Is there anything other than the temperature of the shell making it difficult to peel? I'm sure the white would be firm enough to withstand a gentle peeling if you're careful?

I was hypothesizing about it as a potential easy alternative to poached (all contained nicely in it's own shell for cooking), but I've never seen it before. Is it impossible, just a stupid idea, too risky (i.e. being squirted with trapped hot water from the white/shell etc.) or just something that hasn't been tried?

  • The point of poaching (or any soft-cooking) of egg is to keep the yolk cool... were the yolk "napalm temperature", it would be solid, not liquid.
    – Catija
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 16:27
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    ...by the way, there is no reason a soft boiled egg can't be peeled. It is frequently done with both traditionally cooked and sous vide eggs.
    – moscafj
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 16:39
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    I recently bought a pressure cooker. Pressure cooked "boiled" eggs peel much more easily. Peeling traditionally soft boiled eggs is tricky because if they are even minutely undercooked, they fall apart no matter how gentle you are; if they are slightly overcooked , you don't have a soft boiled egg. Pressure cooking in an electric pressure cooker is super precise and since the pressure compresses the egg inside the shell, the shell just falls off.
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 17:13
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    I agree with @moscafj. Peeling them all the time (well, the weekends mostly), no problem whatsoever, and I like runny eggs. I peel soft boiled quail eggs too , and they are a pain in the a** to peel, even hardboiled. If they can be peeled, chicken eggs should pose no problem. Don't rush it, be gentle, and you'll do just fine. Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 17:17
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    (warning: Very Personal Opinion Ahead) The only benefit of poached eggs in my view (see preliminary warning) is presentation. There's a marginal additional benefit if soft boiled eggs are served unpeeled. Taste wise, I've never experienced any difference. Personally, I've categorized poached eggs as an ideal mix for chefs to get big kudos on presentation, while not having to peel the egg, for the same experience in taste. As a completely unrelated side note, I also don't like making them, because I usually need 3, instead of 2 eggs to get good results ;) Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 17:57

6 Answers 6


Yes it is absolutely possible!

Soft-boiled eggs are delicious. I make them all the time, love it especially on ramen:

https://i2.wp.com/yestoyolks.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/IMG_2715.jpg?resize=1024%2C723 ( source )

The trick is to boil the egg in a rolling boil for 5 or 6 minutes depending on the size of the egg, then dumping them in cold water to stop them from cooking further. This product might help too.

You have to be a little bit more careful than with hard-boiled eggs when peeling, but it really isn't very hard to do!

I then dip the meat from my ramen in the egg yolks, and later break the white in pieces and eat it with the noodles. Yum!

  • Ooooh pictures! Thanks! Also... I have one of those timer things, was given to me as a Christmas present one year :)
    – Lyall
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 18:17
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    Comment not a criticism. Cooling to peel is going to cool the eggs. It you want it hot (like on toast) then that is the down side. If you are going to cut them in half then you can do it hot as I offered in my answer.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 18:59

If the white is firm enough to hold shape it should not be different than peeling a hard boiled egg.

I have had it by mistake because I did not boil the eggs long enough.

They have different taste than poached from not being in contact with water.

But why? You would need to cut them to eat them. If you just bit into the whole egg the yoke would squirt out.

What problem are you trying to solve?

What I do is cut the egg open with a table knife with a whack. And then spoon the egg out with a spoon. It is faster and you get a hotter egg as you have to let the egg cool some to peel.

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    Thanks for the answer! I'm not trying to solve a problem, it's just something I was thinking about earlier (hence in the question "I was hypothesizing about it"). I'm rubbish at poaching eggs and I know there is lots of advice online already so I wondered if you get a similar result from boiling. More of a 'peeled boiled egg on toast' than a 'naked boiled egg with soldiers' if that makes sense.
    – Lyall
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 17:21
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    If you want to question the existence of the question... you should do it in a comment. It's very odd to submit an answer and then complain that the question is useless.
    – Catija
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 17:25
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    @Catija If you want to characterize my statement as asserting useless then that is on you. I stated the implications and gave an alternate. OP certainly did not take it poorly.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 17:29
  • But your "alternate" solution doesn't allow for a pretty presentation that looks like poached eggs.
    – Catija
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 17:30
  • I would say the main issue here is the original question, which simply requires a yes or no answer.
    – moscafj
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 17:37

It is possible, and not too difficult to at least attempt.

The white will have a different to texture to that of a poached egg, but not a million miles off, and the yolk will be the same (assuming they are cooked the same amount)


I just ran into this situation today. I don't normally cook, but due to a nasty protracted cold, I bought (among other things) extra large eggs. I would bring them to boil, then set them aside. For 12 minutes. Boy, that was overdone. After some web searching, I found that I should set them aside for 5.5 minutes for runny yolks. That worked fine, but man were they hard to peel. For both 5.5 and 12 minutes, I would douse the eggs in cold water afterward to make them easier to handle and peel.

The difficulty in peeling suggests that the less cooked the egg, the harder to peel. This experiment was done with eggs from the same dozen. Odd thing is, I can't find mention of this on the web. On the contrary, I find the opposite claims. I wonder whether such a claim was based on a controlled experiment.

Barring any other egg boiling hacks, I had to boil them longer if I wanted easier peeling. I figure that one way to boil the whites longer without boiling the yolk as much longer (it is the whites that are in contact with the shell) is to put the eggs from the refrigerator directly into boiling water rather than bringing the eggs to a boil within the water. This is because of the temperature gradient between the egg interior versus the surface, which is minimal when the egg is brought to a boil.

