Easy Poached Eggs

How to poach an egg, with great results every time. Simple poached egg recipe.

Fresh eggs work best for poaching. Their whites hold together better than older eggs. Some people put a little vinegar in the poaching water—the vinegar helps the proteins in the egg whites coagulate. But the vinegar does affect the taste. I usually skip it.

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 4 minutes

Ingredients

  • Fresh eggs

Equipment needed

  • Saucepan with cover
  • Slotted spoon

Method

1 Fill a saucepan with a couple inches of water. Heat the water on high until it reaches a bare simmer and bubbles start appearing at the bottom of the pan, or bring the water to a boil and then lower the heat until the water is at a bare simmer (just a few bubbles coming up now and then).

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2 Working with the eggs one at a time, crack the egg into a small bowl or cup. Place the bowl close to the surface of the hot water and gently slip the egg into the water. If you want, use a spoon to push some of the egg whites closer to their yolks, to help them hold together. Add all of the eggs you are poaching to the pan in the same way, keeping some distance between them.

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3 Turn off the heat and cover the pan. Set a timer for 4 minutes (or count out loud to 60, four times). At this point the egg whites should be completely cooked, while the egg yolks are still runny. Note that the timing depends on the size of the eggs, and if you are cooking at altitude, so adjust accordingly. If you are at altitude, or want firmer egg yolks, you may need to cook them longer. If you try 4 minutes and the eggs are too cooked, reduce the time.

4 Gently lift the poached eggs out of the pan with a slotted spoon and place on a plate to serve.

To help the eggs keep from spreading too much some people have good results by placing a mason jar ring in the pan. Put a mason jar ring in the bottom of the pan and fill the pan with water to just above the mason jar ring. Slip the raw egg into the water over the mason jar ring and let it settle in the ring. Then turn off the heat and cover the pan.

Using a Fine Mesh Sieve

One way to help your poached egg whites stay together is to remove some of the thin wispy egg whites before you add your eggs to the hot water. An easy way to do this is with a fine mesh sieve.

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1 Place the raw egg into a fine mesh sieve over a bowl. The very thin egg whites will drain out through the sieve. Then gently pour the raw egg into your pot of hot water.

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2 Notice how there is much less stray egg whites with this method. Turn off the heat and cover the pot (or just lower the heat to low), and cook for 4 minutes until the whites are cooked through. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon.

Using an Egg Poacher

If you don't want to futz around with trying to keep the eggs from spreading or bumping into each other, the easiest way to make poached eggs is with an egg poacher. The "poacher" is actually coddling the eggs, not truly poaching them, but if what you want is an egg with a cooked white and runny yolk, this is an easy way to do it.

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To use an egg poaching pan, remove the cups from the pan that you intend to use. Fill the pan with only 1/2-inch of water and bring it to a low boil. Put a drop or so of olive oil in each of the egg cups you are using and spread around. (The cups are stick-free, but the oil helps.) Crack the eggs into the egg cups, one egg per cup. Place the egg filled cup back in the slot for it in the pan. Cover the pan and cook for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully lift the egg cups out of the pan. Slide the cooked eggs out of the cups onto serving plates or bowls.

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Comments

  1. D. Platt

    The truly easiest way to “poach” an egg is in the microwave. Use a small microwaveable bowl,such as a custard cup, and spray it with olive oil spray. Crack the egg in the bowl and cover with waxed paper. You may have to play with the cook times, but I cook mine for 45-50 seconds on 60% power. I like my eggs cooked pretty hard so this is usually just right. If you use larger eggs, you may need to cook it just a little longer. It is not truly poached, but is soooo…. easy. I sometimes place cooked ham and/or grated cheese on top and zap it a few seconds more.

    • Laura

      Well, I had no idea you could poach eggs in the microwave. That’s a huge newsflash to me.

      I love eggs any way you make them, but had no idea fresher eggs are better for poaching, will have to keep them on mind! In general, I get all weird about eggs, especially brown ones. But I’m getting over that and now buy eggs from roadside stands.

    • Elise

      I’ve tried poaching eggs in the microwave. Not a fan.

  2. Anonymous

    Ya know, until now I have been placing the eggs in the little poacher cups covering it and then turning the burner on and then letting get to a boil. D’oh! Guess I know now why it was always a crap-shoot!

    Thanks
    S

  3. Elizabeth in Lawrenceville GA

    I prefer not to use vinegar in the water because it, too, imparts a different flavor – one I personally don’t much like. I have found that cracking eggs one by one into a small dish or small shallow bowl, then easing the egg from the dish into the water helps keep the white from “scattering.”
    Don’t even get me started on microwaved eggs! LOL!

