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soft boiled eggs, perfect

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Have you enjoyed the deliciousness of soft boiled eggs lately? The Damsel fears cooking them is becoming a lost art, and that’s what the Old School is all about.

Soft but firm whites. Yolks that are thick yet runny. Nothing snotty or goobery. Perfect.

People used to (anyone still? yes? yes?) eat them in egg cups that looked like this:


The eater would cut off the top with a knife and then scoop out the deliciousness, bite by bite. So old-fashioned, so yummy.

The Damsel adores them, although not in the precious little cups. She loves them scooped out onto a piece of sprouted-wheat toast with plenty of salt and pepper. HEAVEN.

But some people fear the soft boiled egg, thinking they’re too fussy or difficult. Let the Damsel put you instantly at ease. If you follow her easy instructions your soft boiled eggs will be PERFECT EVERY TIME.

Put an inch of water in a sauce pan and heat to a boil. You will feel strange doing this, but press forward. You are going to steam the eggs instead of submerge them. You will like doing it this way for several reasons, and the first lovely reason is: that inch of water will come to a boil more quickly than a full pot. Less waiting=good.

Carefully set the eggs into the inch of boiling water. This will also seem strange–the eggs sitting there with only a bit of water under and around them. Have faith.

Cover and set the timer for six minutes. You can turn the heat down a little if you like, but the water should remain boiling.

Reason #2 for steaming vs. boiling: you can do several eggs in the same pan, or just one, or whatever your egg desires are. It’s still six minutes. With the submerge method, the number of eggs would mess with the temperature of the water and then you’d wonder, do I cook it longer? or ? Not so here. You can have confidence that your eggs will not let you down.

When the six minutes is up, run a little cold water over the egg until you it’s cool enough to pick up with your fingers and do whichever type of surgery on it you desire–egg cup style, over toast, whatever. The egg inside will stay warm.

The Damsel cuts the eggshell in half with a butter knife, in the general vicinity of her toast, and then scoops all the yum out onto it. Use firm but delicate pressure to cut through the shell. You’ll get the hang of it right away.


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  • jocelyn

    Your tutorials are always a cinch! Thank you!

  • Talkin_Truth

    I started doing this about a year ago and it never fails — as long as I remember to set my timer.

    Has anyone tried to hardboil this way?

    Just found your site. I love it!

    • thedamselindisdress

      I haven’t tried it for hard boiling, but I suspect if you cooked it longer, you’d end up with just that.

      Here’s my favorite way to hard boil eggs:


      Thanks for attending the Old School!

      Margot (The Damsel)

  • Mabel

    I do this using my rice cooker (which has a smart steam function on it). I put in barely enough water so that the pot doesn’t go dry by the end of cooking, put the eggs in right away (while still cold), then press the smart steam button once (which automatically sets it to 5 minutes), then walk away to do whatever I feel like (such as brushing my teeth, or properly waking up …). Once the rice cooker beeps, I put the eggs into cold water right away, and they’ve been perfect every single time.

    • thedamselindisdress

      What a great idea!