How To: Pefectly Poach Eggs
It seems like eggs are everywhere. They are on top of salads, in grain bowls, and on avocado toast. Families in cities are keeping chickens so they can have fresh eggs every day. Whether eggs are good or bad for you seems to swings back and forth over time, but it feels like we are in an "era of the egg.”
Eggs can be scrambled, over-easy, or hard-boiled as just a few ways to cook eggs. But, the king way to serve an egg is poached. I’m not a fan of eggs, let alone a runny egg, but a perfectly poached egg sitting on top of a dish does look pretty.
You might think that poaching eggs is hard or takes too much time/attention. The truth is, it is very simple and doesn’t require any special equipment. It does require some attention as you cook them the first couple of times. But, once you get the hang of it, you’ll be poaching eggs for breakfast for the entire neighborhood.
There are a lot of recipes out there with instructions for poaching eggs. Many sharing special tips or tricks to get their eggs perfectly poached. Reality is, poaching eggs is like any cooking skill: you learn the basics, and then you create your particular way to make the dish.
Here, I’ll share the method for poaching eggs as well as common tips for you to try as you learn to make your own perfectly poached egg!
Keys to Poaching Eggs
Use the freshest eggs possible.
Cook the eggs at a gentle simmer, never boil your eggs
Don’t crack your eggs directly into the water
Drain your poached eggs on paper towels or kitchen towel before serving
What You Need
Ramekins or small bowls
Plate with paper towels or kitchen towel
Bowl with ice water, if you are cooking your eggs ahead of time
Fill your saucepan with 3-4 inches of water
Bring water to a boil.
Reduce heat to low
Have a plate with paper towels nearby
Have slotted spoon ready
Crack egg(s) into ramekin(s).
Should be one per ramekin.
(Optional) You can strain the egg to remove the runnier part of the egg white.
Poaching the Eggs
(Optional) When the water is barely simmering, add 2 tablespoons vinegar and pinch of salt to the water. Vinegar is supposed to help the whites firm quickly when you add them to the water. As you do this more, you may find adding vinegar and salt is not needed.
(Optional) You can swirl the water around in the pan with the handle of a spoon before dropping the egg in. This is supposed to wrap the white more around the yolk, but too much swirling can also disrupt the egg and break it apart.
Gently lower the egg into the water. You want to get the rim of the ramekin right as the edge of the water to ensure the egg isn’t “dropped in” which causes the whites to spread.
If you are cooking more than one egg at a time, add them to the pan clockwise, so you know the order to remove the eggs when done cooking.
Let the eggs cook until your desired doneness: usually 2-3 minutes.
Grab your slotted spoon and gently lift the first egg from the water. You can test for doneness by gently touching the egg yolk.
Place egg on paper towels and gently dab any excess water away.
Repeat with each egg clockwise around the pan.
If you are making eggs for a group and don’t have time to make poached eggs to order (who does?), you can put the eggs in a bowl with ice water after cooking. Store the bowl in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. You’ll want to just undercook the eggs, too.
To serve later, heat the eggs by transferring to a pan of water at a gentle simmer for about a minute.
That’s it! Pretty simple, right? Some things can go wrong the first few times, but they are easy to fix.
Breaking the yolk
One of the reasons to crack the egg into a ramekin first is to ensure the yolk is not broken when you crack it open. Weird as it sounds, I find that when I don’t want to break the yolk, I do!
Water is too hot
When you add the eggs, and the whites break apart, it’s a sign your water is too hot. Reduce the heat before adding the next egg.
Water is too cold
When you add the eggs and the yolks separate from whites, it’s a sign your water is too cold. Heat the water before adding the next egg.
Nothing is worse than cutting into a poached egg to find there is no runny yolk. Or, the whites are rubbery. Be mindful of time after you add the eggs to the pan. Use a timer to help and cook the eggs 2-3 minutes only.
Next time you have house guests for the weekend, don’t feel like you have to go out for brunch. Crack open the eggs in your fridge and give poaching a try!
Check out my post for making Eggs Benedict, too.