  4. Chuck

    I poached eggs like this in college. It was terrifically easy, and turned out a good poached egg. Cut the top & bottom off a small tuna can, and wash thoroughly. Place in a pan with water boiling, and crack the egg into the tuna can. Turn off the heat, and cook until desired degree of doneness is reached. Meanwhile, break up a piece of buttered hot toast into a bowl. Put in the eggs, salt & pepper, eat. Sigh.

    • Sylvia Carlson

      Chuck, we used to have an egg in a coffee cup with a piece of bread with a dab of butter and some salt when we were kids. Tasted so good on a nice Winter morning. My Mom for whatever reason used to call them “Googy eggs.” The name stuck.

  5. CJ McD

    We always laid mason jar canning rings in a fry pan filled with water to the rim of the rings. Works like a charm. Perfect, round poached eggs.

  6. carrie

    I am confused, can you please clarify the instructions for using an egg poacher? I just bought one and it didn’t come with instructions! Do you boil the water with the little egg holder in place, or stick it in (cold) with egg after water has reached a boil?
    thanks!

    Remove the egg holder, bring the water in the pan to a boil, crack egg into egg holder, put egg holder back into pan. ~Elise

  7. josie

    Hi, I have been trying to poach eggs for a few weeks now. This seems to be the best method I have found, although not quite perfect on the first go. I think that next time I will put the water just up to the rim of the rings, and maybe get the smaller size ring. Hopefully that will do the trick. Thanks for your help!

  8. Phillip Clayton

    Love the site by the way and agree that your method does yield a wonderfully cooked poached egg. However, I don’t subscribe to the idea of using an egg poacher – somehow the shape ends up so consistent that the egg looks ‘processed’. There is a certain charm about the random nature of a perfectly poached egg. The very crucial thing you failed to mention though is the freshness of the egg. A 2 week old egg will break up the moment it hits the water. Use a 2 day old egg and the yolk will stand proud and the white will huddle closer together than emperor penguins on a particulary icy day… Oh and make sure it’s free range.

  9. Joy

    Great idea! After I fell in love with eggs benedict, I decided that I needed to learn how to poach eggs, now I need to give making Hollandaise a shot. So I googled for a little bit, and I found this great trick:

    First, put some water on to boil. Take a piece of saran wrap and lay it over a coffee mug, pushing the plastic down into it a bit. Then, crack an egg into the saran wrap and tie/twist the ends together tightly. Drop the eggbag into the water, continue to boil ~3 minutes, then take your eggs out with a pair of tongs or a slotted spoon.

    I was really skeptical at first, thinking the plastic would boil into pieces, but it didn’t and they turned out perfect.

    If it’s microwave-safe plastic wrap, it should work fine. The water never gets above 212°F. ~Elise

  10. danielle

    Not sure if this qualifies as a ‘poached’ egg but it sure is good and easy – using a muffin pan, butter and then press bread into each muffin place, then, crack an egg on top of each piece of bread and you can either broil or bake at 350 for three minutes or longer – it’s a great breakfast for young kids to make too – use a spatula to remove from pan.

  11. Gill

    Another microwave method of poaching eggs … Boil some water and put into a microwavable jug. Crack the egg into the jug and put in microwave for about 50 seconds … perfect poached egg :)

  12. Murcia

    I am using an egg poaching pan. You mentioned that the water must first be boiled then you put the cup with egg in. Must the pan remain on the warm plate (after boiling) when you put in the egg cup or must the pan be totally removed from the hot plate?
    Thanks a lot!

    • Sylvia Carlson

      I think it’s the same method when you make hard boiled eggs. After you turn off the heat and cover the pan, you remove it to a cool burner and let it sit for about 3-4 minutes. Hope this helps!

  13. Alex Coyle

    Am amazed at the many interesting ways to attack an egg for poaching. I’ve been poaching eggs for my family for years with no complaints, but for me it’s still a crap shoot. About half the time and I have had to throw one ot two to the dogs.

    My Method: Crack 6 eggs in a small bowl and set aside. Put 2 qts. water in a 3 qt. sauce pan and bring to a medium boil. Add 1/4 cup white vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt. With a slotted spoon, while the water is boiling, start the water swiriling around in a clockwise direction (I’ve not tried counter-clockwise) as fast as it will go without slopping out of the pan. While the water is spinning let it coast while pouring the eggs into the center of the spin (vortex). The rest is routine; I time by inspection.

    The spinning water draws the egg whites in toward the yokes and the vinegar helps set the whites more compactly. I don’t know what the salt does. This method produces beautiful compact-looking poached eggs.

