How to Hard- or Soft-Cook Perfect Eggs Like a Pro

I just returned from a long weekend trip to Ottawa. Whenever I travel (and I travel fairly often, usually for short stints that often involve work and occasionally pleasure), I always find the days before and after I am away to be busy and hectic.

My best-laid food plans can get derailed faster than I can pack a suitcase (which is pretty fast at this point).

Because I frequently lack time and creative energy before and after I travel, I tend to rely on fast favourites as part of my healthy food habits: enter hard- or soft-cooked eggs.

I love making a big batch of perfect hard- or soft-cooked eggs to use as an easy and ready source of protein for quick meals in the days leading up to travelling.

For me, eggs are in many ways an ideal and quintessentially perfect source of protein. They offer:

  • High-quality protein (about 6 g protein in 1 chicken egg)
  • Complete protein in that they contain all of the essential amino acids
  • Easily digestible protein (with a biological value of 100, many nutritionists consider eggs the gold standard for protein absorption/digestion)
  • Vitamin D (critical year-round but especially during the winter months for us Canadians when sun exposure is often limited)
  • Brain food! They are one of the best non-meat and non-seafood sources of choline, a B vitamin that helps support memory. You can check out this resource on World’s Healthiest Foods for a look at some of the other health benefits of choline.

For years I used to always boil hard- or soft-cooked eggs. I’ve tried various techniques over the years and sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. I’ve cooked eggs where the outside was well-cooked and the inside was still very raw. I’ve overcooked them more times than I can count, with that unsightly but innocuous grey ring appearing around the rich yolks. I’ve also cooked my fair share of eggs that ended up badly misshaped after I tried to peel them.

Now, the only method I use to cook hard or soft eggs like a pro is to steam them.

I wouldn’t call it a secret exactly, but I don’t think it’s a common technique yet.

I hope to change that by sharing it with you!

The steaming method results in perfectly cooked eggs, every single time.

This technique also results in easy-to-peel eggs that can handle a bit of rough handling when you’re in a hurry (as I often am when peeling eggs). And it doesn’t even matter whether you peel them hot or cold, the eggs always look great!  

Here are my super simple step-by-step instructions for steaming hard- or soft-cooked eggs like a pro:

1. Fill a large pot with several inches of water.

2. Fit in a steamer attachment (that matches your pot) or a vegetable steamer basket that fits inside. Important note: The water shouldn’t rise above the bottom of the steamer, so the eggs shouldn’t be sitting in water.

3. Place your fresh eggs in the steamer attachment or basket. Cover and increase the heat to high.

Eggs in steamer basket

4. Cook those eggs using the power of steam until they’re done to your liking! For soft-boiled eggs, this is usually 10-12 minutes for me.

5. Add them to an ice bath (a bowl of ice filled with cold water) and let them hang out until they are cool enough to handle.

Steaming eggs - ice bath

6. Peel and/or store and use as you like!

Soft-cooked eggs

A few added tips:

  • You may have to play around with the timing based on your preferred egg hardness, your equipment, the number of eggs being cooked at one time, altitude, etc.
  • Since cooking eggs reduces their nutritional content, I usually soft-cook them to take advantage of as much nutrition as I can. However, you can usually achieve hard-cooked eggs by increasing the cook time by 2-3 minutes.
  • If storing them for later use, you can peel them before or after they go in the fridge. It doesn’t seem to affect the peeling one way or the other. I like to keep the shells on until I’m ready to use them.
  • I typically eat chicken eggs but you could easily adapt these instructions for quail eggs, duck eggs or goose eggs. Use 3-4 quail eggs for every 1 chicken egg in egg salads, etc.

Recipe Ideas for Hard- or Soft-Cooked Eggs

Adding hard- or soft-cooked eggs to your meals is an easy way to pump up the protein in them. This is true whether it’s:

  • in your lunchtime salad or as egg salad (with or without bread – think lettuce cups or collard wraps for an extra veggie boost);
  • in a quickie brekkie with a big pile of leftover roasted vegetables; or
  • as an afternoon snack with some sea salt and spice.

A quick lunch for me could be a big salad, lots of veggies, and a few soft-boiled eggs, cooked up in no time flat.

And while the eggs cook, you can make a bang up dressing to give everything a supreme flavour boost.

They’re portable and easy to dress up in a multitude of ways.  

Share your favourite way to eat your hard- or soft-cooked eggs with me!  

Life is a plate… Eat up!


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