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How Can I Tell If an Egg Is Hard-Boiled Without Breaking It?

by Nick Marshall

Telling the difference among raw, soft boiled and hard boiled can be as easy as knowing a few tricks. Read on to find out when your eggs are done.

Hard-Boiled or Raw?

Place the egg on its side on a smooth countertop, away from obstructions.

Spin the egg gently. A hard-boiled egg, being solid, will spin smoothly. A raw egg, being liquid inside, will wobble.

Double-check by spinning the egg and suddenly stopping its rotation with the tip of your finger. A hard-boiled egg comes to an immediate stop and stays stopped if you lift your finger. A raw egg begins to rotate again, though more slowly, if you quickly lift your finger away from the egg.

Hard or Soft-Boiled?

Place eggs in a pan, just covered by cold water.

Bring to a rolling boil for one minute.

Remove the egg from the water it is boiling in with a slotted spoon. A hard-boiled egg, containing greater residual heat, dries in about 10 seconds, while a soft-boiled egg stays wet for up to 20 seconds.

Items you will need
  • Slotted spoon
  • Pot for boiling water


  • Spin eggs away from the countertop, as they can easily veer off course and plummet to the ground.
  • Hard-boiled eggs spoil more quickly than raw eggs. Store them in their shells in the fridge after cooking, if necessary, but discard after a week.

About the Author

Nick Marshall has written about food and travel for magazines in the United Kingdom, United States and Caribbean. After graduating from Bristol University in 1996, Marshall went on to win the Daily Telegraph Young Food and Drink Writer of the Year Award.

Photo Credits

  • Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images