    This works every time. Problem: My family and I like eggs from hardly cooked to nearly hard. How does one remove the hardly cooked ones, and then the medium cooked ones, and hold them warm without further cooking while finishing the last two nearly hard ones. My “solution” is to put the finished eggs in a hot water holding bath until I am done done, but this usually overcooks the first and second batches, or cools them off, depending on the temperature of the holding bath. I think the secret must be in getting the temperature of the water in the holding bath just right because I have seen this holding method used by chefs in cafeteria lines.

    Help, please.

    Alex Coyle 11/17/07

    • Michael Schmidt

      Simply start the eggs that will be firmer first, then add eggs until you get to the less cooked eggs last. If you time them right they’ll all finish at the same moment.

    • Againstthegrain

      Julia Child recommends putting poached eggs at the desired doneness level into ice cold water to instantly stop the eggs from cooking further. That way poached eggs may be cooked at your convenience and stored for up to a few days in a covered container of water in the fridge. When you want to serve the eggs, place them into gently simmering water for about minute to bring them to serving temperature without further cooking. Drain the reheated eggs for a few seconds on a clean towel or paper towel to remove clinging water.

  14. Pamela

    I absolutely LOVE perfectly poached eggs…and just can’t do them myself! I have an egg poacher and even one of those silly microwaveable poacher-things….Still can’t perfect the poaching of an egg.

    I just can’t figure out how to get that perfectly runny yolk and have those whites still be firm. I have had some success with the shallow cup in water method, but I just can’t tell by looking if those yolks are still runny or not.

    Here’s hoping this recipe and my determination will create that PPE! (perfectly poached egg!)

  15. loula

    I time my poached eggs by the toaster. push the toaster plunger down, crack an egg into boiling slightly-vinegared water in a non-stick frypan, toast pops up, butter real fast, scoop egg from water with slotted spoon, put on toast. It produces an almost perfect poached egg everytime…whites set, yolk runny. you may have to play a bit with the toaster/egg drop to get your timing down pat.

  16. Travis

    I learned the art of poaching from my dad and we never use anything other than a skillet, water, a slotted spoon, fresh eggs and a proper boil. Vinegar ruins the simple, delicious taste of the egg.

  17. Dawn

    Posted by Alex: “Problem: My family and I like eggs from hardly cooked to nearly hard. How does one remove the hardly cooked ones, and then the medium cooked ones, and hold them warm without further cooking while finishing the last two nearly hard ones.” First of all, YES! on your tip for swirling the water before adding eggs to poach. We’re taught this in culinary school as the way to keep whites compact and pretty.

    To answer your question; when restaurants need to have different “doneness” ie. rare, medium, well-done, of steaks arriving at a table all at the same time they start cooking the steaks that need the longest cooking time first.

    You can use this same principal here by dropping the nearly hard eggs into the water first, then followed 30 seconds later with medium done eggs, then following another 30 seconds with the hardly cooked eggs.

    Since you started cooking the hard eggs first, they will cook longer than the eggs that are hardly cooked. If you time this right, all the eggs will finish cooking at exactly together AND will all be cooked to their correct doneness.

    Try experimenting with times for how long each egg takes to reach perfection and write each cooking time down (or you might just search google for the answer) then you can set a timer for each egg addition to the pot! And I think that cracking each egg into separate cups will facilitate easy additions, no portioning out whites.

  18. Mark F

    It’s really not this complicated. Bring salted water to a rolling boil. Turn OFF the heat. Crack an egg and, holding it as close to the surface of the water as you can safely manage, slip it in. Cover the pan. Set your timer for two minutes. When the timer beeps, drop your toast. When the toast is done and buttered, remove the cover from the pan, retrieve your perfectly poached egg with a slotted spoon and set it on the toast.

  19. Sara

    I like to put a poached egg on top of yellow rice with salsa and some shredded cheese on top. The yolk oozes into the rice; very yummy and very cheap. When I’m less destitute, I like to add spicy sausage to the rice. Friends always look askance the first time I feed this to them, but they always like it. I call this ranchos heuvos (ranch style eggs) , but I just sort of assigned that name to it.

  20. Patti Redfearn

    Hello Elise! I confess, I’m a foodie and I LOVE your site! So many times I’ve asked myself or hubby has asked that dreaded question “what’s for dinner?”…and soo many times I’ve said “let’s ask Elise!!”…anyways, great site, love it, love you! And great suggestion for poached eggs. I’m trying to cut back some to lose a bit of weight. Thanks for the suggestion! PS..I’m doing a low carb diet so toast points dipped in the lucious yolks are out of the question. Any suggestions?

