How to Poach Eggs

Surprise, you might have been using the wrong kind of eggs all along.

January 14, 2022
FNK_HowtoPoachAnEggBeautyShot_

FNK_HowtoPoachAnEggBeautyShot_

Food Network Kitchen’s How to Poach An Egg Beauty Shot, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet

Renee Comet

By Fraya Berg for Food Network Kitchen

Fraya is a chef and a contributing writer at Food Network.

Poaching eggs can be intimidating. What if they break apart instead of coming together into perfect little orbs? Honestly, that's the worst that can happen. But if you follow our step-by-step guide and perhaps even try out one of our recipes, we practically guarantee you'll have success. Brunch time is calling.

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184327546

Baskets of eggs to the Chinese market

Photo by: intraprese/Getty Images

intraprese/Getty Images

The Best Eggs for Poaching

The freshest eggs are the best eggs for poaching. The fresher the egg, the faster it cooks and the more firmly the egg whites solidfy (meaning there will be minimal thin strings of egg white that scatter in the water). When poaching several eggs, buy a new container. Use your older eggs for a cake or muffins.

How to Poach Eggs

FNK_HowtoPoachAnEggBoilWater_

FNK_HowtoPoachAnEggBoilWater_

Food Network Kitchen's How to Poach An Egg Boil Water, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet

Renee Comet

Choose a skillet with a lid for poaching. Your best bet is to go with a 10 to 12-inch nonstick skillet. Fill the skillet with 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil.

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FNK_HowtoPoachAnEggAddVinegar_

Food Network Kitchen's How to Poach An Egg Add Vinegar, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet

Renee Comet

Add a little bit of vinegar to the water. It will help the whites set quickly. Apple cider, white wine or distilled white vinegar are good because they won’t color the eggs.

FNK_HowtoPoachAnEggPrepTheEggs_

FNK_HowtoPoachAnEggPrepTheEggs_

Food Network Kitchen's How to Poach An Egg Prep the Eggs, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet

Renee Comet

Set out small bowls or ramekins, one for each egg. Crack each egg carefully into a bowl and check for bits of shell. The bowls help the eggs keep their shape when you add them into the pot and they'll also allow you to quickly add the eggs one after another to the water so they start cooking at the same time.

Turn down the heat. You want the water at a good simmer, but not boiling. Boiling water will cause the egg white to scatter and instead of cooking in a tight circle.

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FNK_HowtoPoachAnEggSliptheEggsIntotheWater_

Food Network Kitchen's How to Poach An Egg Slip the Eggs Into the Water, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet

Renee Comet

Slip the eggs into the water one at a time. Work your way around the pan clockwise, so you know which eggs are done first.

FNK_HowtoPoachAnEggCoverThePanandUseGentleHeat_

FNK_HowtoPoachAnEggCoverThePanandUseGentleHeat_

Food Network Kitchen's How to Poach An Egg Cover The Pan and Use Gentle Heat, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet

Renee Comet

Cover the pan and turn off the heat. The key to poaching is a gentle heat that will give your eggs a firm white and a loose yolk. Set up a draining area for the cooked eggs. You’ll need a slotted spoon and a stack of paper towels or a thick cloth towel.

In just 4 minutes, the eggs will be delicate and delicious — ready to serve if you want runny yolks. Don’t be afraid to go a bit longer if you want them cooked a little more.

FNK_HowtoPoachAnEggTimeToServe_

FNK_HowtoPoachAnEggTimeToServe_

Food Network Kitchen's How to Poach An Egg Time To Serve, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet

Renee Comet

Carefully scoop the eggs out of the water with the slotted spoon. The thin white will droop over the edge of the spoon, and you can gently remove them by using a knife around the edge. Set the spoon on the towels briefly to absorb the water that may remain with the egg. Then transfer them to the plates that are prepped with whatever you’re serving them with or on.

How Long to Poach Eggs

When you’re poaching eggs in simmering water, it’s going to take 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how hot the water is, how many eggs are going into the pan and what doneness you want to take them to. Despite what you see in images for recipes, where every egg yolk is runny, the doneness you take the eggs to is a matter of personal choice: there are millions of people who don’t like a runny yolk in their poached eggs. No judgement.

