3 Steps to the Perfect Poached Egg

3 Steps to the Perfect Poached Egg

Learn how to master poaching eggs and expand your repertoire with three easy steps.


Master one of the most difficult egg preparation techniques: poaching. Poached eggs are a standout dish on any menu — especially brunch spreads — but making them can be a tricky process. Learn our simple, three-step process and try a few of our favorite ways to serve them.

First and foremost, start with the freshest eggs possible. To test, place egg in a bowl, then cover with water. A fresh egg will stay on its side, whereas an older egg will tilt upward. If it floats all the way to the top, toss it. Save older eggs for hard-boiling and poach the freshest ones:

1. Stir. Fill a pot with 3” of water, then heat to almost simmering — when bubbles begin forming on the bottom of the pan. Add 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice, then stir in a circular motion with a spatula or spoon to create a whirlpool.

2. Drop. Crack an egg into a small ramekin. With the ramekin as close to the water as possible, gently slide the egg into the middle of the whirlpool. It’s important that the water isn’t simmering when you first add the egg — if it is, reduce the heat, wait for it to stop bubbling then continue (Don’t forget to create the whirlpool!).

3. Swirl. Let the egg whirl. There may be some stray strands of egg white, but that’s OK. Let cook 3 to 4 minutes for a runny egg, and 7 to 8 minutes for a more solid center. Carefully remove from water with a slotted spoon, drain on a paper-towel lined plate then serve as desired.

Tip: Pay close attention during the first 30 seconds of poaching, as the egg may stick. If it does, very gently slide a spatula underneath it to release.

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Simple Serving Ideas
From classic breakfast fare to dinner salads, poached eggs go perfectly with just about anything:

To make classic eggs Benedict, toast an English muffin and place it open-faced on a plate. Top each half with a slice of cooked, Canadian-style bacon and poached egg (in that order). Finish with a spoonful of lemony hollandaise sauce and a sprinkle of sliced chives. Layer other ingredients like avocado and tomato to create your own special version.

Go beyond the brunch hour with an egg-inspired entrée salad: Toss spring greens with cooked and crumbled bacon then top with a poached egg or two. When cracked, the smooth yolk of the egg acts as a delicious dressing.

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