Steamed vs. Boiled Eggs: Similarities and Differences Explained

It’s hard to beat eggs for simple, nutritious food. Eggs are convenient and healthy, and they’re also wonderfully versatile.

They’re essential ingredients in hundreds of recipes for baked goods, salads, main courses, and deserts—and they’re great on their own, either hard or soft-cooked.

Soft-cooked eggs, with firm whites and warm liquid golden yolks, are a fine staple of a traditional breakfast; hard-cooked eggs are always handy for snacks, salads, garnishes, and devilled eggs.

There are two cooking methods to make either soft-cooked or hard-cooked eggs: steaming or boiling.

Keep reading to learn more about the similarities and differences between steamed vs. boiled eggs.

steamed vs boiled eggs

What Are Steamed Eggs?

Steamed eggs have been cooked inside their shells by placing them in a steamer basket suspended over a boiling water bath.

The egg is fully cooked when the white is completely firm.

It may be desirable for the yolk to be a soft creamy liquid or completely firm, depending on what the cooked eggs will be used for.

The firmness of the yolk is determined by the cooking time.

How to Steam Eggs

  1. Place the steamer basket insert in a pot.
  2. Add enough water to the pot to reach just below the bottom of the steamer basket.
  3. Put the pot on the burner and bring the water to a boil.
  4. Carefully place the eggs into the steamer basket and put a lid on the pot.
  5. Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow the eggs to cook in the steam. Be careful to watch the pot to ensure all the water doesn’t boil away.
  6. Leave the eggs on the heat for creamy liquid yolks for 7 minutes.
  7. For fully cooked yolks, the eggs should stay over the hot water for 14 minutes.
  8. When the time is up, quickly move the eggs to an ice water bath, which will stop them from cooking any further. Over-cooked eggs may have yolks that are discolored by a gray coating.
  9. Leave the eggs in the ice water until they are cool enough to handle safely.
  10. Then, peel the eggs and use them as desired.

What Are Boiled Eggs?

Boiled eggs have been cooked inside their shells by completely immersing them in boiling water.

Like steamed eggs, boiled eggs may be cooked just to the point where the yolks are still liquid; they may be cooked longer to where the yolks are completely firm.

The timing depends on how the cooked eggs are to be used.

How to Boil Eggs

  1. Place eggs in a single layer at the bottom of a pot.
  2. Cover the eggs with water to a depth of 1 or 2 inches. (Adding either vinegar or baking soda—not both!—to the water at this point may make the eggs easier to peel when they are cooled)
  3. Place the pot on the burner and bring the water to a boil.
  4. Allow the water to boil for 1 minute, then put a lid on the pot and remove it from the heat.
  5. For soft-cooked eggs, allow them to stand in hot water for 6 minutes.
  6. For eggs with firm yolks, leave them in hot water for 12 minutes.
  7. Carefully transfer the eggs to an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Over-cooked eggs may have an unattractive gray coating on the yolks. 
  8. Leave the eggs in the ice water until they are cool enough to handle safely. Then, peel the eggs and use them as desired.

What Are the Similarities Between Steamed Eggs and Boiled Eggs?

Here are the primary ways they are alike:

  • Both steaming and boiling eggs are easy to do.
  • Both methods require similar levels of cooking skills.
  • The two methods of cooking eggs produce similar results.
  • Both ways may require experimentation to determine which results in the easiest-to-peel eggs.
  • Finally, both methods may require experimentation to determine the exact timing for soft-cooked yolks when that is desired. 

What Are the Differences Between Steamed Eggs and Boiled Eggs?

There are a few minor differences between steamed vs. boiled eggs.

  • First, steamed eggs remain on the heat for one or two minutes longer.
  • There are no ingredients such as baking soda or vinegar added to the water when steaming eggs, as are often added when boiling eggs
  • A steamer basket is an extra appliance needed to steam eggs
  • Steaming eggs requires slightly less water than what is needed to boil eggs.

Summary Table: Steamed Eggs vs. Boiled Eggs

 Steamed EggsBoiled Eggs
AppearanceSimilarSimilar
NutritionSimilarSimilar
TextureSimilarSimilar
FlavorSimilarSimilar
Ease of PreparationSimilarSimilar
Ease of PeelingSimilarSimilar
Cook TimeSlightly longerSlightly shorter
Special EquipmentSteamer basketNone
Added IngredientsNoneVinegar or baking soda (if desired)

In Summary

People enjoy eggs for so many reasons. They’re nutritious, versatile, and easy to prepare. It’s great to try new and different ways to prepare things like soft and hard-cooked eggs.

Experimentation to determine the best way to prepare them can make them even more useful for the home cook.

Learning which method of cooking eggs, whether it’s boiling, steaming, scrambling, or frying, delivers the best and most reliable results in the kitchen allows for greater confidence and competence, leading to more satisfaction.