Easy Peel Steamed Eggs (soft, medium, or hard)

By Ann Fulton

Easy Peel Eggs -- Perfectly cooked eggs with shells that slip right off are easy with this simple technique.
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Tired of hard-to-peel boiled eggs? Shells that slip right off are within easy reach thanks to this simple technique. As a bonus, Easy Peel Eggs can be prepared with soft, medium, or hard yolks and will store in the fridge for a week.


Have you ever hard boiled farm fresh eggs? If so, you likely had a heck of time peeling them.  Sometimes, not-so-fresh eggs can be a challenge to peel, too.

I thought I mastered the art of boiling eggs some time ago, but after reading about the merits of cooking eggs in a pressure cooker or the über popular Instant Pot, I realized there was an even better way. And the thing is, you don’t need one of those fancy contraptions to do it.

There’s a simple stovetop solution for perfectly cooked soft, medium, and hard boiled eggs…and the shells will slip right off.  (See the big pieces of shell below?🥚👀)

How to cook hard, medium, or soft-boiled eggs with shells that slip right off!

After reading that eggs cooked in a pressure cooker (or Instant Pot) are extremely easy to peel, I tried. And they did. Eggs cooked this way were actually fun to peel!

For obvious reasons, the Instant Pot method became the only way I wanted to boil eggs. (Especially because we have backyard chickens, so our eggs are usually fresh and hard to peel.) But for those who don’t have a pressure cooker or the increasingly popular Instant Pot, there’s an equally good way: steam the eggs.

Why does this work? When the steam vapor penetrates the shell, the egg membrane pulls away from the shell and essentially loosens, making the egg easier to peel. (Do note that, though the science is the same when using a pressure cooker, the time it takes to cook the eggs differs.)

Easy Peel Steamed Eggs -- Perfectly cooked eggs with shells that slip right off are easy with this simple technique.

You can buy an inexpensive steamer basket, often in the baking aisle of the grocery store.  A rack that fits inside your pot will work, too. You just don’t want the eggs to be submerged.

For the sake of the photos, I pulled eggs out in the middle of the recommended time ranges for the medium-hard and hard cooked yolks. The time of six minutes for soft boiled is pretty accurate, as a minute less is too soupy and a minute more is slightly firmer than soft boiled—although still tasty.

Do note that factors such as egg size and precise heat setting will affect the cooking times somewhat.  That said, these ranges should be quite helpful.  My personal preference is an egg with a yolk that’s slightly undercooked (it’s creamier that way), so I steam them for 10-11 minutes.

How to cook hard, medium, or soft-boiled eggs with shells that slip right off!

Use this as a guide to determine how many minutes to cook your eggs so they’re perfect for you.

I placed some of the shells in the photo to show how a nice big piece of shell just lifts right off. (Break membrane where the air pocket is for easiest peeling.)

As mentioned, these instructions include an ice water bath for best control. As an option, I sometimes stop the eggs at 10 minutes and then put some in the ice water bath and let others cool without rinsing. The eggs that don’t sit in the cold water continue cooking until the yolks are evenly cooked through but still tender and creamy. Those who like somewhat undercooked eggs enjoy the ones where the cooking process was stopped, leaving the eggs a little soft in the center. 

When cooking for different preferences, you can store the eggs in different labeled bowls or use a Sharpie to mark the eggshell. To best preserve freshness, store any eggs that aren’t used the same day in the fridge with the shells intact.

For a quick video of the process, look at this Instagram post or click on the picture below:

Tired of hard-to-peel boiled eggs? Shells that slip right off are within easy reach thanks to this simple technique. As a bonus, Easy Peel Eggs can be prepared with soft, medium, or hard yolks and will store in the fridge for a week.

How To Steam Hard or Soft “Boiled” Eggs:

  • Start with eggs that are cold from the refrigerator.
  • Once the water has come to a boil over high heat, add the eggs, and then reduce the heat to medium-high. Cover immediately and set your timer.
  • Place the eggs in the steamer basket in an even layer.
  • Cook up to 6 eggs at once. If you want to cook more than 6, you’ll likely need a few extra minutes of cooking time and the eggs may not all cook evenly.
  • Make sure to keep the pot covered.
  • Have an ice bath ready to stop the cooking process.
  • The first time you use this technique, check one egg a minute or two early in order to determine the perfect level of doneness for you.
Easy Peel Eggs -- Perfectly cooked eggs with shells that slip right off are easy with this simple technique.

Easy Peel Eggs (soft, medium, or hard)
Yield: 6 eggs
You don't need an Instant Pot for perfectly cooked eggs (with shells that slip right off!) thanks to this simple technique.

6 large eggs, cold from the refrigerator

Equipment: Steamer basket or rack that fits in the bottom of the pot


Place the steamer basket or rack in a lidded saucepan or pot, and fill with as much water as needed to reach the bottom of the steamer basket (about 1 inch or so).

Heat the water on high heat until it is rapidly boiling. Remove the pot from the heat and quickly but gently place the eggs in an even layer at the bottom of the steamer basket.  Put the pot back on the burner, reducing the heat to medium high.  Cover the pot.

Set your timer for 6 minutes for soft boiled, 10-12 minutes for not-quite hard boiled with a partially translucent and bright yolk, or 13-15 minutes for fully cooked-through hard boiled.

Remove the eggs to a bowl of ice water with a slotted spoon, or run cold water directly into the pan to cover the eggs and quickly cool them.

To best preserve freshness, store the eggs, unpeeled, in the refrigerator for up to a week.


