How to Fry an Egg

A perfectly fried egg is no mystery—it just takes a bit of practice in order to achieve mastery. Sunny side up or over easy, here's how to do it right, every time, with a video, step by step instructions, and photos.

Over easy eggs on a plate with a side of bacon.
Sally Vargas

It’s a simple task, right? To fry an egg, you throw some butter in a pan, break an egg into it, and in a few minutes, you have breakfast. (Or maybe dinner or lunch!)

It’s not complicated, but even something as simple as frying an egg has its nuances.

Video: How to Fry an Egg


How to Fry an Egg

Perfect Fried Eggs? Be Delicate

I have a maxim for eggs: When you cook eggs, walk on eggs. Eggs are delicate, deserving of tender treatment. That usually translates into low heat and a few minutes of patience.

The method I am about to describe gives you perfectly cooked sunny side-up eggs, with soft yolks that beg for mopping up with toast, and whites that are cooked but not hard and rubbery.

How to make fried eggs, in brief:

  1. The egg cooks over low heat with a lid on top of the pan for about 2 minutes.
  2. Remove the pan from heat and cook another another 30 seconds (with the lid still on) to finish cooking with residual heat.

That’s all there is to it!

Fried Egg Recipe cook the egg
Sally Vargas

The Best Pan for Fried Eggs

Any pan of any material is fine for frying eggs! If you're concerned about eggs sticking or don't want to use a lot of butter, choose a nonstick skillet or a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Stainless steel skillets are just fine, but be sure to use an extra teaspoon or two of butter.

A small, 8-inch skillet will accommodate two eggs. For more eggs, use a larger skillet. The method and timing remain the same.

Don't Forget the Lid!

A lid is the key to this low-heat method; it ensures that the egg will cook evenly.

Once the egg is in the pan, immediately top it with a lid. The lid traps the heat and steam from the egg, and helps it cook on both the bottom and on the top.

Without a lid, the bottom cooks too quickly and the top takes longer, so you’re more likely to end up with an overcooked, hard egg white by the time the yolk is done.

Use Low Heat for Frying Eggs

Low heat will gently and evenly cook eggs to perfection. If the pan is too hot, then the bottom cooks quickly while the top remains runny and raw.

Once the egg is almost cooked, remove it from the heat. Leave the lid on and let the egg finish cooking from the residual heat of the pan; this keeps the egg from overcooking over direct heat.

Butter or Oil for Frying Eggs?

You can cook an egg in either butter or oil; it’s entirely up to your taste preference.

If you like the taste of butter, then go for it. Olive oil is a healthy choice and also delicious, especially when you are topping a savory dish, such a ratatouille or pasta with an egg.

How much butter or oil to use? Use 1 teaspoon of butter or oil per egg if using a nonstick skillet or well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Use 2 teaspoons of butter or oil if you're using a stainless steel skillet.

fried egg with bacon on a plate
Sally Vargas

How Long to Cook Fried Eggs

The total time to cook an egg using this method is between 3 and 4 minutes. Much depends on the exact temperature of your burner and the way your pan conducts heat.

But no worries! Just check the egg after about 90 seconds. Once all but a thin rim of the egg white around the yolk is opaque, remove the pan from the heat to finish cooking with the lid on.

If you like your eggs with hard yolks, leave them on the heat until they are cooked to your liking. You may end up with a thin layer of cooked egg white that masks the sunny yolk.

How to Make Over-Easy Fried Eggs

This method is for those who like soft yolks without a trace of shiny egg white.

Once the egg is cooked sunny side up, just flip the egg in the pan for about ten seconds to cook the top of the egg. For over-medium or over-hard, add a few more seconds.

The trick to flipping an egg for over easy-eggs is to use a thin spatula. Slide it directly under the yolk, which is the heaviest part of the egg. Once you have the spatula in place under the yolk, flip the egg and let it cook for 10 to 15 seconds.

Again, place the spatula directly under the yolk, remove the egg from the pan, and flip it again onto the plate so it is right side up.

How to Make Fried Eggs
Sally Vargas

Have Your Plate Ready!

Prepare the plates, toast, bacon, etc. before you start cooking the egg(s): Since eggs cook in a matter of minutes, cook bacon first, and push down the toaster while the egg cooks. Have plates ready and waiting.

Eggs Aren't Just for Breakfast

Ask any egg lover: Eggs aren’t just for breakfast! Who doesn’t love an egg sandwich, or an avocado toast topped with an egg for lunch? A solitary diner can whip up a quick and satisfying supper with an egg atop cooked vegetables, chili.

Fried eggs are also at home in a simple bowl of pasta tossed with olive oil, Parmesan, and plenty of pepper. You can take an egg from the fridge to the plate in a matter of about four minutes. That’s what I call fast and easy!

More Ways to Cook Eggs!

How to Fry an Egg

Cook Time 4 mins
Total Time 4 mins
Serving 1 fried egg


  • 1 large egg

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons butter or olive oil, depending on your pan type


  1. Heat the pan:

    Melt the butter or heat the oil in your skillet over low heat for 1 minute. Use 1 teaspoon of butter or oil per egg if using a nonstick skillet or well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Use 2 teaspoons of butter or oil if you're using a stainless steel skillet.

    Swirl the pan to coat the bottom.

  2. Cook the egg on the heat:

    Break the egg into the skillet, and cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, covered, or until all but a thin rim of egg white around each yolk is opaque.

    How to fry an egg using a skillet.
    Sally Vargas
  3. Finish cooking the egg off the heat:

    Remove the pan from the heat, keep covered, and let sit for about 30 seconds to finish cooking.

    If you want to make an over-easy egg, use a thin spatula and slide it directly under the yolk. Gently lift the egg and flip it over, and let it cook for 10 to 15 seconds. Add a few more seconds a piece for both over-medium and over-hard.

    Fried Egg Recipe cook the egg
    Sally Vargas
  4. Serve:

    Remove the lid. Slide a spatula directly under the yolk when removing from the pan and serve.

    How to Make Fried Eggs
    Sally Vargas
Fried Egg with bacon on a plate
Sally Vargas
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
139 Calories
12g Fat
0g Carbs
6g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 139
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 16%
Saturated Fat 6g 32%
Cholesterol 206mg 69%
Sodium 132mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 30mg 2%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 71mg 2%
*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.