The Perfect Procrastination: How To Boil an Egg

My perfectly boiled egg.

As you can tell from the headline, I am deep in the process of procrastinating. While my real job calls for thousands of words about dining, I am convinced it is far more important that I drop what I am supposed to be doing and answer a question sent to me by PR boy toy Jef Tingley. Yes, he spells his name with one “f,” but I will save that analysis for a later procrastination post.

Jef with one f” asked me how to boil an egg. Don’t laugh. How many times have you had tiny shards of shell pierce the delicate skin beneath your fingernail? I shared my secret with “Jef with one f” by private message on Facebook which made several people curious enough to email and ask (BEG!) for my secret.

You are going to have to jump hard.

How is it that I hold the key to the secret method of boiling an egg? My first job in a kitchen called for me to make 300 deviled eggs every morning for 2 years. Do the freaking math. I have peeled a ****load of eggs in my day. Okay, don’t say I never gave you anything. I’m opening a vein and spilling it now:

Place ROOM TEMPERAURE eggs in lukewarm tap water. Add (a lot) of iodized salt. Bring the water to a boil slowly and allow it to “soft rumble™” (MINE!) for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat. If you are cooking on electric heat soft rumble for 2 minutes and leave the pan on the element.  NOW, and this is critical: how fast they are ready will depend on how many eggs are in the water. If you have a couple dozen, leave them in the water until it is cool. Otherwise, usually 20 minutes will do. BEFORE you proceed to the next step, fish one of the eggs from the water, dry it off, and spin it. YES, SPIN IT on the counter. If it wobbles around like Stephen Doyle at 2AM, it isn’t done. If it twirls around fast and steady like Leslie Brenner when she lived in LA, it’s ready to peel. Pour out the water, NOT THE EGGS YOU NINNY, and refill the pan with cool water. Peel the eggs while they are submerged in water. Sometimes I toss a little ice in there if I find a difficult egg. If your eggs crack while cooking, like me on deadline, you’re totally screwed. Repeat the above process.

Your nubby little fingers can now type me a thank you note.

Now, back to my regularly scheduled work load.


  • JB

    I never new the “wobble/Spin” test. cool. I use Baking soda instead of salt but I suppose it has the same biochemical effect. Also, while I am also procrastinating, I just noticed that this guy from A&E’s “Storage Wars” looks just like Jay Jerrier at Cane Rosso.

  • Gipson

    I use essentially the same method, except in my electric kettle rather than on the stove top. Best part is, it turns itself off when you reach the boil. For warm applications – and for me, they always are – I prefer 6-7 minutes from the point of boil, then immediately into an ice water bath. It’s easy to shell, and you get a firm white with the perfect lava-like yolk.

    From there you’re just a little homemade mayo, salt, pepper, smoked paprika and fresh dill away from the best egg salad you’ll ever have. Once you’ve had warm egg salad with still running yolk, the classic just won’t do ever again.

    Oh, and if you must have hard-cooked, 12-15 minutes in the kettle from the point of boil (when the kettle shuts off).

  • JB, awesome procrastination discovery. Deep rabbit hole. Also it’s Wobble/Spin™ as of this moment. (Martha Stewart reads SIdeDish and steals stuff all the time.) Gipson, I just finished a warm egg salad, although not as warm as yours, spiked with fresh jalapeno. Plus, my method, done right, guarantees there will be no ugly grey ring around the cooked yoke.

  • Another superb hint, as I learned from an ex-college roommate many, many years ago: Do not, under any circumstance, walk out the front door while the water is boiling. I promise, there is nothing stinkier than exploded, burnt egg all over your kitchen.

  • Gipson

    Nancy, I don’t know about guarantee, but in years of preparing eggs my way (to the hard-cooked stage), I’ve never had a gray ring around the yolk. Fresh jalapeno sounds good. Actually, I usually do Dijon mustard, which I now realize I left out of my original comment.

    Mayo, mustard, salt, pepper, paprika or cayenne, dill, nom, nom, nom, nom, nom…

  • irodguy

    Ah but in today’s busy world there is no reason to boil or roast mass quantities of eggs for deviled eggs. Simply go to Costco. You can purchase hard boiled and peeled eggs for little more than raw eggs. I make a lot of deviled eggs and this is a god sent. You can now make deviled eggs any time when no real labor.

  • Jeffrey Weiss

    I am less picky. Fill big pot with just water. Add eggs. Turn on high. Forget about them for a while. Remember I’ve been boiling eggs since the third commercial braak of the second quarter. Pour into colander. Then (and here is my trick) turn the cold water faucet on in your sink. Put the colander under the running water and grab the egg the cold water is hitting. (Eggs are still HOT, remember.) Crack it all over while keeping in and your hand under the running water. Start to peel while keeping the egg under the water flow. And once you get it started, let the running water do much of the work of peeling. Like a low-pressure cleaner. Yup, it’s a seriously hard boiled egg. And yeah, yeah, I get that ugly ring thing sometimes. But by the time I cut up the egg and mix in whatever, who can tell? And yeah, it’s not exactly water-conservation friendly. But it sure works. I can recall maybe two eggs ever that didn’t easily peel. Even really fresh eggs that sometimes are totally impossible.

  • TessaOverEasy

    This post made my day. Very funny. You should write a cookbook.

  • onette

    Ok…almost exactly like my grandmother’s tried-and-true method EXCEPT she called hers the ’15-minute method”…(20 minutes if you’re cooking a LOT of eggs…a dozen or more). Put eggs in pot with lukewarm water…add salt…turn heat way up. Set timer for 15 minutes. When timer goes off, turn off heat. Leave in pot until water is cool. Add ice. Perfect eggs and they peel like a charm.

    My husband is not quite so patient. He is always convinced there must be a shortcut to this…and sits there lamenting (as he is stabbed with eggshell fragments under his fingernails) that he needs to do it the “other way” next time…

  • chris

    Very fresh eggs do not peel well at all. If you want a perfect oval, poke a a hole with a pin inn one end. This gets rid of the air pocket.

  • primi_timpano

    You are letting the eggs set way to long. I let the eggs cook until the water boils, remove from heat, cover and let it sit for 8-10 minutes.