Several factors can influence the steaming time, like altitude and the size of eggs used. The first time you use this method, I recommend removing one egg a minute or two before you think it will be done, rinsing it with cold water, and breaking it open to see if it is cooked to your liking.  At this point, you can still cook the remaining eggs for another minute or more if desired.  (I’ve also skipped the ice bath when the eggs are slightly under as they will continue to cook once removed from the steamer basket.  After the first time steaming eggs, you’ll know exactly how much time is needed to cook the perfect egg for you, and you can experiment from there.)

This method works best if the eggs are in a single layer.  If you’d like to cook more eggs at one time, you’ll likely need to add a couple of minutes to the steaming time and the eggs may not all cook to the same precise degree of doneness.


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  1. shelley n

    I recently discovered the “steaming egg method” and cannot believe how amazing the difference in peeling. I usually do not use an ice bath, just tap water without problem. I was so excited I bought a steamer for my son and his wife since they love hard “boiled” eggs but hate the peeling. They were also amazed . Did not know how to store the cooked eggs, nor the exact timing so thanks for sharing.

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Shelley, I’m glad these details here were helpful – it is so satisfying when the shells slip right off. Thank you for your thoughtful comment and so nice of you to buy a steamer for your son and his wife too!

  2. Vera Moore

    Not every time does steaming give you easy-peel eggs! It is my normal go to for hard boiled, but this morning for soft cooked eggs, the shells gave me a seriously hard time! Usually this method works for me 100% of the time for hardboiled and medium boiled.

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Vera, My guess is the whites were too soft to easily peel. If you look at the photos, the yolks in the soft boiled eggs are runny by the whites are firm. This is my best guess since you mention the method works for you 100% of the time for hard and medium boiled eggs. I’m sorry this time wasn’t up to par, but perhaps cook them a touch longer the next time.

  3. Dan Blanchard

    I don’t peel my eggs. I cut them in half and run a spoon between the shell and egg. Thin I just lift the egg out.

    1. Ann Post author

      Thanks for mentioning, Dan. My mom used to do that with soft boiled eggs, but it could certainly be done with fully cooked ones as well.

  4. Dana

    I recently read a Better Homes & Gardens article about steaming eggs instead of boiling. So, I went looking for more info. Glad to see your article, too. It is such a huge difference! The eggs REALLY were EASY to peel. I am so surprised! And shocked that I didn’t know this sooner. I used to stand over the kitchen sink and put the egg under running water to help peel it, and I would get so frustrated–usually loosing about 1/3 of the egg in the process. Yay–steam the eggs! Love it!

    1. Ann Post author

      Dana, I’m so glad you tried and had the same fabulous eureka moment that I had when I first used this method. It’s so satisfying when the shells slip right off - without running water throughout the process or losing a third of the egg!

  5. Kris

    I tried this with mixed results-

    4 eggs in steamer basket, following directions. Removed 2 eggs to cold water bath at 6 minutes. Removed 2 eggs to cold water bath at 7 minutes. I waited ~30 seconds to 1 minute before removing shell of 6 min eggs. FAIL. Messy and egg shell stuck in huge chunks. I waited 1-2 minutes to remove shell of 7 min eggs. BETTER… but still struggled with shell a bit.

    Is there a recommended time to leave in water bath? Also a point to crack egg shell? I had better luck with tapping the widest (bottom) part on counter. Used a little water to help shell come off. Thanks!

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Kris, We can troubleshoot this so the next time things go better! First, did you keep the pot on medium-high heat? Also, if you use extra large or jumbo eggs, they will take slightly longer to cook. There could be slight variation in cooking time from one stove to the next, if the number of eggs in the pot is varied, etc., but short of a stove that doesn’t get as hot as it should, I’d focus on the first two things I mention. I find a couple minutes in the water bath is enough to cool the eggs so they’re not too hot to hold. Warm eggs will be the easiest to peel. Finally, I tap the egg all around to crack the shell and find the air pocket. If you start peeling there and get a hold of the membrane, the whole shell should slip off easily. Hopefully this helps. If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

  6. Janette

    It’s almost 3:30 a.m. and I am now hungry for a soft boiled egg! I will have to try this method. I have an instant pot but have not used it very much.

    1. Ann Post author

      Love it…sounds like great late-night (or early morning as the case may be) fare to me! I have an Instant Pot, too, but this method is actually quicker because you don’t have to wait for the cooker to come to pressure. Enjoy!

  7. Gail

    Hello Ann and Happy 4th of July. I am going to have to try your method of steaming eggs to make hard boiled eggs. I have always used a egg cooker to make hard boiled eggs. You pierce one end of the egg and place it in the egg cooker, fill the egg cooker with the correct amount of water for soft or hard boiled eggs. The eggs are not submerged in water, but sit above the water It takes about 10 or 15 minutes for hard boiled eggs. In this method the eggs are being steamed but I can still have trouble peeling the eggs. I have learned not to use eggs I just purchased but to use eggs that have been sitting for a few days in the refrigerator. But I am definitely going to have to try your method. I already have the above mentioned steamer which I use for vegetables. Thank you for this great tip.

    1. Ann Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Gail. Steaming–either in a pressure cooker or with this simple method–is the only way I’ve found to easily peel really fresh eggs. I hope you find this to be true as well!

  8. Gram

    I put my eggs into other cold water and start timing when water comes to a boil. Boil for 9 minutes. Submerge immediately into cold water.

    1. Ann Post author

      Thanks for mentioning and Happy 4th, Gram. ❤️ The main difference with steaming is that the eggs are easier to peel.