    Hello Patti, I eat poached eggs plain with some truffle salt sprinkle on top. ~Elise

    • Againstthegrain

      Patti,

      My husband and I eat low-carb, too. Try Salad Lyonnaise for dinner – a big tossed green salad topped with a poached egg or two on each serving – do an online search for more ideas on the Salad Lyonnaise components. The runny yolk becomes part of the dressing.

      I make this style salad fairly often when I’m short on time, am trying to economize on groceries, have a lot of CSA farm box veggies to use up before the next box arrives, or there is no time to defrost/buy meat/poultry/fish.

      I also like poached eggs served on top of small-medium servings (.5 – 1 cup) of warm black beluga or green du Puy lentil salads (those two very small lentil varieties remain intact and al dente instead of becoming mushy and broken).

      I know lentils aren’t exactly low carb, but they are a “slow carb” that is much lower in carbs than grains and many beans, and they are a decent source of protein compared to grains (albeit not a complete protein). Lentils have a lot in their favor in other ways, too – they provide a lot of soluble fiber and resistant starch (esp cooked cold lentils), which humans can’t digest because we don’t make the necessary enzymes, but good gut bacteria love ‘em (and make/do good stuff for humans in the process, like SCFA and immune modulation).

      Good idea to start with small servings of lentils and other legumes, especially if you’ve been eating ultra-low low carb and avoiding legumes for a long time. Also, even though recipes say lentils don’t have to be soaked, a short soak (even as little as 15-30 minutes) is beneficial (discard soaking water) – soaking starts the sprouting process, shortens cooking time and hydrates the lentils for improved texture; converts some of the starch to a green sprout; neutralizes mineral-binding phytate/phytic acid seed content, increases certain micronutrient content, and more. ;-) I like to cook lentils for warm, room temp, and cold salads in an electric Instant Pot DUO pressure mulitcooker, but they are pretty fast to cook conventionally on the stovetop, too. Also economical.

  21. RD

    I like this method of poaching eggs for two reasons: 1) it uses less energy to cook the eggs, and 2) since the water is no longer being heated the egg whites don’t get dispersed as much. However I found that 4 minutes was too long as the yokes were almost fully cooked and I like them runny. Three minutes was just right though. I had two this morning served on toasted, buttered sourdough English muffins with a little fresh ground salt and pepper.

    Interesting. I find with our poacher that 4 minutes still makes a runny egg. Too runny in fact. After the timer goes off at 4 minutes, I let the eggs sit in the pan for another 30 seconds. Now, the difference could be due to the size of the eggs. Jumbos will take longer to cook than Large, for example. ~Elise

  22. Erin

    This was so easy and delicious! I am officially hooked on your blog. 4 minutes was just enough time for my slow toaster to get my bread nice and crunchy. Love the mason jar lid trick, I didn’t even need to coax the white part of the egg with a spoon. I will have to try this with truffle salt as you recommend.

  23. wm

    Try malt vinegar in the water – yummy!

  24. Donna Bell

    Who makes the egg poacher shown in the photo? It appears that the little cups have little handles for easy removal. I would like to purchase a poacher just like that one.

    That’s an RSVP Endurance Egg Poacher. If you do a search for it under the Google shopping link, you should be able to find the one with the metal wire handles. ~Elise

  25. Knox

    I love the idea of using the ring from a mason jar to keep the egg white from spreading. I’ll be trying it for dinner tonight. Thanks!

  26. Scarlett

    I’m not from the US, but where I am(Singapore) we don’t have poached eggs. From the photo given, it looks just like what we call ‘half-boiled eggs’. Is it the same thing?
    For half-boild eggs we boil water, pop the egg in, shell and all, for about 5-10minutes, depending on how hard you want it to be. Then if you can’t crack the egg because its too hot, put it under running water. It won’t affect its heat. Same eggs, different method.

    These eggs are definitely hard boiled, as in solid all the way through. An easy way to make hard boiled eggs is in an egg poacher, in which case you poach them for about 10 minutes. It’s easy because you don’t have to peel them. ~Elise

    • John Lewis

      What you have is a soft boiled egg when you leave it in the shell and then break it open and the yolk is runny. If you leave it in the boiling water a few minutes longer you will have a hard boiled egg.

  27. David Keogh

    I have just bought an egg poching pan and followed the instructions but as my cups are made from plastic and the right amount of water was used after 3-4 mins my eggs were ready but my plastic cups have slightly melted and some of the plastic rim melted to the pan rim. Is it a rubbish poacher or am I doing something wrong, should it be on full heat if not what heat should I cook them I am using a gas hob, Please advise?

