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Sometimes when I cook hard boiled eggs they will crack in the saucepan, and some of the egg will seep out into the water.

Am I boiling the water too vigorously, or can I add something to the water to prevent it?

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12 Answers 12

up vote 23 down vote accepted

I used the method here before with good success: http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_make_perfect_hard_boiled_eggs/

Basically you start with the eggs in the pan with cold water and bring the water to temperature, right when it reaches boiling you pull the heat back and let the eggs cook for 10 minutes.

You don't need a full on boil to hard boil the eggs.

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1  
In my experience, steeping for 8 minutes is plenty and tends to reduce the greening of the yolks. That also gives you a buffer if it takes a bit of time to get back to the stove or fumble for a minute to prepare the water bath. – fields Jan 21 '14 at 15:13
    
This above method is how I hard boil eggs. It does a few things. First, it lets you put the eggs in the pan carefully so they don't crack from that. Second, you are not shocking the eggshell nor causing sudden expansion off the inside of the eggs (IOW making the inside bigger than the outside). The cooking is more gentle so the egg is cooked more evenly. I bathe my freshly boiled eggs in ice water for an hour to halt cooking sooner. It helps keep the eggs from getting tough, and it also Aids in shelling the eggs because the sudden chill makes the egg white sluff off the membrane. – Escoce Apr 4 at 14:37
    
Now, if you are going to make tea eggs or iron eggs which is to start boiling the eggs a second time in a spiced tea of sorts, you want to do that mostly right away. If you refrigerate your eggs over night then use them for tea eggs, they tend to expand grotesquely. – Escoce Apr 4 at 14:39
    
Being a perfectionist this would drive me crazy, then I discovered this method and now, no more cracked hard boiled eggs! – haakon319 Apr 5 at 16:24

Before you submerge the egg, prick the large end of the shell with a (clean!) thumb tack or safety pin. This will allow the trapped air bubbles - which are normally responsible for cracking - to escape during the boiling process.

Also take care to avoid any impacts:

  • Don't overcrowd the pot - the eggs should form a single sparse layer;

  • Use a tongs or spoon to lower the eggs into the boiling water - or start with cold water with the eggs already in the pot.

  • Make sure you use enough water - cover the eggs by at least an inch.

P.S. Even though the above should always prevent cracking, if you're still having problems, you can add some vinegar to the water. This will not help with cracking but it will make the eggs set quicker if they do crack and mitigate the nasty mess. I don't do this anymore, but something to remember if you're desperate (i.e. if the eggs are very old).

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This method also helps skinning the egg when cooked :) – algiogia Feb 19 '15 at 16:34

As eggs develop more air as they get older (which is why bad eggs float, fresh eggs sink,and old eggs stand up in water) you are more likely to get cracked eggs with older eggs, and if you plunge them in to hot water.

If you are doing it for hard boiling then you might be better using a technique like ManiacZX describes where you bring the eggs to the boil in cold water, then turn the heat off and leave them with a lid on for 10-12 mins.

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You'll want to fill the pot that you are boiling your egg with to at least an inch higher than the egg layer. This will prevent the egg from bouncing around too much. I've been using the stuffs written here in boiling eggs: http://knowhowtoboileggs.blogspot.com/2012/08/how-to-hard-boil-eggs.html

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For the first time I used a special rack to suspend the egg in the water without it resting on the bottom of the saucepan and for the first time ever it didn't crack.

Any other time I have tried all the above and it didn't help.

I'm now sure it's because of the contact with the hot surface of the pan before the water has a chance to disperse the heat so that it doesn't rise dramatically above 100 deg c

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There is an air bubble at the base of the egg as shown below. As you cook the egg the air bubble expands and cracks the shell. To prevent the shell from cracking, gently pierce the air bubble with a sharp, pointy knife. It allows the expanding air to escape.

enter image description here

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I am going to add a caution for simple over-cooking. I'm a soft-boiled fan, myself, but generally I think the risk of cracking is greater the more the eggs rattle around in boiling water with their liquid steaming inside. Low and slow makes great eggs.

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I trained as a chef; the way to do this is as follows.

The egg cracks for a number of reasons which are mainly due to a change of pressure within the egg itself. You never want to put a hole in the shell, add salt to the water or frankly any of the other suggestions on this page above, and it's not due to eggs banging about in the pan (that one did make me laugh).

  1. All you do is put the egg or eggs (I used to do this at work in a big pan 30 eggs in it).
  2. Pour boiling water half way up the egg.
  3. You will hear a hissing sound as the pressure in the egg changes.
  4. When it stops (after about 15 to 30 seconds) put the pan on heat and cook as normal.

Occasionally an egg will crack anyway due to having an uneven thickness of shell but there isn't much you can do about it. It's best to take the eggs out of the fridge (if that’s where you keep them, but that’s about all you can do).

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"occasionally an egg will crack anyway...but there isn't much you can do about it" sure there is: take some of the advice in the answers you dismissed. For example, the accepted answer (bring to a boil then let cook without heat) definitely works well. – Jefromi Apr 4 at 3:33

Pre warm chilled eggs in a bowl of hot tap water for 5 mins and put them straight into boiling water. Never crack!

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Most of the time it's the result of extreme temperature changes ie fridge to boiling water or worse boiling water + salt (higher temperature). Take eggs from fridge and warm them under hot tap. Submerge eggs at least 1 inch below in non salted boiling water. Viola no cracks.

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I agree with the pricking eggs at the rounded end, and also leave the top of the pot off. I never have cracked eggs.

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Add salt before your water gets hot

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