Perfect Poached Eggs

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.

Three poached eggs and a piece of toast on a table with linens, plates, forks, and pepper grinder.
Annika Panikker

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.


How to Make Poached Eggs

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!

Side view of a poached egg on halved toast with the yolk running over the side.
Annika Panikker

Strain the Egg Before Poaching

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.

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.
A plate with a poached egg on toast.
Annika Panikker

More Ways to Cook Eggs

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

Perfect Poached Eggs

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 4 mins
Total Time 9 mins
Servings 4 servings
Yield 4 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.


  • 4 large eggs


  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).

    Water simmering in a pot to show how to poach an egg.
    Annika Panikker
  2. Crack the 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.

    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.

    White bowl with a cracked egg inside being added to simmering water to show how to make poached eggs.
    Annika Panikker
    Cracked egg added to simmering water for a poached egg recipe.
    Annika Panikker
  3. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let sit for 4 minutes:

    Turn off the heat and cover the pan. Set a timer for 4 minutes. 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.

    Simple Tip!

    If you have an induction burner, you may need to leave the eggs in the water longer OR keep the burner on, but have it at its lowest setting. Either way, because induction ranges behave differently, you'll need to experiment with the method a bit.

  4. Remove the eggs with slotted spoon:

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

    A poached egg in the bottom of a strainer.
    Annika Panikker

    Simple Tip!

    To easily drain the eggs, place them on a slice of stale bread before serving. The bread will absorb the water—no more soggy poached eggs!

Method 2: 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 the 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.

    A cracked egg in a sifter.
    Annika Panikker
  2. Gently add to hot the water:

    Then gently ease the raw egg into your pot of simmering hot water.

    Adding the cracked egg to a pot of simmering water to show how to poach an egg.
    Annika Panikker
    Adding the cracked egg to a pot of simmering water to show how to poach an egg.
    Annika Panikker
  3. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and poach for 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 poach 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.

    Lifting an egg out of a pot to show how to make poached eggs.
    Annika Panikker

Method 3: 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.

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 it 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.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
72 Calories
5g Fat
0g Carbs
6g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 72
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 186mg 62%
Sodium 71mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 28mg 2%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 69mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.