    The heat should be just enough to maintain a simmer, which means high to start, then lowered to low once the water has come to a boil. If this is what you are already doing, then I think you might have a bum poacher. ~Elise

  28. Hillary

    Yum! Well, my breakfast for today/tomorrow (it’s almost 5:30 AM right now): 4 poached eggs, 3 strips of bacon, orange juice, and buttered toast. Yum!

  29. Hannah

    My mom always just used a round cookie cutter, or biscuit cutter, they’re round, and tall enough to not let the egg whites run out of the top!

  30. Narf wills

    For perfect poached eggs from my hens I place the eggs into the boiling water in the shells for 10 seconds, this helps hold the White together and you don’t need to use vinegar. Try it and enjoy you will be surprised how much easier this can be

  31. Kris

    For those of you concerned with the taste of vinegar in the eggs, simply plunk them into a cold water bath after cooking. This washes away the vinegar and keeps the eggs at the perfect consistency until you are ready to use them. If you want to heat them up before use, place them in warm water for one minute.

  32. shalom

    Elise: About the Singapore method of half boiled eggs, you said they were definitely hard boiled eggs. That is not necessarily true, it depends on how long the eggs are cooked. I use a different technique that results in basically the same thing: I put eggs in cold tap water & turn the heat to high (electric stove) & set a timer for about 10 minutes. It comes out soft boiled & is like poached, except for the shape. Sometimes peeling it is a problem though. But my point is if those eggs dropped in are only cooked 5 minutes they are probably soft boiled. For hard-boiled I cook the eggs for 10 minutes after the water startes to boil (which ends up being about 17 minutes total (depends on how long the water takes to come to a boil. I was told to do it this way in home Ec years ago. My eggs never come out with the dark yolks like I have seen on some hard-boiled eggs. Well, one time it did, but my timer was broken & I forgot & cooked them too long.

  33. Sophie

    My family has a bit of a ritual when it comes to poaching eggs. When the water is boiling you start the toaster. then, using a whisk you whirl the water in to a vortex and slip the egg into the middle of the whirlpool. The circular force of the water wraps the white around the egg and sets it like that so the white doesn’t spread out. Then, by the time the toast pops up, the eggs are done!

  34. FlangeSqueal

    I have been poaching eggs all my life, and FINALLY learned the easiest, most fool-proof way.

    Take a piece (about nine inches) of saran-wrap (any plastic wrap), using a wooden spoon, form it inside a tea cup or glass into a little pocket…spray with any good cooking spray so the egg doesn’t stick.

    I break my eggs individually into a small cup to check for freshness – then add whatever herbs I choose (marjoram or thyme) and then I plop them into the wrap -making a package with the plastic wrap, seal it tightly with a twist and with those green wire twist-ties you can get at your grocery store’s vegetable section, drop them into vigorously boiling water for FOUR MINUTES – lift them out of the water with your fingers, use kitchen shears to cut the tie and the bunched wrap away, and plop your perfectly done egg onto your prepared toasted English Muffin !

  35. Ruz

    Since I prefer non-runny eggs, I set the timer to 7 minutes and at the 5 minute mark, I cut an “x” in the egg yolk and let it finish from there. I still get a soft egg white, as well as a soft-medium boiled yolk (a firm amber with the outer layer just turned yellow). It’s a way to have the fun of egg-poaching and getting a soft-medium boiled egg without having to peel it!

  36. Cookie

    Using a poacher, butter the cups crack an egg in each, put into pan leave on full heat for about after boiling 3 mins by which time they should ‘look’ poached, remove any water from eggs replace lid remove from heat leave 2 mins. white should be firmly cooked, yolk will be runny.

    Hard boiled eggs done in the shell should be chilled under the cold tap to prevent them going black around the yolk. If you want to eat them hot from the cooker , no need to chill.

    Soft boiled eggs, place in enough water to keep them covered and time for 3 to 5 mins after the water reaches boiling depending on size.Same for hard boiled but leave for about 7 to 12 mins dependiong on size

  37. Vicky

    I remember my grandmother making poached eggs on toast when I was little. Today when in a pinch for a quick meal for my own family, anytime of the day, I poach up some eggs, place each on a slice of toast and serve. We think of this as comfort food. :)

  38. ross

    I’m cooking challenged but this worked perfectly

  39. cris

    Bring the water to the boil then turn right down to almost off. Give the water a small spin and drop in the egg. Dont set a timer, Dont use vinegar. Take out when the albumen is firm. EASY. Practice makes perfect.

