Perfect Soft-Cooked Eggs with Buttered Toast “Soldiers”

soft boiled egg

Thank you to Safest Choice Eggs for sponsoring this post

Who doesn’t love a perfect soft boiled egg? But getting the timing just right, so that the white is cooked, and the yolk still runny, is tricky. Unlike fried or poached eggs, where the firming of the white happens before your very eyes, with boiled eggs, it’s all hidden inside that shell.  You can’t be sure if you’ve  nailed it until you cap the top of the egg, and by then, it’s a little too late to fix.

A Reliable Method

I’ve got a new method for soft-boiled eggs, picked up from the smart folks at Cook’s Illustrated, that has vastly improved my “on time” results. Really, they’re not boiled eggs at all, but technically steamed. The result is a more consistently perfect egg without the tendency for cracked shells, as so often happens (at least for me) when you drop them into boiling water.

Soft Boiled Egg

In a nutshell, this method involves filling a pot with a small amount of water, bringing it to a boil, and steaming the eggs for exactly 6 1/2 minutes. Once the timer dings, run cold water over the eggs to stop the cooking process. That’s it.

Buttered Toast for Dunking

In our house, we serve soft-cooked eggs with toast “soldiers,” a practice picked up from friends in the UK.  You cut buttered toast into half-inch strips, which look a little like tall, thin soldiers, just the right size to dunk into the center of an egg. If you are concerned about serving eggs that aren’t cooked through to your kids, consider pasteurized eggs such as Safest Choice

Easy Baked Eggs

If you’re fond of eggs with a tender yolk, you might like these Easy Baked Eggs as well.

Soft Boiled Egg
5 from 2 votes

Perfect Soft-Cooked Eggs with Buttered "Soldiers"

The key here is two-fold: 1) Get your eggs quickly into the pot with the lid on 2) Immediately set a timer. It's ideal to use a digital timer or even the stopwatch on your smart phone so that timing is accurate. If you are doing a lot of eggs at once, adjust the size of the pot so the eggs fit easily and consider using a steaming basket that you can fill with eggs and drop into the pot so the eggs all cook for the same amount of time. Also, be sure to use eggs that are coming straight from the refrigerator.
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Total Time 8 minutes
Servings 2 eggs with buttered soldiers
Calories 350 kcal
Author Katie Morford


  • 2 cold eggs (Safest Choice if using pasteurized eggs)
  • 2 slices bread
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper for serving


  1. Fill a small pot with 1/2 inch of water. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring the water to a full boil. Quickly (though gently) set the eggs in the pot (using tongs if you prefer), add the lid, and set a timer for 6 1/2 minutes, continuing to cook the eggs over medium-high heat.
  2. While the eggs cook, toast and butter the bread. Cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips and put on a serving plate.
  3. As soon as the timer rings, put pot into the sink and run cold water over the eggs for 30 seconds to stop the cooking.
  4. Serve in egg cups, if you have them, with buttered soldiers.

Recipe Notes

Method adapted from Cook's Illustrated



10.01.2013 at10:46 AM #

erin @ yummy supper

Katie, What a fascinating technique!

We love soft boiled eggs at our house too – total comfort food, right?

I have to say, I feel like my technique is pretty foolproof too;) Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add room temp eggs. Reduce heat to a simmer. After 5 min and 15 seconds dunk eggs into an ice bath. Voila!

Hope you and your gang are well Katie!


10.01.2013 at10:46 AM #

Katie Morford

Maybe room temp eggs make them less likely to crack. Nice to have options. Thanks for sharing Erin.

10.01.2013 at10:46 AM #

Katie Morford

The other thing about your approach, Erin, is that by using room temp eggs instead of cold eggs, the water temp doesn’t drop as much when you add them to the boiling water. That was one of the issues cited by Cook’s Illustrated as being problematic because adding a number of cold eggs to a pot full of water drops the temperature and affects cooking time.

10.02.2013 at5:40 AM #


As kids we always had soft boiled eggs. I totally forgot about them and sooooo need to share this with my boys. I bet they’ll love them. Thanks for sharing your cooking instructions. You are so right about the timing being tricky!

10.02.2013 at5:40 AM #

Katie Morford

Funny how we sometimes forget some of our old favorites. Hope your boys enjoy them.

