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Poached Eggs

Poached Eggs - How To Make Perfect Poached Eggs

Ingredients Needed:

Eggs, room temperature
(freshest eggs possible)


White vinegar (optional)

Equipment Needed:

Saucepan or deep frying pan

Small cups, saucers, or bowls

Slotted spoon

Instant-Read Cooking Thermometer

The best eggs for poaching are the freshest eggs you can find. If eggs are more than a week old, the whites thin out. Whites of fresh eggs will gather compactly around the yolk, making a rounder, neater shape.

(1) I like to poach my eggs in a wide shallow pan. Use a pan that is at least 3-inches deep so there is enough water to cover the eggs, and they do not stick to the bottom of the pan. Also make sure your pan is wide enough to hold all the eggs you will be poaching, as you don't want the eggs to stick together. NOTE: I like to use a non-stick pan so the poached eggs will not stick to the bottom of the pan.

(2) Working with the eggs, one by one, break or crack each egg onto a saucer, ramekin, small cups, or bowls. We're doing this for two reasons: So you won't break the yolk and it prevents adding bad eggs. Place all cups of eggs so that they are convenient to the stove.

(3) If the water is too cool, the egg will separate apart before it cooks; if your water is too hot, you will end up with tough whites and an over-cooked yolk.

Water Temperature: You will want to bring the water to a temperature of about 160 to 180F (71-82C). As a rule of thumb, bring the water to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer before cooking. To obtain the correct temperature, spin the boiling water with a spoon to cool down the water before you drop in the egg. I like to use my instant-read thermometer to test the water temperature (adjust heat to maintain the proper temperature).

Do not drop the egg into boiling water (212F or 100C). This will negatively affect the taste and texture of your eggs.

Do not add salt, which would do the opposite and loosen the whites.

Pros and Cons of Using Vinegar
by Alice Medrich.

The usual problem with eggs is that the whites often end up too firm or tough by the time the yolks are ready. This is because egg whites are mostly protein, and protein starts to set (coagulate) as soon it meets heat. Yolks cook slower to begin with, and even more slowly when they are surrounded by their whites. Adding vinegar to poaching water makes the whites firm even faster to prevent them from dispersing in the water. But that extra firmness comes with a slightly grainy texture and an odd flavor. I want my poached eggs with lovely tender yolks and whites. So I say, hold the vinegar.

(4) Slip eggs carefully into slowly or gently simmering water by lowering the lip of each egg cup 1/2-inch below the surface of the water.

Placing uncooked eggs in poaching water
Let the eggs flow out. Don't put too many eggs in the pot at one time. If the yolk breaks as you crack the egg or as you are putting the egg in the water, that egg is a goner. Pull it out and use it for something else or perhaps someone wants scrambled eggs instead.

With a spoon, gently nudge the egg whites closer to their yolks.

Immediately cover with a lid and turn off the heat. Don't disturb the egg/eggs once you have put it in the water!

Hints to keep the eggs contained:

Egg Rings - Use an egg ring in a flat bottomed pan. Drop the egg over the mason jar ring and let it settle in the ring, then turn off the heat, and cover.

Mason Jar Rings - Use a ring from a mason jar and place it in the pan. Drop the egg over the mason jar ring and let it settle in the ring, then turn off the heat, and cover.

Tuna Cans - Remove the top an bottom off a small washed tuna can and place it in the pan. Drop the egg over the mason jar ring and let it settle in the ring, then turn off the heat, and cover.

Plastic Wrap - Take a piece of plastic wrap and lay it over a coffee mug, pushing the plastic down into it a bit. Then crack an egg into the plastic wrap and tie/twist the ends together tightly. NOTE: Leave a little air in the egg packet and maybe a drop of water.

Drop the egg bag into the hot water. Let cook approximately 2 to 4 minutes depending on how hot your water is and the size of the eggs. When done, take your eggs out of the water with a pair of tongs or a slotted spoon. Cut off the plastic wrap and serve.

(5) Set a timer for exactly 3 minutes for medium-firm yolks. Adjust the time up or down for runnier or firmer yolks. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, depending on firmness desired. You can test for softness/firmness by lifting an egg on a spoon and gently pressing a finger on the yolk.

(6) Remove from water with slotted spoon. Remove each egg in succession after they have each cooked for the doneness you want. NOTE: Keep track of which egg went into the water first and remove in the same order.

Lift each perfectly poached egg from the water with a slotted spoon, but hold it over the skillet briefly to let any water clinging to the egg drain off. Drain well before serving.

Optional: Put the finished poached eggs in a bowl of cold water. This stops the cooking.

(7) To serve best-quality poach eggs, the poached eggs should be served as soon as they are pulled from the water and drained. They cool down quickly and once cold, they're not as desirable for the diner.

Poaching Eggs For A Crowd:

To poach eggs for a crowd, cook eggs ahead of time, slightly undercooking them. Slide them into a large bowl of cold water. Place in the refrigerator and leave until it's time to serve - they keep well for up to a day in the refrigerator.

When ready to be served, drop them into a pan of simmering, salted water for 20 to 30 seconds (and no more than one minute) and they're ready to serve immediately.

