I am tortured by two opposing forces in my life: the fact that I love poached eggs–on anything and everything, from asparagus to slow-roasted slices of tomato, crisped cups of Canadian bacon, black bread, I could keep going… — and the fact that I’m terrible at making them.
And this is why it is so
ridiculous amusing that I am giving you–or at least the eleven of you that said you were afraid of poaching eggs–a poached egg tutorial today. And by “today” I mean two days because it took me two tries to even get one worth photographing (though in my defense, holding the camera in your right hand while lowering an egg into a pot with your left does have a certain inevitability of disaster). [Ed note: These photos were updated in 2022, good riddance.]
Obviously, this makes me some sort of expert, so let’s get started!
How to Poach an Egg
There are about as many methods to poaching eggs as there are eggs on this earth, from plastic wrap (sorry, ew) to poaching cups to cupcake liners seriously, I’ve lost track but I am sure that people will be eager to share their own in the comments. This is simply the one that works for me. When I’m not holding a camera in my other hand.
First, heat a pot with a few inches of water in it. If you have a nonstick pot, I find this can make things easier as you might need to loosen the egg from the bottom in a moment.
Put a splash of vinegar in the water. This helps tighten up the egg. I know there are strong pro- and anti-vinegar in egg-poaching waters out there, but like I said: this is just what works for me!
Now here is the first of the two Very Most Important Things I Will Tell You About Poaching Eggs: You don’t want boiling water. You don’t want simmering water. You want very hot water at the point right before it simmers, like you see here. Once it gets there, turn the temperature down a bit so it doesn’t bubble. If your water has already begun boiling, bring the temperature down to below the boiling point. See, that’s not so hard?
Break an egg into a small dish. It is always easier to slide the egg in from a dish. I’ve tried it the other way a million times and it never comes together as well in the pot.
Make a whirlpool with your spoon, spatula, whatever you’re using.
Slide the egg into the middle of the whirlpool with your other hand. See how much easier this is when you’ve already put the egg in a dish?
Now here is the second of the two Very Most Important Things I Will Tell You About Poaching Eggs: Don’t panic. Seriously, it’s going to look a little chaotic in there for a moment. You’ll probably have a little white fly off that you had wanted to keep attached to the egg. Breathe. It’s okay. It will still work out.
The reason for the whirlpool is that it really helps the egg stay together, wrapping the white around the yolk. However, you can help it along too with your spatula or spoon by gently pushing it all in as it initially sets. If your egg has stuck to the bottom of the pot, just slide the spatula very very gently underneath after 30 seconds or so of cooking.
A few minutes later, your mostly-perfect egg should be ready. (I look for an egg that wobbles, but just a little, when nudged with the spoon, about 3 to 5 minutes of cooking time for a large egg that was cold from the fridge.) Scoop it out with a slotted spoon.
And let it drain on a folded paper towel. Now let’s say you’re having company and you’ve been insane enough to think you want to poach eggs for all of them. The cool thing is, at this point you can save them for a later. Plunge them in cold water and store them in the fridge for up two days. To reheat them, put them back in hot (but not boiling) water for one minute.
Prepare your toast. For me, this requires a thick slice of sourdough, deep butter saturation, plus sea salt, red pepper flakes, and, if I’m feeling fancy, chives on the egg.
With the egg on top, the fun begins!
I like to make a little notch and let it roll on out. Then I salt and pepper it again. How good does this look? Seriously, I want another one just looking at it now.
[Thank you to Barrett Washburne for styling the refreshed photos!]
538 comments on how to poach an egg, smitten kitchen-style
there’s nothing like a good poached egg.
I’m about to make your Swiss buttercream and am terrified. I’m just going to go for it.
Thanks for the step by step. It seems like something everyone should know how to do (like checking the air in our tires) but secretly we don’t know how ;) guilty…
OMG I MUST try cooking in Rotel! What a wonderful idea that is! I have saved so many “grandmother” recipes in my Heirloom file. They are my favorite recipes! So glad to have seen this one as well.
yum! and just in time for the weekend too! I’ll be impressing the bf with my skills later :o)
thankfully I’ve also recently given up my fear of making any type of eggs other than scrambled. Over-easy was last week, now poached. thanks deb!
That’s exactly how I enjoy a poached egg…all smashed up with the butter, salt,pepper,and toast!
Well, now all mystery has been removed from my Saturday morning breakfast. Poached eggs on toast here we come!
My grandmother used to make these for me all the time! She’s poached them in rotel, too, and that’s how she makes Huevos Rancheros. My boyfriend and I tried your version last night (breakfast for dinner – YUM!), and we loved it! But the egg gave me trouble :(
YUMMM. I love poached eggs as well. In fact, I think I have to go make one now after reading this.
P.S. Love your blog and its beautiful photography!
Poached eggs are one of my most favorite things! There’s a great bakery here in San Francisco called Arizmendi that sells the best bread. Together with a poached egg and fresh fruit from the market, it makes the perfect Saturday morning breakfast. Thanks for the tips!
I too love poached eggs but have a fear of cooking them at home! These were great tips — I’m going to try them this weekend. We have lots of eggs now that our chickens are finally laying!
That looks incredible…but I think I’ll save my poached egg eating for the restaurant; sitting on an English muffin and a slice of ham, drenched in hollandaise sauce. *Droooool*
I absolutely love poached eggs too. I find that I don’t necessarily care how pretty they are, as long as the whites are set and the yolks aren’t.
I’m afraid I take the cheater way out and use a fancy poaching pan. The pluses are that you get perfect little eggs each time and you can do four at once. Doesn’t seem to take more time, though a few more dishes.
ewwww – runny yolks. I feel queasy just looking at them.
Other than that, it’s a great tutorial.
Has anyone ever tried the Julia Child method (described here of cooking it in the shell for a little while first? It seemed like the answer to all my poaching problems but haven’t gotten around to trying it yet.
I have, and I now swear by it! I use a pushpin to poke a hole in one end, and set the egg in boiling water for 10 seconds. Then crack the egg in a small bowl, lower the water temp to barely bubbling, drop in the egg(s), and cook for 3 minutes. I have had no issue with egg whites sticking, the eggs stay together much better, and the whites always seem to be cooked with a perfectly runny yolk. I was converted!
I wish I knew how to do this before I went out and spent way too much on an egg-poacher! Thanks for the tutorial – I’ll use it on our vacation instead of hauling that pan with me. :)
Thanks! This came across my feedreader just as I was trying to decide what to have for supper. Poached eggs it was! My first time making them, too!
Yum – I love poached eggs. I gave in and bought the silicon poaching cups recently, but since I have really grease them up for the eggs to slide out I’m beginning to think they are more trouble than they’re worth…
That picture is delicious! I may have to go home and have breakfast for dinner. I am a lazy poached egg lover, so I gave in and bought a egg poaching pan. Akkk! A one use item in an apartment sized kitchen, but soooo worth it. I am in awe of your poaching skills.
This may be hilarious only to me, but those last five pictures are the most sexed up pictures of eggs I’ve ever seen – well maybe not the mashing one at the very end – but the “toast finger” – my oh my!
What I REALLY wanted to say is that I made that swiss buttercream frosting for my son’s birthday cakes and it was amazing – and beautiful! And the cakes tasted…well they were pretty at least…and I seem to have the special talent of turning every cake recipe into a super dense pound cake…but they were pretty!
I also love poached eggs.
Another way that works for me is to break the egg into a small dish (such as you did), add a tiny dab of butter and microwave it for a minute or two (depends on the microwave oven.) Use less than full power, may 50-60%. The user guide recommend piercing the egg to prevent explosions before cooking, but I’ve never done that.
The egg stays nicely shaped in the small dish/bowl; works great for me. The egg slides out nicely, so I can re-use the dish immediately.
I think it might work with just a bit of H2O instead of butter.
Oh yum. One of my favorite breakfasts is a soft boiled egg on toast, I’ve never tried poached because I was scared. I’m gonna now though.
I know what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow!
I use almost the same method, but with a 12″ nonstick skillet and no swirling, with about 2″ of water. Cooking time is the same, and lift them out with a slotted spatula. I find the eggs stay together better, and I can make four all at once, enough for Eggs Benedict for two!
I love poached eggs, and I make mine the same way you do! The only step I sometimes add (if the eggs are older, mostly), is dropping the whole egg (pre-crack) into the hot water for 10 seconds or so. Then take them out, crack into ramekin, continue. Julia says it helps set the whites, and I buy it.
Favorite way to eat them – on whole wheat cousous, with lots of broccoli and peas. It’s the perfect well rounded lunch. I place the eggs gingerly on top (pretty!), and then massacre them with a fork to let the yolk dress the warm couscous salad.
My dad used to make these for me all the time.
This tutorial was so insanely helpful! I love poached eggs, but I’ve never tried to make them at home. The photos make all the difference instead of just reading instructions. Thank you so much!
Can you only poach eggs one at a time? Would it work to poach side by side in the same pan, or do you find it too complicated trying to keep them separated? Thanks for a very educational post and beautiful pictures. I’m going to try your toast fingers idea for breakfast tomorrow; it seems ingenious!
That looks good. I might actually have to try it.
I took a food science course in NYC this summer and we learned that acid (found in vinegar) helps make poached eggs by speeding the denaturation of egg proteins, while also preventing them from over-coagulating and becoming overly dry. After learning this in class I raced home to try making poached eggs (my favorite) and failed, once again, miserably. Your eggs look marvelous and I look forward to employing you technique this weekend.
This is exactly how my mom taught me to make poached eggs and it has never failed me. I’m glad you’re getting the word out.
Ok, I love poached eggs, too, and have tried every method. I finally gave up and started making “basted” eggs instead. Melt some butter in a medium-low to low skillet as if you were going to fry the eggs. Add as many eggs as you need, then throw in a couple/few ice cubes, cover the pan with a lid and let it steam until the eggs are firm enough to your liking. EASY! No fussing, no tending to, no flipping, no draining. A much preferred methodology, IMHO…
i use the same method, taught to me by my oma. my favorite way to eat them is over toasted french bread, with a smear of goat cheese, a scoop of orangette’s warm french lentil salad and a nonperfect poached egg on top. sounds so gourmet but was really born out of leftovers in the fridge.
The fresher the egg the better the white stays together in the water. (It’s the opposite for hard boiled eggs— older eggs will peel more easily.) That’s been my experience, anyways!
I happen to love the vinegar taste with the egg. I use a lot. This is the exact method I use without the swirl. I have to have them right at the point of being set though. Blasphemy, I know.
Oh. OH! That is torture. Torture!
Ohh…you see, this really isn’t fair to post in front of pregnant ladies! No soft eggs, no sushi…have a heart! :o) Looks scrumptious, though. Great job taking pictures WHILE cooking!
runny egg is the best.
Deb — I’m thrilled you’ve posted on a subject dear to my heart. Your instructions, as always are clear and precise. The pictures, sigh, wonderful. Reading all the other posts and reader’s suggestions — great!
My 2-cents: Almost exactly as yours. Warm cold eggs in very hot water. I put then in tea cups and use tap water. Then I crack into a 1/3 cup measuring cup to give me easy control to slip into the pan of hot (NOT boiling) water. I use a deep teflan pan. BUT, I just gently slip the egg into the pan. No swirling, no trying to cover the yolk. Let the egg sit there. The watery albumin will float away. (That’s why you’ll want a non-stick pan.) After three minutes gently turn over using spatula or slotted spoon. Leave for another minute. Scoop out, and check the doneness. I just look or gently poke. If not done to your likeness slip back into the hot water. When done scoop out and put on paper towel to dry off. All like Deb does. Now, here’s the difference. You’ll have an ovoid egg. Very pretty, in my opinion. Personally, I don’t like that watery, thin albumin. So, I’m happy with my method. Like someone else said, keep trying ’til you come up with a method that works for you. I love Deb’s method and I’m curious to try some of the other suggestions. As always — Thanks Deb!
Do you know if the type of vinegar matters? Would, say, apple cider vinegar work, or taste good?
I would experiment, but frankly I don’t like eggs that much and I really don’t like poached eggs. I think it’s the consistency that weirds me out…
Cider Vinegar works very well for it. I love the taste of it so I use about 3-4 tablespoons of Cider vinegar. I like my poached eggs tangy. Served on buttered sourdough toast with salt and fresh cracked pepper.
thank you thank you thank you for this. no seriously, thank you.
I cannot thank you enough for the post. I love — LOVE — poached eggs. You, it seems, understand. But they never, ever turn out right. I’ve tried vinegar, lemon juice, various temperatures and cooking times — this seems like a sure fire way. Have no doubt I will test this shortly and report back. Probably tomorrow night in fact. If I can wait that long…
Poached eggs are the perfect weekend breakfast. Thanks for this entry, the picture alone motivated me to close the laptop and go make myself some :)
I love this post, it made me laugh! I tend to cheat though, poaching my eggs in an “egg-poacher”, specifically designed for the job (a.k.a. a saucepan which steams eggs). Takes the stress out of the situation!
I’ve never tried to poach an egg before, but it looks so divine perched on top of that toast that I’m going to have to give it a shot!
Well, this one isn’t for me. Hate soft runny eggs and the thought of “dipping” gives me chills. Sorry. Not my kind of egg.
I have tried the cling film trick and failed miserably. I have a pretty little French egg poacher thingie that never quite works. If you can do this one-handed with a camera, I’ve got to be able to manage it. Thanks for inspiration to give it another go!
Yum! I’m just like you — if it’s got a poached egg on it, I’m there. Asparagus, toast, Canadian bacon, shoelaces — top it with a poached egg and I’m in. I actually never do the whirlpool thing — I just slide the egg right in there, and it always comes out fine. Definitely pro-vinegar though, it makes all the difference. Also, when making more than one at a tine, I start at the top of the pan and move around clockwise, so I know which egg is done first, so no one gets overdone. Anyway – great step-by-step! Thanks!
If you like your poach smashed on toast, you probably like Egg in the Hole, sometimes called Egg in the Basket! I.e. take a piece of toast, take a circle out of the center using an upside down small cup to punch it out (i keep that part and toast it like your toast sticks; it’s the best) and then drop it in a pan to toast quickly on low heat before cracking a whole egg in the center, to be softly cooked to perfection, flip the whole shebang and then a little more time… done! My nanny used to make it for me all the time. there are some tricks/best practices though, just like poaching. yummmmmm.
One more thing that helps keep the egg together in the pot: use the absolute freshest eggs possible. I once bought eggs that had been “under the chicken last night” and poached them the night I bought them–they turned out so beautiful! They lose their natural plumpness the older they get.
I really like your blogstyle. keep it coming. My father who was also a devoted poacher liked to flavor trhe water with a few drops of virgin olive oil and sprinkle a little fresh chopped parsley. This was on Sunday mornings after shooting our lunch on our neighbors farm of course.
Yum, I had one prepared this way myself, just this morning.
