Culinary Arts

All About Soft-Boiled Eggs: How Long to Boil Eggs and Easy Recipe

Written by MasterClass

Mar 15, 2019 • 3 min read

Boiled eggs are among the most low maintenance dishes on earth. With a cooking process composed of watching an egg bounce around in boiling water before freeing it from its shell, soft-boiled eggs pack a massively delicious, versatile reward for very little work.

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What Is a Soft-Boiled Egg?

A soft-boiled egg is an egg that has been cooked in its shell until the whites are set to a custardy texture and the yolks are creamy, with a consistency ranging from runny (uncooked) to jammy (half-set).

What’s the Difference Between Soft Boiled and Hard-Boiled Eggs?

A hard-boiled egg is one that has been cooked, usually in gently boiling water, until both whites and yolks inside the shell have solidified. Hard-boiled eggs hold their shape when cut or incorporated into other dishes like potato salad or deviled eggs while soft-boiled eggs are best served with dishes that benefit from their oozy, saucy centers, like pastas and stews.

How to Soft Boil Eggs in the Microwave

While the most common way to boil eggs is in water on the stove, it’s also possible to make soft-boiled eggs in the microwave. Fill a microwave-safe bowl or vessel (like a glass measuring cup) with water and bring to a boil on high. Remove from the microwave and insert one egg. Cover with a plate to trap the heat, and cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and transfer to an ice bath until cool enough to handle.

Cooking Time Chart for Boiled Eggs

In case you don’t have x-ray vision, and thus cannot tell on sight when an egg is cooked to your liking, here’s a quick guide:

  • 4 minutes at a rolling simmer for a loose white and a runny yolk
  • 5 minutes at a rolling simmer for a runny yolk
  • 7-8 minutes at a rolling simmer for a jammy, spreadable yolk
  • 10 minutes at a rolling simmer for a fudgy, nearly-set yolk

Factors that affect how long it takes to cook soft boiled eggs

  • Temperature of water. Aim for 190°F for the best results. Bring water to a rolling boil before bringing it to a constant simmer and adding your eggs for an even cooking process. Using the cold water method to halt cooking will allow for even more precision.
  • Batch size. The more eggs you add to the pot, the slower the cooking process will be. Try to keep it at a maximum of 4 eggs at a time to get the usual results.
  • Egg size. Depending on size, larger eggs may take a bit longer for the whites to set and yolks to come up to preferred consistency.

How to Peel a Soft-Boiled Egg

To peel a soft-boiled egg, tap the shell on a hard surface like a cutting board, rolling it gently until cracks have formed. Peel back the shell and the outer membrane in pieces, taking care not to break or puncture the delicate structure by ripping too quickly.

How to Eat Soft-Boiled Eggs

Instead of peeling, you can also eat a soft-boiled egg directly from its shell. Place it in an egg cup, then carefully slice off the pointed top of the egg with an egg-cutter or a small knife, and eat with a small spoon or toast soldiers—toast that’s been cut into strips for easy dipping in moments like these.

How Long Will Soft-Boiled Eggs Last in the Fridge?

Store unpeeled, soft-boiled eggs in the refrigerator, where they will keep for two days. You can reheat them with a quick trip into simmering water on the stove; just under a minute should heat the egg through without overcooking it.

Ajitsuke Tamago, or Soy-Marinated Soft-Boiled Eggs Recipe

1 egg
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min

Equal parts soy sauce, mirin, and sugar, this foolproof marinade gives perfect soft-boiled eggs a salty-sweet note perfectly at home in a bowl of ramen. Increase the amounts for larger batches, but keep to a 1:1:1:2 ratio.

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp water
  1. Combine soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and water in a bowl and whisk well to dissolve. Set aside, or transfer to a Ziploc bag.
  2. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat (there should be enough to cover the eggs completely—about an inch of water). Gently add the egg (even a hairline crack will allow the white to escape into the water as it cooks) and bring the heat down to a simmer.
  3. Cook for 5 minutes, then, using a slotted spoon, remove egg and place directly into an ice water bath. The cold water will stop the cooking process and make the egg cool enough to handle.
  4. Gently peel the egg and discard the shell. Transfer eggs to prepared marinade and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  5. Cut eggs in half, and reheat in ramen broth to serve.