Were we to collect all the writings on poaching the perfect egg from every book, magazine, and website, it would be a multi-volume encyclopedia. It’s not that big of a deal, though—especially with this low-stakes microwave method. It uses way less water and it’s faster, allowing poached eggs to be a quick weekday breakfast or a topper for a midday salad.
This may change your life! (To a small but pleasurable degree.) What are you waiting for? Let’s nuke and poach.
How to Poach Eggs in the Microwave
You need: A mug, water, an egg—and microwave, of course!
There are a few caveats about the mug. You want it to be sturdy and dense. Have you ever microwaved a mug of water for tea and then mug itself came out nearly hotter than the water? Don’t use that mug, mainly for ease of handling.
No, you shouldn’t have to buy a mug just to nuke an egg, but I will recommend those basic gift shop mugs with hearty handles because they work quite well.
Also, eggs poached in large mugs take longer to poach, even if the volume of water is the same.
Add Vinegar to Poach an Egg: Yea or Nay?
You can skip adding vinegar to the water for this poached egg, even though many stovetop poached egg recipes call for a little vinegar because it helps the egg whites to coagulate.
Why skip it? Just to keep things simple, plus I’ve found with microwaved eggs, it doesn’t make enough of a difference to be worth it. But you can add it if you like: Use a half teaspoon per half cup water.
Wattage and Cook Times
Not all microwaves have the same wattage. This is why your microwave at home might take only two minutes to warm leftovers, but the one in the break room at work takes nearly four minutes. (Is there an unwritten rule that break room microwaves have to be slooooow?)
- You’ll need to experiment a little to see how long it takes to poach an egg in your microwave. You can start by looking for the wattage, if you like. Usually it’s found on the information panel on the back, though sometimes you can find it inside the microwave, or on the side of the door.
- I poached eggs in a 700-watt microwave, and it took about 70 seconds to have one with a runny yolk and set whites. An 800-watt microwave took about the same time. No matter what the wattage, use high power when you’re poaching your egg.
If you have a few imperfect eggs (overcooked, undercooked), don’t freak out. They’re only eggs, after all. When you get your egg the way you like, stick to that timing, but also keep using the same mug, if possible.
When the difference between a perfect-to-you poached egg and a disappointing poached egg can be 10 tiny seconds, it’s best to keep your variables constant.
Be Sure to…
- Crack the egg. If you put an in-shell egg in the microwave, it can explode.
- Add water to the mug first. It’s not a poached egg without the water.
- 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). Very rarely, the egg yolk can explode and make a mess. Puncturing the yolk lessens the chance of that...and if it does happen, the saucer keeps the mess in the mug, not all over the microwave.
How Many Eggs Can You Poach at Once?
You can poach two eggs in two mugs at the same time, but I found it at least doubles the microwaving time. What’s more, one egg might cook faster than the other, even though they’re cooking side-by-side.
For the most control over doneness, just do one egg at a time. It only takes a minute and a half, tops.
Tips and Tricks for Perfect Poached Eggs
Let the egg rest: With microwave eggs, letting the egg sit in the mug of hot water for a minute helps ensure properly cooked whites and ideal-to-you yolks. If the yolk is too runny, leaving it in the poaching water for one minute or longer also helps get it from being runny to being soft and creamy, yet not gooey.
Say no to soggy eggs: Soggy poached eggs are not tasty. For the optimal poached egg experience, you need to drain that excess water off before they leak water all over anything else on your plate. Drain your egg on a piece of stale bread or on a paper towel.
How to Season Poached Eggs
What to Serve With Poached Eggs
Ooh, this is the best question ever. What can you not serve poached eggs with?
The classic thing is to put them on toast. You probably don’t need me to explain that. Butter the toast, smear an avocado over it, etc.
Like any egg lover, I put eggs on everything. Hearty salads! Heated leftover enchiladas! Shrimp Fried Rice. Simple pasta dishes! Or floating a microwave poached egg in soup (brothy or hearty) is the best.
More Great Egg Recipes!
- Omelette in a Mug
- Poached Egg and Bacon Salad — Salad Lyonnaise
- Easy Poached Eggs
- Soba Noodle Bowls with Spinach and Poached Eggs
- How to Make Eggs Benedict
Microwave Poached Eggs
The cook time here will depend a lot on the wattage of your microwave. Start with 30 seconds, and keep adding time as needed in 20- or 10-second increments.
<b>Be sure to poke a the yolk with a toothpick and cover the mug with a small plate or plastic wrap before you microwave it.</b> Very occasionally, the yolk can explode in the microwave. Piercing the yolk and covering the mug keep the process safe and neat.
1 large egg
1/2 cup room temperature water
Salt and pepper to taste
Prep the mug:
Put 1/2 cup room temperature water in a microwave-safe mug. Crack the egg into the water. Poke a hole in the yolk with a toothpick, and then cover the mug with a small microwave-safe plate, or a piece of plastic wrap.
Microwave the mug:
Put the mug in the microwave and microwave on HIGH power for 30 seconds. Take out the mug, remove the plate or plastic wrap, and peek inside; you want the whites to be opaque, and the yolk to be still on the runny side. If the whites are still clear, return the cover in place and put the mug back in the microwave for another 10 to 60 seconds.
How long it takes to cook the egg to your liking depends primarily on the wattage of your microwave. You’ll need to play around a bit. The time can vary a lot!
Let the mug sit:
Let the cooked egg sit in the mug of hot water for 1 minute, or longer if needed. This helps firm up any soft parts of the egg white, giving you a more evenly poached egg.
Drain the egg:
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. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then transfer to your serving plate and enjoy.