Mom’s Soft-Boiled Eggs ‘n’ Toast

This recipe is so over-the-top easy that everyone should know how to make it without the aid of a recipe. Soft-boiled eggs were pretty commonplace when I was a kid. I remember ordering them at the local diner, but somewhere, somehow, they must’ve fallen out of fashion. I love love love soft-boiled eggs, likely because of my childhood memory of my mom making them (and me sneaking more butter into my bowl). Not quite cooked all the way, but cooked enough to smear on your toast. After you try them, soft-boiled eggs just might start making a comeback.–Amy Pennington

LC Weekday & Weekend Bliss Note

Perfect soft-boiled eggs (and a smidgen of butter) in less than five minutes? Simple. Perfect. Bliss.

Soft-Boiled Eggs and Toast Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 5 M
  • 5 M
  • Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs, per person
  • Unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Toast, if desired

Directions

  • 1. To cook the eggs, place them in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. For a medium-set egg in which the yolk will be runny and the whites a bit loose, cook for 1 minute (yes, just 1 minute!). If you prefer a firmer white, leave it for another 20 to 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat, place it in the sink, and run the eggs under cold water until cool enough to handle.

  • 2. To serve the eggs, using the back of a knife, gently crack the shells. Use the knife to slice each egg in half. Serve the eggs in a bowl with a small spoon, a hunk of butter, and a generous dose of salt and pepper. Toast is a nice partner for these eggs.

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Rebecca Marx

Sep 06, 2011

This is a terrifically simple recipe — so simple that, honestly, I’m not sure how much of a recipe it actually is. If you can slice bread and boil water, you’re golden. But simplicity is often a virtue, particularly when it’s so bloody hot that you can’t be asked to do much more than butter a piece of toast. And the minimal investment yields ample returns, in the form of the elemental pleasures that come from sopping up runny yolks with thick, buttery, salty chunks of bread. This is perfect for those times when you just don’t feel like cooking but still want to eat well. It is suitable for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and all points in between. And though it calls for slicing the eggs in half, I found it just as easy to peel them and plop them whole onto a piece of toast. However you do it, you’ll come away a believer.

Testers Choice
Carol Anne Grady

Sep 06, 2011

I’m completely biased in favor of this recipe, given that it’s a well-loved comfort food for pretty much everyone I know. The timing is spot on and delivers a runny yolk but mostly firm white, all of which mashes up with the butter, salt, and pepper to make an easy-to-digest, nourishing, and, most importantly, delicious meal. Be careful when you’re cutting into the egg, as you’ll lose all the yolk if you’re not. In Scotland we call it champit (mashed) egg in a cup. As this suggests, it’s usually served in a cup or a wee bowl.

Testers Choice
Jo Ann Brown

Sep 06, 2011

This was my mom’s go-to breakfast when she was pressed for time. Back then, she cracked the top of the boiled egg off and served it in an actual, honest-to-goodness egg cup. We dipped our strips of toast into the runny yolk before scooping out the rest. I prefer the method in this recipe so I can wipe the bowl of every last drop of egg and “hunk of butter” deliciousness. Simple, easy and wonderful. Yum!

Testers Choice
Anna Scott

Sep 06, 2011

This title of this recipe really held true–this egg dish really turned out tasting like something your mom or grandmother would make and like something you remember fondly from childhood. I grew up eating hard-boiled eggs more than soft-boiled, but this recipe may have changed my mind as to which I like more. I loved the taste of the butter on the toast, followed by the smooth soft-boiled egg smeared on top of that. We used a good whole wheat toast, and that was a nice accompaniment. In addition to the salt and pepper, I used a couple dashes of Tabasco, which, in my opinion, is always a great addition to any egg dish. In terms of cooking time, I ended up cooking the eggs for one minute and 30 seconds, which made the egg white just smooth enough and the yolk still a bit runny. I own and love Amy Pennington’s Urban Pantry cookbook; this recipe makes me want to pull it off of my shelf again right away and see what other delicious recipes she has shared with us!

