How to boil an egg perfectly and the common mistakes to avoid

Learning how to boil an egg properly is a life skill you'll never regret learning
How to boil an egg perfectly and the common mistakes to avoid

Boiled eggs are the perfect fast food: ready in a jiffy and instantly satisfying.

 Bring the water to the boil first 

Yes, you can cover your eggs in cold water and heat both the eggs and the liquid simultaneously, but you’ll get a better result if you boil your water, carefully add the room-temperature eggs, bring it back to the boil and allow the pot to simmer gently.

Timing is everything 

Unsurprisingly, the longer you leave your egg in the water the harder it will become. If you want your egg sunny and runny, three to four minutes is enough time to leave it in the boiling water. A six-minute boil will give you a firmer white with a soft yolk while longer will completely hard boil your eggs.

Flavour your water 

You’d think it wouldn’t make a difference since you don’t consume the shell, but salted water adds a depth of flavour to boiled eggs that is well worth the extra effort. Their shells are porous so a little goes a long way.

Serve immediately 

Especially if you prefer soft boiled eggs. The egg will continue to cook in the shell if you don’t crack it. If you aren’t serving them immediately, cover the unbroken eggs in cold water to stop them from cooking further. When you are dishing them out, serve with black pepper, toast soldiers and a bit of butter to melt into the yolk.


Once you’ve mastered the basics you can build upon your egg-sperience. Hard-boiled eggs are great when added to salads and other dishes as well as on their own, and if you’re feeling brave you could try poaching an egg next (but be warned, it takes a lot more patience).

Old-fashioned Irish salad

recipe by:Darina Allen

This simple, old fashioned salad can be quite delicious when it’s made with a crisp lettuce, good home-grown tomatoes and cucumbers, free-range eggs and home preserved beetroot

Old-fashioned Irish salad



Preparation Time

10 mins

Cooking Time

10 mins

Total Time

20 mins




  • Fresh watercress or butterhead

  • Lettuce

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, preferably free-range, quartered

  • 2-4 tomatoes, quartered

  • 16 slices of cucumber

  • 4 slices pickled beetroot

  • 4 tiny scallions or spring onions

  • 2-4 sliced radishes

  • Chopped parsley

  • To serve: 

  • Salad cream 


  1. Hard-boil the eggs for the salad. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, gently slide in the eggs, boil for 10 minutes (12 if they are very fresh), strain off the hot water and cover with cold water. Peel when cold. Wash and dry the lettuce and scallions.

  2. To assemble the salads: Arrange a few lettuce leaves on each of 4 plates. Scatter a few quartered tomatoes and 2 hard-boiled egg quarters, a few slices of cucumber and 1 radish or 2 slices of beetroot on each plate. Garnish with spring onion and watercress, scatter the remaining egg white (from the dressing) over the salad and chopped parsley.

  3. Put a tiny bowl of salad cream in the centre of each plate and serve immediately while the salad is crisp and before the beetroot starts to run.

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