Eggs are being boiled in a pot.

How to Soft Boil an Egg

Learning how to soft boil an egg is easier than you may think. The perfect soft boiled egg should have a firm white that encases a warm and runny yolk that you can dip your hot toast into. If this sounds like heaven but you cannot seem to get it quite right, this handy guide will help you.

While it is more difficult to cook a soft boiled egg rather than a hard boiled egg, you are sure to reach perfection if you follow these simple steps.

1. Find the Freshest Eggs

The key to making a great soft boiled egg is using the freshest eggs possible. Organic free range hen eggs are our favorites but you can choose any eggs you like. You should always check the expiry date on your grocery store bought eggs and try to bring home the freshest. Even better, if you live hear a local farm or farm shop, you can ask for eggs that were laid in the last couple of days. While eggs with a longer date will not make you ill, they will not taste as good. Using the freshest eggs possible is also a tip for making perfect poached eggs.

Eggs should be kept at room temperature so if you store your eggs in the fridge remove them for at least 30 minutes before cooking them. If you eat eggs on a regular basis then there is no need to store them in your refrigerator.

2. Do not Drown or Dehydrate the Eggs

While boiling an egg does not take too long you do not want to risk the water boiling away, causing the sauce pan to burn. If you put too little water in the pan with your eggs then they may not cook evenly. The ideal amount of water is enough to cover the eggs by approximately one inch. You should lower your eggs slowly into the pan using a large spoon so as not to crack them by simply throwing them in. If you find that your eggs always cracks you can use a pin or toothpick to pierce a small hole into the top of the egg before cooking.

3. Perfect Timing

Second to the quality of the eggs you are cooking is the timing. It is best not to guess how long your egg has been boiling. Use a stand alone egg timer or your oven timer for accuracy. When timing your eggs you should wait until the water has come to a boil and has settled to a rapid simmer. People often make the mistake of putting the eggs into cold water and bringing to boil, but this will result in under cooked eggs. You can carefully drop eggs into the simmering water or place them on a spoon if this is easier for you.

You will need to adjust your time depending on how many eggs you are cooking and how soft you want your egg. For one to two soft boiled eggs, you should cook for five minutes. If you are cooking three to four eggs add an extra 20 seconds. It is advisable to cook your eggs in batches. If you are cooking more than four you may end up with uneven cooking. If you want your eggs slightly harder then cook for seven minutes.

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4. Prepare Your Eggs

Once your eggs have finished cooking it is time to carefully remove from the pan. If you are not planning to eat your eggs straightaway then place them in a bowl of cold water to prevent them from cooking further.

If you are eating your eggs with toasted soldiers you just need to slice the top off gently by tapping it with a knife and slicing to reveal the top of the yolk. Toast can be dunked in and you can use a small spoon to scoop out the white of the egg once you have eaten the yolk.

If you want to fully peel your egg then simply tap the larger end of the egg gently and continue tapping the rest of the egg. Once the shell cracks in one place it will come off easily. Some people gently roll the egg before peeling but this can cause cracking.

5. Enjoy!

All that is left is to enjoy your eggs just the way you like them. Some of the best ways to enjoy boiled eggs are in the following recipes.

  • Boiled egg and soldiers
  • Tuna Niçoise
  • Kedgeree
  • Egg curry
  • Egg and bacon salad
  • Cobb salad
  • Deviled eggs
  • Egg salad

Top Tip!

If you like your soft boiled eggs served simply but you do not have an egg cup, you can use a small ramekin or bowl and fill it with dried rice or baking beans. You simply place the egg into the bowl and the rice will keep it stable!