10.02.2013 at6:28 AM #


Thank you for sharing this.

I do have a question: When you put the eggs in the boiling water is the pot still in the heat or do you take the pot out of the heat at this point?

Thanks again!


10.02.2013 at6:28 AM #

Katie Morford

Hi Tatiana

You are setting the eggs into the pot (using tongs if you prefer), then the lid goes on, and they continue to cook over the medium-high heat for the 6 1/2 minutes. I will go back and make sure to clarify that in the recipe. Glad you asked.


10.02.2013 at10:40 AM #


Annie puts the eggs in room temperature water and brings them to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. This work well only if you are good at watching or hearing the timer–oops!
Thanks Katie, I will try your method next time!

10.02.2013 at6:32 PM #

Anne Mullen

I put cold eggs in cold water and bring to a boil. Once the water is at a rolling boil – which I sometimes miss because I get distracted – turn the heat to very low and set the timer for 3 1/2 minutes. I think that time is right, but if that boil has been going for a bit before I notice it, they may be a bit more cooked than I like, but the idea of cold eggs in cold water cuts down on shells breaking. I look forward to trying the steaming method; seems like it would be very accurate. Thanks, Katie.

10.02.2013 at6:32 PM #

Katie Morford

Nice to hear from you Anne. You sound like a pro.

10.03.2013 at5:14 AM #

Annie Cobb

I’ll admit, I was skeptical. I considered myself a soft boiled expert having had at least one if not two soft boiled eggs each morning while I was pregnant. I thought I had perfected the method. Alas!! This is better and easier than mine. The steaming makes the egg white softer as well and it was perfectly perfectly cooked. Sold!

10.03.2013 at5:14 AM #

Katie Morford

Wow…coming from a soft-boiled egg expert, I’m so glad it worked!

10.04.2013 at4:32 AM #


I always forget about soft cooked eggs, but they make the perfect breakfast. Thanks for jogging my memory.

10.08.2013 at9:15 AM #

Aida Mollenkamp

Yes to buttered toast soldiers! They make soft cooked eggs that much better!

05.06.2015 at8:05 AM #


I always put my cold eggs in cold water, then bring them to a boil. Turn off and remove from the heat. After 3 minutes, run cold water into the pot and serve immediately. Cold eggs put into boiling water will certainly crack. I never tried steaming, though. Going to give it a try, thanks!

05.06.2015 at8:05 AM #

Katie Morford

I’m going to have to give your method a try as well. Thanks for sharing that.

02.16.2017 at8:35 AM #


This reminds me of my childhood. ….the soldiers that is. It was one of my favorite breakfasts and I recreated it this morning. I love them made this way ….i slso eat them peeled and chopped in a bowl with salt, pepper and butter. Yum!!

02.16.2017 at8:35 AM #

Katie Morford

I love a recipe that brings back sweet memories. Thanks for sharing yours.

02.24.2018 at6:08 PM #


To makeperfect hard boiled eggs, I put a dozen cold eggs into the insert of my pasta pot and put the insert into the fridge while I bring a couple of inches of water to a boil in the pot. When the water comes to a boil, I take the insert out of the fridge and insert it into the pot, cover, and wait 13 minutes while the eggs steam. At the end of the 13 minutes, I put the pot under the cold water tap and just let the water run into the pot until the eggs are cooled. i store these in my fridge so they are available whenever anyone wants a hard boiled egg. The shells come off very easily and there is no green sulfur ring around the yolk. Now I am going to try this same technique in a smaller scale for 5 minutes for my own soft boiled eggs. However, I won’t be chilling them before cracking them since I like to eat warm soft boiled eggs with melted butter on the yolk. Thanks.

02.24.2018 at6:08 PM #

Katie Morford

Thanks for sharing your hard boiled egg method! One of the best things to have stashed in the fridge for meals and snacks.

12.02.2018 at10:47 AM #

Linda Butler

Best eggs I have ever had. So surprised because I always did the 3 minute boil.

12.02.2018 at10:47 AM #

Katie Morford

Hi Linda,

I love this method too…not breaking shells dropping them into the boiling water and so reliable every time! Thanks for the comment.


02.12.2019 at11:21 AM #

Lewis Johnson

I love hard-boiled eggs.

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