Microwave Hacks #1: Hard Boiled Eggs

Microwaves make more daunting cooking and food reheating tasks simple and quick. You’ve had hard-boiled eggs prepared in a pot of boiling water over the stove, but can you prepare hard-boiled eggs using nothing but a microwave oven? And if so, can you do so safely?

Hard-boiled eggs can be prepared safely in the microwave. They must be placed in a microwave-safe bowl of water with a half teaspoon of salt per egg or with a hole poked through the bottom of each egg. Without the salt or the holes poked through each egg, the eggs may explode in the microwave.

To learn more about the hard boiling egg process using the microwave so that you can avoid the hassle of using a cooking pot and waiting for the water to boil on the stove, continue reading.

Safety Measures for Hard Boiling Eggs in the Microwave

Before you attempt to hard boil your eggs in the microwave, you should first understand why you should add salt to the water or poke a hole in the bottom of each egg. These are safety measures that you take when preparing your eggs for boiling so that they don’t explode in the microwave.

Microwaves work by agitating water molecules in food so that they generate heat to cook the food, and because raw eggs are high in water content, the microwaves penetrate through the shell and agitate those water molecules inside the shell. Because of the hardness of the shell, the heat has nowhere to escape. Without anywhere for that heat to escape, the heat energy breaks through the shell, causing the eggs to explode. This is why we recommend poking holes in the bottom of each egg that you plan to hard boil, as it allows a space for that heat to escape without shattering the eggshell.

The reason that adding salt to the water helps prevent the egg from exploding is that the salt causes the water to heat up and boil more slowly and because the ions in the salt partially block the microwaves. Both of these slow the boiling and heating process, both inside and around the egg, further allowing the egg to slowly harden before the water molecules inside the egg has the chance to get agitated so much that they need to escape.

The slow boil is key to ensuring the eggs will harden, as too many microwaves penetrating through the shell and exciting the water molecules all at once can create a huge mess inside your microwave after they combust. As the egg inside the shell slowly begins to harden with the few microwaves that pass through, the water molecules inside become less and less agitated by them. The salt simply prevents too many microwaves from penetrating through the shell at a rapid pace and exciting all the water molecules all at once.

If you’re choosing to cook your egg using the poke-hole method, you’ll also want to ensure that you microwave them at half power (50%) rather than at the regular, full power. This will assist in the cooking process so that less intense microwaves attack the water molecules inside the egg and slows the cooking. This also helps to prevent your egg from exploding in the microwave.

So, whichever method you choose to prepare your hard-boiled eggs in the microwave, whether that be the salt method or the poke method, make sure that you don’t skip these safety measures or you’ll end up with a microwave covered in slimy, raw egg and shattered egg shell.

How to Ensure Raw Eggs are Not Expired Before Boiling

Before you boil your eggs, whether it be over the stove or in the microwave, you’ll want to make sure that the eggs are still good. This is especially important when boiling eggs because if you’re frying eggs, you know that the eggs are bad as soon as you crack them and drop the egg onto the pan, whereas with boiling, you won’t be able to see the state of the egg until after it’s done cooking. The hard-boiled egg may appear good from its outer layer after you peel it, but once you cut it open or bite into it, it will look or taste bad. But how can you tell if an egg is old or bad without cracking it?

Well, you can try the float test to see if the egg is expired or not. If you bought your eggs in the past week and stored them in the refrigerator, you can assume that the eggs are still good. If it’s been a bit longer than a week, the quality of the egg can get a bit iffy, so you’ll want to ensure that they are still good using the float test. This will help you to see if the eggs are new or old.

First, fill up a medium to large-sized bowl with water, then put one egg in the bowl of water at a time, then observe whether it floats or sinks. If it sinks, the egg is still new and fresh. If it tilts upwards or floats, then an air pocket has developed over time as the liquid evaporates, so it is old and likely bad.

Texture and Taste Differences Between Microwave-Boiled Eggs and Stove-Boiled Eggs

Many people actually prefer hard-boiled eggs prepared in the microwave oven over the traditional over-the-stove hard-boiling egg method. If you’ve had traditional hard-boiled eggs before and then you try hard-boiled eggs prepared in the microwave, you’ll be able to tell the taste and texture differences. You’ll notice that microwaved hard-boiled eggs have a yolk that is more yellow than the orange yolk of a stove-boiled egg, and the texture of the yolk is softer, creamier, and fudge-like. The traditional hard-boiled egg will have a yolk that is drier and has a more powdery texture than the microwaved boiled egg.

In addition to the taste and texture differences between the yolks of an egg boiled in the microwave compared to over the stove, preparing a hard-boiled egg in the microwave is much easier and quicker than boiling them on the stove. You won’t have to deal with getting out a pot, filling it up with water, then waiting for it to boil. Instead, once your prepared eggs are in the microwave and set to the correct number of minutes, simply wait for the microwave to beep, chill them, and then they’re ready to peel!

Microwaved Hard-Boiled Eggs: the Salt Method

The salt method of preparing hard-boiled eggs in the microwave is the method in which you boil them in a bowl of salt water placed in the microwave. Ideally, you should use a microwave that is 1000 watts or more, or you’ll need to add extra time to the original cook time.

Regardless of which method you use, we recommend that you also add baking soda to the water, as it will raise the PH level of the eggshell and make the peeling process quicker and easier. You’ll want to add about half a teaspoon per quart of water, which is generally how much water you’ll add to one medium-sized bowl.