Testers Choice
Cindy Zaiffdeen

Sep 06, 2011

I’ve never been able to make a perfect soft-boiled egg in the past — either the eggs crack or are too raw in the center — so I was really interested in trying this version. As the recipe didn’t specify straight-from-the-fridge or room-temperature eggs, I brought my eggs to room temperature, as gelatinous whites aren’t my favorite. Brought them to a boil and cooked them for exactly 1 1/2 minutes. Perfect! The whites were firm and the yolks still runny. The hunk of butter makes a great addition as well, extra velvety in the mouth. Delicious with toast! Thank you, Amy Pennington!

Testers Choice
Cindi Kruth

Sep 06, 2011

Really, this isn’t a recipe as much as a timing. We love eggs any which way, and I hadn’t soft boiled in a while. My method was to simmer them a couple of minutes. I say “was,” because “Mom’s” is now my new method. Not because it’s a minute or two faster, but because it’s more accurate. My tolerance for runny whites is low, my dislike of overcooked yolks is high. Getting just the right combination — softly set white, runny yolk — took three tries. Then I had it. My perfect timing was one minute and 40 seconds, if I started with just-out-of-the fridge eggs and cooked two at a time. No more guessing. Maybe I just never paid close enough attention. That often happens with experienced cooks and simple techniques. So thanks for making me stop and think about just how I like that soft-cooked egg. Good for beginners, and a great reminder to the rest of us to pay attention to the basics to get them just right.

Testers Choice
Linda B.

Sep 06, 2011

This turned out great! Much less messy than making a poached egg. The recipe’s timing is very accurate, so don’t leave your egg in the water for more than a minute and a half. I left it in for two minutes, and the yolk was starting to set. The touch of butter you add to the cooked egg is a nice touch, and makes a perfectly cooked egg even better.

Testers Choice
Jennifer V.

Sep 06, 2011

A simple egg preparation that does not require too much cooking time in the morning. I cooked the eggs for 90 seconds, as suggested by the recipe for a slightly firmer white. Served with toast points (or better yet, toast cut into long thin rectangles), this makes for a lovely breakfast.

Testers Choice
Taylor Wesa

Sep 06, 2011

This was a good, basic recipe. It was a great way to see how simple yet how good an egg can taste if it is cooked correctly. The timing in this recipe works as written. The only thing that may be tricky is to find a spoon small enough to scoop the egg out of the shell. At kitchen stores, you can typically find a spoon called an “egg spoon” that has a small bowl attached to a long handle. That would make it easy to scoop out the egg. Let the egg cool down before you try to crack and scoop the egg out, otherwise you might really burn your fingers. Using an egg cup, if you have one, would work well to stabilize the egg when you crack it open. If you don’t have one, a shot glass should be fine. Otherwise butter, salt, and pepper are all you need for this dish to taste delicious.

Testers Choice
Joan Osborne

Sep 06, 2011

I have an electric range, so on my first attempt I set the button halfway between high and low. It took my eggs so long to come to a boil that at the one minute and 40 second mark, the yolks were almost completely done. I like my whites set but the yolks runny. Since hubby likes his eggs hard-boiled, I just added those two to his hard-boiled ones to make egg salad. My second attempt caused me to lick the bowl. I turned the setting to a couple notches past the high setting, and when the eggs started to boil, I set the timer for one minute. When I cut one open, the yolks were perfectly runny and the whites not quite completely set, but I found out I like them like that. I then placed them in my bowl and placed that small hunk of butter on top. Then I sprinkled on some kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Once I dipped my toast in that heavenly concoction, my mouth became very happy. I guess it was the butter. I’ll be making these again. Who’d have though that a pat of butter would crank up a soft-boiled egg to such delightful heights?

Testers Choice
Adrienne Lee

Sep 06, 2011

These were delicious. I think they’d also be good in the traditional sense, on English muffins.

Testers Choice
Emily Olson

Sep 06, 2011

Hard for this recipe not to be recommended or made over and over again as it’s quite simple to prepare. Paying attention to the boiling water is the hardest part of this recipe. I liked the addition of the butter with plenty of salt and freshly cracked black pepper. I toasted a big piece of ciabatta and sliced the piece into “soldiers” for the eggs. Served with a salad for lunch or dinner, this would make a delicious meal.