My mother used to break the second piece of toast into bits and sprinkle them in the broken top of the egg. She called these “birdies in the nest” for us as children, just to get us to eat the eggs.
thanks for posting this. I love poached eggs but I always screw them up too! I think for breakfast I’m going to poach up an egg – you’ve just made it look so irresistible!
I love poached eggs too, but can’t cook them well either. I usually torture my family by ordering them when out to eat breakfast. They hate it because it delays everyone else’s meal. They are just so good! The swirl might be the key. I’ve never done it. If I can make it at home won’t have to order them out. Must try this for the family’s sake. yum.
You know, I actually find poaching easier when I do not swirl the water. I just ploop the egg in and then nudge the whites together. But, regardless, great tutorial as ever Deb.
I’ve used apple cider and rice vinegars (unseasoned). Both work fine; you don’t use too much.
I’ve also used newspaper to drain. Also works fine, although you want to keep the eggs off colored pictures and avoid leaving them on the print too long! You get words on your eggs.
I’m trying the swirl next time, although I usually don’t do that since I poach 4 eggs at once.
I’m so excited– I was one of the 11! Thank you SO MUCH. I thought the water was supposed to be really boiling… and didn’t crack the egg into a cup first… I’m off to try this right now!
It seems like one either is or isn’t the runny-egg type. I am definitely in the runny yolk corner. Poached (or basted) eggs are incredibly delicious with a scoop of firm-ish grits on the side (another thing for which you either have a taste or not). Or good, crisp hash browns. I don’t find the swirling to be necessary; I just sort of push-fold in the whites that escape. A nonstick skillet helps a little with the sticking on the bottom, but they still seem to stick a little. Next time I’ll try the not-quite-boiling water thing and that might do the trick. Thanks for making me hungry again!
P.S. I have seen “chefs” on television cut off the ragged edges with scissors. That is just a little to anal for me. Who says food isn’t pretty in its natural shapes?
I do mine the same way but after many years of doing it the wrong way, great post and fab photos. Nothing better than a runny egg:)
Thanks for reminding me how much I love poached eggs…I always order scrambled when out…tomorrow morning I’ll give your style a try…at home!
I did it, I did it! Bless you and your tutorial. :D Mine aren’t as pretty as yours, but I DID IT.
Oh!!! I just tried this method for the first time for my last post – it worked an absolute treat!
I love poached eggs :D
I just realized that I forgot to add one of the most important tips! That is, what to do if you’ve tried everything, even this, and it’s just not working for you and you’re ready to retire your firm-whites, runny-yolk dreams for life. Before you throw in the towel, please consider the Three Minute Egg. I eat these too, all of the time. I simply bring water to a boil with an egg (or three, in the case of Alex and my breakfast today), and once it boils set the timer for exactly three minutes. Not a second over! Run it under cold water, carefully peel the egg and voila. Perfection on toast. The next best thing to poached, if I do say so myself.
Poached eggs are one of the few foods I cook in a nonstick skillet. I do the same vinegar thing, but not the whirlpool as I like to poach more than one at a time. Instead, I salt the water first (which also helps coagulate the proteins in the whites) and then drizzle the vinegar in just exactly where I’m about to put the egg to keep the vinegar from becoming overwhelming. I put them in clockwise and set the egg timer which is 3 minutes, then take them out in the same order they went in unless someone requests a less runny egg, and then I leave the first for last. This has NEVER failed.
oh, and I forgot, it helps if the eggs are at room temp when you start.
Thanks for the post. I do something a little different. As with an earlier commenter, I use a deep skillet, so I can poach multiple eggs at once. Then I crack each egg into a mesh sieve and let the “loose” white flow off, before pouring into a ramekin. I ignore the swirling, just gently pour each egg into the pan and let them go. The sieve step results in less fly-away whites and thus firmer poached eggs.
I’ve never used vinegar, may have to give it a shot too
Count me among the poached egg obsessed! I tried all the tricks for the perfect poached egg with some success, but a friend of mine sent me my favorite new kitchen gadget for my b-day. B/c she knows my unnatural love of poached eggs. They sell these little teflon cups that you crack your egg in with salt and pepper and then simply float them in a couple inches of boiling water. Put the lid on the pan for 5 minutes and you get perfect eggs every time and no messy pan to clean up either. Yum Yum. I had some on some spring greens, with bacon and a garden tomato today.! Give them a try, you won’t be disappointed.
Your photos are making me so hungry! I love poached eggs, too, and I use pretty much the same prep method as you. Since learning the whirlpool technique, I feel like the odds are 50/50 that it will be pretty enough to photograph, but the results are always perfectly cooked, even if they are sometimes a little ugly. My only complaint about the process is that you have to do one egg at a time. Fine for me and my boyfriend, not so great if we have company for brunch. I will admit to having, ahem, 4 whirlpooling pans going at once the last time I had people fro brunch, in an attempt to serve everyone at somewhere near the same time. I do not recommend this approach!
I am a fan of the plastic wrap, I just can’t get them to come together any other way. You do have to make sure to use microwave safe plastic wrap though.
I like poached eggs on toast thats been smothered in cheez wiz. The plasticky super salty cheez wiz is the perfect complement to the bland poached egg and it all comes together as one incredibly tasty breakfast. Or lunch, or dinner, or snack.
I’ve always wondered how to poach an egg? Not that I am going to start….going out to brunch is still my preference! But you’re right, that sure looks good!
perfect. over asparagus tips with bacon….goooooooood night. or, good morning.
Although I do love poached eggs – and they have a lot of sentimental value. My “close” substitute is a pair of over-light to over-easy fried eggs (white cooked, but yolk all the way juicy) served on toast. Then I cut the toast in a star formation – cut it into 4 squares, then cut diagonals. You get a little bit of yolk on nearly every piece.
I saw this and started to laugh… poached eggs are one of my favorite Sunday morning meals when I was a kid. I used to make breakfast in the morning when I lived at home and to be honest I really had no one to show me beside “Betty, Betty Crocker that is” how to properly poach an egg. I never fussed I just broke the little eggies in to the boiling water and with in minutes poached fat free eggs. I am intrigued about the whole vinegar thing and may have to give that a try. I am thinking of Poached Eggs and Wheat toast for breakfast in the morning now.
I’ve tried various methods (the swirl one works pretty well, though I still have how I can only make a couple eggs worth until I have to change the water because it’s so cloudy), but I’ve become an advocate of the cling wrap method as of late. It was this site that got me interested: http://www.b3ta.com/features/howtopoachanegg/
We have always called the toast sticks little soldiers. My kids grew up on soft boiled eggs, dipping in the little soldiers.
Your method is fine, in fact the Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco uses the same technique. I find it easier to use some round cookie forms which I place in a shallow
pan of boiling water and break the eggs into those effective constraints. They come out perfectly every time.
ooooohhh…. that last picture is enough to make me not wanna be vegan anymore (almost).
I used to eat eggs with soldiers ALL the time, they’re the best! But with soft-boiled eggs. I s’pose I’ll never have a poached… but they sure are cool-looking.
I adore eggs (and oozing yolks!) – but don’t remember ever poaching one. I will definitely give this a try. Thanks!
I used to be afraid of poaching eggs, too, until I saw this exact procedure demonstrated by Martha Stewart–worked like a charm for me. I like how the eggs, which always strike me as somewhat ghostly with those tendrils of white, rise to the top of the water when they’re ready. Martha mentioned snipping off the excess bits of white with kitchen shears to clean up the appearance of the eggs after they’re removed from the pot, but I haven’t found that to be necessary.
Yum. I had never made a poached egg either, but your tutorial prompted me to try. It turned out fabulous!
As requested my Mother bought my Father a special pan for poaching eggs, it has a tray of plastic cups to put the eggs in. Very handy gadget, makes egg poaching a snap, I like to break the yoke and mix the egg with a bit of cheese. However, I don’t ever recall my Father using said device more then once :-)
OMG……..This is torture to look at, especially if it is a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning and you haven’t eaten anything yet! Thanks also for the tip about swirling the eggs. I’ve never done that before, and it makes perfect sense.
And all this time I thought I was doing it right and I wasn’t. I never did the whirlpool thing before adding the egg. I will try that for sure. Thanks for sharing!
I am a simple girl. I boil water in a shallow pan. Drop in my eggs. Lightly spoon the boiling water on top of the egg to cook it. And voila poached eggs.
I too love them on everything.
On fish cakes too, like I did here: http://lipsmackinggoodness.blogspot.com/2008/07/i-never-would-have-tried-this-recipe.html
Thank you for this!!! I will bookmark it. It sounds corny but the other thing I have been trying to do is make the perfect hard boiled egg, where the entire yolk is cooked, not a little mushy on the inside but not overcooked. And it is very true at those decision tree points, like where in poaching, the yolk is all over the place, for us self doubters, that is the panic moment. So your step by step was very, very, helpful!!
I have never poached an egg! Wow, you make it look so simple, I have always feared it running everywhere in the water. Now it is on my must try list! Thanks!!
i tried it but made a big mess with the swirling– my egg got caught in the current and all torn up. so i went back to my tried and true method: the exact same, minus the swirling. worked fine, as it always does, producing eggs that weren’t perfectly shaped but held together well enough. i imagine the swirling would work with practice, but i’ve never cared much about the shape so long as the egg holds together. i’m just going to put a knife through it, anyway, and the runny yolk’s pretty enough as is.
Thanks Deb! I’ve been a lurker for a while, and I love love love your site. The days you post my heart must jump a beat because I get so giddy! Do you use Grade A or AA when you poach? Or do you think it makes a difference? I’m not even sure I’ve ever seen an AA egg!
Shirlie – I couldn’t help but notice your question b/c I had the same one myself when I decided to dive into egg poaching world! Yes, you can poach more than one egg at a time. Of course, your cooking time will be longer the more eggs there are in the pot. I read some of Alton Brown’s tips and they’re nearly fool proof. His method is practically the same as Deb’s – except he removes from heat and covers.
it should be an easy thing to do but my performance anxiety kicks in every time I poach eggs, I usually leave my cravings for brunch at restaurants. Ill give this a try shortly since I havent made breakfast yet.
I tried three this morning; one turned out well. The first, I accidentally punctured the yoke using a big pasta scooper to remove the egg (mental note, don’t use that tool). So I plopped it back in, searched for a better slotted spoon, chased the egg around awhile and ended up with a hard-poached yolk. My 2 year old got that one, then I tried two more, the last I under cooked out of sheer impatience because the second was so good. But now our tummies are full of buttery toasted french bread and ooey gooey egg goodness. We are skipping church and hanging out on the sofa for the rest of the morning!
That is exactly the method I use, too! I looove poached eggs.
I’ve heard that in England, they call the fingers “soldiers” and so they have soft boiled eggs and “soldiers” they dip into the yolk. I, too, have a fondness for eggs that is long standing. I remember eating soft-boiled eggs at my next door neighbor’s house when we lived in Germany (when I was 2-4). I’ve never been much of an egg poacher, but I’ll definitely give it a try.
I have been drooling over this blog for months & months now, and am finally commenting!
while I will definitely be trying this poached egg recipe, my real purpose with this comment was to tell you about recipes on your blog that I HAVE tried:
peanut butter cookies: AMAZING. literally the only cookies I’ve made that have come out looking like normal cookies. so delicious & the recipe made so many – I brought a ton to work & people loved them!
& today, pumpkin muffins: good LORD. the sprinkling of cinnamon-sugar on top is oh-so-perfect & I added some chocolate chips which was absolutely the best thing I could’ve done. they are so warm, so moist, so soft… thank you!
& wonderful blog…. the photos are amazing!!
Deb, you make this look so simple I must try it myself! I’ve long been a fan of the 3 minute egg, but poached eggs seemed so… scarey.
I think I know what I’ll have for breakfast tomorrow!
What a great tutorial. You almost need one of those time delay mechanisms, like the national geographic folks use to capture elusive animals in the night. it just automatically snaps one photo every four seconds or so, and then you’d have both your hands free!
But I have to quietly object to what I see as the current trend in putting poached eggs on EVERYTHING. I love eggs, but when paired with crunchy things like iceberg lettuce, the whole thing produces a strong gag reflex in me.
my family is not a poached eggs kind of family, so ive actually never eaten a whole poached egg. when i read your instructions, however, i decided to try making poached eggs, and got an opportunity to this morning…my first poached eggs were a hit! delicious..thanks a ton!
I am glad you posted this because there is this restaurant that we go to that has this absolutely gorgeous, puffy, almost popcorn-like poached eggs on their eggs Benedict, and I was dying to know how they did it. I think your method might produce that type of egg. I’ve never had a problem making edible poached eggs, but this definitely looks like an improvement. Yum – makes me want one now, too!
I just made my first ever poached egg. It was perfect – pretty & delicious on top of buffalo summer sausage hash…yum. Thanks!
Deb-this is perfect. Thank you!
Now I have another request…I’m bringing my dad to NYC this weekend to see a game at Yankee Stadium before it goes away. He has his mecca, I have mine. Can you tell me how to get to the big, bad greenmarket you and all my fav NYC foodie bloggers go to. We’re staying in Union Square. We should be close, right? Thanks again!
yummmm. i can’t wait to not be pregnant anymore. i miss my poached eggs on toast on lazy weekend mornings!
Hi Maggie — The biggest one is right in Union Square–you can’t miss it–M, W, F and Saturdays. However, we go to others as well, whatever is nearby. I check out one in Abingdon Square once in a while (a little closer to us) and Alex has been frequenting the one in Rock Center (near where he works). All have different schedules, available here.
I ate this for breakfast this morning!
Look pritty nice! It is easier (i do it that way), to put an egg in ladle, and than the ladle in hot water (with vinegar and all…), helps keeping a perfect form.
Wow! Love your blog… great step-by-step guidance with vivid imagery. Being someone who often eats out, I usually don’t explore cooking on my own… but at the least, your latest entry has inspired me to ‘poach my own egg’. Now, I can save money buying breakfast… I look forward to reading up on your other posts!
i’ve been wondering how to poach eggs for a while — thank you so much! i think i am going to have that for breakfast in a couple of hours.
Thank you for the step-by-step. I love that. I used to do the vinegar thing, but I am back to being not sure about it. Can’t decide if it matters or not.
I hate to pimp my own things, but I worked pretty hard at getting something similar: the perfect soft-boiled egg. I found that exactly six minutes on the same almost-boiling setting you employed did the trick. You can then shock it (or simply cool it with cold water) and peel it and break it open, and it will have a good runny texture, but with a bit of that gooey goodness on the inside, too. Like so: http://www.flickr.com/photos/supereric/2482853049/
Got to put the egg in the hot water, of course. None of that starting the egg in cold water bidness.
Well, I tried my first poached egg this morning and it worked! Hooray!!
It wasn’t quite as beautiful as your egg, but it was so easy I’m sure I’ll use this technique again (practice makes perfect)!
Thanks so much for this tutorial; you’ve demystified the poached egg for me and I really appreciate that.