To hard boil eggs in the microwave using this method, follow these steps:

  1. Turn your sink faucet on the hottest setting to allow it to run until it begins to steam.
  2. While your running water is heating up, carefully add 2 to 6 eggs to a medium to large microwave-safe bowl. The bowl can be a glass baking bowl, a large ceramic serving bowl, or any medium or large-sized bowl labeled as microwave safe. Just be sure that the bowl will fit comfortably in your microwave and still be able to spin on the turn plate.
  3. Fill the bowl with hot water until the eggs are completely submerged with at least half an inch of water above them. If the eggs float, they’re old and likely still bad, so you’ll want to replace these eggs with fresh ones. If the water won’t completely submerge the eggs without overflowing, transfer the eggs to a larger bowl and fill it with water.
  4. If using a large bowl for 4-6 eggs, add half a teaspoon of baking soda to the water. If using a medium-sized bowl for 2-4 eggs, add a pinch of baking soda to the water.
  5. You’ll now want to add the salt to the water, depending on how many eggs you are boiling in one bowl. For every egg in the water, add half a teaspoon of salt.
  6. Carefully transfer the bowl to the microwave. If the bowl is hot, use two hot pads or oven mitts. Set the bowl on the center of the turn plate then close the door.
  7. Set the microwave time depending on how many eggs are in your bowl. If you have 1 or 2 eggs, set the time for 4 minutes. If you’re boiling 3 or 4 eggs, set the time for 5 minutes. If microwaving 5 or 6 eggs, set the time for 6 minutes.
  8. Watch the microwave to ensure the water comes to a boil. If the microwave gets to the end of the time and it didn’t come to a rolling boil, add an additional 30 seconds to the cooking time and repeat this process until the water comes to a rolling boil.
  9. Follow the steps in the “how to modify the yolk runniness” section depending on how you want your egg yolks to look.

Microwaved Hard-boiled Eggs: the Poke Method

This method of hard-boiling eggs in the microwave involves poking a hole at the bottom of each egg, no salt is required. This is a good alternative to adding salt to the water, as poking holes can speed up the entire process so that you’ll get your hard-boiled eggs done more quickly than measuring out every half teaspoon of salt like you would for the other method.

Other than poking a hole in each egg and not adding salt to the water, this method follows the same procedure as the salt method, including adding baking soda to the water. This helps to raise the PH level of the eggshell so that it’s easier to peel off when you’re ready to eat your boiled egg.

To hard boil eggs in the microwave using the poke method, follow these steps:

  1. Turn your sink faucet on the hottest setting to allow it to run until it begins to steam.
  2. Prepare about 2 to 6 eggs for boiling by poking a hole in the bottom of each egg. You can use a clean push pin, safety pin, or even a sewing pin or needle. Carefully insert the bin into the bottom end of the egg, the end that is the least narrow. Make sure to only insert the pin far enough to puncture the shell, and not too far that it punctures the egg yolk. Insert the pin straight and pull it straight out so that the shell doesn’t crack.
  3. While your running water is heating up, carefully add the 2 to 6 eggs to a medium to large microwave-safe bowl. Remember that the eggs will be more fragile because they have a hole punctured into them, so you’ll need to carefully set them in the bowl. The bowl can be a glass baking bowl, a large ceramic serving bowl, or any medium or large-sized bowl labeled as microwave safe. Just be sure that the bowl will fit comfortably in your microwave and still be able to spin on the turn plate.
  4. Fill the bowl with hot water until the eggs are completely submerged with at least half an inch of water above them. If the eggs float, they’re old and likely still bad, so you’ll want to replace these with fresh eggs.
  5. If using a large bowl for 3-6 eggs, add half a teaspoon of baking soda to the water. If using a medium-sized bowl for 1-3 eggs, add a pinch of baking soda to the water.
  6. Carefully transfer the bowl to the microwave. If the bowl is hot, use two hot pads or oven mitts. Set the bowl on the center of the turn plate then close the door.
  7. Set the microwave’s power level to 50% power, using the power level setting button. If you’re unsure how to do this, refer to the owner’s manual or make a quick google search including the brand and model of your microwave.
  8. Set the microwave timer depending on how many eggs are in your bowl. If you have 1 or 2 eggs, set the time for 4 minutes. If you’re boiling 3 or 4 eggs, set the timer for 5 minutes. If microwaving 5 or 6 eggs, set the timer for 6 minutes.
  9. Watch the microwave to ensure the water comes to a boil. If the microwave gets to the end of the time and it didn’t come to a rolling boil, add an additional 30 seconds to the cooking time and repeat this process until the water comes to a rolling boil.
  10. Follow the steps in the “how to modify the yolk runniness” section depending on how you want your egg yolks to look.

How to Modify the Yolk Runniness

Regardless of which method you choose to use when microwaving your eggs, you can follow a few steps afterward to determine how runny or firm you want the egg yolks to be. If you prefer boiled eggs with more runny egg yolk, similar to poached eggs, you’ll want to carefully remove the eggs from the hot water bowl as soon as they are done being microwaved and then transfer them to a separate bowl of ice water.

When removing your bowl from the microwave, always use a dishcloth, a hot pad in each hand, or oven mitts to avoid burning yourself. You can carefully transfer the eggs from the hot water to the ice bowl using a slotted spoon or ladle.

If you want yolks that are still dense but are creamy rather than runny, let the eggs sit in the hot water for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a bowl of ice water. Lastly, if you want firmer egg yolks that are dryer (and more cooked through), you’ll want to let the eggs sit in the hot water for about 8 minutes, then transfer them to a serving plate to be consumed right away or a Tupperware container to be chilled in the fridge.