  40. X

    Take a piece (about nine inches) of saran-wrap (any plastic wrap)

    Love that I’m not the only one who knows about that trick, but to take the easy up another notch, use a sandwich bag (the old school kind without the ziploc seal, those will trap air and pop) in a tea cup—its already a pocket! Crack your egg into the baggie, season, tie off with a twist tie nice and cozy around the egg and drop it in the water. No cutting or anything when its done, just let it cool for a second and untwist the twist tie, plus it gives you an easy place to grab the egg to remove from the water, so you can use a slotted spoon OR tongs!

  41. Kristen Hunter

    Another way to avoid vinegar is to use a little juice from a lemon in the water. Hardly ever taste it & when I do, it is pleasant. Also I put 2 eggs per cup and put them in the water together which works just as well as one at a time, and easier too when you are making a few eggs. So those are my tricks!

  42. KateK

    I know this sounds crazy…but I read recently in a magazine a method to poaching eggs in the microwave and as a poached egg lover/horrible poached egg maker, I was intrigued. Fast forward 15 seconds…I am in heaven. 1 egg, 3 tbsp water and between 15-20 seconds (depending on how runny you like your yolk) and you have an amazing poached egg formed into a perfect circle to boot!!!

    I swear I’m still going to try to master this method, but for now I still get to eat eggs benedict at home whenever I want! Now if I could only learn to make hollandaise sauce without an envelope or curdling the eggs!

  43. jim

    Just saw a great poaching method on masterchef. Poke a small hole in the egg shell and put it in the boiling water for a few seconds. This makes the egg hold it’s shape when you crack it, and also makes it easier to remove the shell.

    Then remove it from the water, shell it, and put it in the boiling water. After it’s ready, put it in cold water to stop it from continuing to cook.

  44. Geoff

    Couple tips: 1. You need an acid to help hold the egg together. I use vinegar. If somebody says it hurts the taste, they are using too much. You can also try lemon juice if you desire. 2. Here’s a cool trick to help hold egg together. When water is ready, use a tool and start stirring the water until you create a vortex. When the vortex is created get the container holding your egg and slowly pour in egg. It works great at keeping egg intact. Have fun and enjoy.

  45. Ramon

    Just made this for my wife this morning and while I need more tries to perfect it, they actually came out pretty good…she loved it!

    Thanks for the tip :)

  46. Zooey

    For those of you saying to use a microwave: IT DEPENDS ON YOUR MICROWAVE. Mine blows them up. It doesn’t matter if I stab the yolk so severely that the whole thing nearly comes in half, it doesn’t matter how much water I put in the cup or if I use a bowl instead or if I use low or high power or… well. 7 out of 10 times, the egg explodes.

    Your mileage may vary — if I could microwave them reliably, I would, and most people can, so it is worth trying if you’re quite that lazy. But for me, it takes the same amount of time (4 minutes) to microwave a poached egg, and cleaning a pan and a cup is a lot easier than cleaning the whole microwave and fishing the scraps of broken microwave-safe bowls/cups/etc out of there (admittedly, the container only broke twice out of fifteen or so tries, but the first try that blew up was one of those times — not worth it). If your microwave is of questionable quality, attempt it only with the utmost caution. I’ve never blown up a sunny-side-up egg in there — poached ones in the microwave are like bangers on ‘roid rage. Approach with caution.

    Also note that the yolk, when you microwave it in water, hardens faster than the whites. Yes, faster. It will be more or less universally cooked after three to four minutes (in my microwave, ymmv) — before then, the whites are liquid and the yolk is solid. There will be no soft and gooey center. Physics says nty.

    Elise: Thank you very much for this. As the above probably tells you, I am very fond of poached eggs, but my primary parental unit cooks so poorly that I was introduced to them through microwaving the things. This will save me a lot of time and effort.

  47. Krys

    You can totally avoid the vinegar problem the way I learned to poach eggs. For several generations my family has poached eggs in milk. You do not need to add anything like vinegar of lemon juice to make the eggs hold their shape and you can pour the egg and milk over the toast for a healthy breakfast that includes calcium and protien.

  48. Sue

    I grew up poaching eggs in milk and it is the supreme comfort food! But I cannot figure out if it came from my mom, who was from Miss. or my dad, who was from Illinois. Does anyone know where poaching in milk may have originated?

  49. Jim

    Thanks for the timing reference as I always forget 4 min. Using a low pan, like high-side frying pan, works good to let eggs hit bottom before expanding much. Add pepper and salt after cooking.

  50. Beth Tudor

    I love eating poached eggs but have always been intimidated by the preparation! Tonight I came home from work committed to overcoming my fear. I found your “recipe” and followed it exactly. And – voila – first try….two perfectly poached eggs. Thank You!