I love your blog and poached eggs…mm great tutorial. I think next time I make it Ill crack the egg into a separate bowl first, it seems a much better idea than attempting to crack it on the side of the pan!!
On another egg note, I made huevos rancheros for my boyfriend this weekend and he said they were the best breakfast he’s ever had! thanks!
I love poached eggs, but have one of those pans because it’s not as scary to use the pan. However, after seeing your step-by-step directions last night, I felt compelled to try this morning. My first egg was a disaster. I don’t think I made the whirlpool right (I know, don’t ask) and I definitely didn’t cook it long enough. The second egg was perfect! Yummy, runny, toast-dipping perfect egg-ness. Thank you for the great instructions!
I adore poached eggs! I haven’t made them in a while because it’s been so hot, but I may have them for lunch today. I’m pro-vinegar, but I get my water just above boiling and don’t bother with the whirlpool – just crack them in. Yum!!!
Deb, I wish you had mentioned to make sure your eggs are fresh! I find that is very important when making a poached egg.
dude! thank-you! my egg ALWAYS sticks to the bottom of the pan and I thought that was so weird and I must be the only one that experienced that kind of egg-demon behavior! the last time I attempted poached eggs I seriously started a fire (shameful)! I’m going to give it another try now…
Ahh. I’ve not been so much afraid as never tried it/never learned. But now I’m inspired – thanks!
Ah irony. I tried to cook poached eggs for the first time ever on Friday morning and it was disastrous. They just tasted all wrong and didn’t really maintain much of the white bits at all. I followed mostly these instructions, but aha! Minus putting it into a cup first. That will probably help. Thanks! Too bad I didn’t wait an hour until after you’d posted your advice.
In regards to the freshness of the eggs and the grade of the eggs: Better cooks than I will tell you that it’s very important that the eggs are as fresh as possible and that you use the best-quality, best grade eggs that you can get your hands on and they’re right. Fresh is always better and tastier.
But in the interest of disclosure–and also an effort to “keep it real” as the lovely Pioneer Woman says–I should let you know that I just don’t. I don’t eat eggs often enough to buy the fanciest ones (though on a week like this, when I’ve craved them daily, I will)–they usually go bad before I finish them. I choose whichever ones come in cardboard, not Styrofoam or plastic containers because the non-biodegradable packaging bugs me more than the dubious assertion of “cage free” (The Omnivore’s Dilemma unfortunately told me all too much about what gets away with being labeled “cage free”). And if I have a choice between organic or not organic and both are in cardboard containers, I go for organic. But aside from that, I pretty much buy whichever eggs I can get.
The horror, right? As I’ve said before, everyone has to figure out what works the best, and counts the most, for them.
I might just have to try that!
FYI, I’ve eaten egg on toast twice this week because of this post. I’m defenseless against your power of suggestion!
Thanks so much for this! My grandma used to always make me poached eggs and I’ve always been too timid to try and make them myself. Your breakdown is great!
Like BarbraC, I use the microwave trick. It’s awesome. I use a couple tablespoons of water and a splash of vinegar in a little custard cup. I use full power, but only cook it for 52 seconds or so. Every microwave is different so it takes some (delicious) trial-and-error. I had one last night on a tortilla with swiss cheese and spinach, one of my best creations ever.
If you have super-fresh eggs (like your own backyard chickens) you don’t have to bother with the stirring or the vinegar. Just bring the water to a simmer and break the eggs into the water. The whites hold together just fine.
Hmm not sure on the microwave idea but I will try this again. I used those egg poachers with plastic cups and they produce an egg so artificial looking.
I guess I need to be brave, arm myself with a large cup of tea (or something stronger) and try this out…
You are a great teacher as well as a great cook and photographer. This could be a television series for you. Move over Martha.
this is EXACTLY how i poach eggs. mom taught me when i was like 10. then re-taught me at 26. :) they do turn out exceptionally well this way…nice tutorial! :)
one more question! do your eggs ever stick to the paper town while draining??
having poached eggs in the similar manner all of my adult life (because that’s how my husband did it) my family was overcome with joy when one day, a few years ago, i reached back into my childhood memories and poached them the way my dad poached them. in half and half, a pat of butter and a touch of salt. lordy lordy….our lives have never been the same since. (nor have my thighs but that’s another matter…)
YUM! (Yes, that was me yelling.) I do so love poached eggs, and have only attempted them once or twice. Thanks for the demo!
I’ve tried the water-in-pan method but something about all of the lost strains of whites drives me insane. The vortex method has also never worked for me. I did eventually try the Julia Child trick of putting the egg in the pan still in its shell for about 30 seconds and then cracking it in and it helped a lot. I recently bought a little microwave egg-poaching container which has worked well if you manage to work out the timing. I use it mostly because it is quick and I can have a poached egg when I’m in a hurry for school.
If only there was a hole in the bread you’d have eggy in a basket! Great info!
This brought back memories of the cooks at my old armory and what they’d whip up for themselves after they got done poisoning the rest of us in the unit. I used to watch them, absolutely fascinated, while they made some of the most drool worthy delicacies using utensils and equipment designed for feeding an Army (quite literally!). I caught one of the younger cooks perfecting his poaching skills using just a cup of water pooled on the grill and a lid from a small pot: he tossed the water on the hot grill, delicately place the egg on it, then cover it with the lid. Somehow, he was rewarded with a poached egg! Magic!
Gorgeous pictures — this is exactly how I like to eat my poached eggs, too! Not many things in this world better than an oozy egg with salt and pepper on buttered toast.
I love you.
I love your blog.
But I must protest – vinegar? I know that it keeps the white together so you can take pretty pictures – but you can ALWAYS taste the vinegar and that is never a good thing.
If you do not like vinegar you should of course not use it, though it does make things easier. We happen to like the flavor, subtle as it is.
P.S. to all who have suggested Julia Child’s method: I just gave it a try! It was good. I can’t say it made any great difference in the outcome for the extra steps, but the egg did seem to come together well. Thanks for the suggestion.
I must be doing something wrong. I believed I was following your method, but after I put the egg in, the water got all frothy and white! And the white didn’t stay together. Help?
I think this would be my last meal. You know, if I ever had to request a last meal. I would probably use three times as much butter on my toast, though.
You are my hero! LOL I love poached eggs and have used the vinegar and it it helps. I can’t wait to try your whirlpool method. And I’ve got to say the egg all smashed dow there on the bread looks soo good! I’m going to try eating it your way next time!
Okay, I only just realized this, but I’ve been using a new method to poach my eggs for a few years now…
Are you ready for this?
Never mind the plastic wrap, cupcake liners, etc…
Poach them in the shell! I basically soft-boil an egg or two. (I think some people call them 4- or 5-minute eggs). With practice (and a bath of cold water) peeling them isn’t really as hard as you’d think, and when you get them peeled and set them on buttered toast, you can’t tell the difference!
(My mother was a proponent of the vinegar-in-the-water trick, but sometimes she overdid it and our eggs benedict had a somewhat overwhelming vinegar-y-ness. So if you’re trying that, be sure not to go overboard with the vinegar).
Well holy cow. I just reread some of the comments. Who knew I was so close to using Julia Child’s recipe! :o)
Sicilian Poached Eggs call for red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar instead of white vinegar. Learned it from Angelo Garro and it is wonderful.
thank you SO much for this post – i was inspired enough to make poached eggs for the first time at home and they were incredibly easy to make and delicious!
I read through all the comments to see if anyone would suggest making poached eggs the way my mom did (and I still do). Instead of vinegar, try a tablespoon or two of kosher salt . . .
I would have to try but makes a lot of sense!
This is a recipe close to my heart. My mom taught me to “coddle” an egg when I was about 8 (we actually use the suspended poacher over the steaming water…she likes the hemisphere look). When I wake up late on a Saturday morning, she’s ready for “second breakfast” and we sit down and have them on English muffins. As she got sicker and sicker, it was one of the few things I could make that she could eat consistently, and it would always improve her day.
When she had surgery three times over the next 5 years, these were indispensable…anesthesia plays hell with your emotions for months, and making an Egg and Muffin often was how I cheered her up. I can’t count how many times I had this conversation with her:
“I don’t know.”
“Why are you crying?”
“I don’t know.”
“Are you hungry?”
“Do you want a coddled egg?”
Even now, 5 years after her last surgery, we still sit down for this every time we’re together. I suspect she has one every weekend!
There is science behind adding vinegar! The acid combines with the proteins to tighten them (think of proteins as little, loose springs that tighten with cooking and/or exposure to acid) (think how cooking tightens up a piece of meat, or how acid “cooks” food for a seviche). Experience has shown me that when I get sloppy and pour in too much vinegar, I can taste it — so to those who are in the anti-vinegar lobby, try less vinegar!
And a warning to all who ask for poached eggs in restaurants. Some will “poach” the eggs by slipping a little oil spray or other lubricant into a custard cup, add the egg, and “poach” them in the microwave. One restaurant advised me they poached their eggs in water: what it turned out to be was that they did the above (greades a custard cup, added an egg) but then set the custard-cup assemblage in a bain-marie (of sorts). The latter is a little closer to acceptable, but this boy eats poached eggs to keep his fat intake to a minimum — so having an egg “poached” with any kind of fat added is a little self-defeating.
And finally, if you haven’t tried it, do try Tabasco or your favorite hot sauce instead of S & P. Your heart will thank you as it does a fay-do-do!
Julia Child uses the water-vortex method too. And for those who don’t like vinegar, lemon juice also works, and does the same chemical reaction Liam mentioned about the acid assisting in coagulating the eggwhite.
Ohh..this is just delightful. I [massive heart] poached eggs!
Gina- My father swears by basted eggs. I’d never heard of them from anyone other than my father, and, as a person who spent years slinging eggs at brunch, I was convinced that he made them up. But I got to agree – they’re awesome. I think it’s because the butter fries the bottom of the egg, but it’s still soft and supple like a poached egg on top.
wow. that looks so good. i love the picture of the yolk oozing out. and toast fingers? awesome idea. poached eggs are rare around here. and i’m not a big fan of runny yolks (as much as i love that picture) i might try this but cook it longer so the yolks harden a little. :)
Round cookie cutters can also be used in shallow water to poach eggs. I’ve tried it once and it seemed to work ok! :D
I cook my poached eggs the pretty much the same way. However, I substitute a bit of white wine for the vinegar because I prefer the taste. I also poach my eggs in tomato juice or other vegetable juices sometimes.
As always the photos are divine, the dish excellent… love those poached eggs…
omg, you are simply amazing. your writing is great and your pictures are even better. and looking at that egg is making my mouth water. gah.
Just like everyone else, I’m a little scared to tackle the whole poached egg scenario. I’ve only done it once and back then I didn’t use vinegar. It still turned out like a poach egg, but from what I remember there weren’t as much egg white left around the yolk – it just ended up floating elsewhere in the pot, uneaten!
But, as always, I was confident about this recipe or any other recipe of yours for that matter. (Hey, I check your website first for recipes before I go elsewhere like Food Network or Martha Stewart.) ;) Anyway, I tried it just 10 minutes ago, doing exactly what you’ve done, and the egg turned out perfect! If I had a picture, I would even go as far to say that it was better than yours. :P
Thanks for posting such an important recipe! I hope everyone else finds this as helpful as I do!
Good job! I prefer a poached egg over any other type .. and I have had many a disaster, too.
I break my egg into a small glass milk pitcher … swirl or not swirl .. vinegar or no vinegar .. I have found the small pitcher to be the biggest help. You can get the egg right into the water without a big “plop” that can spread out the white and/or break the yolk.
Several have mentioned that they hate when you can taste the vinegar – one solution for that is to use a vinegar that tastes good! My preference is for white wine vinegar – I’ve yet to taste it in my eggs. :)
As for the runny yolks? Soooooooooo goooooooood. My mom used to cut me soldiers to dunk in my soft boiled eggs. I hadn’t thought of them for poached (which I normally eat smashed on toast, just like in the last photo). I’m inspired to try them for my breakfast this morning.
I did it again! Hop on over to my blog and see a picture of it! :)
Thank you VERY much! There were a couple of key elements there which you did and explained, and the whys of….and now I think I know why my poaches are always such a mess. THIS makes sense!!
I have always had good results using a non-stick shallow pan, boiling water in it with a bit of vinegar. Using a shallow pan allows me to cook several poached eggs at the same time.
Just by looking here (I love poached eggs) and at your huevos rancheros post, I feel compelled to say thank you for cooking with a camera in your hand. It must be really hard, but we are all way better off for it! Your site is tip top!
That was so easy, thanks for that.
Lovely. I’m ashamed to admit that I need my yolks like golf balls.
I’m SO happy right now. I had sworn off making poached eggs because they never worked out and it was really annoying. However, I saw your post and decided to give it one more try and guess what, They worked!!! I thought the first one could have been a fluke so I made a second and they both turned out perfectly. Thank you so much!
I used your method to make poached eggs for dinner Monday night. So good! Now that I know how simple it is to poach eggs, I’m going to be living on eggs benedict!
I used rice wine vinegar in the poaching liquid…it’s all I had on hand, but it worked great!
I’m putting a post up with a pic, but mine doesn’t look nearly as nice as yours!
This is a fun post! Thanks for the great tips!
That was great! Thanks for the detailed photos – I am ready to try for myself! And toast fingers, you’re a genius…
That looks yummy. Maybe I should have some for my tea!
I finally got around to trying out egg poaching, emboldened by this blog. I followed all your steps, to moderate success (my eggs kept stringing out way too much for my liking). Finally, I hit on a solution that works for me every time: Have a fairly flat-bottomed ladle waiting in the hot water. Break the egg into a dish, bring the ladle just to the water’s surface, but keep it full of hot water. Slide the egg into the ladle and wait a few seconds for the white to start coagulating. Lower the ladle to the bottom, standing it up against the side of the pot, and let the egg poach in the ladle for 3 minutes. Transfer the egg into a slotted spoon and drain, then transfer egg to some paper towels. Thanks for all the tips and inspiration!
I just poached my first egg! And it worked! Actually, I left it in a tiny bit too long so it wasn’t super runny the way it’s supposed to be, but it was delicious!
Wow… thanks for all the steps that was so helpful! Great job on the photos. My eggs turned out great but I used a packaged hollandaise sauce and it was not so good. Do you have a recipe for hollandaise sauce? Thanks so much!
Stayed home sick today and the only thing that sounded good was a poached egg and toast. I used this method, and other than not cooking it *quite* long enough for my tastes (I got nervous) it worked BEAUTIFULLY. My fiancee loves poached eggs and I can’t wait to wow him with my new egg skills. Thank you!
So I’ve never even thought about making a poached egg – I’ve always been a fried or boiled egg gal. I’ve been getting bored with my eggs, though, so I decided to try it (and of course used your how-to!) and it ended up perfect! Delicious and easy – I’m definitely going to keep making them. :) THANKS!
thanks for the tips..I am always afraid to poach eggs….seems I never have much egg left, except just the yolk. But I am going to try your method.
