Put the eggs in a saucepan and add enough cold water to cover them by about 1 inch. Set the pan over medium-high heat and as soon as the water reaches a brisk simmer, start timing. As the eggs cook, adjust the heat as needed to maintain a brisk simmer. (Though we talk about hard-boiled eggs—and we’re using that term here—the fact is that cooking eggs in boiling water cracks the shell and makes the eggs tough and rubbery. A simmer works much better.)
From Fine Cooking’s Test Kitchen: Watch our How to Boil an Egg video to see an expert turn out soft-, medium-, and hard-cooked eggs without overcooking them.
Soft boiled: 2 minutes The white is solid, but the yolk is still runny. Serve in an egg cup for breakfast. Use the side of a small spoon to crack and remove the pointed end of the egg, making a hole in the shell large enough to fit the spoon. Or use egg scissors, if you have them.
Medium boiled: 4-1/2 minutes The yolk is solid but still dark orange-yellow, moist, and dense in the middle. Beautiful and delicious quartered on a salad.
Hard boiled: 8 minutes The yolk is completely solid, light yellow, and crumbly, with no sign of the telltale green or gray ring around the yolk that’s caused by overcooking. Perfect for egg salad or deviled eggs. Need more ideas for what to do with hard-cooked eggs? View the slideshow Hard-Boiled, Super Easy to get recipe ideas.
When the eggs are cooked, carefully pour out most of the hot water, leaving the eggs in the pan. Set the pan in the sink under cool running water for a few minutes until the eggs are barely warm. If the shells are stubborn, try peeling them under running water. The fresher the egg, the more attached the shell, so for boiling, older eggs are preferable.
The boil-and-walk-away method
For another way to hard-boil eggs, begin as directed at left with the eggs in cold water, but once the water reaches a brisk simmer, turn off the heat and let the eggs sit uncovered in the hot water for at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes—the water cools gradually, preventing the eggs from overcooking. This is a great method when you’re multitasking and can’t pay careful attention to the eggs.