A Guide to Hard "Boiled" Eggs

With Easter around the corner, learn how to make hard-boiled eggs great for dyeing and then for eating.

How to Hard “Boil” an Egg[i]

 There are many theories about how to perfectly cook a hard “boiled” egg. Well, MDIO decided to find the perfect way to cook an egg in it’s shell by testing the traditional “boiling” method versus the seemingly favorite Pinterest method – “baking”.
Just so you know a hard-“boiled” egg is actually a misnomer. Boiling an egg will ruin the egg. Not only will the bubbles from boiling cause the eggs to crack and leak, the high temperature of the water will lead to over cooking. The secret to perfectly cook a hard-COOKED-egg is the temperature.

When eggs are cooked the proteins coagulate (come together) at various temperatures depending on the parts of the egg (white vs. yolk). Usually this happens when the egg is between 145-165 degrees F. When the temperature is too high, proteins overcook causing the whites to become rubbery and the yolk to dry out. When using the “wet method” also commonly referred to as boiling, the water should simmer around 180 degrees. It is faster to cook an egg in water than bake since water conducts heat 23 times faster than air.

TIP: If you add the eggs to cold water and then boil, they will taste better, however if you add the eggs to already boiling water, they will peel more easily.

Remember, once the water reaches boiling point turn down the heat to prevent over cooking. Cooking eggs in water is ideal for quickly hard-boiling an egg.  If you don’t want to use a thermometer, try my favorite way to achieve this:
DIY Hard “Boiled” Eggs

  1. Place the eggs into a large pot of room temperature water (cold for taste and boiling for ease of peel).
  2. Bring the water up to a boil. Watch closely!
  3. When you begin to see tiny bubbles (light boil), cover the pot.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Let the eggs stand and cook for 10-12 minutes.
  6. To stop the cooking, add the eggs to a cold water bath for about 10 mins.


TIP: If the eggs are hard to peel McGee’s On Food and Cooking1 shares a secret. Use older eggs versus fresh eggs. Fresh eggs are harder to peel because they are more acidic. As the egg ages, the pH becomes more basic. This causes the egg  to separate from the shell membrane and makes it easier to peel!

Science Note: As your egg cooks this is what is happening inside

  • 3-5 minutes warm yolk, milky whites
  • 5-6 minutes: sold yolk, firm white, can peel a this time
  • 10 minutes: dark yolk
  • 15 minutes: light yellow and dry yolk

If you have a large amount of eggs such as when dying Easter eggs, you can easily bake them without the mess of multiple pots of boiling water. Baking eggs also helps to ensure the yolk doesn’t get too dried out. Of course be sure to add the eggs to a cold-water bath – to stop the cooking process.

DIY Baked Hard “Boiled” Eggs[ii]

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
  2. Place eggs in muffin tin
  3. Bake for 30 min
  4. Remove from pan
  5. Place eggs in ice or cold water bath for a 3-10 minutes to stop the cooking process


TIP: Some people suggest poking a pin hole. The significance of the pin hole is thought to prevent eggs from cracking and to make then easier to peel, however studies are inconclusive. The hole does allow air to escape so that the pressure can release quickly and thereby prevent the shell from cracking. 


[i] Harold McGee. On Food and Cooking. New York, NY. Scribner. 2004
[ii] Hard Cooked Eggs in the oven. Available at: www.food.com


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