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       Volume I - November 17, 2006

How to Hard Boil Eggs @ High Altitudes
Notes from Folks...

Hello. I live in the mountains of Colorado, at an altitude of 7050 ft. and I have a hard time getting good or near perfect boiled eggs.

I've tried several ways, including J. Childs method of bringing the eggs in the water to boiling, turning off the fire and letting them sit for 17 to 18 minutes in the hot water; then submersing the eggs in ice cold water for 20 minutes; then placing back in boiling water for 10 seconds, and then returning them to cold water for another 20 minutes.

Well, that does not work here at altitude. Do you have any suggestions for a perfect hard boiled egg at altitude?

Thank you


Hi Troy,

You Colorado cooks do have your work cut out for you. Since your water boils at a lower temperature, it will take longer for your egg to cook thoroughly. How long? You'll have to do some trial and error testing to answer that question. You might also give your local CSU extension office a call. Their home economists will most likely be able to tell you how long to boil your eggs. The following information from their website will give you some additional guidelines.

Happy Cook'n,

Desi @ DVO
At altitudes above 3,000 feet...

...preparation of food may require changes in time, temperature or recipe.

The reason, lower atmosphere pressure due to thinner blanket of air above.

At sea level, the presses on a square inch of surface with 14.7 pounds, at 5,000 feet with 12.3 pounds, and at 10,000 feet with only 10.2 pounds - a decrease of about 1/2 pound per 1,000 feet. This decreased pressure affects food preparation in two ways:
  1. Water and other liquids evaporate faster and boil at lower temperatures.
  2. Leavening gases in breads and cakes expand more.


The boiling point is the temperature at which the pressure of the water vapor equals atmospheric pressure and the bubbles of water vapor are able to break through the surface and escape into the air. If the atmospheric pressure is less, the temperature required for water to boil is less (Table 1). Therefore, cooking food in water boiling at this lower temperature takes longer. A "3-minute egg" will take more time. Also, a bowl of boiling soup is not as hot.

Table 1: Approximate boiling temperatures of water at various altitudes Altitude Temperature Sea Level 212 degrees F 2,000 ft. 208 degrees F 5,000 ft. 203 degrees F 7,500 ft. 198 degrees F 10,000 ft. 194 degrees F

And if you live at high altitude, you need to boil them a bit before letting them sit. I'm at 7400 feet, and I find that if I let them boil for 5 minutes, then let them sit for 15, they are perfect. But at sea-level, I'm certain that would result in overcooked eggs.

information on the chemistry behind cooking at high altitudes

Problems at Altitude

Boiling eggs becomes progressively more difficult the higher up you are, due to the lower air pressures in higher altitudes. As a result, if you are living up 'high', then you would have to alter boiling times. So:

At 5000 feet/1800 metres above sea level - it's about double the required boiling time

At 9000 feet/3000 metres above sea level - it's probably best not to bother.

The water will boil and evaporate before your egg has even begun to cook. At this point, it may be best to consider an omelette or a scrambled egg

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