Easy Poached Eggs

TipsVideoHow ToLow CarbBreakfastPoached Egg

Here is how to make a perfectly poached egg, every time! With creamy yolks and firm whites, poached eggs are a breakfast on their own. You can also serve them over greens, topped with Hollandaise, in a grain bowl, or dozens of other ways.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Poaching eggs couldn’t be easier. It’s also a great low-calorie way to prepare eggs—you don’t need to use added fat to cook them, as you would with scrambled or fried eggs.

Not only do eggs prepared this way make a great breakfast all on their own (with a little salt and pepper and maybe some toast), you can also use them to top a French salad Lyonnaise, bathe them in luxurious Hollandaise sauce in an Eggs Benedict, or go super healthy and serve them over sautéed greens.

My favorite breakfast is one or two poached eggs, served in a bowl (they’re easier to eat with a spoon, you can catch every bite!) and sprinkled with a little truffle salt.

Video! How to Poach an Egg

Tip #1: barely simmering water makes the best poached eggs

The main trick I use when I make poached eggs is to use water that is barely simmering. Fewer bubbles means less agitation of the water that can break up and disperse the egg whites. I crack the egg into a cup first, then, when the water is at a bare simmer, gently slide the egg into the water.

Some people swirl the water and drop the egg into the center. I haven’t been able to get that method to work for me, but if it works for you, great!

Tip #2: strain out some of the thin egg whites with a mesh strainer

Cracking the egg into a fine mesh sieve first is another useful method. The sieve strains out some of the thinner whites that can make your poached egg look rather ragged.

Do you have a favorite way of making or serving poached eggs? Please let us know about it in the comments!

poached egg on plate

Make-Ahead Poached Eggs

If you want to make a bunch of poached eggs for a crowd–say, for making Eggs Benedict for the whole family on Easter Sunday–make them ahead of time.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Make your poached eggs as usual, up to five days before you plan to serve them.
  2. Immediately transfer the poached eggs to a bowl of very cold water. Top off with more cold water if needed until the eggs are cool.
  3. Transfer the eggs to an airtight container and refrigerate until needed.
  4. To reheat, transfer your eggs to a bowl of very hot tap water for 2 to 3 minutes. (Don’t use boiling water or your eggs might overcook). Top off the bowl with more hot water if needed.
  5. To serve, gently scoop the eggs out of the water with a slotted spoon, blot them dry on a paper towel, and serve immediately.

More Ways to Cook Eggs:

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Easy Poached Eggs

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 4 minutes
  • Yield: 1 or more poached eggs

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.

Ingredients

  • 1 or more fresh eggs

Method

1 Heat the water: Fill a saucepan with several inches of water. Heat the water on high until it reaches a boil and then lower the heat until the water is at a bare simmer (just a few bubbles coming up now and then).

bring pot of water to a simmer to make poached eggs

2 Crack egg into a small bowl and gently slip it into the water: 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.

gently lower raw egg into the surface of the hot simmering water make poached eggs by putting raw egg into hot 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.

3 Turn off heat, cover pan, set timer for 4 minutes: 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, the number of eggs in the pot, and if you are cooking at altitude, so adjust accordingly. If you are at altitude, want firmer egg yolks, or are poaching more than 4 eggs at once, you may need to cook them longer. If you try 4 minutes and the eggs are too cooked, reduce the time.

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

removed poached egg with a slotted spoon

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.

1 Strain thin whites with a fine mesh sieve: Place the raw egg into a fine mesh sieve over a bowl. The very thin egg whites will drain out through the sieve.

drain thin egg whites through fine mesh sieve lower raw egg into simmering water to make poached egg

2 Gently add to hot water: Then gently ease the raw egg into your pot of simmering hot water.

poach egg for four minutes in hot water remove poached egg with slotted spoon

3 Turn off heat, cover pot, cook 4 minutes: 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. (You may need to add more time if cooking at altitude or poaching more than 4 eggs at once.)

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.

Egg poacher

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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Links:

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

180 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Jenny

    The only way I knew how to poach eggs was the vinegar and stirring method, which never worked well for me. This idea of letting the eggs simmer gently without agitation was amazing and I really felt like a pro when I got them out with a slotted spoon. This is a great method for poaching eggs.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Marie

    I followed this recipe with a few tweaks by using some of the tips I’ve heard others share. If you don’t use super fresh eggs and strain the whites you will have some ragged whites. (Does not affect taste). I used a medium sized saucepan 3/4 full, added a teaspoon of white wine vinegar (regular and apple cider vinegar is to strong of a flavor) and brought the water to a “rolling boil” then swirled the water and slipped the egg (waiting in a ramekin) in, cracked another into the ramekin and also slipped it in. You will notice, when you stir boiling water, it keeps swirling a while and appears to stop bubbling so much. Moments later when the water had stopped swirling and began to boil again, at this point – I turned it down, covered it and turned it off. I let it sit for approximately 3 minutes and then fished then out the eggs. They were perfect, with runny yolks and no vinegar taste!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Wendy

    Nothing about this ‘easy’ recipe worked for me. This is the second time I’ve tried it and both times it was a disaster. The hollandaise stayed runny, I used new eggs but the yolks never changed colour when blending as the recipe states they’re supposed to. When I added the hot melted butter the consistency remained runny and no amount of blending made any difference. Ended up throwing everything away.
    When making the eggs I watched the video and read all the instructions multiple times but even with straining the eggs, when added to the water the egg went into fine threads and was just a mess. That was thrown away too.
    So disappointed as it seems others have had a lot of success with this recipe but for me it really didn’t work and I followed the instructions closely. Not sure what I’m doing wrong but after two failed attempts and many wasted eggs I think I’ll just have to leave Eggs Benedict to the professionals!
    Thanks for the recipe anyway and I’m glad it’s working for other people!

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  4. Joan Griffo

    OMG this is Genius!! I have never made a decent poached egg ..EVER.. until today!’ Thank you so much , can’t believe it’s so simple!!! I love poached eggs, I’m not a very good cook and had given up making one of my favourite foods…until now!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  5. Susan

    Worked a treat

    xxxxxyyyyy

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poached egg cracked open to runny yolkEasy Poached Eggs