Instant Pot Hard-Boiled Eggs, or Is the 5-5-5 Method a Myth?

Instant Pot Hard-Boiled Eggs, or Is the 5-5-5 Method a Myth?

Instant Pot Hard-Boiled Eggs

Have you done hard-boiled eggs in your Instant Pot? Are they easier to peel? What’s the normal process? Could a stove top pressure cooker be used?

email from Terry

I’m behind the trend on this one. Instant Pot hard-boiled eggs are all over the web – especially Facebook. People say they are quick, consistent, and easy to peel.

Now, I love eggs, but I have not tried pressure cooking. I overdosed on hard-boiled eggs during a low-carb diet a few years back, so I’ve been avoiding them. Also, I was playing with sous vide eggs, trying to get the perfect soft-boiled egg.

The other issue: hard-boiled eggs are easy to overcook, resulting in a green-ringed, rubbery yolk. I tried all sorts of stovetop methods, settling on one from Cooks Illustrated: start with cold water and eggs, bring to a boil, then finish off the heat with a 12-minute rest. It worked better than most, but it was still not consistent. Sometimes the eggs were not completely cooked. Years later, Kenji Alt explained why: the amount of water matters in this technique, because water acts as a thermal battery. A large pot of water cooks the eggs more than a small pot of water. I stuck with this method through my low-carb diet phase. (And I do mean stuck, the way the shells stuck to the eggs as I tried to peel them.)

Researching this recipe, I couldn’t find the articles from ten years ago explaining how to boil eggs. I missed the hard-boiled shift to steaming a few years back. Both Cooks Illustrated and Kenji now say that steaming eggs is the way to go. (That’s right, the best hard-boiled eggs are not boiled.) Why? Steam is gentle, consistent heat compared to boiling water. That was my “Aha!” moment – steam power makes a pressure cooker a good egg cooker. I use my pressure cooker as a pressure steamer all the time for Pressure Cooker Cheesecake. I’m in! Time for some internet research, let’s compare recipes and see how everyone pressure cooks their eggs.

Everyone uses the 5-5-5 method: 5 minutes pressure cooking, 5 minutes natural pressure release, 5 minutes in an ice water bath to chill. Done. That seems so easy, but I hear my mother saying “if everyone jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?”

Undercooked (1-5-5), Just Right (5-5-5), Overcooked (5-15-5)

I test 5-5-5, and it does work – hard boiled eggs, easy to peel, just the way I like them. I try some variations – shorter times under pressure or quick releasing the pressure immediately undercook the eggs; longer cooking times or a full natural pressure release overcook the eggs. I should have trusted the wisdom of the internet: everyone uses 5-5-5 because it works, and works well. (Sorry Mom, everyone was right.) 1

Everyone was right about the easy peeling, too. After chilling, the shells don’t stick to the pressure cooker hard-boiled eggs, like they used to with my stovetop eggs. I’m a pressure cooker egg convert, and I think I’m ready for some more hard-boiled eggs.

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What do you think?

Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

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  1. I can’t help myself with the “is 5-5-5 A Myth?” headline. It’s my chance to share Betteridge’s Law of Headlines: Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word “No.” ↩

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