Beautiful instructions! As always, eggs from happy hens are stratispheres above icky old store bought eggs from miserable hens with miserable lives. The color difference is extreme as well! Try your farmer;’s market or roadside stand. well worth it. They stay fresh for ages, too!
Your method worked perfectly and your step-by-step instructions gave me the guts to try this style of poaching eggs after I’d sworn it off long ago! Thanks!
Okay..I had to come back and revisit this, because I found a method that’s easier. I buttered a 6oz custard cup (You could use a coffee cup or ramekin) and filled it half way with water. I placed it in the microwave (I have a 1000 watt) and heated the water for 1 minute to the extremely hot but not boiling stage. I cracked a cold egg into the water and let it sit about 15 seconds and put it back in the microwave and heated it at medium high for 10 seconds. Checked it and heated it another 10 seconds until the top was covered with cooked egg white. I removed it with a slotted spoon to my toast and added salt and pepper. A perfectly soft set poached egg with a just glazing of white over the yoke. the egg whites perfectly formed and yolk mounded. Another egg was done for 3 – 10 second intervals, and it was almost firm set..just a little of the runny yoke. Too easy!
Thank you! Your pictures enticed me to make this for myself at 9pm, after having eaten a lovely dinner. But it was SO yummy looking, it was calling out to me. This was my second attempt ever at making poached eggs. the first was an utter disaster. Tonight was out of this world fantastic. I love this tutorial, I can’t begin to tell you how much. Am going to treat my husband and daughter to this for breaky tomorrow am. Wonderbar!
Now that I can actually make them, poached eggs have become a staple in my diet! Excellent tutorial.
mmm… as soon as i saw that post i jumped up and made myself a poached egg… PERFECT – thanks so much
Wow, it worked. I’ve never been able to do this before. What perfect, spur of the moment lunch. I think it took longer to make it than it did to eat it. Thankyou. Could you possibly do a tutorial for making hollandaise sauce? I’d love to be able to master them both.
thanks heaps :-)
Buy an egg poacher – it is much easier and there is less waste, more egg. Not the microwave kind… the one that sits on the stove – very yummie!
I’ve never tried a poached egg, but my god you make it look beautiful! I’ll be giving this a shot this weekend. Thanks for sharing!
I used this method this morning, with a splash of vinegar in the water, and my eggs turned out amazingly well. Thank you for the suggestion. Now poached eggs will become a staple in my diet!
THANK YOU for this. I’m obsessed with poached eggs. The first time I made them (I only recently started eating eggs again after being vegan for many years), they were perfect. The several times after that . . . not so great. So, your how-to DEFINITELY helped, and I credit you with my successful dinner tonight.
Nicely done, that egg, and lovely presentation!
thanks to your wonderful tips, i just made my first poached egg ever! it’s not as pretty as yours in the photos, but still delicious!
It worked! I’ve seen this method described many times but it always sounded like it required more skill than I possess. At this very moment I am sitting at my computer trying not to get egg yolk on my keyboard. I’m usually not a big fan of toast, but this is one of those things that make it wonderful.
I’m so glad I found your site, Deb!
Oops. Three keys now need to be unstickified. I guess I’ll have to add that to my Sunday cleaning chores. First, though, I’m off to praise your aborio rice pudding.
The whirpool effect is probably the most important aspect of this. It takes a few tries, but, the faster the whirl the better. Once you get the knack of it they come out like perfect little Mozzarella balls.
Someone also mentioned they dont like vinegar. After you poach your egg, remove and place in a bowl of cold water, not only does it stop the cooking process, but, it also washes of the vinegar.
I just tried this (my first time EVER making poached eggs) and they CAME OUT SO PERFECT. OM NOM NOM :D
Are poached eggs really that much better than soft-boiled? Same ingredients: one egg, one pot boiling water. And yet with the soft-boiled egg, you have this handy bit of shell that keeps the egg from dispersing throughout the pot of water. Even if the shell doesn’t remain in one piece it will keep most of the egg together–and in any event the breakage rate is low. There is the matter of extricating the egg from the shell, but a short sharp shock with a knife on one end and then a small spoon for scooping gets most of it out intact. Or you can put it in an egg cup.
Okay. Perhaps I’m just jealous.
Awesome tutorial! I love poached eggs as well, and always struggle with making them. Today, I’m proud to say (with your help) I made the perfect poached egg. It was delicious with warm, buttered toast, and a serving of corned beef hash. Thanks!
I just tried it and failed miserably! Not your fault, I think I am supposed to fry eggs :( Oh but speaking of liking poached eggs on everything, have you tried one on a bacon cheeseburger? Oh my heart, YUM! :)
Thanks for the step by step, I am going to try again!
Yay! I have tried poaching eggs a number of times and have tried using a number of techniques but I always ended up with a sad yolk with about 1/4 inch of white around it. The whirlpool method totally did it for me. I had mine on toast with asparagus.
I just followed your instructions with great success!
After I read this for the first time, I had a poached egg for dinner 3 times in one week. There is really nothing better for so little effort. Also, I think the photo of the egg on toast at the top is my favorite I’ve ever seen on this site.
My husband is on a new diet and I am about to poach my first egg for said diet. I am extremely grateful for this great tutorial!!
i have successfully poached an egg thanks to you, deb!
I am attempting to poach eggs for the very first time this morning. (Hopefully it will impress my man who is a chef). Thanks for the step by step tutorial.
Thank you, this was perfect! I’m not usually good with things that require me to be very precise, so I was worried about how my first poached egg would turn out. No problems whatsoever, though. I thought it might be beginner’s luck, but I did it perfectly the next day too!
You’ve given me the confidence to try my 2 fave brunch dishes, which I usually end up making with an over easy egg because I’m so awful at poaching…
sourdough toast smeared with chevre, layered with a thinly sliced tomato and sauteed garlic spinach topped with a perfectly poached egg and a side of holandaise AND the same concept, but with smashed avocado, tomato and lox with said poached egg and side of holandaise. I am now officially your biggest fan! xo
Love the whirlpool technique – and you are completely right about not freaking out about the egg whites going everywhere. It all works out in the end.
Just attempted this for the first time today, and it came out perfectly! I’ve been following the blog for a few weeks now, and everything I’ve made has been delicious (minus my failed creamed spinach last night, but that was only because I didn’t have enough spinach and forgot to scale down the cream).
I already want to go make another one…
The plastic wrap method may seem a little odd, but it gives perfect results every single time, the eggs don’t need to be as just-out-of-the-hen fresh as they do with the dropping method, and many can be poached at the same time.
All it needs is a cup lined with plastic wrap, with the egg broken into it. the plastic wrap is twisted up to make it air (egg?) tight and the little package is then plopped into the boiling water.
The only thing different with this recipe is that it needs slghtly longer to cook, as the egg whites don’t do that floating-off thing they do with traditional poaching, but instead create a thick layer around the delicious yolk.
I like my yolks very soft, and am willing to deal with a little white-soggyness to achieve this, so i give my eggs 6-7 minutes.
After this, stick the saucepan under the cold tap and let it run for a while; this stops the eggs cooking further and cools the palstic so that it can be touched and unwrapped from the still-hot eggs. Et voila! very simple.
My concern about plastic wrap is a food safety issue — I have read that plastic wrap melts at 212 degrees, the same temperature that water boils (at sea level). Why risk eating melted plastic?
I loved it! I’ve never made a poached egg before, But I love them! I just watched Julie and Julia- the new movie about Julia Childs recipes, and was inspired. Thank you for helping me make my favorite eggs. I skipped the vinegar but the swirling part was perfect!
I can’t wait to try the swirl! I did poached eggs over 101 Cookbooks’ Brussels Sprouts (with a touch of pancetta and Parmesan) for dinner last night and it was SPLENDID!
You are a lifesaver, I saw your recipe for creamed spinach with a poached egg on top but got worried because I had never poached an egg before. But thanks to this tutorial, dinner will now happen, poached egg and all. Just tried and it worked (on only the 2nd egg). Thanks you!!
Deb! I am so JAZZED right now! I made these exactly as described! I poached eggs!! They were perfect. Thank you thank you thank you!
I just attempted my first poached egg and using your fabulous directions, it came out perfectly. And I have a batch of Boozy Baked French Toast in the oven. It’s a Smitten Kitchen-Themed Breakfast for Dinner Night. Thank you so much for all of your great (and often very helpful) work!
Tonight for dinner, I had two poached eggs on a bed of arugula and halved cherry tomatoes, with a lemon honey dressing. Delicious.
Oh hallelujah! I tried this for the first time tonight and I couldn’t believe the results. Oooo the yummy yellow goo! That has to be good for your soul. Thanks so much!
just tried this tonight, made a perfect “we ate lunch really late but its 10pm and we haven’t really eaten dinner” dinner on a sunday night. Love the idea of the toast fingers, and so did my beau! I prefer it without the vinegar as all I had was balsalmic which I used for the first one but it made the water too cloudy to see in . Ah well, delicious as usual. I think this is my new egg poaching way.
Damn. I wasn’t hungry. Now I am. Wanting this! Would be tasty over top of zucchini pine nut pancakes instead of the generic over-easy eggs! Mmmmm Eggs for dinner and breakfast! YES!
I am so glad to have found this. I’ve been eating only egg whites for years and years but had poached eggs recently at a restaurant and wanted more. In the old days I used a metal one egg poacher but threw it out years ago. So today was the day and I followed your instructions and loved my lunch.
Tried it again. The first egg came out perfectly, better than last week. The second egg looked terrible. Is there a secret to doing a second egg? Should I add more vinegar or change the water?
I have those silicone poaching cups that you float in boiling water, but it’s hard to make the top of the egg cook in them. I’m trying this for dinner right now.
Oh, god, this is fantastic. It worked beautifully, the swirling water really tied the egg together. Thank you, Deb!
I just poached an egg for the first time and it was almost perfect! Thanks for the suggestions!!
Can I just say that I grew up with parents who, after smashing egg on toast, and salting and peppering, put sweet pickle relish on top of the egg/toast?? It is really pretty good…thanks for the tips. I’ll try ’em out on my own hen fruit this morning.
I have a nice set of All-Clad measuring cups, and have discovered that the 1 c measure poaches an egg for one perfectly. I just pop the cup on the burner, just like a saucepan, and I use the 1/3 measure to transfer my egg. It seems like less space for the egg to go nutso and swim around helps. Maybe not for everyone, but I do love tiny things, and cooking in a teensy sized “saucepan” is just fun.
I’m not one to argue with Deb’s methods (they’ve not led me astray thus far), but I gotta say, the Julia Child method of pre-cooking in the shell works pretty great. Pierce the fat end of the egg with a pin, put it in barely simmering water for 20 seconds, pluck it out and crack it right back in the water, and cook to your heart’s desire. I used vinegar, but the egg came together so beautifully with no swirling and no fly-aways that I suspect the vinegar isn’t necessary. Even used a week-old egg and it was lovely!
Well, I’m impressed. I am a retired professional chef and I said to myself, Self!, she said in the intro that she had instructions on how to poach an egg. To me that is a dead giveaway. You either know or you don’t. You know. Ta Da! I’m impressed. Good going. A note that you may enjoy. Try using Rice Vinegar. It leaves absolutely no residual taste at all. Works like a charm too. Good Job, thanks for being authentic.
I’ve only tried poaching eggs once before, with store bought eggs. (It was a disaster, and has not been repeated since. I ended up with a pot of watery, vinegary egg-flower soup! Haha) Now that we own laying hens, I’m thinking poached eggs will be much easier. Fresh eggs have less runny egg whites, which in turn, would make the poaching process easier. (?) I’m only assuming this, and will have to give it a try. Has anyone tried this comparison?
I just attempted my first time making a poached egg–which I decide I absolutely needed for a late-night snack, after reading your blog. Thanks to your great instructions, it was an AMAZING success. I have never had a poached egg before, but it was delicious. I shared some with my roommate, and he claims that’s exactly the way a poached egg should taste. Thanks for making all the mistakes so I could learn from you!
This is FOOD PORN! THANK YOU!!!
Yummy! Although a drippy egg is essential it’s not always wise!
Wow, thanx i just love it its like amazing.
thanks, no one mentions the whole “whirlpool” thing, which once you know about is soo obvious,
I discovered a sinful recipe on epicurious for pasta carbonera with a poached egg ontop….YUM!!! can only ever eat it once in a while but think about it, bacon, egg and cheese on pasta, whats not to love?
and I agree that those pics are definately food porn.
I’ve tried this four times now but I keep coming up with the result that says, “Mummy, please don’t make me eat the seagull poo.”
It worked perfectly! I’d never heard of the whirlpool technique. Thanks!
I just poached an egg for the first time.
It worked. I am ecstatic.
I never got to tell you how helpful your step-by-step instructions were when I poached eggs way back in September. Thanks a bunch!
For best results poach your eggs in a frying pan for perfect results every time
I’m going home to make a poached egg and toast right now! thanks!
i’m going to make a poached egg for breakfast tomorrow. i can’t wait.
I just tried poaching an egg for the first time with these tips…success!!!I love poached eggs, wish I’d tried this years ago instead of always going out to eat them!
when i go to university i just know your site is going to be my bible!
after struggling to follow this recipe properly the first few times (probably because the computer is two rooms away from the kitchen and our printer died a while ago) i finally mastered it this morning, a proud moment for me indeed. thanks for feeding me breakfast this morning, without this recipe i’d have gone to college on a chocolate bar (or two!)
looks great!! I love having benedict eggs for breakfast in the weekends… however hehehe… :o) here is my question, if I need to cook 6 eggs how can I do to keep them warm since I poach the first one till the last one? I usually try to cook them in pairs, and then once I finish with the last two, i put them again in hot water for a few seconds to “re-warm” but then the problem I face is that they become reaaally wet again and my toasts look pathetic and almost flooded…
I saw Anne Burell do this once on her show and have adopted it since. When poaching eggs for a crowd (and she says this is what they do at restaurants, too), she pre-poaches all of them (you can err on the side of a shorter cooking time/looser egg). Keeps them in cold water until needed and as they’re needed, plunks them back in hot water to reheat them (as you’ve been doing). I always drain mine briefly on a paper towel. Hope that helps.
Deb, I just used your directions to make my first pair of poached eggs and they came out beautifully. Thank you so much!
I’m ok poaching, but is there a secret to the Three Minute Egg? I tried one today for lunch and ended up half peeling it/half scooping it out of the shell with a spoon, and lots of shell bits in my dish. It tasted delicious, but I did not find it easy to peel, the white stuck to the shell. Is there a trick, or did I do something wrong?
I read this late last night and couldn’t wait to get up in the morning to make my husband’s favorite breakfast – poached egg! I’ve only tried it once in a poaching pan and it seemed hard to get a perfect poach. I never thought I’d be this excited about an egg!!! I tried your method this morning and got it mostly right the first time!!! WOWZERS!!! My hubby likes it like you do … well done white and runny yolk and I like a mostly done yolk (with just a tad bit of runny-ness). His egg white was just a tad bit underdone but almost perfect and mine was just right! I will cook his for a half a minute longer next time … 4 1/2 minutes. And mine for 5 1/2 roughly. We live in the mile high city so the altitude may make it take longer to cook. Thanks so much! If it weren’t for your tutorial, I may never have tried!!!!
