Sometimes, the best option isn’t the superior method. Such is the case with microwave poached eggs, which I love for their convenience. In under 2 minutes, I can upgrade my office lunch of reheated leftovers with a freshly poached egg, and my day becomes just a bit more delightful.
Does the microwave deliver eggs that will claim top prize in a poach-off? No. That trophy goes to our Perfect Poached Egg recipe, but you need a stovetop and a pan for that. If your standards are flexible and you’re just poaching a single egg on the fly, the microwave will serve quite nicely. All you need is a mug or small glass measuring cup and some plastic wrap. Let’s get set to nuke and poach!
A Poached Egg Redeux
When we first published this recipe, reader feedback over time was mixed, in part because the power of different microwave models can vary so much. But I stood by my microwave poached egg and knew it could be better. Back to the drawing board we went.
The initial method was to put 1/2 cup of room temperature water in a mug, add the egg, cover with plastic wrap or a small plate, and microwave on high for 30 seconds. After that, it could take anywhere from 10 more seconds to a full additional 60 seconds to achieve fully set whites, though a rest in the mug after microwaving for 30 seconds helped set it up. It was too fussy, with too many judgment calls.
A recipe I found in a cookbook my grandmother gave me in 1987 provided the fix: Kids Cook Microwave, a slim, spiral-bound volume by Janet Emal and Barbara Kern. By reducing the water to 1/4 cup and microwaving for 60 seconds before adding the egg, their method is not only quicker; it eliminates some of the variables that made my method unreliable. Thank you, Janet and Barbara, wherever you are!
Poaching eggs in the microwave can be a learning curve, but then again, so can poaching eggs using any other method. Such is the finesse of all egg cookery.
What About Exploding Yolks?
Very rarely, the yolk can explode as the egg microwaves, making a huge mess if the mug isn’t covered. It happened to me before when I spaced out and programmed in 3 minutes of cook time instead of 30 seconds. The explosion was loud and actually blew open the door of the microwave. Total user error, but we all have our off days.
I don’t want this to happen to you. As a safeguard against explosions, poke the egg yolk with a toothpick, then cover the mug with a microwave-safe saucer or small plate (or, if you don't have one, plastic wrap). Should the yolk explode, the cover keeps the mess in the mug, not all over the microwave.
Tips for Success
- Use fresh eggs. The older your eggs, the runnier the whites. This can cause feathery, watery whites that poach unevenly.
- Embrace the learning curve. Microwave models have different wattages: your home microwave might be more powerful than the microwave at your friend’s house. Play around with the timing every time you make this recipe and make adjustments accordingly.
- Mug or measuring cup? A small glass measuring cup (8-ounce capacity) is handy because you can measure the water and then poach the egg right in the cup. If you are using a mug, there are a few caveats. You want it to be sturdy and dense. The generic mugs you find in gift shops often work well.
- Poach one egg at a time. The results are easier to predict that way.
- It’s only an egg. Look, I’m not into wasting food, and I know eggs cost more than they used to. If your first microwave poached egg is a flop, take it in stride. It’s a few minutes of your time and one egg. Either try adjusting the cooking time on your next go or move on and decide it’s not for you.
Updated on November 11, 2022. Thank you to Kathy Strahs and Elise Bauer for testing and troubleshooting this recipe.
More Great Microwave Recipes!
- Omelette in a Mug
- Microwave Baked Potato
- How to Steam Broccoli in a Microwave
- Easy Microwave Chocolate Pudding
- Microwave Baked Apple Slices
Learn How to Make Microwave Poached Eggs
Microwave Poached Egg
Recipe adapted from Kids Cook Microwave by Janet Emal and Barbara Kern (HP Trade, 1987).
Older eggs have runny whites that do not poach well. If your carton of eggs has been sitting in your fridge for more than 1 week, try making our microwave Omelette in a Mug instead.
1 large egg, straight from the refrigerator (see recipe note)
1/4 cup water
Salt and pepper, for serving
Microwave the water:
Put 1/4 cup water in an 8-ounce glass measuring cup or sturdy, microwave-safe mug.
Microwave on high power for 1 minute.
Add the egg, pierce the yolk, and cover:
Crack the egg into the water. Gently slide a toothpick into the yolk, keeping it intact. Cover the measuring cup or mug with plastic wrap (if using a mug, you may use a small microwave-safe saucer instead).
Very occasionally, the yolk can explode in the microwave. Piercing the yolk and covering the mug keeps the process safe and neat.
Microwave 35 seconds longer:
Microwave the egg another 35 seconds on high.
The cook time here will depend a lot on the wattage of your microwave. Start with 35 seconds, and keep adding time as needed in 10-second increments if needed. Egg overcooked? Next time, try cooking it for only 30 seconds after adding the egg to the water.
Drain and serve:
Using a spoon or fork, gently lift the egg out of the mug and set it on a slice of stale bread or a paper towel. Transfer to your serving plate, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and enjoy.
Did you love the recipe? Leave us stars below!
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 5g||6%|
|Saturated Fat 2g||8%|
|Total Carbohydrate 1g||0%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||0%|
|Total Sugars 0g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*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.|