  51. Aramis

    You can also use some pickle chips in the water, rather than vinegar. *shrugs*

  52. Patrick O'Connell

    I have made poached eggs my entire adult life. They are my most common breakfast item, served alone, or in many different ways. My favorites are over corned beef hash, and in huevos rancheros.

    I can make a great omelet, exceptional scrambled, over easy, sunny side up, soft boiled, and hard boiled eggs. Yet, despite being my favorite, I still don’t feel I have mastered the poached egg. I have tried every trick and every device, yet nothing beats a saucepan with just plain water.

    My primary problem has been keeping the eggs together. Egg poachers and microwave poachers do that well, but nothing compares to “lightness” of a saucepan poached egg.

    Pre-cracking the eggs into small bowls and gently lowering them into the saucepan is a great idea. It’s so obvious, but I never considered that, and it works.

    Elise’s mason jar lid idea also works great! But instead of dropping the mason jar rings into the saucepan upside down, place them right side up. It makes removing your perfectly shaped and condensed poached eggs from the saucepan easier.

  53. Jeanne Quinn

    I made these for the first time tonight. I always wanted to try but thought it would be difficult. They turned out good but I think 4 minutes was to long and maybe next time I will take them off the burner since I think it stayed to hot on the electric stove top.

  54. Barry

    My mom used to make her poached eggs like a hard boiled egg, in the shell for a few minutes, never watery, always good. Of course, everything she made was good :)

  55. Midmodtom

    I found this site by Googling “better poached eggs” and I’ve learned a lot! Thanks! To those looking for a fool-proof Hollandaise I have one if you have a food processor. Drop 4 egg yolks, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper in the bowl of a food processer fitted with the metal chopping blade. Pulse 5 times for 1 second each. Turn the motor on and drop by drop add 1/2 cup hot melted butter. After the butter has been added, continue to blend until silky, about 30 seconds. I like to make my Hollandaise in advance and store it in a Thermos, especially if I’m hosting a big brunch and don’t want to stop and make it during production

  56. Tom Hammer

    Oh yeah… runny yolk, mixed up with crumbled toast…that’s how I’ve been eating my eggs since I was four. Ok, I’ve added a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper since I turned forty, but its all good. Simple cooking can be simply the best, like Elise.

  57. Achille

    Jus a little tip. Put some vinegar in the water… It will keep the egg white together…. Otherwise perfect method. I use it regularly and always make perfect poached eggs

  58. Angie | Big Bear's Wife

    Poaching eggs is by far my favorite way to make eggs! I normally struggle with the first one but after that it’s smooth sailing!

  59. Ms. Tweetley

    I tried the Mason jar ring and had several problems. First, I couldn’t get the poached egg out of the ring and broke the yolk. Second, the egg stick to the bottom of the pan. Third, the ring was really had to clean because of all the crevices.

    • Elise

      I think one needs to use a large mouth mason jar lid. Is that what you used?

    • Dawn

      King Arthur Flour company sells English Muffin rings on their web site, which work really well for poached eggs. You can use a little non-stick spray on them before dropping in the pan of water.

  60. pRon

    Elise,

    Your first egg pic looks a whole lot like my favorite way to cook them!

    Basted Eggs… http://www.food.com/recipe/basted-eggs-482308

    Perhaps you could do a ‘review’ of that method?

    Thanks, pRon

  61. Jenni

    I’ve been trying to learn how to poach eggs, my technique needs some work. I can’t get the white to stay together! Must keep practicing…

  62. Tom Hammer

    As a kid, I wasn’t a fan of eggs (still not super enthusiastic). But I love a good poached egg and appreciate the luxuriousness of a running, warm yolk cascading over another lovely object (salad, bread, etc). As a kid, my mom got me to eat this cheap, nutritious food by poaching the egg, crumbling up toast and mixing ‘em up together. Half a century (OMG!) later, its still my favorite breakfast. This method of preparation bound me to the ouef in a way no other could.

    For the more adventurous gastronome (yes, the faithful Simply Recipes reader), try the classic French dish of an egg poached in red wine (usually a Burgundy) served on a large, garlic crouton…often with a gravy made from the poaching liquid. Oh my.

  63. MaryM

    I like grits with my poached eggs. One day I decided to try poaching the eggs on top of the grits. Worked like a charm! I got the grits going in the pan, then dropped the eggs on the grits, and cooked both together. The eggs stayed where I put them and were perfectly cooked. Well, a little rough on the bottom where they were on the grits, but who cares? Only the one pan to clean and a delicious breakfast! And blender Hollandaise, if you want it really decadent. BTW, I’m the lazy gal who suggested making browned butter in the microwave. Have you tried it yet?