I didn’t use the vinegar, but it worked out perfectly. I did have fresh local eggs, which from what I read helps immensely. ;) Put it on top of some left overs I had which weren’t quite enough for lunch on their own…this made it rich and filling and delish. Thanks! I swirled it a bit, then set timer for 3 min. It was cooked, but still runny in the middle, delicate and not at all “rubbery” or overcooked in the whites.
Thank you for the instructions. I’d never eaten nor tried to cook a poached egg, but I decided to try them this time and they turned out well. Unfortunately I put them to warm in the oven while I made3 everyone elses’ eggs and the yolks became medium well. Next time I’ll just leave them sit on the plate and dip them back into the water to warm them.
I’ve heard chefs reference poaching eggs in wine and stock, have you tried it?
Tried poaching eggs for the first time tonight. They turned out great! Thanks for all the tips :) The vinegar definitely was the trick to keeping the whites from “flying away”. Eggs Benedict for dinner! Yum!
I made these this morning…I had never made or had a poached egg before today. SO GOOD!!!! I didn’t have any vinegar but it still turned out really good, some of whites entered the whirlpool but, it was still really good.
I love poached eggs, but I hadn’t been able to get them quite right until I read your post! Thanks for the help and the great pics! Now, I’m enjoying my delicious soba noodle stir fry with red peppers, spinach and roasted butternut squash with a poached egg on top! :)
I love poached eggs! Then again I love eggs anyway I can get them, fried, poached, scrambled, boiled. You name it I want it.
Poaching an egg is on my list of things to do in 2011. Thank you Deb!
This is great!!! Thank you thank you thank you.
Got it on my first try. I was pretty proud of myself. Definitely the most important part would be to NOT FREAK OUT.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! This concept freaked me out and you simplified it so well. More importantly, your instructions worked perfectly on the first attempt. And the poached egg was just what my salad needed (arugula, beets, honey goat cheese, and lemon vinaigrette).
I actually did it correctly! Thanks Deb, for the recipe, and for the confidence-in-the -kitchen booster. :-)
Hollandaise recipe, please, to go with these lovely eggs…
A-mazing! A-freakin-mazing! I’ve tried the plastic bag method, the rubber chicken, and boiling water…this works the best. You are a genius.
Using your wonderful guidelines I just attempted my first poached eggs ever for Easter breakfast. I was dancing around the kitchen when they turned out. Thank you so much for your help. I especially appreciated you saying to remain calm :)
Your method is perfect. I just made my first beautiful poached egg with a creamy custard center. Is there anything better for Easter Brunch? I think not. Thank for the inspiration and direction.
Thank you for this recipe! I just made my first poached egg and this recipe was sooo helpful! thankx a lot!
anna from germany
Just poached an egg for the first time in my life following your instructions. It was not the most beautiful thing I’ve ever made, but it was delicious. Pretty sure my life will never be the same.
This method is perfect! I used it last night to poach a few eggs to go over a salad (I like runny yolk as my dressing on a salad nicoise) and normally I would soft-boil eggs, but I so prefer poached eggs. Thanks so much!
I just had to chime in here — my 4 year old has become obsessed with poached eggs, asking for them on many a school morning, so I have to be able to make them quickly and easily and without too much fuss. I boil the water, I don’t do the whirlpool, I do use a dash of vinegar and the only thing I am strict about is timing — 3 minutes even. I get a perfect poached egg every time. (And, now that I have realized how crazy easy it is, I make them for myself too — what could be more simple and delicious than buttered toast with a poached egg, a dash of salt and a crack of pepper? Mmm…)
This is the first time I ever even attempted to poach an egg, I’ve always been so intimidated…but now, not so much. Ur techniques was a sucess for me…I just made my fiance’s fav breakfast; eggs benedict and it turned out so good that I’m gloating about it! Love it! Thanks you so much.
This was my first time poaching an egg and I was successful on my very first try. The instructional (and not to mention beautiful) photography helped as well. I felt confident and did not panic. Thanks so much!
I’ve never poached an egg before, always kind of scared but after reading this I tried it, and it was a complete success!
Been poaching eggs for years a different way… tried this once.. worked a dream!
Thank you so much for the detailed instructions. I have my own hens now and have been embarrassed to have such a wealth of beautiful eggs and such a poverty of skill in poaching. I think the whirlpool is the exact trick I needed to help keep that white together!
Deb! Thank you so much for the step-by-step! I just made my first poached eggs (three! to be exact) and they all turned out perfectly!
over a year after you posted this and I found it via your “surprise me!” link…. brunch today was poached eggs and it was my first attempt and 3 our of 4 eggs turned out perfectly (and one was pretty darn good!). Thank you so much for proving that this method works for you with your pictures, because I never mustered the courage to try to create my favorite egg preparation at home! Thank you!!
(wait, edit that – ALMOST THREE YEARS! Yay for archives!)
This is amazing! All my knowledge of poached eggs came from British novels. Thanks for the tutorial :)
I tried this and have it downpat after the first and second time. It was so easy to do with these directions! Thanks :)
I can’t believe how easy this was! I made 3 in under 10 minutes and served it with your scalloped tomatoes leftovers for breakfast. T.H.A.N.K. Y.O.U!
Wow! Thanks for the wonderful, simple instruction and photos! I just poached my very first egg and it was PERFECT thanks to you!
I love your blog so much! i want to start cooking every time i look at your wonderful pictures and recipes!
I was successful with my first ever poached egg based on your instructions–thank you for helping me avoid years of misery!
Love this! Thank you.
First time visiting & i gotta say i’m hooked! Have been wanting a poached egg tutorial for the longest time ever. thank u so very much. x
Wow! I am so excited that i made 2 out of 3 successfully poached eggs! I must not have had the water quite hot enough because the whites spread out a lot and it took longer to cook, but they still tasted lovely on top of a gluten-free english muffin, white cheddar cheese, and bacon covered in homemade hollandaise sauce! I was determined to make eggs benedict after watching Master Chef, and I did it! Thank you!
This is a great post and is sporting some excellent photography. Thank you! I tried this before and the explanation I followed was pretty thorough but this cleared up all the questions I had from last time. I have a request. Can you please do a ceviche post:) I have been looking through recipes but none really impressed me. I am curious to see what you can come up with (assuming you have some interest in the stuff)
After googling “how to poach an egg” while drunk out of my mind, reading this blog, and actually being able to poach 4 eggs at the same time and have them turn out DANK AS FUCK, I give this a million thumbs up. Sriracha mixes well with them. Props!
Best directions for a poached egg ever. You need your own food network show! Gracias :)
BEST INSTRUCTIONS…EVER! I saw a photo of a poached egg over a sliced tomato, baby arugula on an English muffin. I wanted to recreate it…now I know how! Thanks for the detailed instructions!
Thank you so much. I have a dreadful history with poaching eggs, and I really need a good tutorial. :)
I think your instructions are perfect, but lacking the one trick that makes mine turn out each time. Cold eggs from the fridge just dont stick together well. I always put my eggs (still in their shells) in a bowl of hot water for 30 seconds before I crack them. Works a treat!
First time making poached eggs and they came out perfect with your tips. Just had myself delicious home made eggs benedict (courtesy of your tips and Trader Joes ready made Hollandaise Sauce). Thanks.
Wow! I was in the mood for poached eggs, I found this recipe– and mind you this was the first time I ever poached eggs in my life! They came out perfect! The whirlpool is a great tool. Yummy thank you!
I was so in the mood for zucchini fritters, but I was terrified of the poached eggs. As it turns out, both came out *perfectly* thanks to your recipes. :D
I totally just poached an egg at midnight and it was AMAZING! Thank you!! :)
Yes! I can poach an egg too!
I have never bothered to poach eggs before, but yesterday I tried to soft-boil some really fresh eggs (to go with some smoked gurnard – a great combination!), and peeling them was a disaster. So I decided to give this a try, and it worked!
Thanks for the guide! I had never poached an egg before, but they turned out great using your method. I made a little brunch dish of poached egg over a slice of fresh tomato, arugula coated with a pear vinaigrette, and a slice of toasted sourdough. Topped with fresh crumbled bacon and pea shoots. Here’s a pic on Photobucket: http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c383/agt144/IMGP9944copy.jpg
Thanks – Excellent tutorial. I had to double my batch after my 2 year old devoured the ones I cooked for myself.
As always, Smitten Kitchen to the rescue! I love your website, your recipes, and your amazingly-awesome how-tos! I googled “how to poach eggs” this morning and was so, so happy to see a Smitten Kitchen link! They came out perfectly and the crazy thing is, I never EVER cook. I like to bake, and I’ve made several recipes from you (my teenage brother adores the S’more pie), but my husband is the one who cooks in our family, not me. However, thanks to your perfect instructions, the girl who usually can’t boil water made poached eggs for FIVE people this morning! Thank you!!
Thank you. Yet again, you come to the rescue. My huband (AND I) appreciate all of the wonderful things you’re bringing into our kitchen!! A million thanks.
thanks for the note on not using boiling water. I also lowered the egg in with a spoon right into the hot water. Perfect poached egg. Thanks again!
This morning was my first attempt at poaching eggs and they came out beautifully thanks to your step by step tutorial! My Mother always psyched me out saying “they’re more work than their worth!” Personally, I don’t think there is anything more delicious than poached eggs, toast and coffee :) Thank you for walking me through it!!
Thanks so much for this…I will try it.
Perfect instructions. Just poached my first egg and it was beautiful. And tasty on top of bacon stuffed pancakes!
This was so informative. Thank you. Making my first eggs Benedict.
Just tried this after searching for poached egg tricks. Did not work at all. Vortex created a huge mess of white all over the water. :( I guess I am just not meant to make poached eggs!
Just used it to make poached eggs with my country fried steak. Turned out perfect! It looked just like the pictures above. Thanks!
You are doing it the hard way. Using a non-stick frying pan over medium heat slip the egg or eggs in then add two tablespoons water cover with glass lid and cook till the white is white. About 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spatula and shake it dry and put it on your muffin or toast or mushroom The bigger the pan and lid the more you can cook at one time.
Thanks so much for this! I’ve never got this right until I found this guide. The pictures were a really big help! Just had the perfect breakfast with the most beautiful girl in the world because of this!
Loved the instructions on this recipe. Great pics too. One egg came out great, the other overboiled. Next time I’ll be two for two. Also splashed way more vinegar into the pot than was needed but couldn’t really taste it.
Thank you for the tutorial. Made my family a beautiful salad with poached eggs and capers to top it all off for dinner tonight! My eggs were absolutely picture perfect….and fabulously delish!!!!
I’m going to try this out… great tips, thanks man :)
THANK YOU! I just finished making my first batch of successfully poached eggs and it’s all thanks to you :) Finally, no more Eggs Benedict inferiority complex for me! Expert or not, your step-by-step instructions were the easiest, simplest, most effective instructions I’ve found on how to get these little bad boys done. And MAN are they delicious :D
Now when my boss asks why I’m so tired tomorrow morning, I can tell him that I learned how to poach eggs at 3 am!
That worked! Wow! Who knew it was easy? Thank you.
I’m going to try poaching quail eggs to make appetizer sized Eggs Benny… I haven’t poached ANY kind of eggs for 10 years… Do you think it will work? LOVE your site by the way. For the second Christmas in a row, I have made guinea pigs of my large family by serving them all sorts of things from your site… never having tried them before. Rave reviews every time!
I like your posting. I was just -today- thinking how poorly written are some blogs. Your writing is quite good! Thanks.
Thanks for the tips and pix! Your tutorial was the most simple, straighforward and explanatory that I came across. I’ll be making the eggs for dinner sometime this week…wish me luck!
I tried ur method this morning!! So wonderful and perfect!! Now I’m not afraid of making poached eggs!! Thanks for sharing the great recipe!! Do u play instagram?? Hope you can see how lovely these eggs came out!! Thanks again with love!!
Hi Summer — I love Instagram. I’m “thesmitten” on it.
OMG! I just tried this method for my first poached egg. Amazing!! Thank you for sharing. (I want another!).
I love your blog and am super excited about your book… and this came up first when I googled how to poach an egg… I followed, and it turned out perfectly the very first time! YUM!
Deb, it worked perfectly the first time! I haven’t had a poached egg in many years. Yum!
I made these tonight and they were perfect! I’ve never poached an egg before in my life. Thanks for the great instructions!
Thank you!!! I told my fiancé that I woul poach him eggs…. Didn’t know why I was doing and them I found your instruction!!! First time they came out perfect! I’m so proud of myself! Thank you!
I have never made a poached egg in my life but after eating one at a diner in downtown Port Jefferson, NY yesterday, I was determined to make one. I searched “how to poach and egg” and this site emerged. I tried this method and viola! Easy, perfect and TASTY. Thank you for the graphic and most fabulous tutorial.
Found a link to this from Pinterest. Just poached my first egg! Yea it was great and no I dont have to wait for my Mom to visit to have them :) What a great blog! Thanks!!!
Thank you!! I made my first poached egg…and it came out perfect….well.. the second one was perfect…and so good.
I never thought i could do it!
I love poached eggs on salad, I order them when ever I go to brunch in NYC.
My very own poached egg salad..with greens..swiss cheese.. red pepper oil, sweet peppers. Delicious.
its amazing how you feel after making it.. I too feel proud!
Thank you! About to make poached eggs over mushrooms two ways (Epicurious recipe) for dinner tonight, & had no clue how to do the poaching! First time for everything…
Tried poaching this morning, I let it cook for 10 minutes and I don’t think it was cooked through. There was still some transparency in the whites. I kept it at almost-bubbling temperature the whole time. Is it possible I had to much water in the pot? Mine was almost to the top and I notice yours is only halfway through.
It’s not the water level, I don’t think. I think it’s very tricky to get eggs poached perfectly so that their whites aren’t transparent but their yolks are yummy. I order poached eggs at restaurants all of the time and even the best ones rarely pull it off perfectly.
Thank you so much for this! I cannot wait to try this! I have been going about this all wrong. I have boiling the water.. oh when I say boil i mean insanely boiling.. dropping it in and getting all the white stuff everywhere!! I cannot wait to do this little trick.. My husband laughs at me every time.. so hopefully this will impress him!
I just made poached eggs for the first time everr using your technique — so surprisingly they turned out pretty close to perfect!! And this is coming from someone who can barely boil the water! Amaazingness :)
I was successful on my first try!! Thank you for the great tips!!
i also just made my first, perfect-ish poached egg! thanks so much; i’m a convert from over-easy.
