The Best Way to Make Hard Boiled Eggs

Trying to figure out the best way to make hard boiled eggs? We’ve got all the methods and tips for you here!

Hard boiled eggs cut in half, shown from overhead.

There are a variety of ways to make hard boiled eggs and each has it’s pros and cons. Some are quicker, some are more hands off, and some work better for large amounts. We’ll walk you through to find the right method for you.

Soft Boiled Eggs

First, we’ll take a step back and talk soft boiled eggs. I prefer the traditional method for this because it’s easier to get it exactly right. But, if you adapt any of the other methods below to cook for less time, that can work too.

I do find that each device is just slightly different for that, and every person’s preference on softness is different, so what you want to do is figure out how long to do yours to get your perfect cook. We’re focusing on hard boiled here because that is more standard and easier to give an accurate cook time.

Traditional Hard Boiled Eggs

This is probably the way you’re used to making hard boiled eggs – in a pot on the stovetop. You put as many or as few eggs as you need in a single layer in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Then you bring it to a boil, remove from the heat, and let sit for 12 minutes. After the eggs are cooked, drain the hot water and replace it with cold water and ice to cool the eggs through.

hard boiled eggs cut in half, shown from overhead

Pros:

This method is tried and true, so you don’t have to worry that it won’t be right. All you need is a pot with a lid and some water, no special equipment necessary. And as long as you have a big enough pot, you can make a lot at a time this way! Or use a small pot and just make yourself one or two.

Cons:

Of course, with cooking on the stovetop, you do need to monitor it so you notice when it starts to boil and you need to pay attention to the timing in the hot water. Sometimes the eggs don’t peel easily with this method either.

Steamed Eggs

Steamed eggs are made very similarly to hard boiled, but instead of covering them with water, the eggs go into a steamer basket above the water. Put about an inch of water in your saucepan and place a steamer basket in the pan. Once the water is boiling, add the eggs to the basket, cover the pan, and cook over high heat for 12 minutes. Like the hard boiled, you’ll drain the hot water and replace it with ice water to cool the eggs completely.

Steamed Egg cut in half on a yellow plate.

Pros:

Steaming the eggs makes them easier to peel than most other methods. (Read why here.) If you’ve ever gotten frustrated while peeling a large amount of hard boiled eggs, you know that this is a big plus!

Cons:

Like traditional hard boiled, you need to keep an eye on the stove and take the pot off the stove at the right time. You also may or may not have a steamer basket in the size you need.

Instant Pot Eggs

With the 5-5-5 method, Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs are a breeze. Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes, do a natural release for 5, and then cool in ice water for 5 minutes. This is great for doing a large amount of eggs. Plus, have you heard about the Instant Pot Egg Loaf? It’s a cooking hack for when you’re using the hard boiled eggs for an egg salad or something where you’ll be chopping them.

white plate with quartered hard boiled eggs on it; with shells in background and orange striped cloth

Pros:

It works for larger amounts and the eggs are the easiest ever to peel. Plus, once you get started you can leave it unattended.

Cons:

You have to actually own an Instant Pot and the trivet. And since the Instant Pot has to come up to pressure to cook, it’s really not worth it for a small amount of eggs.

Air Fryer Eggs

Ok, so Air Fryer Hard Boiled Eggs don’t even require boiling water. Just set the air fryer to 250°F, put the eggs in the basket, and set the timer. We found four eggs fit nicely without crowding and take 15 minutes to cook. After cooking, you can run cold water over the eggs in the basket to cool them down.

tan plate with brown line around edge with quartered hard boiled eggs on plate; white cloth in background as well as whole hard boiled egg with broken shell

Pros:

You can walk away and not worry about monitoring it, plus there’s no waiting for water to boil. This method works well for small amounts and cleanup is easy. They also peel pretty easily.

Cons:

You, of course, will need an air fryer for this method. (Though if you don’t, I highly suggest it.) This also really only works if you are making a smaller amount of eggs. The air fryer needs to be able to circulate air around so you want the eggs to have some space between to get a proper cook.

Conclusion:

The method you choose depends on your priorities and goal. For large amounts, the Instant Pot is a great option. For small amounts, you can’t beat the ease of the air fryer. And for those without those options in their kitchen, I think defaulting to the steamed method is the best for any amount of eggs because they peel so nicely.

How do you like to make your hard boiled eggs? Let me know!

The Best Way to Make Hard Boiled Eggs
The Best Way to Make Hard Boiled Eggs

Christine Pittman

Christine is the Senior Editor and Owner of The Cookful and of COOKtheSTORY and of the podcast Time Management Insider. Her sites reach over 2 million readers per month, which means that things can get a bit crazy. She's constantly writing, taking pictures, editing, recording, interviewing, managing contributors, and, oh yeah, cooking. To say that she wears many hats is an understatement - there are many hats, and also many shirts, shoes, pants, and even the odd cape!