minutes. A dozen large eggs will require a cooking time of approximately four minutes. For extra large soft-yolk eggs, keep the eggs in the hot water for roughly five minutes.
Again, cooking time will vary depending on egg size. For medium-sized eggs with medium yolks, the eggs should stay in the hot water for five minutes. Large eggs should cook for six minutes, and extra large eggs should be left to cook for seven to eight minutes.
Hard-cooked yolks require the longest cooking time. It is important, however, not to leave the eggs in the hot water beyond the recommended cooking time or yolk discoloration will occur. Medium eggs require a 12-minute cooking time for hard yolks. Large eggs should cook for about 17 minutes. Extra large eggs should cook for 19 to 20 minutes.
Eggs should be placed in a cold water bath immediately following the allotted cooking time so the eggs will not overcook. Overcooked eggs can become discolored and rubbery.
The Salt Debate
The addition of salt to the cold water at the beginning of the boiling process serves to speed the boiling process along. Some cooks argue, however, that adding salt to the water results in rubbery egg whites. The addition or omission of salt is a matter of preference. If you are pressed for time, it can be a small shortcut in the process.