Poached eggs are a beautiful thing. The whites are just firm enough on the outside to contain an oozy, golden yolk in a round little egg package. And with a few tips, you too can learn how to poach an egg perfectly every time!
Poached eggs are one of those items I find folks order frequently in restaurants, but they don’t make very often at home. Why? I think most would say that it’s difficult to get that perfect, spherical shape without lots of crazy white wispies.
But poaching is one of the best cooking methods for creating healthy eggs. So today I’ll share with you a few tips to make the perfect poached egg. I’ve tested every method under the sun (vinegar, salt, swirling vortex, etc) and I’ll share with you the tried-and-true method that works.
WATCH MY VIDEO ON POACHED EGGS TO SEE THESE TIPS IN ACTION:
TIPS FOR POACHED EGGS THAT DO (AND DON’T) WORK
- Salt: I found that adding salt to the water actually created more white wispies. Salt increases the density of the water which makes more of the egg white float and splay out. In other words, a not-so-pretty poached egg.
- Verdict: Don’t do it.
- Vinegar: I was initially dead set against adding vinegar to my water as I didn’t want my eggs to taste like vinegar. As it turns out, you have to add quite a bit of vinegar to have any vinegar taste transfer to the egg. I found that adding one tablespoon of a light colored vinegar didn’t flavor the egg but it did help to keep the egg white together.
- Verdict: Optional, but I do it.
- Swirling a Vortex: We’ve all heard that the best method for poached eggs is to drop them in a swirling vortex of water, right? Well, this is true. This does help to create a more spherical shape as the egg white wraps around itself. But here’s the reality. If you’re only cooking one poached egg – go for it. If you’re cooking more than one poached egg – don’t fret about the vortex. Your egg(s) may not be quite as spherical, but you can cook several simultaneously and they’ll still taste darn good.
- Verdict: Yes, for one egg. No, for more than one egg.
- Fine Mesh Sieve: This is the one tip that consistently produced the BEST poached egg. When you crack an egg you’ll notice that there’s a firmer white and a more liquidy white. Well, that liquidy white is what creates all those white wispies. So add the egg to a fine mesh sieve/strainer and the thinner, more liquid white is removed, leaving only the firmer white which will envelop the yolk.
- Verdict: Do it.
- Deep Pot of Water: After trying both a regular pot of water (4-inches deep) and a sauté pan filled with water (2-inched deep), I will say that the deeper pot produced a more classical spherical or teardrop shape. The is because as the egg falls in the water, the yolk sinks first and the white trails behind. You can still make poached eggs in a more shallow pot, but the shape will be flatter – similar to a fried egg.
- Verdict: Use a pot with at least 4-inches of water
- Ramekin: Most say to crack the egg first into a ramekin, then pour the egg into the water. And I’d have to agree. Using a ramekin ensures that your egg is 1) properly cracked with an unbroken yolk, 2) there’s no shell in the egg, and 3) you can more easily pour the egg in one swift move. Now, combine this method with the fine mesh sieve and you’ve got a winning combo.
- Verdict: Do it.
FRESH EGGS MAKE FOR THE BEST POACHED EGGS
Now that you have 6 tips for making the best poached eggs, there’s one tip that can’t be overlooked. And that’s using the freshest eggs possible. This truly is the #1 most important factor in determining the success of your poached eggs. Fresh eggs have firmer whites, less liquidy whites and just hold their spherical shape better.
Ideally, this would mean purchasing fresh eggs on the morning you’re poaching eggs. But let’s be honest, most of us aren’t running to the market just to make breakfast. Therefore, if you use the tips above you’ve still got the best shot at making a perfectly poached egg.
And if you’ve got older eggs in the fridge, like the one below, don’t forget that those are perfect for making soft boiled and hard boiled eggs.
HOW LONG DO YOU POACH EGGS?
For a firm white and runny yolk you’ll want to poach the eggs for 3-4 minutes. I prefer a 3 minute poached egg. And if you plan to poach a batch of eggs ahead of time and reheat later, just keep in mind that reheating may firm up the eggs a little more as well.
CAN YOU POACH EGGS AHEAD OF TIME?
Absolutely! After the eggs have finished poaching, just place them in an ice water bath and store them in the fridge for 4-5 days.
When you’d like to eat them, just add some hot water to a small bowl or cup and add the poached egg until it’s warmed up (about 20-30 seconds).
HOW TO MAKE PERFECTLY POACHED EGGS
Alright, are you feeling confident in your egg poaching skills? To summarize all the information above, this is how to poach an egg:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then reduce to low (or turn off the heat).
- Crack the egg in a fine mesh sieve (over a small bowl) and remove the liquidy whites.
- Transfer the egg to a small ramekin or bowl.
- Add one tablespoon of light-colored vinegar to the pot and stir to create a vortex.
- Pour the ramekin with the egg into the middle of the vortex and set a timer for 3 minutes.
- Once the egg is done, use a slotted spoon to remove the poached egg. Dab with a paper towel to remove excess water and eat immediately.