Easy Poached Eggs

Low CarbPaleoBreakfastPoached Egg

How to poach an egg, with great results every time. It's easy!

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.

poached egg cracked open to runny yolk

use barely simmering water to make the best poached eggs

The main trick I use when I make them 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!

strain out some of the thin egg white 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!

Easy Way to make a poached egg

Updated August 1, 2018 : Added video

Easy Poached Eggs Recipe

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

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

  • 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, 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 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 mason jar ring

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.

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.

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:

Poaching Eggs and Appreciating Life's Details from Todd and Diane of White on Rice Couple

Fool-proof Poached Eggs from Serious Eats

 

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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.

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141 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Ania

    Thanks for teaching me how to poach an egg! Super easy and always works. Thx!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Betty

    I tried without the vinegar, with vinegar, with a Glas cup, a measuring cup the mason jar ring and the spoons to contain the eggs, none worked. The whites just went all over. I did not have a mesh strainer so I used a slotted spoon with round wholes. I buttered them to be not sticky the immersed in water and carefull slid the egg in. Waited a couple seconds and removed the spoon from under the egg… that worked…. i wasted about 5-6 egg but the end result was edible. It seems with poaching you have to find the method that works for you and practice… 3 stars as I appreciated the various tips… not fool proof
    By the time I started over 3 times boiling then simmering my other stuff was cold…

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • EJ

    Same issue as Bob- did not cook though and white was all runny.

  • Bob

    Followed it to a T and it did not work at ALL. Waste of time, eggs were completely raw and I had to turn the heat way up and cook without the lid

  • Veronika

    Perfection! I have an egg cooker and it works fine but I love the shape of a “pot-poached” egg, it’s so attractive. And I don’t need to crawl into my bottom cabinet to retrieve the egg cooker, just grab a pot from the rack, sieve and little bowl. This really is fool-proof. I haven’t had good luck with the swirl method either. It’s the little things…

    xxxxxyyyyy

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