Start eggs in cold water, lower them gently into boiling water, add a teaspoon of baking soda to the pot... Forget all the tricks you may have heard for perfect soft- or hard-cooked eggs with easy-to-remove shells. The best way to safeguard eggs against rubbery whites and overdone yolks is to skip the boiling altogether and steam them instead.

Steam transfers less energy to the eggs, cooking them more gently and yielding more reliably even results. With steam, you also won’t have to worry about the eggs banging up against each other or the pot, and you won’t have to wait for a full pot of water to boil, either.

To soft- or hard-cook eggs by steaming, fill a large saucepan with 1 inch of water. Place a folding steamer basket in the pan, cover and bring to a boil over medium-high. Meanwhile, fill a medium bowl with ice water. Add large eggs to the steamer basket, cover and cook for 7 minutes for soft-cooked or 12 minutes for hard-cooked. Immediately transfer the eggs to the ice water and let stand until the eggs have cooled.

We use this technique for eggs in a range of recipes, like our Chickpea and Harissa Soup (Lablabi), what we call the best soup in the world. We also steam for our Soft-Cooked Eggs with Coconut, Tomatoes and Spinach and Smashed Potatoes with Soft-Cooked Eggs and Mint (Yeralma Yumurta)—two recipes you can find in our latest cookbook, Milk Street: The New Rules.

The book isn’t just full of wisdom like steaming eggs instead of boiling them. It also contains other pointers for building a better foundation in the kitchen, like how to tame the harsh bite of garlic or make the most of your spices (bloom, toast and keep them coarse!). If you like this tip on steaming eggs, you’ll also find the rest of the guide on eggs useful, including the best way to scramble, fry and poach.

Check out The New Rules cookbook here and try Rule #39 in the recipe below or anywhere else you’d want a soft- or hard-cooked egg.

In Tunisia, soup is rich and bright
Chickpea and Harissa Soup (Lablabi)

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1 hour

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