A perfect egg is one of life’s great small pleasures. Here’s how to make soft-boiled eggs: how long to soft boil the egg, plus how to eat one.
How to Make Soft-Boiled Eggs
Of all the ways to eat eggs for breakfast (or any time of day), there is something uniquely fun, even elegant, about perfect soft-boiled eggs, with their cooked whites and bright, runny yolks. Whether peeled and placed atop dishes like ramen and avocado toast, or scooped from little cups with some toast soldiers, these sunny eggs deserve a spot on your breakfast table.
Read below to learn:
- How to make a perfect soft-boiled egg
- The best method for cooking a soft-boiled egg (yep, the “hot or cold water to start” question), and
- How to eat a soft-boiled egg
How to Soft Boil an Egg: Cold or Hot Water to Start?
“Should I boil the water first for soft-boiled eggs, or start the eggs in cold water?”
Ah, the eternal question of boiling eggs everywhere: Whether it’s better to boil water first and then submerge the egg, or whether to start with the egg in cold water and bring it up to a boil. The truth is, both methods work.
Intelligent minds can differ, but my favorite method for cooking soft-boiled eggs is to boil the water first, and then add the egg to cook it. Why?
I find that bringing the water to a simmer first does two things:
- Prevents the white from sticking to the shell (game-changer!), and
- Allows a very precise, accurate cooking time.
How Long to Cook a Soft-Boiled Egg
This method, in which the egg is lowered into simmering water, takes exactly seven minutes. That’s why a soft-boiled egg is often called a 7-minute egg.
To cook a soft-boiled egg:
- Bring a pot of water to a gentle boil.
- Gently lower refrigerator-cold, large egg(s) into the water. I use a slotted spoon to do this.
- Cook at a gentle boil or high simmer for exactly 6 1/2 minutes for a just-set egg whites with very runny yolks, or 7 minutes for fully-cooked whites with a slightly jammy (but still runny) yolk. The 7-minute egg is my preference.
- Stop the cooking by submerging the eggs in cold water for a minute.
- Serve with salt and pepper.
How do you eat soft-boiled eggs?
Now the fun part: eating your soft-boiled egg! There are a couple of ways to eat soft-boiled eggs. The first way would be to simply peel the egg (easy, since you boiled the water first!), and slice it in half — perhaps topped over ramen or avocado toast, for example, topped with a sprinkle of good salt and pepper.
But if you want to properly eat a soft-boiled egg breakfast with the egg nestled in an egg cup, here’s how to do it:
- Put the soft-boiled egg in an egg holder,
- Use a knife or side of a spoon to crack around the top part of the egg, then slice all the way through to remove the top of the egg.
- Salt and pepper the soft-boiled egg, then use a small spoon or toast soldiers to eat up. Don’t forget to eat the bit of white inside the “lid” of the egg!
You can also buy special tools for cutting the top off of soft-boiled eggs, such as this Rösle soft-boiled egg topper, which I own and personally vouch for.
Can You Reheat a Soft-Boiled Egg?
Yes, you can make soft-boiled eggs in advance. To reheat the eggs from the fridge, lower them into simmering water for a minute. This should warm them through without further cooking them.
Did you enjoy learning how to make a soft-boiled egg? You’ll also like these egg recipes and techniques.
Soft-Boiled Eggs (and How to Eat Them!)
- 2 large eggs, straight from the refrigerator
- Salt and fresh-cracked pepper, to taste
- 2 slices well-buttered toast (optional)
- Bring a pot of water to a gentle boil. Gently lower the eggs into the water. TIP: I use a slotted spoon to lower the eggs into the water; a small strainer works well, too. Don't drop them in because they could crack.
- Cook the eggs at a very gentle boil or high simmer for exactly 6 1/2 minutes for just-set egg whites with very runny yolks, or 7 minutes for fully-cooked whites with a slightly jammy, but still runny, yolk.TIP: The last minute of cooking is the best time to start your toast, if using. Once toasted and buttered, cut your toast into several strips. These are your toast soldiers.
- Stop the cooking by rinsing or submerging the eggs in cold water for a minute. Serve as desired. Here's how to eat a soft-boiled egg in egg cups: Place the soft-boiled eggs in the egg holders. Use a knife or the side of a spoon to crack all the way around. Then slice through to remove the top part of the egg. Salt and pepper the egg, and eat with a little spoon or toast soldiers.