How to perfectly boil an egg

on eggs, dreams, and the Clyde sandwich

Recently I discovered I use (almost) the same method to boil eggs as Ursula K Le Guin did. Since this feels like clear! undeniable! absolute! proof that my/our method is best, I’ve decided to share it with you so you too can never eat a grey-green yolk again.

  1. Put your eggs in a pot (pot size: they need to be cozy but not crowded) and cover them with cool water, about 1 inch above the eggs.

  2. Salt the water. I don’t think this does anything but I’ve always done it every time I boil anything and I will not stop now.

  3. Bring the water to a ROILING boil. 

    • This step sometimes takes a little while and I don’t like to leave the kitchen in case I forget about the eggs (which has happened). I tend to gaze into the pot and let my mind churn with the water, maybe thinking on the dream I just had where I am attending a party and the host leads me into the garden and pushes me into a lake. Or maybe I just fall into the lake? I’m now wearing a fluttery white dress and sinking. The dress’s train waves at the sky as it follows me down until it begins disintegrating in the water, taking my skin and bones and muscles and blood with it until I am just a being through which water can pass.

  4. Take the pot off the heat (TURN OFF THE STOVETOP HERE, BRITT) and set a timer.

    • This is where Ursula K Le Guin and I diverge. Le Guin ate her eggs in an egg cup, European style, so she set a timer for 3.5 minutes. This gives you barely cooked whites and very runny yolk that can mix together in the egg shell. 

    • I don’t have an egg cup or spoon or the pleasure of sitting down with an egg long enough to carefully take its cap off. I unceremoniously completely disrobe it and take a large bite, trying to unearth the half-cooked gold at the center. I set my timer to 5 minutes.

  5. At this point you can either put your egg in a fancy egg cup OR immediately run it under cold water to stop the cooking and completely unshell it.

  6. Enjoy an egg!

I rarely eat eggs anymore, actually. But I do always make time for them at Pete’s parents’ house, where The Dad and I will occasionally bait the other into admitting we’d like a Clyde sandwich or eggs and make it for them. (A Clyde sandwich is fried egg, bacon, and avocado piled on toast and named for the dog Clyde who will stare at you until you feed him the remnants of what he knows should’ve been HIS breakfast.) I didn’t know any eggs but boiled could be good before The Dad first made me two fried eggs, crispy on the edges and perfectly ready to run when I stabbed into the center.

I've long thought Ruby Tandoh said something about cooking eggs for someone else being a genuine act of love. I searched and searched and can’t find a quote about eggs+love anywhere! I did find the newsletter I thought it was in, where instead she talks about the scientific magic of cooking eggs.

But whatever, made up quote or not, I know it to be true. Maybe I’ll write about that another day. 

Britt A Willis writes this newsletter and is a playwright, game writer, and designer in Washington, DC. You can find out more about their work at or follow them on Twitter @feelingfickle.

Banner image description: three images of a golden dog who looks just the most dog peering over a plate. The first image is fried eggs, the second remnants of yolks, the third a piece of toast with avocado and egg.