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Electric Egg Cookers

Published April 2019

How we tested

Electric egg cookers promise to turn out perfect hard-, medium-, and soft-cooked eggs without a stove or a timer. They can also make poached eggs and sometimes include special trays for making omelets. Capacities range from six to 10 eggs, though you can cook fewer if you prefer. Since we last tested these gadgets, several of our recommended models, including our winner, were discontinued or redesigned. So we began the search anew, rounding up six widely available electric egg cookers, all priced less than $30.00, and putting them to the test.

These egg cookers are essentially tiny steamers. Each model has a hot plate in its base; you add water to the hot plate, suspend cold eggs in a tray over the water, and cover the entire unit with a lid. When you turn on the machine, the hot plate heats up and boils the water, creating steam that cooks the eggs. Once the hot plate reaches a certain temperature (usually after all the water has boiled off), the cooker either alerts the user that the eggs are done or shuts itself off.

Egg Cookers Are Fast

The volume of water you use varies according to the number of eggs you're cooking and the doneness level you want. Counterintuitively, the more eggs you cook, the less water you need. It turns out that using cold eggs is important here. As the hot steam comes into contact with the cold eggs, it condenses back into water and drips down onto the hot plate, lowering the ambient temperature of the interior and beginning the steam cycle again. The more cold eggs there are, the greater the opportunities for condensation to occur, so the less water you need to start. With fewer cold eggs, less condensation is created—steam just escapes out through vents in the lid—so you need more water to make sure there's enough steam to cook the eggs properly.

Because these small gadgets use so little water in general—a bit more than a tablespoon, in one case—they take less time to cook eggs than conventional methods, which require you to bring larger volumes of water to a boil. It took just under 9 minutes to make 10 soft-cooked eggs in the best model, compared with about 14 minutes to make six eggs using our method for soft-cooked eggs.

Most Electric Egg Cookers Have Performance Issues

The trouble is, the egg cookers often didn't cook the eggs well. All but one model made perfect hard-cooked eggs when filled to capacity, and most were fine for cooking smaller batches of hard-cooked eggs as well. But with poached eggs and soft- and medium-cooked eggs, they frequently faltered, either undercooking or overcooking the eggs, especially when we didn't fill them to capacity. What was happening?

Most of the models included a measuring cup that indicated how much water to use for the number of eggs being cooked and the desired doneness. But as we found, most of the volumes provided simply weren't correct, resulting in either too much or too little steam, and thus eggs that were either overcooked or undercooked. With two models, specific volumes weren't even prescribed; the measuring cups offered only general volumes that didn't take into account the number of eggs. To be fair, eggs can differ significantly in terms of weight, water content, and size, perhaps explaining why some of these markings were so general. But in practice, this means you may need to fuss a bit more than you'd like to find the right volume of water to use for your eggs.

Which Egg Cooker Was Easiest to Use?

Certain factors made some machines easier to use than others. We preferred machines that had loud audio alerts to those that just silently turned off or dimmed a light, as this made it easier to know when the eggs were done. We also appreciated egg trays with wide handles that were easy to grab so we could remove all the eggs in one fell swoop without the fear of dropping them. But ultimately, these ease-of-use considerations mattered little in light of the bigger performance issues we had already noted.

Our Winning Egg Cooker: The Cuisinart Egg Central

For consistently perfect poached eggs and hard-and soft-cooked eggs, we think you're better off using our tried-and-true methods, which are nearly foolproof and in most cases, call for equipment you already own. But if you would like to cook your eggs slightly more quickly and don't mind tinkering with water levels, you might want to consider the Cuisinart Egg Central. The measuring cup that comes with this model gives only volume ranges for each level of doneness, so it takes some experimentation to determine the right volume of water. But after we made educated guesses using the principles explained above (more water for fewer eggs, less water for more eggs), this model eventually made good hard-cooked eggs and was also successful with full batches of soft-cooked eggs and small batches of medium-cooked eggs. It has a loud audio alert and an egg tray with easy-to-grab handles. Plus, it can cook an impressive 10 eggs at a time—the most of any model we tested.

Methodology

We tested six electric egg cookers, using them to make large and small batches of poached eggs and soft-, medium-, and hard-cooked eggs. We rated them on their performance with each level of doneness and on their ease of use. All models were purchased online and appear in order of preference.

Rating Criteria

Soft-Cooked Eggs: We rated the models on how well they made soft-cooked eggs.

Medium-Cooked Eggs: We rated the models on how well they made medium-cooked eggs.

Hard-Cooked Eggs: We rated the models on how well they made hard-cooked eggs.

Poached Eggs: We rated the models on how well they made poached eggs.

Ease of Use: We rated the models on how easy it was to figure out the right volumes of water for each level of doneness, how clearly the models indicated when the eggs were done, and how easy the eggs were to remove.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*