How to Make No-Worry Poached Eggs

We’ve got a recipe for making No-Worry Poached Eggs that removes all of the anxiety you may have: will the eggs stick to the bottom of the pot? Will I break a yolk? Will they all run together? How can I tell when they are done? The steps are the opposite of the traditional poaching method: you’ll be adding the water to the eggs in a saucepan.

In a nutshell: you’ll be putting vinegar in a small or medium cold saucepan first. Then you’ll gently add the eggs, one at a time, to the vinegar. Next is a little shake to be sure the eggs are separated and have vinegar between them. To cook the eggs, boil water in a tea kettle and then gently pour the water down the inside side of the pan to cover the eggs by about 2 inches, then cover the pan with a lid. Don't add any additional heat at this point. The eggs will sit in the water for 5 minutes and set. After 5 minutes are up, uncover the pan, turn the heat on high, bring the liquid to a boil and turn the heat off. For firmer yolks, let the water boil for a minute. If there’s foam on top of the water, skim it off. Remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and enjoy!

No Worry Poached Eggs

How to Poach Eggs In an Egg Poacher

Yep, an egg poacher is yet another thing to store. But it has some advantages. It cooks four to six eggs at the same time and it makes compact, perfectly round eggs. There are three types of egg poachers: the kind you can put in a skillet you already have, a skillet that comes with one and a dedicated electric egg poacher. For space-saving purposes, we like the poacher that fits in a skillet you already have. If you decide to go with an electric poacher, follow the instructions on the packaging, being sure to lightly grease the cups with butter or cooking spray even if the instructions omit that step. To use a poaching insert, follow these steps:

  1. Bring 2 to 3 inches of water to a gentle simmer in a skillet with a lid.
  2. Butter the cups sparingly or give them a light coating with cooking spray.
  3. Crack an egg into each cup.
  4. Place the poacher in the simmering water and put the lid on the skillet.
  5. Simmer until the whites are set and yolks are still runny, 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Lift the poacher from the water and slide the eggs out of the cups to serve.

How to Poach an Egg In the Microwave

The microwave is a great option if you want just one or two poached eggs. For more info on different ways to cook eggs in the microwave, check out our story, How to Cook an Egg In the Microwave.

  1. Choose small bowls that hold about 1/2 cup liquid. (Twice the size of a large egg.)
  2. Butter the cups sparingly or give them a light coating with cooking spray.
  3. Crack an egg into each bowl
  4. Gently pour 2 tablespoons water on top of the egg and carefully pierce the yolk with a toothpick or the tip of a knife.
  5. Microwave the egg for 30 seconds and then check it to see if the white is cooked. Microwave in 5-second intervals until the white is cooked; the yolk will be runny.
  6. Carefully pour the water off the egg and either eat the egg straight from the bowl or use it in a recipe.

How to Poach Eggs Ahead of Time

Poaching eggs for a crowd is what large restaurants do every weekend. And we can take a leaf out of their books, especially when we're looking to serve poached eggs at brunch time.

Chefs poach the eggs until they're just a bit under-done. When they take the eggs out of the simmering water, they immediately put them in ice water to stop the cooking. The eggs can be held in ice water overnight.

To reheat the eggs, boil a pan of water, remove it from the heat and slide the poached eggs into the water at the same time. Leave them in the water until they're hot, 30 to 60 seconds. Remove them quickly with a slotted spoon.

Poached Egg Recipes 

Photo by: Armando Rafael

Armando Rafael

Eggs and tomatoes have always been a dynamic duo. The directions in the recipe reflect all of our egg-poaching advice.

Poached eggs on top of hot corned beef hash are a menu staple at both diners and the hottest steak restaurants. Having them at home is a treat.

Photo by: Armando Rafael

Armando Rafael

Evocative of shakshuka, this dish is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser at brunch.

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150312_FNM_BistroSalad_023_Egg.tif

Photo by: Justin Walker

Justin Walker

Bistro salad is the classic salad of Lyon, with the vinaigrette made with the fat from the cooked bacon. The egg yolk becomes part of the dressing when broken.

The tomatillo sauce you make for this egg dish is a keeper: use it as a base for any grilled meat or as a salsa on its own with chips.

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