If you are making eggs only a short while ahead, slide all of them, as they are cooked, into a large bowl of hot (not boiling) water. Don't worry about them sticking together. Top with more hot water from time to time to keep them warm. The eggs will be soft, warm, and ready to eat when you are ready to serve them.

Perfect Poached Eggs

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Photo: Egg poaching in simmering water

Photo: Finished poached egg

Other Poaching Options:

There are many types of poaching gadgets, such as:

Egg Rings

Nonstick Egg Pan Inserts with egg-shaped cups for steam-cooking eggs held above the liquid.

Silicone Egg Poaching Cups

Steam-Poaching Electric Egg Cookers

Are you interested in more kitchen tools or equipment to help poach your eggs?

Check out the What's Cooking America's Cookware Store for poaching options and for all your other kitchen needs.

Author Linda StradleyHow To Make Perfect Poached Eggs article by

Linda Stradley of
What's Cooking America.

Favorite Recipe Ideas Using Poached Eggs:

Artichoke Benedict
Not the traditional way, but a very beautiful way to serve Eggs Benedict.

Artichoke Benedict
Asparagus with Poached Eggs and Shaved Parmesan
My husband loves this dish! He looked at me funny when I first served it to him, but he loved it! He said I could make this anytime. It would make a wonderful luncheon dish. I have also served this asparagus dish as a side dish for my gourmet dinner group.

Asparagus with Poached Eggs and Shaved Parmesan

Burgundy Salad with Poached Egg
This is a classic French salad from Burgundy, France. This recipe has been adapted from a recipe from the famous Hotel Barge La Reine Pedauque (a luxury hotel barge that cruises on the Burgundy Canal in France). It is a perfect lunch salad or served as an appetizer. Everyone you serve this delightful salad to will want the recipe.

Burgundy Salad with Poached Egg

Croque Madame Egg Sandwich
This breakfast-style sandwich is good anytime of the day. Especially for breakfast or brunch. This is a French version of the American grilled cheese sandwich with the difference being the egg on top of the sandwich. The Croque-Madame was invented in Paris sometime around 1910 as a fast food to be eaten in cafes and bistros. According to some historians, this sandwich is called a Croque Madame because the fried egg on top is reminiscent of a ladies hat.

Croque Madame Egg Sandwich

Eggs Benedict
Eggs Benedict make any meal an elegant specialoccasion. This egg dish is specially great for weekend breakfast or brunch, or a unique evening meal. I often cheat on making the Hollandaise Sauce and use the Knorr Hollandaise Sauce mix (know ones seems to notice).

Eggs Benedict - low fat
Now you can have Eggs Benedict without all the fat!

Eggs Benedict
Pasta with Poached Eggs and Truffle Oil
This pasta dish will give your taste buds a wonderful sensation! This could be considered an aphrodisiac dish because it is so sensual. Don't miss making this wonderful pasta dish. Serve it at your next dinner party.

Poached Eggs and Tomato on Potato Pancakes
This recipe is basically a version of Eggs Benedict using potato pancakes instead of English muffins.
Poached Eggs on Toast
Poached Eggs on Toast is the perfect breakfast. It fills you up and also providers the protein needed for your body.

perfect poached egg
Spring Greens with Poached Egg
This is a classic French recipe. This salad makes a perfect lunch or a great appetizer. Everyone you serve this delightful salad to will want the recipe.

Spring Greens with Poached Egg


Additional Egg Cooking Techniques:
Learn All About Eggs & How To Cook Them - Lots of interesting information regarding eggs.

Baked (Shirred) Eggs
In France, this basic methods of baked eggs is called oeufs en cocotte

baked (shirred) eggs
Boiling Eggs
According to the American Egg Board, the terms 'hard-boiled' and 'soft-boiled' eggs are really misnomers, because boiling eggs makes them tough and rubbery. Instead, these eggs should be 'hard-' or 'soft-cooked' in hot (still) water.

hard cooked egg
Coddled Eggs
Coddled eggs are made by very briefly immersing an egg in the shell in boiling water (to cook in water just below the boiling point) to slightly cook or coddle them.

Deviled Eggs
Deviled eggs have their roots in ancient Roman recipes. In the 17th century, this was a common way to prepare eggs. they were not called "deviled" until the 18th Century, in England.

deviled eggs
Fried Eggs - Perfect Fried Egg
A French technique that very slowly cooks the eggs in butter.

perfect fried egg with salt and pepper
Microwave Eggs
How to microwave poached eggs, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, and boiled eggs.

microwave oven

Poached Eggs
The best eggs for poaching are the freshest eggs you can find. If eggs are more than a week old, the whites thin out. Whites of fresh eggs will gather compactly around the yolk, making a rounder, neater shape.

perfect poached egg
Scrambled Eggs/Omelets
Scrambled eggs make a delicious and quick meal, but there is a little science to getting them just right. The secret to successfully scrambling eggs is slow cooking.

Cheese Omelet
Additional Recipes Using Eggs:
Brunch Recipes
Egg Recipes

Additional Egg Information:
Egg Equivalents
Egg FAQs
Freezing Eggs
Making Natural Easter Egg Dyes
Perfect Meringue
Powdered Eggs
Raw Eggs