  64. DavidB

    My favorite method is to use silicon egg poaching cups. There are a wide variety (I bought mine from Crate and Barrel). Spray the inside of the cup with cooking spray, or apply a thin coating of oil or butter, and crack the egg into the cup. Bring about a half inch of water to a low boil. Put the cup in the pan, cover, reduce heat, and steam till done (7 minutes at altitude, probably 5 minutes at sea level). The egg usually slides right out of the cup.

  65. Sandy S

    Poaching eggs in red wine! In grits! You guys rock!! Both ideas are on my ToDo list.
    As well as trying browned butter in the microwave!

  66. Bill

    I found the perfect way to poach eggs. So far, perfect every time. Crack your egg into a strainer and let the “loose” white slip through. Then poach the “attached” white and yolk in simmering water. I tried all of the techniques above. None were 100% percent for me. This one is…

    • Elise

      Hi Bill, I tried it and I like it! I’ve updated the post to include instructions for this method. Thank you!

  67. Lyn

    I micro wave poached eggs all the time…no mess no fuss….twice they did explode (perhaps eggs were too old) and second time in Lake Tahoe on a visit (perhaps altitude?) But this still is my favorite way…:)

  68. francis

    read Shirley Corrihers book Cooking Essentials and she explains 12-15 years ago to strain the liquid white from the cracked egg before putting into the water or chicken broth or salsa or what ever is your cooking medium by using a small slotted spatula this is what I teach my kids at high school. ALSO no egg cooked in a cup or holder is truly poached it is coddled and the taste will be different!

    • Kathy Mader

      I’m interested to know what you mean Francis, I don’t understand what you’re saying. Can you please explain it more thoroughly? You separate the white from the yolk and then what? Thanks.

  69. Pat

    Hi, Elise…I saw your poached egg post and want to tell you about my NEW way of poaching them….I put an egg in a fine mesh strainer and swirl it around to get rid of the watery stuff that makes that messy film in the water. Then put it into a pan of simmering water and cook till it is to my taste.

    I saw this on a video at:

    http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/04/foolproof-poached-eggs-food-lab-recipe.html

    http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/06/food-lab-foolproof-eggs-benedict-recipe.html

    I have made their foolproof Eggs Benedict a half-dozen times now and they are perfect every time. I also love it that these eggs can be poached, placed in ice water and refrigerated. The next morning just drain off the cold water and replace it with hot tap water and let them sit for 5 or more minutes to heat up while you make the foolproof hollandaise sauce.

    • Elise

      Hi Pat, thanks, I’ve been thinking about trying that way too. Your comment just gives me more incentive. Thank you!

    • Elise

      Hi Pat,
      J. Kenji at Serious Eats always does such a great job, thanks for pointing me to the video! I did try a simplified version of that method and have updated the post accordingly. I don’t think it’s necessary to wiggle the egg in the sieve, or lower the sieve into the water. In fact, when I tried lowering the sieve into the water, it was more difficult to get the egg out as the egg started to cook in the hot water and bind to the sieve as soon as I lowered it into the water. What worked better was to just gently let some of the thin whites strain out, and then gently pour the egg into the water, an inch above the water, as I would have done without the sieve. Then I don’t touch the eggs, don’t move them. I think they look more like poached eggs if you don’t touch them.

      All this said, as long as you are using fresh eggs (they poach best) and are gently lowering the eggs into water that is barely bubbly, the eggs don’t spread that much to begin with. They will look better though if you use the sieve method.

  70. Sylvia Carlson

    I boil water in a pan and throw in two eggs. I cook them for about 3 minutes then take a slotted spoon and fish them out. I also have a plastic two egg poacher thing that I got at the dollar store. You put the eggs in them and microwave for about 90 seconds or so. They come out perfect. I sometimes have them with a side of cooked spinach (nuked with garlic and a little olive oil) w/salt and pepper and some slice tomatoes OR I put them between homemade bread with some dijon mustard and some turkey bacon. YUM!

  71. Kathy Mader

    Haha, whoever thought poached eggs could be so temperamental? I get stringy whites when I drop the eggs in the water and they look and taste terrible. The swirl method made things worse for me. Back to my Saladmaster poached egg cups…they were very satisfactory but more work.

  72. Carrie Kitze

    Take arugula greens, a squeeze of lemon, 1/4 to 1/2 chopped avocado, 1/4 cup smoked salmon, add one poached egg (or 5 poached quail eggs which take about 1 minute to cook each…) break yolk over greens to make dressing, season with salt and pepper of choice. Yummy….

  73. Michelle

    I just poached an egg for the first time, thanks to this article. It was delicious on some toasted home-baked bread with sea salt, pepper, and a sprinkling of dill. This is definitely being added to my regular routine. :)