I'm steaming eggs, rather than hard-boiling (I want the same effect), because it's convenient as I'm using the steam from some boiling chickpeas underneath.

But I can't seem to find a definitive estimate for how long to keep them steaming.

One source says 20 minutes. http://www.communitychickens.com/2012/08/the-best-way-to-hardboil-eggs-is-to.html#.Uk0oAX-aejs

I imagine that's too long.

Another source implies 7 minutes. http://whatscookingwithkids.com/2011/05/27/forget-hard-boiling-eggs-steamed-eggs-are-easy-to-peel/ (In the comments.)

And then there is the usual time for hard-boiling, which is 10 minutes.

I don't want to cook them any longer than necessary.

  • 2
    As an experiment, I took one out after 11 minutes, and another one after 16 minutes. The one after 11 was clearly not hard boiled yet, and the one after 16 was almost there (except it's not a good experiment since I interrupted the process by taking out the earlier egg). All this was using the lowest heat of the smallest gas burner, generating a small amount of steam, so it probably took a long time to warm up. Oct 3, 2013 at 9:06
  • 3
    In general, steaming takes much longer than cooking. While I haven't done it with eggs, times of 20 min and upwards sound normal, even with more steam. And there is no "boiling longer than necessary": eggs can be boiled partway, or completely. A hard boiled egg is completely boiled, and if you leave it for longer, there are no more changes happening inside it than if you had left it for the minimal amount of time it takes. (unlike soft-boiled eggs, which continue on their way to hard boiled if left longer).
    – rumtscho
    Oct 3, 2013 at 10:16
  • 4
    @rumtscho The grey/green edge around the yolk you sometimes see (and is generally considered undesirable) is a direct result of boiling longer than necessary, and the texture of the egg takes a hit too if overdone. Eggs boiled too long become rubbery.
    – Jolenealaska
    Oct 3, 2013 at 13:21
  • 1
    @rumtscho Oh no! The yolk gets perfectly solid well before the grey/green ring and long before the whites get rubbery. Read the comments to post meridiem's response. Steaming gives a pretty wide margin for complete success. I'll post a picture tonight or tomorrow. One thing that I have found to be key is to bring the eggs to room temperature before you cook them, whether by boiling or steaming.
    – Jolenealaska
    Oct 4, 2013 at 3:16
  • 1
    @rumtscho I edited my answer to include a photo. Notice, not even a hint of grey/green. The white is tender, the yolk is solid.
    – Jolenealaska
    Oct 5, 2013 at 21:16

7 Answers 7


I like to follow Alton Brown's approach: steam for 12 minutes, drop into ice bath. Always turns out perfectly for me this way (and as a bonus, they're much easier to peel than boiled eggs).

Here's the video from Alton's show, with some extra information in it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUHKpHek2E8

And while unrelated (since you want to steam them), if you want to know everything there is to know about hard boiled eggs, this Food Lab edition on Serious Eats has you covered: http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/10/the-food-lab-science-of-how-to-cook-perfect-boiled-eggs.html

  • 1
    I love Alton, but as a part of my experiment I steamed for 12 minutes because that's how long I've always left them in water that has been brought to boil. At 12 minutes (without disturbing the lid) I got a decidedly soft-boiled result. That's a large egg brought to room temperature before steaming. 20 minutes gave me perfect "hard boiled" results 2 times in a row.
    – Jolenealaska
    Oct 3, 2013 at 16:26
  • 2
    Does anyone know what could cause this rather large 8 min. difference? I'm close to sea level as well, so steam temps are the same. Egg temps would be very close. If I steam for 20, I get chalky, green-ringed yolk. Maybe organic vs. regular eggs (the shell might be more permeable for the former)? Oct 3, 2013 at 16:53
  • 1
    The temperature of the steam would be the same at a rolling or low boil, but the density of the steam would be different, making the ambient temperature inside the pot different. Just for giggles, I'll try it again at a rolling boil. My eggs were packed on Julian Date 255, Sep 12.
    – Jolenealaska
    Oct 3, 2013 at 17:19
  • 1
    And the answer is: Hard boil vs barely boiling! I did it again, this time keeping the water at a hard boil. This time the 12 minute egg was just fine, the 20 minute egg was fine too - no green, texture was fine.There was a difference between the two eggs, but it was negligible.
    – Jolenealaska
    Oct 3, 2013 at 18:29
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    The temperature of the steam could be anything. It's the temperature of boiling water that won't exceed 100°C. Assuming a small vent, boiling water at high heat, rather than low, will result in higher pressure (and temperature?) of steam. (Higher pressure because rate of steam in = steam out; for it to escape from the same vent faster, there has to be higher pressure.) Since there is a difference in cooking time, there has to be a difference in temperature as well — it's the temperature to which the egg shell gets that's important here. Oct 5, 2013 at 12:41

20 minutes is perfect. I brought a large egg to room temperature and steamed it over gently boiling water in a tightly covered pot. After exactly 20 minutes I plunged it into ice water, waited one minute, then peeled. It was as perfectly "hard boiled" as I've ever seen or tasted. For what it's worth, I'm at sea level.

It makes me want to do deviled eggs! I think I'm going to do it this way from now on.

Be sure to read the comments on post meridiem's answer.

Here's a perfect "hard-boiled" egg, brought to room temperature, steamed over rapidly boiling water for 13 minutes and then plunged into ice water.

steamed egg

  • In my case, also over gently boiling water, the steamed eggs were harder to peel than is usual for hard boiled eggs, given the same post-cooking treatment (wash in cold tap water for about 10 seconds, then leave in the pot with cold water). I wonder what exactly is different... temperature? Oct 5, 2013 at 12:57
  • I hope that no-one interprets that "tightly covered pot" in the wrong way. There should always be some vents, otherwise it might explode. (Unless we're talking about pressure-cookers, but that's a different story. They have special pressure control mechanisms.) Oct 5, 2013 at 13:06

I steam mine all the time because it makes them much easier to peel. I own a restaurant and I'm all about easy and fast. I agree that 10 minutes is plenty of time for them to be done.


Bring the water to a boil first then cover and reduce the heat to med-high, not low then set timer for 10 to 15 minutes depending on size of eggs and how done you want the center. I like them slightly soft and do extra large eggs at 11 minutes. If you put everything in the pot then turn on the heat and start the timer you have to account for the time it takes the water to boil- thus the 20 minute time.


I steam mine in my rice cooker, start it up to make sure it's warm then I set it to steam for 12 minutes. It's nice because the steam basket fits nicely into the ice bath after and it's all easy clean up. Mine turn out perfectly every time, no green and no raw parts :)


Steaming should take about 12 minutes - variation possible for size, altitude, personal preferences. Science Friday covered this pretty thoroughly a while back. The key points being:

  1. Ease of peeling is due to cooking the outer layer quickly enough to bind the membrane to the inside of the shell.
  2. A cold water bath at the end only matters if you're looking for round bottoms for presentation purposes

20 minutes is the perfect time. I do it like that all the time.

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