Testers Choice
Deb Russell

Sep 06, 2011

Simple recipe. I just cracked the eggs and let them fall onto the toast. Not sure I needed the butter. Toast with eggs is more than adequate.


Comments
Comments
  1. Lauralee Hensley says:

    I know my mom made the soft-boiled eggs and toast when we were growing up, but honestly, I don’t think I’ve made them once. Guess I better get busy and make them, now that I’m craving them.

    Hmmmm, wonder where that nostalgic craving came from? Thanks for the reminder of the good old days.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Lauralee, I get the sense that maybe we’re kindred souls and that you dipped the pointy edges of your toast in those runny yolks…? Anyways, here’s hoping you had soft-boiled eggs for supper….

  2. Annie says:

    Hello? YUM!

    My Irish mother and all the mothers and grandmas I know call this “egg in a cup”. My first comfort food! Thanks for a great recipe with timing–can’t wait to try these! BTW, everything is better with butter!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      We can’t really take credit for this, Annie. It’s all Amy Pennington, author of Urban Pantry, the cookbook where we found this recipe. Although yes, we don’t disagree, butter does make everything better…

  3. Cuppy eggs! That’s what the people in the south of England call them. I’m so glad you gave the extra 20 to 30 seconds option for a firmer white. Phew! Soft-boiled eggs never went out of fashion in the UK – was it the salmonella scare that made that happen in the US?

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      So charming, this cuppy egg moniker! As for your query, who knows what makes anything go out of favor with us fickle Americans, although yes, salmonella probably played a large part in it. I’m all for being prudent, although let’s also pay mind to pleasure…

  4. slo529 says:

    This is comfort food for me and for my 20-something-year-old kids. So much so that growing up they’d ask for “Mom’s special eggs.” Fortunately I came clean before they had a chance to read this recipe, so they knew it wasn’t just “Mom’s” special eggs before you outed me.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Pure pleasure is what your comment just brought, slo529. Pure pleasure.

  5. Vicki says:

    Oh, this is my dear husband’s favorite comfort food – his grandmother made this for him when he was very little, and sometimes in the morning I will find either toast crumbs, eggshells, or egg yolk on the counter, and know he was up in the night comforting himself. He is always surprised that I know what he has been up to (it may have something to do with not wearing glasses when you cook in the middle of the night). I think I may have to introduce him to coddled eggs – we have four egg coddlers, and this would be a fun adventure for him, since you can add so many tasty bits to coddled eggs. Although I’ve never been fond of soft-boiled eggs, I must admit, his soft-boiled eggs on toast (made from my sourdough whole wheat bread) is very good. Yes, a bit of extra butter makes it better!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Vicki, I don’t even know what your husband looks like, yet I have visions of him standing in bathrobe at the counter, oblivious to the fact that he’s dripping soft-boiled egg onto the counter because he’s so happy. Many thanks for such a charming respite from reality.

  6. xania says:

    Yum… I remember eating these years ago, sometimes for breakfast but usually for supper – my husband and I usually had 3 soft-boiled eggs each – I then would gently “crack” off the top of the shell with a knife, letting it’s nectar flow over soft pieces of torn-up bread, never toasted- I would then add small pats of real butter and salt and pepper crowned the top – sooo good! I think I’ll go “jog” his memory – Thanks for the post!

    • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

      Hi Xania, I had totally forgotten about the soft-boiled eggs that my mom fixed me every morning. Like you, it was a great memory- so good that I was drawn to this recipe for today’s breakfast.

      Enjoy! Beth

  7. Christine says:

    I recently moved from Memphis, TN, to Denver, CO. Before moving to the Mile High City, I had soft-boiled eggs down to a science. Now, I can’t get the whites to set before the yolk is getting too done. Anyone have any tips? Thanks!

    • Abigail says:

      We don’t have high mountains, but when we go to Europe, we add 1 minute of cooking for every 500 meters of altitude.
      At home we are almost at sea level and we like a 4-5 minutes soft boiled egg.
      There, at about 2000 meters, it takes about 9-10 minutes to have the same egg.
      I once read somewhere that prince Charles of the UK asked his staff to cook for him every morning 7 eggs at different cooking times. He tries them all to find the perfect soft boiled egg… You can try this method…

  8. Annie R. says:

    The recipe is perfect in its simplicity and absolutely delicious. Makes buttering the toast obsolete. Thank you for posting.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Our pleasure, Annie R. Though the thanks really go to author Amy Pennington, who was generous enough to share this recipe with us. But you’re quite welcome.

