How to Make Perfect Soft Boiled Eggs from Cold Water Every Time!

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How to Make Perfect Soft Boiled Eggs from Cold Water Every Time!

by Jacqueline Samaroo

Boiled Eggs

For many of us, cooking the perfect soft boiled egg is like an elusive and illusive dream. For others it’s a constant case of hit and miss – sometimes your eggs turn out just the way you like them and then other times they are either too soft or too firm.  

Making the perfect soft boiled eggs from a cold water start is really very doable. The only real trick is to have your timer handy! Once you get the hang of preparing them, you’ll be proudly eating soft boiled eggs anytime you get the slightest yearning for them.

What Are You Aiming For?

The ideal soft-boiled egg will not be the same for everyone. So, since it’s not an exact science, that’s where the experimenting (aka the fun part of cooking) comes in. You’ll probably have to do a few “test runs” before you hit upon the method that will give you your perfect soft boiled egg every time.

Here are three popular techniques for making soft boiled eggs from cold water. Interestingly, neither one actually involves boiling the eggs – read on, you’ll see what I mean.

 

Technique #1

If you are not too fussy about the exact consistency of your eggs then this simple technique will work for you.

  • Place room temperature eggs in the pot.
  • Cover them with cold water.
  • Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
  • As soon as the water begins to boil, reduce to a simmer.
  • Start the timer and allow the eggs to remain at a gentle simmer for 3 minutes.
  • Remove and serve. 

 

Technique #2

This method is a bit more precise. It requires that you never let the water actually boil so you will have to keep adjusting the heat.

  • Place room temperature eggs in the pot.
  • Add cold water to come up about an inch over the eggs.
  • Place over medium heat and allow to come to a brisk simmer (do not boil).
  • Start the timer and cook until done.
  • Remove and serve.

Suggested Times for This Technique

2 minutes for a solid whites and runny yolks

4 ½ minutes for solid whites and yolks that are soft in the center

 

Technique #3

Even more precise, this method allows the water to boil but the eggs cook off the heat. You are better able to fine tune the perfect textures of your whites and yolks with this slower method.

  • Select a pot with a close fitting cover.
  • Place cold (just out of the fridge) eggs in the pot.
  • Add cold water to come up about an inch over the eggs.
  • Leave the pot open and bring the water to a boil over high heat.
  • Once the water starts to boil, remove the pot from the heat.
  • Cover it, start the timer and let it sit for the desired amount of time.
  • Remove and serve.

Suggested Times for This Technique

3 minutes for whites that are barely set and yolks that are still runny

4 minutes for firmer whites and slightly runny yolks

6 minutes for set whites and yolks that are still soft in the center

8 minutes for whites and yolks that are both set but the yolk is creamy

 

 

Things to Consider

There are several factors that are going to affect how your soft boiled egg turns out. They may be a bit much to take in at first, but the more you try your hand at it the better able you will at adjusting the time to suit the conditions you are working with.  

Size

Of course, the larger your eggs are then the longer you will have to cook them. The techniques shown here use large eggs. Try adding (or subtracting) about 30 seconds as you move up (or down) in size.

Freshness 

Freshest is best for soft boiled eggs – the reverse actually being true if you are planning to hard boil your egg. The freshness of your eggs can be determined by checking their carton or by using this simple tip:

Fill a clear bowl with water and place the egg in it. Take a peek through the side of the bowl. What’s your egg up to?

  • If it’s sitting horizontally at the bottom of the bowl then congratulations! You have a super fresh and super flavorful egg.
  • If one end of the egg is tilted up slightly from the bottom of the bowl then that egg is about a week old and you’re still good to go.
  • If the egg stands on one end then it’s probably a couple of weeks old. Skip the soft boiled option with this egg and go with hard boiled, scrambled, fried, etc.
  • If the egg floats – chuck it out! That’s a very old and likely very spoilt egg – do NOT eat!

Post-boil 

  • To eat your soft boiled egg immediately, transfer it to an egg cup. Use your spoon to tap around the top of the egg (pointy or large end is your call). Remove the top of the egg and enjoy!
  • If you won’t be having your egg straight away or just prefer it cold, then you will need to have an ice-water bath (a bowl of ice and water) ready for them. This stops the heat retained in the egg from continuing the cooking process and keeps your egg at just the right consistency.

  As soon as you remove them from the hot water, plop them into the bath for about a minute. Give each egg a gentle tap on the counter to crack it, peel and enjoy.

 

Some Final Tips

  • Add a little vinegar to the cooking water to make the eggs easier to peel after cooking.
  • Use a pin to make a tiny hole in the large end of the egg before placing it in the water to cook. This lets out the air and prevents the egg from cracking as it cooks.
  • Try not to crowd the pot with too many eggs at once – they’ll take longer to cook. Better to do the eggs in batches if you have a large number to get done.
  • Older eggs (more than 5 days old) need less time to reach the desired consistency. Try reducing the suggested cooking times by 30 seconds for these eggs.
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