Soft-Boiled Eggs and Toast

This soft-boiled eggs and toast turns out a breakfast classic just the way you like them thanks to a perfect cooking time.

Halved soft-boiled eggs and toast on a plate with egg shells.

This soft-boiled eggs recipe is, in the words of the author, “over-the-top easy. Not quite cooked all the way, but cooked enough to smear on your toast.” Or to heck with smearing and just go ahead and dip your toast in that sorta-but-not-quite runny yolk. Just like you did as a kid. Perfect any time of day. Originally published September 6, 2011.Renee Schettler Rossi

Soft-Boiled Eggs and Toast

  • Quick Glance
  • (4)
  • 5 M
  • 5 M
  • Serves 1
5/5 - 4 reviews
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Ingredients


Directions

Place the eggs in a saucepan and add enough cold water to cover. 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.


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. Serve immediately with toast, if desired.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This soft-boiled eggs recipe 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.

I’m completely biased in favor of this soft-boiled eggs 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 the title suggests, it’s usually served in a cup or a wee bowl.

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Comments

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

  2. Thank you all for the replies! I will definitely take this great advice into consideration for my eggs! 🙂

  3. 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!

    1. 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 this gizmo to get perfect results every time. One of the best (and cheapest) things I’ve ever purchased for my kitchen.

      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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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….

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