*as an alternative to poached eggs, i find softboiled eggs much easier.
i bring a small pot of water to to a rolling boil,add a splash of vinegar, that makes the peeling process easier, carefully lower the egg in, and set a timer for 6 minutes, then,take off th fire, cool in cold water and peel.
but i will be trying your poached egg method, as i’ve been tryig to make an eggs benedict, and a boiled egg is too round, and doesnt sit well on my english muffin =/
I just poached my first egg and nailed it with your instructions!!! Thank you!!
I never poached an egg in my life and after reading your instructions, I created two successfully poached eggs without fail! Thanks :)
Thanks for the tutorial… my ex used to make them using this method but he never taught me how… I’ve had too many weekends of over- or under-cooked solft boiled eggs that I am going to try this next Sunday! Well done on the pics, too!!
Thanks for this! Successfully poached my first egg last night!
A perfectly poached egg on my first try, thanks to you! Have been wanting to try, and can hardly believe I never have before tonight – given that I’m always in the kitchen. Love to cook, and happy to be able to add this to my bag of tricks. Thanks so much for a fantastic tutorial.
It worked! Sort of… Having never made a poaching attempt I finally gave it a shot. The result was slightly odd-looking but tasted wonderful on a rocket salad.
Thanks once again for the confidence boost to try new things in the kitchen. Shukran!
Success! I don’t cook very often, but I love to eat…and I love poached eggs. My first attempt worked surprisingly well and tasted great.
I just had a perfect egg for breakfast! Thank you! Thank you!
Thank you for these lovely clear instructions. Am going to poach tonight! What a great website!
I will have to try as I love poached eggs as well. The other egg I’d love to master is the 3-minute egg and/or soft boiled. I’m just back from Switzerland where every morning they had the adorable egg cup holding an egg. You’d crack the top off to a slightly hard white and delicious runny yoke. And then dip in your bread fingers! Any suggestions on this?
Hi Susie — Yes! My grandfather ate his egg like that every morning. You can buy the cups here too (though for years, they were hard to find!). The egg is soft-boiled and it is delicious. I usually make mine by putting an egg in cold water and bringing the pot up to a boil. Once boiling, 5 to 6 minutes does the trick. Drain and eat!
Just tried this for breakfast, and it turned out PERFECT. SO EXCITED – a new way to eat eggs – it tasted just like I had hoped!! :) Thanks!
The bread fingers are “soldiers”. My mother told me so.
Just wanted to give you credit for my perfectly poached eggs. Thanks!! http://wp.me/p1RXFx-ix
thank you so much for this recipie. I found that white rice vinegear is a good substitute for white vinigear, just thouight i should share. =)
Thank you! Thank you!! This truly is the way to a PERFECT poached egg!
I was looking for a recipe with poached eggs and saw your site. You made me laugh so hard. I loved all your tips and pictures. My Portuguese mother used to prepare Acorda (assorda), a kind of soup and after she put this soup in bowls she whirpooled the egg in the middle of it, covered and waited 3 minutes before we could eat. It was a real feast.
Just poached an egg for the first time following your tutorial! At first I was thinking… oh no I’ve messed this up (I used a very small sauce pan). The result though was wonderful! It was so cute looking.. like a contained, polite egg :D and really incredible to watch.
Check out this neat picture I snapped when I first poured it (actually the whole dumped in!!): http://instagr.am/p/Ir7LDBRNSv/
xo, thanks for your guide!
I was too lazy to dig my fancy egg poacher out of the cupboard and thought I’d try the old fashioned way – your tutorial was perfect– down to the timing. I had never done it this way. (Had to use white wine vinegar, but didn’t taste it…) And then I smashed it up with crumbled Triscuits (my secret ingredient) and it was delicious! Thank you!!
SHIT, I panicked. :(
I don’t know if this is cheating or not, but when I’m in a hurry/distracted/don’t want to put in the effort to poach the real way, cracking the egg into a sheet of cling wrap and then wrapping it into a little pouch work can work really well!
…Just don’t let the wrap touch the metal of the pot for very long or it will melt!!
Wow! I don’t know how many times I have tried only to fail miserably at a task so simple but yet so YUMMY and all I had to do was turn down the heat!
Thank you so much.
The difference between an egg poached in the blasphemous plastic wrap and allowed to run its natural course bathing in a pool of hotwater is a piece of plastic that needs to be thrown out and a few more carbon gases!
Thank you SK!
Hi! We tried your instructions for poaching eggs yesterday and they worked like a charm! My friend was in charge of poaching because he had done it before. I told him what you recommended and he was amazed at how easy it was with your instructions…delighted, even! thanks for a great post! happy cooking and eating!
wanted to try poaching an egg for the first time today and this was the first thing that poped up when i typed in “how to poach an egg” into google.
and i’m very happy! mine were not so cute and round but i was very happy none the less
i haven’t read ALL the posts but the single post important thing when poaching an egg is FRESHNESS! i know it can be hard in the city but it is the breakdown of proteins that causes fly-away and poor shape when poaching. Vinegar, ramekins and the thousand other tricks are just ways of compensating. My method if you can get fresh eggs is as simple as…
– heat two inches of water until it boils and then turn down the heat
– swirl water, gently and lower egg into the middle
– once it has firmed very slightly, use a flat spatula to ease it gently to one side so that it doesn’t stick
– …maybe wave a little hot water over the top of the egg because it won’t cook as quickly as the rest
That is really all you need….try it, it might not be perfect first time but it works!!!
Thank youuuuuu! I just tried it and I made my first successful poached egg ever! So exciting after buying all kinds of gadgets for poaching that didn’t work!
You swine! I read your article this morning and promised my wife perfect poached eggs on toast. She scoffed but armed with new confidence i followed your instructions to the letter- to the letter- right up to the “put the egg in the whirlpool” part. My wife shrieked with laughter at the spiral galaxy of egg-goo that immediately formed in the pan, but I was cool. “Just wait” I said. But when the egg flotsam and jetsam cleared to the sides of the whirlpool there was nothing but a naked yolk sitting dejectedly in the middle. She flung it in the bin and smugly poached 4 eggs- simultaneously- using the traditional method. I had to swallow my pride just to eat them (it was worth it). I can only conclude that this is some sick joke you are playing to ruin people’s breakfasts. Either that or I was too vigorous with my whirlpool.
James — So sorry it didn’t work out but I really adore your comment. It’s poetry. I hope you’re a writer. As for what went wrong, it’s hard to guess. Sometimes older eggs don’t want to stay together. It could have been too vigorous a whirlpool (a gently one that helps wrap the white around itself is ideal). Or, your wife needs to teach you (and me!) her trick. There are many, many ways to poach and egg and for whatever reason, I’ve have the most frequent success with this one.
i have tried a million and seven methods of poaching eggs by now–i’ve even bought those silly little silicone poaching cups–and i think i’ve finally found “my” way of doing it! thanksthanksthanks.
It’s midnight, and I am already anticipating breakfast for tomorrow morning. *nom nom*
My sister’s tried it and swears that it works; if she can do it, so can I.
Awesome! Tasted Great! Thanks!
By golly, it worked! I can poach an egg! Thanks!!
Just wanted to say kudos on a brilliant method. I spent months perfecting my poached egg method and basically arrived at the same conclusions as you: paper towel, vinegar,toast fingers etc. Wish I’d seen this a year ago! The ONLY difference in my method is that I don’t use a spatula to shape the egg. After reading this, I just might start.
Wonderful! Just pulled off the best poached eggs (and certainly the prettiest!) I’ve every made. Thank you!
I also added a trick I read.. somewhere.. here maybe?.. to use a mason jar lid to keep the egg in place. I just put it in the water, then poured the egg into it. Keeps the whites together!
I’ve never been one for hero worship, but as I cut into my First Ever Perfect Poached Egg I said a little prayer. The pretty white! The liquid gold of the yolk! God bless you, Deb Perelman.
Woke up this morning and thought instead of scrambled eggs, i’d try something different. Typed in ‘how to poach an egg’ into a search engine and hey presto this was the first one i came across.
I think i nailed it the first time thanks to your step by step tutorial.
Nice one mate :)
Thanks for this tutorial! I’d never made a poached egg before but had been wanting to try it! I followed your instructions and my very first one came out perfectly! Yum!
I made my very first poached egg this morning and it turned out beautifully (and tasty)! I didn’t use the vinegar because I was afraid it would make my egg taste vinegar-y. I placed it atop a buttered whole wheat english muffin…. DELISH! I can’t wait for my kids to wake up so I can make them some for breakfast!
Thank you Deb – you saved my life yet again. I poached my first egg today!
I just made my first poached egg using this and it only took me two tries! The first one got way over cooked, so I had more of an idea where to stop on the second one. I even did the toast fingers! (Great idea by the way!) It was so delicious!!
Made my first poached egg!!! It took me 3 tries, but i finally did it. It tasted great on a burger!!!
Thanks a lot, it worked out really well
Thank you so much! I’ve been an avid reader of sk for many years now, but never felt compelled enough to comment until I tried your procedure for poached eggs. Turned out perfectly, except I tried to do two at once. One turned out perfect, and the other….well, can you tell I’m a newbie?
Thanks again! love your blog.can’t wait to buy the book.
My first attempt was pretty successful! Thanks for the post. Helpful and entertaining!
I decided I could no longer go through life without making poached eggs. It seems like a good idea on top of a batch of red beans and rice … and just about anything else.
If I can start developing color film in my kitchen (I’ve been doing B&W since 1992) then I think I can handle poaching eggs.
Thanks for posting some simple directions for intelligent people like me who need it spelled out, simple and a little funny.
Awesome! Thank you for the colorful and entertaining tutorial on poaching eggs. I never would have made it thru another boring one.
Beautiful! I’ve always, always loved poached eggs with apple cider vinegar to give them just the right amount of tang. Lovely presentation. Your blog is my newly-found holy grail of cooking blogs!
I am so excited I found this tutorial. I LOVE poached eggs (so, SO much), but when I make them, they never come out looking beautiful like all the pics of poached eggs. I tried your step by step this morning and had the most beautiful, most delicious poached egg of my life! THANK YOU!!! ~Christy
Excellent advice and thanks! Worked right away!
perfect poached egg on the first try! thanks!
I knew this would be a looong thread so I have been unable to read all responses… I love poached eggs and have not had trouble in years. I make them almost the same as you up to swirling the water. The main difference? I let it come to a gentle boil, dunk the eggs in from their individual bowls, and here is the key ( I think)… pop the lid back on the pot so the water will quickly come back to a boil – but place the lid cock-eyed so the pot doesn’t boil over – and cook for EXACTLY three minutes. I have found this has been foolproof for years, for up to 4-6 eggs at a time. Hope this tweak might work for others, though I’m sure poached eggs will retain their troublesome reputation! :)
Excellent. I always thought I needed a special pan to do this, but I followed your instructions and I got a perfectly poached egg.
Thank you for sharing and including lovely pictures.
Honestly, the simplest way compared to all other recipes out there.
Thanks for not using measurements and substituting them with pictures…makes it a lot easier/faster for me!
Great step-by-step directions. I’m ready to try my first “real” poached egg! It’s great to not have to cook with oil or butter!! Thanks for the help and encouragement.
This looks easy enough, but sometimes looks are deceiving. Going to try it for a late, light dinner. Thanks for breaking it down.
I just found this and immediately went and tried it. I didn’t like the vinegary flavor, so for the second I substituted chicken broth. They both came out pretty, if not as compact as yours, and the texture was divine! I would like to thank you for your easy to follow instructions and the pics.
I tried this method this morning! Thank you or posting it! I am 20 and learning how to cook, I love poached eggs but could never figure out how to make it. Seems hard but with your help it was easy! My first egg came out horrible! I think the problem was that I was spinning while I put the egg in which probably broke the egg up too much. I ended up with floating pieces of egg rather than a whole one. I put my good poached egg on a whole wheat slice of bread, with a slide of cheese and another slide of bread! Sooooo yummy! I will be making it tomorrow ! :) thanks again
Thank you thank you thank you for this! I am obsessed with poach eggs and can never make them. I just did it your way, and they were perfect. Okay, the 2nd one was…. But big thanks.
I’d never poached an egg before, but my father-in-law made them for me recently and I loved them. Decided to try it this morning and your tutorial was perfect! Delicious, easy breakfast…thank you!
Let me tell you something Deb… I dont know who you think you are but… THANK YOU!!!! haha! Ever since I fell upon your blog I actually cook!! My husband thinks I am some sort of light swiched on in my brain since I have been married for 10 years and cooked like 20 “meals”…other dinners have included PB&J and cereal. My parents are fantastic cooks but never inspired me to make my own food (since theirs is so darn yummy!). Your humor and pictures and honest evaluation of your food makes me want to try it for myself. I cant thank you enough for giving me (and my husband) hope that people can cook…with the right inspiration ;)
Beautifull but I enjoy an egg poacher to tame my fear! :-)
You will hear from me after dinner tonight……. I’m on a mission Missy !!
Deb – I love your blog! And I love poached eggs. I just discovered eggs poached in olive oil….as in Italy or France. Have you tried? I found different versions in Bon Appetit and others, but haven’t tried one yet. They all sound heavenly. Would love to see your spin on them.!
I need to try it! Can you tell me what the texture is like at the edges — is it very different from the way you imagine it would taste if you just drizzled a water-poached egg in olive oil?
I just made a curry kale potato gallette that I’ve decided will make a great “benedict”. Now I’m off to try poaching the eggs.
Eating poached eggs and salted buttery toast takes me to my happy place. I’m partial to using egg pods, myself, because I’ve never had success going freestyle. Thanks for all of your wonderful tips and recipes, Deb.
Perfecto! Thank you for your swirling idea. You’re a genius!
This is wonderful! Just poached an egg for the first time and used your method, which worked beautifully. Thank you!
All this fuss over making poached eggs? Here’s how we do it in the restaurant industry. Gently boiling water, 2-3 inches deep. No vinegar, unless you like your eggs to taste like vinegar. Crack the eggs into the water a millimeter above the waters surface, no splashing! You’re looking to gently slide them into the water here. Leave it in there for 1 1/2-2 mins, until the whites are completely firm but the yolk is still nice and runny. Pull ’em out with a slotted spoon. Check to see if they are cooked to your liking, if they aren’t, put ’em back in for a little longer. Who likes runny egg whites after all? Has worked perfectly for me at least 100,000 times over the years I’ve been a cook. Always thought it was funny how a lot of people stressed over making poached eggs. It’s really not that complicated.
Oh, the swirling technique does help keep the eggs together a little btw, so you can give that water a quick stir before dropping your eggs in. But it’s not really necessary, and a little unrealistic when you are dropping more than 2 eggs in at once. That swirl is gone after the second egg goes in, and you don’t want to be stirring the water again after you’ve already got some eggs in there.