  9. warbaby says:

    My favorite breakfast.

  10. Steve V says:

    This is the first website link on this topic that gets it right. All this stuff about letting the egg cool to room temperature or warming them under the tap, or sticking a pin through the shell is totally unnecessary if you start the eggs in cold water, which keeps them from cracking. The method shown here is the way to do it. Easy-peasy, nice and easy.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      We couldn’t agree more, Steve V. But thanks for saying it for us. Appreciate it mucho.

  11. Bridget says:

    We cut the toast into strips and call it eggs and soldiers. I absolutely love soft-boiled eggs and toast. Actually, I love ANY egg with a runny yolk. Shakshuka, grits with a soft-boiled egg, asparagus with a poached egg. I guess I love eggs! I am going to take your recommendation and put them in a bowl with a dollop of butter! I can’t wait, thanks!

  12. Martha in KS says:

    I love soft-cooked eggs too, but I tear up toast into the bowl, top with butter & put the eggs on top. Heaven.

  13. Natasha says:

    Does the cooking time stay the same or should it vary based on the number of eggs? I need to make 6 for a brunch, but I need the whites to be set, not goopy…and the yolks a little set too…I guess I’m basically looking for hard-boiled with some run to the yolk, haha! Thanks for your help! Very handy guide in general, so thank you for that as well!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Natasha, an excellent question. I can’t say for certain as I haven’t done side-by-side comparisons, but it would seem if you’re cooking a large number of eggs which require a large pot and a large amount of water, then the cooking time would be less, as it will take longer for the larger amount of water to come to a boil and, as a consequence, the eggs will be subjected to more time in heated water. But I can’t tell you exactly how to skew your timing. We’ve asked our recipe testers to share their egg-xperience (sorry!) and so let’s see what they have to say….

    • Melissa Maedgen says:

      I like to steam my eggs, because it eliminates a lot of the guesswork involved in boiling. Since the eggs sit over the water, instead of in it, the water doesn’t get cooled by the eggs and remains at a boil. I use about an inch of water, with a steamer basket over it, bring it to a boil, then add eggs, cover and cook. Cooking time still varies depending upon the size of the eggs and their initial temperature. Starting with cold eggs, soft-boiled will take 8-9 minutes for a large egg. The advantage to steaming is that you start timing from the moment you put the eggs in. There is none of the squishiness around deciding when the water has reached a boil, or what the recipe means by that. And you can do as many eggs as you need to, and the timing will stay the same. I always cool my eggs quickly by putting them in an ice-water bath as soon as they come out of the pot. Makes them easier to peel and prevents overcooking. I would recommend that Natasha do some test eggs to get the timing down for the size and starting temperature of her eggs.

    • Dan Kraan says:

      I’ve tried egg timing in different ways, Natasha. The best way for me is to have a “virtual egg” that lets me know when my real eggs are ready. I use the gizmo below to get perfect results every time. One of the best (and cheapest) things I’ve ever purchased for my kitchen.

      http://www.grill-perfect.com/index.html

      As far as using it is concerned, I keep the eggs in the fridge and the timer in the gadget drawer. Given their size, and the fact that they are supposed to act in a similar way, I don’t think it makes a lot difference as for the starting temperature. The main thing I think, is to have everything in one layer in the pot. So, I put the eggs and the “timer” into the pot and cover them with cool water. Onto the stove, uncovered, and turn on the heat to reach a low boil. When the “timer” indicates the right doneness, I drain them, remove the timer and put the eggs into an ice-water bath to stop them from cooking further.

  14. Natasha says:

    Thank you all for the replies! I will definitely take this great advice into consideration for my eggs! :)

  15. Ronnie says:

    Maybe a stupid question – but when do you start timing? Is it when the heat turns on or when the water starts boiling?

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Not stupid at all, Ronnie. Start timing from the moment the water starts to boil. And let us know what you think! Happy breakfasting.

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