Heck, if I kept the pot on the burner for maybe about half of the 5.5 minutes mentioned above for off-burner time, followed by cold water dousing, I would probably get a very well done whites, with hopefully runny yolks. I expect this because I'm maintaining the surface of the egg at boiling temperature, so there will be more heat diffusion into the egg, at least initially, which means more of a gradient. I will have to experiment. In any case, the more well done the surface of the egg, the easier it is to peel, according to the experiment thus far

Another thing that web search has revealed to be helpful is to add vinegar to the water. I have yet to try this.

2018-03-11 UPDATE: My experiments indicate that I can in fact cause the outside white to cook much more than the inner yolk, thus enabling easier peeling while maintaining a soft yolk. I placed the eggs directly into the water after it was brought to boil, and I kept the water on boil for four minutes. The outside yolk was indeed well done and easy to peel. The only problem is that I caused too much differentiation between the well done outside and the underdone inside. The inside was still quite wet. Next time, I will try five minutes of continuous boil, which should cook the outside even more, making it even easier to peel, while propagating more cooking into the yolk.

I came upon a realization, however. With a runny yolk, I really don't want to peel the egg. I want to lop off the top and spoon out the inside. So the whole question of peeling a (very) soft boiled egg is kind of moot for me. I will still conduct the 5-minute boil test out of scientific curiosity.

2018-03-31 update: Transferred eggs directly from fridge into already boiling water for 5.5 minutes before immersing them in cold water. Shell was easy to peel, and yolk was still quite running, though more cooked than previous attempt. I think 6 minutes boiling is the sweet spot for runny yolks. Again, my experiments have been with "extra large" eggs.


I have a thing for egg salad as well as soft-boiled eggs, so I regularly do a dozen at a time, without salt or vinegar or pre-cracking, and every time this is what works...

Boil your eggs to desired done-ness (everyone's varies depending on the number of eggs/pot size/burner setting/etc.

This is the important part:

  • Immediately remove from heat and drain

  • Douse/rinse with cold water and repeat until heat is removed - this means until you can no longer feel the rinse water warming up from the residual heat of the eggs. Everyone says this is to stop the eggs from cooking in the shell, but the reason it is critical is because the continuous cold water makes the eggs sweat (cause condensation) between the white and the shell and possibly initiates some slight shrinkage of the egg that assists the separation.

  • Let sit for a few minutes...


  • Tap the egg gently on table or counter enough to slightly crack the shell

  • Place the palm of your hand over the egg, and gently roll the egg forward and back on the table and alternating sides. Apply just enough pressure on the egg while rolling to make it crackle as it rolls. You will know how much that pressure should be because you will feel the shell separate from the egg as you roll it. Too much pressure on a soft-boiled egg and you will break it open.

  • Pick a loose spot and begin peeling. You should be able to peel off the entire shell in one piece in a matter of seconds. I've often done it in about 2 seconds. Sometimes, depending on how you've rolled it, the shell will just plop off in two halves. It's quite amusing how excited one can get looking for that one second shelling.

Your success depends upon your rinsing and rolling skills as you endeavor towards that one-second shell. Practice makes perfect. Good luck

  • That's actually my exact method for cracking/peeling the eggs! Though the question was more about whether you can do that with a soft boiled egg (runny yolk) - does it still work or is it likely to cause it to split?
    – Lyall
    Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 20:29
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    @Lyall Actually, you can, but the threshold of when the white surrounding the yolk becomes solid enough to withstand peeling is tenuous at best. It's tough to get the complete runny-ness of poached with solid whites inside the shell. And its not the peeling that was the problem - it was handling it after, because the yolk isn't dense enough to support that thinnest part of the white and just too easily squishes in. But do you really want to eat runny eggs by hand? It's rather messy, unless of course, you're popping the whole egg into your mouth at once. In which case, bravo! Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 0:55
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    @Lyall I'm proud to proclaim success at producing the whole, peeled soft-boiled egg - intact. With photos. I set the timer at 5 mins and half-way thru, I turned the heat back up to a roiling boil hoping to produce a more solid white, and it worked! I ate one whole, but the thing is, I think I enjoy it more chopping it up with a spoon, mixing it up and eating it that way. The experience lasts longer as does the slurpy, yolky feel in my mouth. Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 14:54

Yes. The trick is how do you consistently and reliably get the egg whites cooked enough to peel without fear, but the yolks are still completely runny/liquid?

Check out America's Test Kitchen or Cook's Illustrated. They have a method for cooking soft-boiled eggs that is consistent and fool-proof. Basically, instead of a full pot of water, you just have a fraction of that amount in the bottom of the pot. This way, when you add the cooler eggs to the water, the volume is less to it very quickly comes back to boiling. You steam the eggs, and the water staying at boiling almost the entire times gives you that reliability. Mine come out with the yolk entirely liquid, but the whites solid enough to peel, every time.

This time I brought a mere 1/2 inch of water to a boil in my saucepan, and then I placed two cold eggs directly on the bottom of the pot, covered it, and steamed/boiled them. Because of the curved exterior of the eggs, I reasoned, they wouldn’t make enough contact with the water to lower the temperature significantly, so the cook time would remain the same as it did with the steamer. At the end of 6 1/2 minutes, I cooled the eggs by transferring the whole pot to the sink and running cold water into it for 30 seconds. I peeled the eggs and cut each one in half, revealing two beautifully tender yet fully set whites cradling warm, fluid yolks.

Subsequent tests with different-size batches (from one to six eggs) worked equally well using exactly the same timing. And with only 1/2 inch of water to heat, this recipe was not only the surest and most flexible but also the quickest. Just in time, my reputation as a serious and sane test cook was restored. Never again would I stress about producing perfect soft-cooked eggs for breakfast anytime, anywhere, under any conditions.

Cook's Illustrated:Foolproof soft-cooked eggs

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