Thank you! This was my first time poaching an egg and it turned out great. Although the water looked nothing like the picture here. :)
Hey Jerm — I always love comments that can add texture and tips to a recipe but since the tone of yours suggested that the SK recipe was really fussy but your technique is really simple, I thought it would be worth mentioning that we used roughly the same number of words (I used more, but I also like to coax/cheer/inspire confidence — not criticize/deride — along the way) to tell people how to poach eggs. As I noted in the very first paragraph, there are many ways to do it, and this is simply the way that works for me, and happily, the hundreds of others that have commented here that because of this tutorial, they poached eggs correctly for the first time. There’s room for every technique, and my only concern is that people find one that works for them. There’s only room for one tone in the comments, however, a friendly one that encourages learning.
Was just trying to help. Like I said, I’ve always been confused by how people stress over poaching an egg. A lot of my friends and family have turned to me for advice about it over the years. At the end of the day the answer is: Boil some water, put an egg in there till it’s cooked the way you like it. Soft poached to hard poached. I like your blog, no offense was meant. It’s just a topic that has been a constant in my life. So I was inclined to share my thoughts and advice.
Thanks so much! Looked dee-lish, and you had me laughing too. I love them, but always forget the little details. Yours was a great refresher course.
Just made my very first poached eggs ever and used your method. Perfection!! Thank you :-)
Great advice- thanks a lot! I tried going non swirl the first time and the egg whites separated- bummer! Second attempt was with swirl and it turned out great.
Thanks for the tip, I just enjoyed my first poached egg, at home, and it was deliciously successful! Love your blog!
THANKS! I wanted some small suprise for myhusband so using your method of poaching eggs (I’d never made poached eggs before) I made him eggs benedict (club house provided a simple sauce) in bed. He loved it! I’ll be using your method again and again to make poached eggs for the kids as well :-D
Thank you very much for such a supremely detailed and photographed guide to poaching eggs. Recently found an old microwave egg poacher and thought was a blessing, but the true blessing is this wonderful work. GOD BLESS and ONE LOVE
OMG @Ali. Deb, I’m terrified every single time I attempt to make one of your recipes!!! Nevertheless, they’ve all turned out wonderfully I have been eating like a queen. I’m definitely going to try this deal tomorrow for breakfast. Tonight is my first time trying one of your made from scratch pizzas…wish me luck & thanks for ensuring that I eat yummy food.
Hi, I’ve been a fan of the site for a very long time! This post, above all the others, has meant the most to me since it taught me that a smooth, creamy, runny yolk can be an amazing thing. So thank you so much for that. I just made a post about a recipe that was definitely inspired by this and I hope that’s okay (of course I thanked you and talked about your blog and linked back here as well). I added some avocado and salsa to the mix and it turned into something I try to eat at least two or three times a week. So again, thank you so much for teaching me about the wonderfulness that is a poached egg :)
your shots are as great as your poached eggs .
I cooked them this morning and we enjoyed it alot
thanks for tips
Thank you! I did it! Not scary at all!
My first poached egg was a total failure….:(
But then I found you’re site and poached two perfect eggs before the asparagus even got soggy. With a little aged gouda on top I now have a new favorite meal.
You so need a share button on here for fb.! It worked great and very entertaining…..
jennifer — At the bottom of every full post, before the comments begin, there’s a “Bookmark” link that will take you to options to share on FB, Twitter or any other social media.
Followed your instructions and was rewarded with two perfectly poached eggs on toasted ciabatta…breakfast for supper. What could be better? I’ve used the “onsen”/Japanese method for slow poaching eggs when I need more than a couple of servings. However, that takes about 45 minutes and my tummy could not wait that long. Your pictures inspired me to go for the traditional method. Thank you!
I love that you love food so much that you think of the perfect ways to prepare and eat them!
Poached eggs are wonderful. This is the standard method described above. “Poaching” can be done with eggs, fish, chicken, fruit. The temperature of the water is important, described above as whether it is boiling, simmering, or slightly below simmering. When poaching the temperature should be between 160-180 (F) or 70-85 (C). Poaching is a gentle cooking method and usually involves some sort of acid (in this case, vinegar) and aromatic. If you don’t like the taste of vinegar, you don’t have to use it – the water is nonetheless a good conductor of heat that will nicely poach an egg. I find around 4 minutes makes a perfect medium poached egg. Yum!
I tried your tutorial! It kinda worked, because it was honestly quite difficult to maintain the simmering because after I put the egg in the water started to boil and all. Also, when tried poaching my 2nd egg, the water didn’t simmer anymore it just went straight to boiling :/ And although my poached eggs didn’t turn out as pretty as yours (I don’t know how you did it!), they’re still poached eggs nonetheless :D Thank you!
How is it that whenever I look up “how to ::blank:: an egg” you are always the first that comes up? And beyond that, you are the most informative, full-of-eggy-beauty, always-employing-cracked-black-pepper, wonderful helpful blog possible? Sigh. I love you. Thanks for helping me through tricky egg times. :)
OMG This is super helpful. I’m actually quite a good home cook who have miserably failed at poached eggs multiple times. I was insane enough to try poaching once more for my asparagus loving daughter’s weeknight birthday dinner after coming home late from work stuck on NYC subway. What. A. Night.(mare).
Your step by step pics are a huge help! I’m now inspired to try again! Thank so much.
I love eggs but have never had a poached one. I’ve seen pictures and heard about them a lot but never attempted to find out how to make them. This morning I looked it up came across your blog and couldn’t be happier with the results! I can’t I’ve been missing out on these my whole life! Thanks for the easy step by step and the pictures!!
great thanks a lot
Used your method today and these were THE best looking poached eggs I’ve ever made. I even got compliments from friends on the pictures they looked so perfect. And the perfect done-ness. Thank you!!!
This is a nice post to appear near the top of a “how to poach an egg” google search. I combined this method with Alton Brown’s which didn’t use a whirlpool but rather used 3″ of water so there’s enough to lower the egg cup straight down into the simmer, allowing some of the simmering water to move into the cup. That allowed me to put 4 eggs in easily. Made for a great Mother’s Day breakfast for my wife!
A slight refinement – your method makes perfect poached eggs. Instead of a small dish, I use a metal dry measuring cup (1/2 or 1/3 cup size) to lower the egg into the water. The handle on the measuring cup keeps my fingers from getting near the simmering water. Love your site and your cookbook!
Really great instructions- my first attempt at poaching they came out perfectly! Thanks so much.
With your technique, I made a delicious poached egg on my first try! Thank you so much :)) this was very helpful!
Just made poached eggs on toast for dinner last night. Thanks to your detailed instructions, it worked on my first try. Next up: Chesapeake Eggs Benedict!
Ok, never heard of your site before. Also never poached an egg before (but I *think* I tried it once and got egg drop soup). I found you by googling.
Followed your directions (I could only find balsamic vinegar) and you know what? It came out PERFECT!
It helped that the house I’m sitting at has a convection stove top, so as soon as I changed the settings, the water reacted.
Thanks so much for these clear instructions.
BRILLIANT!!! I CANT BELIEVE IT WORKS!!!
THANK YOU :)
Yesterday, a lovely friend of mine took me to brunch at a nice restaurant here in L.A. I like this restaurant because they are the only place to buy Kouing Aman here. In addition to the pastries, we got some poached eggs and though they were delicious, when the bill arrived, I discovered we paid $74 for four poached eggs and 4 slices of toast, a side of chorizo and a pastry! The sight of the bill was enough to set me on my course to attempt poaching an egg and lo and behold, I found you! I just finished the most delicious pair of poached eggs and a delightfully toasted bagel and I think it cost me all of $2. (They eggs are cage free, so I pay a little more. I don’t know what luxury the chickens who supply the eggs to the restaurant we went to yesterday enjoy, but for $74 it must be most sumptuous.)
I love your site and can’t wait to try more recipes. (Your instructions are the best. Cooking recipes and knitting instructions can sometimes be difficult, but you have a thoughtful and clear voice. Thank you!)
You’re absolutely hilarious! Telling us not to freak out and everything, ha! Tried it out and it turned out perfectly. Thanks!
worried but now horribly craving that delicious mess on my toast. trying this weekend fingers crossed for success
The instructions were perfect! I’ve made poached eggs in the past, but never did the whirlpool thing. That helped them come out perfect. Thank you!
Ah, thank you so much for this tutorial! I love eggs, but I’ve never tried poaching them before. I followed each step you gave and they turned out just like your pictures. Needless to say I’ll be making many more poached eggs in the future!
I’ve had a lot of poached eggs. My dad was as crazy about them as I am. Growing up my dad tried every method and ended up getting the 4 at a time little cooker. They were amazing, but this one….. this was the best poached egg I’ve ever had. (it was a double yoke egg). Thanks so much for sharing, I could not have perfected it so quickly and wonderfully without this write up!
Wish I could post my pic :(
Haaaah, I love it!!!! Great story telling, I was just as excited as you were reading this – and I love that picture of the knife inside egg when the fun begins. Love it!!! I will follow your instructions…
Followed your directions and made my first ever poached egg this morning. It wasn’t “pretty” but it was still delicious on my buttered toasted wheat toast. Will definitely keep trying, no longer afraid to poach an egg.
Here’s a heavenly poached-eggs-for-supper combo! Put one or two of your beauties over ratatouille and add your favorite crusty bread. The flavors of the roasted vegetables and herbs are enhanced by the runny yolk. I love it as a one-dish summer supper. It can be good in winter too using cherry tomatoes instead of seasonally ripe ones.
The eggs look fantastic, but I think you need a lesson in making toast! Crispy, hot buttered toast how it should be, not the cold, soggy half-baked slice you display. Can I recommend Nigel Slater for the job
My sister taught me a little trick. Set mason jar lids into the water and drop the egg into the lid. It works great and you can cook several eggs at a time.
Thank you for posting this technique! Tried it this morning, after many previous mornings of failed attempts, and it worked great. I wasn’t aware of the whirlpool tip until now, and I think that made a huge difference.
You saved my life lol!!! Thank you!!!
Hey I poached my first egg with this guide! It was perfect. It went on top of udon noodles with mushrooms and green onions.
I read a recipe for poached eggs, once, in some fancy little booklet with secrets from chefs. The sort of recipe book you tend to find while standing in the checkout line (or, you did, back then, anyway).
The recipe was for poached eggs with scallions or green onions and mushrooms. It included the technique for poaching the eggs, and, for once in my life, I actually had equipment that fit together right to do it.
What they said to do was to butter the inside of a glass ramekin (the bowls chefs use to hold ingredients that are prepared ahead of time, on shows), then add in a little salt and pepper, and put a small layer of mushrooms and scallions in the bottom of the ramekin.
Of course, this could be altered to be just about any sort of vegetable, so as to make it more southwest in flavor; it could include cheese; you could even put some pre-cooked bacon in there. But, I digress …
You take a skillet, put in 2″ of water and let it heat to the very point that you mentioned. In the meantime, you add two eggs to the ramekin (though, you can do just one, if you would prefer). When the water reaches the point of looking a little bubbly on the bottom, you put the ramekins into the water, and, allow the water to come to a low boil.
When the water has come to a low boil, you turn the burner down to low, so that it will stay warm for a short period of time, and then you put a lid over the skillet to trap in the steam. Let cook for two minutes, then, turn the heat off.
Take the lid off, remove the ramekins from the skillet, and invert onto a plate. Voila! Beautiful poached eggs, with no escaping parts, that leave the ramekin easily, thanks to the butter, and which are deliciously seasoned and topped.
I can’t eat butter, anymore, and my husband (at the time) threw away my lid and skillet, when he realized that I was having fun cooking in the kitchen, so I haven’t made it since. But, it is one of the few recipes I’ve ever followed (as I am more of an artist than a scientist when it comes to cooking and make things up as I go along) and it worked perfectly!
Last time I poached an egg, which was just last week, I did more or less that, but, with only the water, egg, and skillet. A few pieces escaped, but, it went very well. No vinegar, no whirlpool. Though, I did use a dish to slide the egg into the pan, and, the water had reached a low boil already, because I was distracted, so, I think the bubbles actually pushed the egg together a bit, with much the same effect as your whirlpool, which wouldn’t have happened at a higher boil.
I think I might try your approach, the next time I get eggs, and see what happens. Thank you for sharing!
Oh, also, if you happen to like grits, ramen noodles or cream of wheat with some egg, slipping one in when there are just a couple of minutes left on the cooking time also works, so that you have your poached egg directly in with the grains or noodles. It’s quite tasty.
First time ever (and I mean EVER) making a poached egg for myself and I used this method. Worked like I charm! I was so overwhelmed with pride in successfully creating a deliciously poached egg. I’m going to make this for myself so often now!
I tried this for my first time ever poaching an egg, and it was a success. The only issue I had was being a neurotic mess and not getting the water hot enough for the first few eggs. I was so nervous about accidnetally bringing the water to a boil that I overcompensated in the other direction, which meant it took a bit longer for the eggs to cook. Fortunately, I reread your instructions, recognized my error, and turned the heat up a bit. Once I got the water to the right temperature, I was making perfect poached eggs like a pro. Thanks for the great how-to!
This totally worked… The swirling of the water made a huge difference. This was something i craved after coming out of chemo, and you made it easy! Thanks!
Perfect on the first try thanks to your instructions!
yepp, this is d most practical.i am cooking my breakfast egg same way for last 5 yrs and its great wid brown bread
I’ve always been wary of poaching eggs but I’ve just set myself a challenge to improve on the cooking techniques I’m not so good on, and this was first on the list!
So I tried your method this morning and the egg turned out great, thank you so much! I love this site, as well has having great recipes, you’re always so entertaining to read!
Hahaha! You are hilarious! this is comical.
I actually make my eggs the same way as you, but was looking for an improvement on my method. Per your suggestion, I used a smaller pot with less wate Tr, put the eggs in a bowl prior to slipping them into the water, and drained them on a paper towel. They turned out great.
Thanks for the tips
Had my first ever pouched egg the other day. It was a recipe from Chow Caio for a pulled pork sandwich for breakfast. The pork was a little spicey but when you put the bbq sauce and pouched egg on, it tamed down. It was great. That recipe showed the same way to cook the egg. It was alittle messy but goood eatin’.
These tips made the best poached eggs ever! You are a genius, thanks so much!
I just tried this and made my first ever poached egg! :-) thank you so much! :-)
Great detailed step-by-step. Thank you!! But you should toast that bread! A textural contrast of crunchiness and creaminess is delicious.
So, as to the freshness thing again: If you’re like me and don’t have access to the back end of a chicken (nor the US date code), one way to check the freshness is if your (whole) egg floats or stands up when submerged in water, it’s too old for a tidy poach. Very fresh eggs will lay down flat in fresh water.
So glad I found this as opposed to trying out on my own. I would have boiled the water. Actually after I removed the egg and was drying it with the paper towel, I had forgotten to turn the burner off (in all my excitement I suppose. yes. over an egg.) The water boiled and the remaining bits of egg frothed immediately once the water boiled. Thank you for saving my breakfast!
Thank you thank you! Worked great!!
Nothing better then a breakfast sandwich with an ezekiel english muffin, garlic hummus, smashed avacado, and a poacked or over easy egg.. Yum.. so delicous!
First time poaching an egg and your method worked PERFECTLY!!!!!!! Thank you thank you.
