Perfect soft-cooked eggs

Soft-cooked egg Sandwich

Anytime I read about a foolproof method for cooking eggs, I have to try it out. And this method from Cooks Illustrated, I promise you, proved revolutionary. Tender, but set, warm whites and reliably runny yolks–whether one egg or six–every single time.

All I do is bring a 1/2-inch of water to boil (One-half-inch! As in takes-no-time-at-all) before placing my eggs in the pot, lowering the temperature to medium, and re-covering it. Then I set a timer for 6-1/2 minutes. It turns out that steaming the eggs (placing less water in the pot) actually means there’s less temperature variability owing to the number of cold eggs you introduce, making this recipe work for a simple morning ritual or for serving a crowd.

peeling soft-cooked eggs

After time’s up, I place the eggs in cool water to get them cool to the touch. The eggs are easy to peel (easier than hardboiled eggs) because the whites are so springy.

Soft-cooked eggs are delicious on their own, atop pasta with butter and cheese, on pizza… on nearly anything. Right now, my favorite way to eat these is with salt-and-pepper avocado toast: smear toast with a light serving of mayonnaise, cover with at least half a ripe avocado, top it with eggs and give it a healthy dash of freshly ground pepper and sea salt. Then, let the runny yolks do their job.

soft-cooked sandwiches

By the way, the folks in the Cooks Illustrated test kitchen pointed out that you’ll have the best success with eggs having perfectly centered yolks. It doesn’t make a huge difference, but it’s true: if you wanted to be an absolute stickler for an important meal you’re serving you can hold your eggs up to a bright light and select for the ones with centered yolks.

Soft-cooked egg sandwich

Have a great weekend! Will you try this for breakfast?

P.S. Blood-Orange Salad, my go-to pressed sandwiches, and a cardamon-pear upside-down cake.

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  • Leanne @ La Marinière

    Cook’s Illustrated has yet to fail me, it is such a fabulous resource for perfecting many recipes. These eggs look delicious, especially combined with the avocado toast.

  • Kristina

    Whoa! This is so great and exactly what I’ve been looking for. I feel like I’m still perfecting hard boiled eggs, and now I can’t wait to try this. Love the idea of putting it over avocado toast. Thanks for sharing!
    -Kristina

  • Focipresley (Bon)

    Well, I will not try it for myself. I have an aversion to runny yolk. I am happy to eat the egg if the yolk is firm 🙂 I may try the recipe for a loved one… thanks for sharing! Your pictures are lovely as always.

  • nicole b.

    I love Cooks Illustrated. Thanks for sharing. xo.

  • Hope

    YUM! & yes, I will! My sister just emailed me a short (similar) recipe: scramble your eggs w/ avocado. Is there anything avocado can’t improve?

  • Claire

    My co-worker recently sent me her go-to recipe for Brussels sprouts from Cooks Illustrated, and now this! I am still trying to figure out how to “perfectly” poach an egg, and it’s been hit and miss. This looks pretty fail-proof, though, and will still give me those runny yolks I like so much. Plus, on avocado toast! I will definitely be trying this out soon (as well as those other recipes you linked to, which all sound delicious).

  • Jen

    I love an over cooked poached egg on avocado and/or hummus toast for easy dinner- i’ll have to give this a try for faster results.

  • Amanda

    Thanks for sharing this ! My husband, always trying for the perfect egg, is very thrilled to try this method!

  • Lisa

    Yum! I have to give this a shot! Lately I’ve been fry/steaming eggs in an iron skillet with a lid on low temps.. It has been delicious, but I am looking for some new techniques. Thanks for the post!

  • Yumi

    This is one of my all time favorite combinations! Will definitely have to try this method. And hope Aron is doing well after his surgery and the three of you can be out and about on adventures soon!

    • Ashley

      Thank you, Yumi! He’s doing really well! (Sort of love having him home. 🙂

  • Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe

    Wow, definitely trying this cooking method. And that toast! Totally dreamy!

  • Little Kitchie

    This looks like perfection, ESPECIALLY on that avocado toast. Definitely going to try this out tomorrow morning!

  • Elizabeth

    Just made these in the same pot I had just used to make my pasta in… bad choice. The whites exploded and they stuck to the sides and bottom of my pot like some kind of twisted take on spider man…delicious though!

  • Laura

    i am SO making this tomorrow morning! yum

  • leah.

    i am picking up an avacado and making this for breakfast thismorning. i have been putting over-medium eggs on everything lately – so this will add a little variety! haha!

  • Yeji

    I literally *just* followed these directions and as a result had the most blissful Saturday brunch to date. Who would’ve thought that half an inch of water + covering the pot for six & half min would do such glorious things to the egg?! Thanks for sharing!

  • JB

    Tried this this morning and it was delish! You’re right, the eggs were perfectly cooked using this method.

    My hubs and I don’t like mayo at all so we swapped that out for goat cheese and it was really tasty.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Nicole

    Eggs on toast with avocado (and sometimes a little cheese, and tomatoes if they are in season) is my favorite breakfast. Will try this technique out tomorrow morning!

  • Monica

    o-m-geee. this is perfect.

  • caroline @thecopperavocado

    cooks illustrated is my go to for so many things. and the perfectly cooked egg is one i’ve continually tried to perfect but never thought to look at CI for the answer! so thank you. those look amazing.

  • Meira

    Yum! Just made this. Used home-made sourdough bread, and instead of mayo, a thin spread of cream cheese and a bit of feta cheese. The egg came out perfectly!

    Can I. Use this technique for hard boiled eggs?

    • Ashley

      THat sounds delicious! I would *think* it would work if you just pushed the time longer, but I can’t say I’ve tried. In the past, I’ve used Martha Stewart’s hardboiled method (probably findable with a Google search). You bring water to a boil. Then turn off heat, add eggs, and set a timer for a certain number of minutes. I can’t recall. But this is essentially the same thing… so it should work!

  • Isabel

    OMG thank you for this! I tried it this weekend and it worked perfectly!

  • Kara

    I just tried this method for a late lunch and it was absolutely delicious (and soooo easy!) Might be my new favorite way to eat eggs.

  • Lauren

    Oh my eggy goodness! I never knew! This is by far my favorite way to eat eggs, so I will be pinning this right now. Thank you for the great tip!

  • Julia

    Oh dear that looks so good. I love a good runny egg (with salt!). I recently saw something that said you can bake them in the oven too. Have you ever tried this with any success? I’m going to try your method soon.

    • Ashley

      Yes! I often bake eggs in cupcake pans. It’s wonderful–especially for large groups. Ramekins or something would work, too. I imagine there’s a recipe on Epicurious, but basically I just pop an egg into the tin, add some milk, top with some good swiss cheese and add salt and pepper–and sometimes nutmeg. Delicious! You can add spinach, too, but I’m not sure of how it changes timing, etc. Butter the tins first.

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  • Nicole

    I just tried this and you were right- it’s easy and delicious! I’m so glad you posted this recipe.

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    Just tried this technique — perfect indeed! I made only one egg; can’t wait to try it for two or more. Thank you so much for sharing.

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    Add a dash of cayan pepper – mmm good!

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    This looks like the perfect breakfast! I can’t wait to try this.

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  • Jo Hansen

    These really are the best soft boiled eggs. PERFECT every time!

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    I have some happy kids right now.

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  • Jen B

    These came out perfectly! I’ve wanted to try this for years. Thank you!! xx

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