That looks like shit! The vinegar does nothing but add an acidic taste to your egg. There is no scientific evidence that proves the vinegar helps to “tighten the egg up”. The albumin gets cooked the same way without vinegar. Also you did not strain your egg to separate the light albumin from the heavy albumin which creates that stringy and ugly flap. If your going to do this, do it the right way!
Thank you for the helpful tutorial! I appreciate the most the information about the “hot but not boiling” water; also resting the eggs on paper towels. I made two delicious poached eggs on whole wheat toast with sprinkled salt, pepper, and fresh basil. Mmmm
I like to use tarragon vinegar for poached eggs! you get the effect of vinegar plus a little extra flavor.
You’re doing everything I’m doing up to the whirlpool. Never thought of that! Genius! But I usually make two eggs. Are we poached egg lovers condemned to having to make them one at a time? Oh well, if you say so, so be it. Many thanks for your recipe.
Wow, thanks for the “swirl” idea! Just tried it out and am anxious to get hungry again to give it another go and polish up technique. I have had very good success with having a LARGE pot of furiously boiling water where the boil action keeps the egg centered. Small pot has been difficult to manage as far as keeping the egg together so I can appreciate the advantage of the swirl. As soon as the egg enters the waetr I turn off the heat. Interesting how the yoke is easily saved from over cooking (unlike other methods). The 212 degree must be ideal.
When I took care of terminal grandmother, she always wanted poached eggs on buttered toast. She told me how to make them–with the vinegar and the swirl.
That was twenty years ago and I had forgotten how, until I saw this! Thank You!
It’s just like my grandmother liked it. We’re both smiling.
This method worked well for me on the first try. Your instructions and photos are clear and easy to follow.
Awesome. My wife and I made eggs benedict for Christmas breakfast for our fami!y (7 of us). It worked perfectly!
My new favorite way to prepare eggs. Clear instructions – got it on the first try, perfected it on the second. Yum!
I just made my first ever attempt at poaching an egg, and thanks to these instructions it turned out great (not perfect, but still pretty delicious). Thank you!
Great tutorial! My first time poaching an egg and it came out great. One thing to watch out for– when I slid the egg into the water, a few pieces of white broke off and made the water turn cloudy. Unlike the picture, I couldn’t see my egg for the entire time, and at first I though this meant I had done something wrong. The egg still came out awesome! Just beware of cloudy water :)
Thank you for these great instructions.I just poached two great eggs and followed everything but the vinegar. Oh, I also did not have a slotted spoon but used a soup spoon and held it to the edge of the pan while the water drained. I had some yummy Eggs Benedict! Thanks.
Hi & thanks! This is the second recipe of yours that I’ve followed, and this past Saturday, I successfully conquered poached eggs. AWESOME!! I had to make them again on Sunday morning, too! I only had red wine vinegar and I can’t say they were any better or different at all, but I thought they were fantastic and I completely disgusted my children with all the yolk.
I’ll be back!!
Thanks so much for this post! This is a little embarrassing however I’ve never successfully poached an egg until my sister sent me the link to your site! Thanks so much!!
Thank you! I used rice vinegar and made poached eggs to eat on your buttermilk biscuits recipe this morning. Everything turned out beautifully. The whirlpool and the vinegar are my key to making poached eggs.
Thanks for the tips! It’s funny how cooking eggs is supposed to be so simple, but in the end, require a lot of technique! When it comes to poaching eggs, I’m baffled…
I’ll sure try your method!
Thanks to following this ~ I totally wrecked my eggs. Needless to say, I won’t be back! :)
What’s with the bread? heard of a toaster? Toast is about the only thing I can make. Together we’d make a lovely breakfast.
I love your website and will try the eggs tomorrow morning. Yay!!! Do you have a bacon technique? Because as much as we all love asparagus, etc. nothin’ beats good bacon.
Thank you so much for the tip about re-warming the eggs. Every other website I found told how to make one egg, but how often are you going to make only one egg??
Easter Brunch here we come. I will have to practice first though. Love em, but never made them.
will the vinegar affect the taste of the egg?
Billy — If you’re very sensitive to vinegar, you might notice a faint tinge of it. But I don’t think it’s otherwise a loud taste, and especially not if you’re pairing the poached egg with other ingredients (sauteed vegetables, bacon or the like).
Easter Brunch here we come. I will have to practice first though. Love em, but never made them.
It worked beautifully. First time ever. Now I’m ready for a relaxed brunch at home with my husband (while my kids, 3 and 5, raid their grandparent’s house, ha!)
Wow! I just tried your instructions…and it’s beautiful. I succeeded on my first try :D
And you’re right, I thought I’d failed when I saw the whites flying around.
I love them poached, as well.
I recently found Steamed EGGS (an old chinese trick) and if the eggs are
soft steamed for 6-1/2 minutes, they will peel easily.
I cut them up; add S&P and Onion Powder.
To Hard-Steam the eggs: Cook for exactly ten minutes and cool.
They will peel very easily and make perfect Deviled Eggs.
Great! Had to add that this summer I came across a recipe for Cilbir, easily my new favorite way to eat poached eggs. There are a number of good versions out there for the turkish dish, but I like to place the poached eggs on top of greek yogurt and then garnish with salt, dried mint, chili, and paprika.
Great tutorial! My first time poaching an egg and it came out great. One thing to watch out for– when I slid the egg into the water, a few pieces of white broke off and made the water turn cloudy. Unlike the picture, I couldn’t see my egg for the entire time, and at first I though this meant I had done something wrong. The egg still came out awesome! Just beware of cloudy water
This is exactly how I poach my eggs! (Minus the whirlpool) I love poached eggs and have them at least once a week. The blue eggs with the orange yolk are my favourite.
This recipe helped me poach an egg for the very first time! I have always been intimidated by poaching eggs, but not anymore!
Never fail!! This method works every time!! My go to on poached eggs…
Your list of comments never ceases to amaze. :-) Thanks, as always for the fantastic instruction. Love this. I’ve also recently discovered the Arzak method (from Juan Mari Arzak, of Arzak’s in San Sebastian). It’s less traditional, for certain, but it’s interesting and makes keeping the egg together a bit easier. Just wrote about it today on my site, if you’re curious.
What’s the odds a 10 out of 10 , that got me impressed, I was gonna say excited, but saying that sounded a little creepy to me…. Lol they look delicious
That’s is right. The points should have been mentioned already.
Deb, I hope you’re still looking at comments here as I see this is a much earlier post. By now you may have found another method with works better for you. Nevertheless, for what it’s worth, I recently stumbled across another old post, this one at Sara Moulton’s website. She shares what looks to me like a genius-poaching-method. Haven’t tried it yet, but sure gonna.
Part of her procedure is much like yours: uses vinegar, puts each egg into a small dish to slide into water, and when ready, uses slotted spoon to retried the egg, and let it drain briefly on a towel. But what else she is as easy as it is surprising — and allows you to poach more than one egg at a time!
Sara fills a large skilleet almost to brim with water and heats water to boiling. Meanwhile, she cracks an egg over a fine mesh strainer to let the watery part drain out (I expect this is the part which gets really stringy, even when swirled stringy) and be discarded. The egg is transferred to a small dish (I assume as each is cracked, but that’s not quite clear. Each eggs doe get moved to it’s own small dish. When the water boils, she turns off the heat, and quickly slides each egg into the water. Covers the skillet tightly and simply lets eggs stand until poached (about 4 mins, she says). Then she removes each with slotted spoon, sets briefly on clean towel to drain, and serves.
Here’s the link: Her egg poaching method can be found at the end of the soup recipe there.
So, Deb, if you haven’t yet tried poached egg in Italian onion soup, this link gets you two Moulton goodies for the price of one
P.S. Sorry, I forgot to mention in my little summary that Sara adds 1 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons white vinegar to the water at the outset.
I just wanted you to have 500 comments! Is that a record?
Recently I noticed cooks are telling us to boil our eggs for 7 minutes or more and I’ve always done mine for 3. Now I know why the different times are used.
Thanks (yet to try the poaching method). I hate extra tools and washing up that you have from rings and cups so this may answer my needs.
Next can you tell us how to make moist frittata that is still cooked?
Deb, you are a GENIUS. I was stupidly scared of poaching an egg, but with your fantastic advice it’s dead simple and actually quite fun (let’s say I’m a child at heart) :) I followed religiously your advice, especially the “Don’t panic even if it looks messy” part, which was definitely brilliant. This is officially my new favorite discovery. Thanks!
Better to do it your way instead of making a soft boiled egg to find egg shell inside. My mouth is watering right now. Thanks so much!
Hi! Love this and the new site!
Quick suggestion – would you mind numbering the comments? Made it so easy to follow when people had suggestions or you answered a question!
Thanks — I think it went out the window with threaded comment replies, there isn’t a clear count anymore. But I’ll find out if we can get them back.
Thank you for the tutorial. Still terrified. It’s the whirlpool part. At this point, the only way to get over it is to do it, I think. Eep.
This inspired me to make poached eggs for breakfast this morning, thank you! The first two tries ended up egg soup, but then it started working. Yum!
The best for me is the “Julia Child trick”
Have you tried the new silicon egg poachers? They are so easy to use, and there is no loss of egg whilte.
I teach a high school Foods and nutrition class and we do a poached egg lab. I have the kids do it three ways: vinegar, whirlpool, and “Heston’s way”. Whirlpool wins every time for shape and having the white intact. I’ll be sure to add this fourth “combo way” next semester. Thank you!
PS You’re blog is famous in my classroom. ” Let’s head on over to Smitten and see what she’s got going on today…” You’ve been a GREAT resource!
Another technique requiring only
Slotted spoon or small strainer
Plop egg into empty cup. No need to butter cup
Fill about 1/2 way with water
Place in microwave about 50 sec on high
Remove from microwave, strain off water and serve.
By adjusting cooking time and amount of water you can perfect your egg.
I LOVE poached eggs, but have fallen in love with this quick method: heat your non-stick skillet over medium heat, then add eggs. Cook until whites begin to set, add one ice cube for every two eggs, cover with a lid and cook until the egg is at the point you want them to be.
Thank you! I tried this method this evening when I just wanted a quick dinner that I could throw together while the cake I was baking was in the oven. Avocado on toast topped with the best poached eggs I’ve ever made. This is definitely my new go-to. Sorry Ottolenghi…
just read this before getting out of bed…. guess what I’m having for breakfast.
But I know one will not be enough! How do I make two together?
Of course they take so little time, so one at a time can’t be too bad…. but I’m REALLY hungry now!
Thankyou Deb, for a Bon Appétit and a couple of smiles. Can’t think of a nicer way to begin the day.
What’s your favorite store bought bread? I’m looking for something yummy to put this poached egg on.
I just made my very first pair of poached eggs, which we enjoyed over your Scalloped Tomatoes with Croutons, and now I am just waiting to be hungry so I can do it all over again. Thank you so much — this technique worked perfectly, and something I have been too timid to try has just catapulted into an “anytime” option. Thank you, thank you!
I have a method for making sort-of poached eggs that works really well. Melt some butter in a pan, crack the eggs into it, turn the heat down to low, pour in half a glass of water and cover. Three or four minutes, and you’ve got a perfect egg with runny yolk.
This is easy too: into a non-stick omelet or small sautee pan , add very chilled water. Fill to cover eggs. Gently crack eggs into pan closely together. Then turn heat on high. Cover with lid. When it comes to a boil, turn to simmer. How long it takes to get done depends on your preference and the operating ability of your stove top. Mine is electric and to soft set my eggs, I cook it about 4 or 5 min. Do what works for you. Use a silicon spatula or slotted spoon to ladle over rice, toast, what ever your hankering is. You wont scratch your pan or wreck your handy work this way. And they will look great too!
This is great tips — I’m using almost daily.
This is so yummy.. thanks for the step by step details
This is exactly the same method I’ve used for years. It’s foolproof! I gloss with a little butter on top before seasoning it.
Have you ever thought of getting a special pan for poached eggs. I have one and it is so easy to use and the eggs come out perfectly. The pan is also useful for other purposes. I know your kitchen is small, but as much as you love poached eggs, I think you would love having the pan.
Lol I tried the plastic wrap method – – – once. Yup, that was a big fat NO
For me it was the small dish and the slotted spoon that ended 40 years of poached egg torture. Oh, plus no boiling water. They work.
Dear Smitten Kitchen –
Buy these, they will change your life. Perfectly formed, perfectly cooked eggs every time. Six minutes.
I use a small strainer to get rid of the liquidy white before I drop in the water… that way there are less ‘streamers’
When I used to swirl the water, the whites ended up ragged. Instead of swirling, I now add more vinegar (1/4 cup) and a little salt to a big frying pan of hot water, and then slide in as many eggs as can fit without touching. I poached eight this way yesterday and the whites were tidy and firm while the yolks were runny.
have you ever tried the microwave in a cup method? I found it to be the quickest and easiest. It takes a few tries to get the timing right but once you do it’s great!
There are 2 anxiety-producing elements in egg-poaching. Adding vinegar to the water takes care of one of them. The other is the risk of breaking the yolk when cracking the egg. I crack them one at a time, each into its own little dish. If one breaks it’s used to make some pasta dough (2/3 cup of flour + 1 egg). I find that the yolk is less likely to break if I crack the egg on a hard thin edge rather than rapping it on a flat surface. I’m told that my preferred method is more likely to result in bits of egg shell in the egg, but that is not my experience and anyway, they’re easily removed.
Several years ago there was a phone in radio show where they were asking for kitchen hacks. A woman called in with this trick and I have been using it ever since. Use a small glass bowl with a lid and fill it about 2/3 full of water. Add a drop of vinegar. Slip the egg in and gently poke the yoke with a toothpick (this is the MOST important step). Cover with the lid and cook in the microwave for 70 seconds (probably varies depending on your microwave). Voila! A perfectly poached egg! No mess what so ever.
This DOES look fab!!!!! I also fail with poached eggs as many times as I succeed and have got into the habit of dropping my stainless steel rings into the pan and then the water and finally the eggs….definitely helps!!!!
Thanks Deb for the tutorial for making a poached egg. I use this method too. But I have to tell you, that even with a non-stick pan it’s important to spray your pan with cooking oil before you heat the water and go through the other steps. Why? Somehow the combination of water + vinegar glues any little bits of the egg white to the pan and is extremely hard to remove using scrub pads, soap and water.
How to poach 4 eggs at a time? Is it Possible???
Finally a method at produces a poached egg i can be proud of.
Thank you, Deb.
I find that I get a much neater egg if I first pour the egg into a small strainer. The white of the egg comes in two parts: a thick, more viscous part nearest the yolk, and a thin watery part nearer the shell. In the strainer the watery part runs out and leaves behind the thicker part and the yolk. When you ease the egg into the swirling water you don’t get all the thin part that wanders off and forms the shreds. It’s not much of a loss, and your eggs will be neater and more attractive. Unless, of course, you enjoy the gypsy skirt look.
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